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.

Sunnyvale Attracts the Nation’s Highest Proportion of Millenial Residents

Per the Daily Mail:

Sunnyvale, California had the highest influx (76.6 percent) of Millennials in the country in 2016 – which makes sense given the big tech employers like Google, Apple, and LinkedIn located in that area.

Millennials-on-the-Move_edits1_4

This map illustrates which cities had the most success attracting international Millennial talent in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available (porch.com)

 

Sunnyvale Events Calendar: December 7, 2017

Saturday, December 9: Breakfast with Santa

Kick off the season with holiday cheer, fun crafts and a delicious breakfast. Bring your camera or pay $5 for a photo. Live performances by The Singing Children and The Entertainers Choir. Bring nonperishable items to our food drive for home-bound seniors.

Admission: $5 per ticket, $7.50 per ticket after Friday, Dec. 1
For tickets visit the Senior Center front desk or call 408-730-7360.

Saturday, December 9
Seating at 8:00 – 9:30 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Sunnyvale Senior Center Orchard Pavilion
550 E Remington Dr, Sunnyvale

Tuesday, December 12: Help Sunnyvale Middle School Safe Routes to School

Volunteers are needed on Tuesday, December 12, from 7:45 – 8:30 am to witness 6 busy routes to Sunnyvale Middle School for a Safe Routes to School walking and biking assessment. Please, sign-up at this link http://signup.com/go/PNAenUh that also includes more details on the routes and schedule. So far, the weather is expected to be sunny and cool.

A brief orientation will be provided at the school entrance. Then we’ll walk to designated areas and record information about walkability, bikeability, safety concerns and motorist behavior. Information collected will be used to address safety concerns and create a map for SMS showing the Safe Routes to School. The City of Sunnyvale will create the map, and it will be reviewed by the SMS Safe Routes to School Team.

Tuesday, December 12, 7:45 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Sunnyvale Middle School
1080 Mango Ave, Sunnyvale
Registration: http://signup.com/go/PNAenUh
Contact: kristel@timetodream.com

Wednesday, December 13: Poetry in the Dark

A night of conversation in verse. Let’s turn off the lights and recite poetry to each other! Please bring inside you a poem you have memorized.

Wednesday, December 13, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Sunnyvale Public Library
665 W Oliva Ave, Sunnyvale

Thursday, December 14: Candlelight Vigil for Sandy Hook

December 14 is the fifth anniversary of the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Families and friends of the 20 children and 6 teachers have asked for nationwide vigils.

Thursday, December 14
Mathilda and El Camino, Sunnyvale, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Castro and El Camino, Mountain View, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Main and State, Los Altos, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Contact: SVCRGunSanity@gmail.com

December 15-16: 2017 Holiday Pottery Sale

Pick up a unique, handcrafted ceramic for yourself or a loved one. Free admission with plenty of parking. Sunnyvale Pottery Studio instructor Hsin Chuen Lin will be holding a pottery demonstration at the sale with the date and time to be determined. Part of sale proceeds will go towards supporting the Sunnyvale studio.

December 15-16, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunnyvale Community Center Park
550 E Remington Dr, Sunnyvale

Saturday, December 16: An Evening with Andy Weir

Andy Weir, the author of last year’s hit novel, The Martian, is coming to Sunnyvale to discusses his new novel, Artemis. Seating is limited, admission will be on a first-come, first-served. Seats may not be saved or reserved. Doors will open at 4:15 p.m. and the event will run until 6:00 p.m. with a book signing to follow. Bring your own copy of The Martian or Artemis to be signed by the author. Copies of Artemis will be  available for purchase on-site by Leigh’s Favorite Books. Ample parking is available in the lot adjacent to the Theatre.

Saturday, December 16, 2017, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Sunnyvale Theatre
550 E. Remington Drive, Sunnyvale
Contact: 408-730-2772 or 408-730-7302

Sunday, December 18: Blue Hawaiian Party

Sunnyvale Democrats are holding their annual holiday potluck. The theme is “Ride the Blue Wave to Victory.” If you can help or would like to ask what to bring, please contact Hospitality Chairperson Marge Goka at teardropowner@gmail.com.

