Home Electrification Expo

Homeowners, renters and construction professionals can learn how to reduce the Carbon footprint of their homes and buildings by transitioning their energy use away from natural gas to clean electrical power.

  • Hear from industry experts on ways to make your home cleaner, greener and safer
  • Learn about rebates that help you save money
  • Meet with manufacturer representatives and learn about technologies that can add value and comfort
  • Chat with residents and experts about the benefits of shifting to electricity

Two events are being held this month:

Thursday, October 10
2:00 – 7:00 PM
Mitchell Park Community Center
3700 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
Register

Saturday, October 12
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
The Tech Interactive (formerly the Tech Museum)
201 South Market Street, San José
Register
Attendees must register to receive complimentary access to the Tech Interactive.

Via: https://bayareaexpo.org/

Accessory Dwelling Unit Resource Fair

Residents interested in adding an ADU or “Granny Flat” to their existing Single Family Homes are invited to join Housing Trust Silicon Valley’s upcoming ADU Resource Fair. An ADU is an Accessory Dwelling Unit added to a plot with a single-family home. Regulations for ADUs have been liberalized in recent years, to address the statewide housing shortage, and more reforms are in process.

Housing Trust Silicon Valley’ s Small Homes, Big Impact program invites homeowners for this opportunity to discuss your ADU project with builders, design professionals, consultants, lenders, insurance agents and city staff. You will be able to recieve information and make connections to services and information to start and finish your ADU project.

Sat, August 17, 2019
1:30 PM – 3:30 PM PDT
Orchard Pavilion, Sunnyvale Senior Center
550 East Remington Drive
Sunnyvale, CA 94087

Free Registration

Walking and Biking Tours for Sunnyvale’s Active Transportation Plan

The city is engaged in a year-long Active Transportation Plan to address the needs of bicycle riders, walkers, and children who need Safe Routes to Schools. A series of walking and biking tours have been announced:

Crosstown Biking Tour
When: Saturday, Aug. 3, 10 a.m. to noon
Where: Plaza Del Sol, 200 W. Evelyn Ave. (at the corner of Evelyn Ave. and Francis St.)

El Camino Walking Tour 
When: Tuesday, Aug. 6, 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Where: Peterson Middle School, 1380 Rosalia Ave. (Parking lot at Rosalia Ave.)

Moffett Park Biking Tour 
When: Tuesday, Aug. 6, 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Where: Columbia Park, 739 Morse Ave. (Parking lot at Morse Ave.)

Fair Oaks Park Walking Tour 
When: Friday, Aug 9, 10 a.m. to noon
Where: Fair Oaks Park, 540 N. Fair Oaks Ave. (Parking lot at corner of E. Maude Ave.)

Interested residents are asked to RSVP.

Community Workshops will be scheduled in October and January.

Two Young People were Struck by Vehicles and Injured while Riding Bicycles in Sunnyvale on Tuesday Night

Per reports via Sunnyvale Scanners, two children riding bicycles were struck by vehicles in Sunnyvale on Tuesday night.

The first incident, reported around 6:30pm, occurred at Remington and Sunnyvale Saratoga. A 13 year girl old sustained minor injuries and complained of leg pain.

The second incident, reported shortly after 8:00pm, occurred on Fremont at the 85 highway ramps. A 15 year old boy was struck by a car, reported conscious and breathing.

 

Two-Injuries

The roads in Red are identified as Sunnyvale’s High Injury Network. Injuries were sustained by young bicyclists on Tuesday night at the highlighted intersections.

Both of these incidents occurred on Sunnyvale’s High Injury Network, which the city has identified as those roads where most injuries occur, and which should be redesigned to improve safety under the city’s Vision Zero policy.

The City Council will hold a Vision Zero Public Hearing on Tuesday, July 30, at 7pm, at City Hall.

 

A Right to Lease for Sunnyvale

Sunnyvale is facing a housing and displacement crisis. Working people are having difficulty paying rent, and are increasingly being forced to leave our community. Yet we offer little in the way of tenant protections above those required by state law. 

This July, at the urging of Livable Sunnyvale, our City Council agendized a study issue calling for a right to lease ordinance that would require landlords to offer their tenants a six- and twelve-month lease at terms equal to or better than any month-to-month lease that they offer. This proposal does not impose controls over the amount landlords can raise rents; it only requires them to offer longer term leases at favorable terms compared to their shorter leases. This proposal is modeled after the ordinance Mountain View had prior to the passage of rent control by ballot initiative in 2016.

That’s a mouthful. So let’s talk about why this is needed, and what it would mean for our city.

One of the most alarming things I’ve heard as I’ve become more and more involved in housing activism is from working people who’ve told me that they’ve faced more than one rent increase in a year. Most landlords at the upper end of the market already offer twelve-month leases at favorable terms, since that means that they can go longer without having to fill a vacancy. After all, large corporations value stable cash flow, and every day an apartment is left empty is lost money. At the lower end of the market, however, many landlords appear to only be offering their tenants month-to-month leases. Their goal appears to be to simply extract as much rent as possible from their tenants.

Life on a month-to-month lease makes it impossible for tenants to plan their future. They’re left in limbo, never knowing when the next rent increase will come, never knowing when they’ll be forced to pick up and move. Moving and apartment hunting costs time and money that is in scarce supply. The average intrastate move costs over $1,100. Even without hiring movers, people will need to take time off and recruit help. And there is no guarantee that one will be able to find an affordable home within range of one’s job.

Moves aren’t cheap.

Frequent moves are especially damaging to children. Frequent moves during childhood are associated with increased risks of depression and anxiety and poorer academic performance. When a student switches schools during the school year, the effect can be hugely disruptive, both to the student and the classroom that they move to. A British study has shown that students who move even once midyear suffer distinctly impaired educational outcomes.  This disruption is even greater when it affects a teacher or staff member. Now, it is no longer one student whose education is at risk of disruption, but dozens.

Every time their landlord raises their rent, renters are faced with the choice of the disruption and expense of a move or accepting the rent increase. This leaves them in a distinctly weaker negotiating position with their landlords and could allow landlords to extract even greater rents than our already desperate market would allow.

A right to lease ordinance would reduce the frequency of moving expenses and help protect children from the disruption of being forced to move during the school year. It would leave renters in a better negotiating position with their landlord, and make it easier for them to plan a life for their family. Finally, it grants them some small degree of peace of mind. The rent increase might still come, but at least you’ll know when it will come and have time to prepare.

It’s worth taking a moment to discuss that second clause, which requires that the offered leases be at terms equal to or better than any month to month lease offered. This is really, really important. Without this clause, landlords could simply offer the required leases at a prohibitively expensive rate, to force tenants back onto the month-to-month. The ordinance would be toothless.

The costs of this proposal are modest. Other than enforcement and education, it imposes no costs on the City of Sunnyvale. Nor does it impose an unreasonable burden on landlords. Because this proposal does not control how much landlords can increase rents, it avoids the potential economic problems associated with rent control. Nor does it impose any burdens on tenants, who would still be free to take a shorter term lease if that better suited their needs. Indeed, the ordinance would require six-month leases be offered as well as twelve-month leases.

Adopting a right to lease ordinance won’t solve the housing crisis, not by a long shot. But it will give some much-needed stability and protection to tenants and will have no substantial negative effect on landlords. Adopting this ordinance should be a no-brainer.

So what’s next? Next February, the city council will prioritize the study issues it wants city staff to work on. If the right-to-lease ordinance is going to become a reality, we need to show up and advocate for it to be ranked as highly as possible on the list of next year’s study issues. If we’re going to make this ordinance a reality, we’ll need the good people of Sunnyvale to let our Council know that this is a priority during the public hearing on study issues.

Want to get involved? Livable Sunnyvale meets the third Wednesday of every month at Toyota Sunnyvale from 6:30 to 8:30. We hope to see you there!


(Image credit: http://www.jbsa.mil/News/Photos/igphoto/2001770707/)

City to Consider District Elections

On September 5, the City Council will convene a special meeting, in order to set direction regarding public outreach and to potentially put a charter amendment on the 2020 ballot to change how the City Council gets elected.

The City Council is currently composed of seven seats, selected “at large” by voters from across the city. The City Council elects council members to serve as a Mayor and a Vice Mayor. This is fairly typical for California cities. One concern is that the at-large system dilutes minority votes, leaving minority leaders at a disadvantage at the ballot box.

sunnyvale-race

A view of race and density in Sunnyvale grabbed from The Racial Dot Map

This has led to lawsuits across the state, most notably in Santa Clara, which, until this year, had a system like the one we have in Sunnyvale. In July, Santa Clara lost a court case brought by the South Asian Law Alliance and was ordered to shift to a district-based system. This November, Santa Clara voters will elect representatives from their six districts, and a mayor will be elected in a city-wide election.

CityofSantaClaraDraftPlan3

Santa Clara’s Six Districts

City staff has prepared an in-depth report, detailing the scope of the challenge that Sunnyvale faces in terms of minority representation. The city’s population is 14% Latino and 33% Asian. Our voter turnout sees 11% of voters with Spanish surnames and 21% turnout for Asian surnames. Sunnyvale’s demographics are similar to Santa Clara.

Over the years, Sunnyvale has had City Council candidates and Councilmembers that identify as a minority race or ethnicity.

  • In 2013, Magana ran for City Council and lost to Hendricks.
  • In 2011, Chang lost to Meyering; and Pan lost to Milius.
  • In 2009 and 2003, Flores lost to Moylan and Swegles, respectively.
  • In 2003, Chu won but was not reelected in 2007, when he lost to Whittum.
  • Lee won in 2003 and served a term as mayor. Lee was not challenged in 2007 and served another term.

City Staff is recommending a period of public outreach through Spring 2019. Next summer, Council should decide on a ballot measure for the 2020 general election. Assuming the charter amendment is approved by voters, districts would be set up in 2021 based on the 2020 census, with Sunnyvale’s first district elections in 2022.

Council to Consider Minimum Wage Delay

On January 1, 2019, the minimum wage in Sunnyvale is scheduled to raise from $15.00 per hour to $15.53 per hour. Per the San Jose Mercury News, Sunnyvale and Mountain View are ahead of neighboring cities in raising the minimum wage.

San Jose, Palo Alto, Los Altos and Cupertino will increase their minimum wage rates from $13.50 to $15 in January, Santa Clara from $13 to $15 in January and Milpitas to $15 by July 2019. The statewide rate will jump from $11 to $12 next year and incrementally rise to $15 by 2022. Campbell, Los Gatos, Gilroy, Saratoga and Morgan Hill are following the state’s lead.

In July, City Council voted to consider delaying the scheduled increase to the city’s minimum wage in order to achieve a more consistent minimum wage level with neighboring cities. There is a fear is that businesses may move to cities like Palo Alto or Santa Clara in order to reduce wages.

A vote on the issue has not yet been annuonced, but is expected in September.

Per the San Jose Mercury News:

Although Vice Mayor Larry Klein and council members Gustav Larsson and Nancy Smith expressed support for delaying the next increase for a year, councilmen Russ Melton and Michael Goldman didn’t.

Melton worried about the “pocketbook impact” that delaying the increase would have on the city’s minimum wage earners. He said that for a couple who works full-time, 53 cents an hour can make a difference of roughly $2,200 a year. “On average, that’s a monthly rent in Sunnyvale. I actually think the public interest would be served by having other cities keep apace with Sunnyvale. I would argue that they accelerate instead of Sunnyvale decelerating.”

Russ Melton has a call to action on his Facebook page.