Sunday, December 18, 2017 at 2 p.m.
Fairbrae Swim Club
696 Sheraton Drive, Sunnyvale

December 18-22: LEGO Materials Mini-Camp

Looking for something for your child to participate in during the holiday break? Sign them up for the Intro to STEM with LEGO materials Mini Camp. Campers will build, engineer and design projects such as boats, snowmobiles, catapults, merry-go-rounds and much more.

December 18-22, 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Braly Park
704 Daffodil Ct, Sunnyvale
Ages: 6 – 11 years
Fee: $145 for residents, $185 for non-residents
Contact: 408-730-7350
Online Registration: https://recreationclasses.insunnyvale.org/wbwsc/webtrac.wsc/wbsearch.html — activity 321360

December 18-20: Coding for Kids Workshop

Sunnyvale youth are invited to learn beginner coding skills and design a game at this workshop led by high school student volunteers from MathAndCoding.org. The camp is free and will take place at Columbia Middle School. Pre-approved fee waiver
families have priority registration starting Nov. 28. All other families can register starting Dec. 13, 8:30 a.m.

December 18-20, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Columbia Neighborhood Center (CNC)
785 Morse Ave, Sunnyvale
Ages: 7 – 10 years
Contact: 408-730-7800
Registration: in person at Columbia Neighborhood Center (CNC)
See Also: https://sunnyvale.ca.gov/people/affordability/default.htm to apply for a fee waiver

 

Must Be Present to Win – A Bike Advocate Success in Sunnyvale

Originally published by Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, republished with permission from author Tim Oey.

IMG_0958

Taking a measure along Caribbean Drive.

In September 2017, Sunnyvale bicyclists almost lost a significant connection between the Borregas Avenue bike route and the Bay Trail. Luckily a few key people were at a public meeting and eventually convinced Sunnyvale staff that a safe route in both directions was critical for bicyclists of all abilities.

Here is the story of how this evolved and some pitfalls along the way.

Sunnyvale’s Water Pollution Control Plant has been running for 60 years and is in the process of a much-needed rebuild so it can continue to serve an expanding population and generate cleaner recycled water to keep the San Francisco Bay healthy. As part of this rebuild, Sunnyvale needed to close Carl Road to allow the Water treatment plant to expand. This would sever the current Borregas to Bay Trail connection as well as close Bay Trail public access parking along Carl Road. The plan was to create new a new route for bicycles and pedestrians to go from Borregas to the Bay Trail as well as a new parking area for cars. Borregas, with its two bike/ped bridges over 101 and 237, is the northern end of Sunnyvale’s premier north-south bicycle route.

The Sunnyvale Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission and its support staff were not informed of this pending major bicycle and pedestrian change, nor were Bay Trail staff. I was invited by Larry Klein, one of Sunnyvale’s council members, to a public outreach meeting to review the final design of what was called the “Caribbean Drive Parking and Trail Access Enhancements Project.” I almost did not attend because it seemed it should be a slam dunk to maintain or even improve this great bicycle and pedestrian connection to the Bay Trail.

Alas, the devil is often in the details.

While local city staff are getting better at handling bicycle and pedestrian issues, they still have a strong bias favoring motor vehicles that lines up with our strong car culture. Call it car privilege.

So the redesign they came up with provided excellent motor vehicle parking as well as reasonable pedestrian facilities but would have required bicyclists to dismount and walk their bikes along a pedestrian sidewalk in the southbound direction for several years until a new bike/ped crossing of Caribbean was built sometime in the future. Even then, bicyclists would be routed on a bike lane along the busy and high-speed Caribbean Drive instead of the much slower Borregas Ave & Carl Drive.

Google-Borregas-Aerial-Map

In this Google Map aerial view, the purple line is Carl Road, which will be closed; the green line is the new bike access trail along a water canal; the yellow line is the sidewalk along Caribbean, and the red line is the future at-grade bike/ped crossing of Caribbean.

During the presentation, Sunnyvale staff were quite insistent that there was no space for a multi-use path instead of a sidewalk on the north side of Caribbean and that the plans were too far along to change. When pressed, they came up with alternative detours for bicycles to go through the Yahoo campus or through a little-known back access way behind and through the Sunnyvale SMART station.

Later, I and others visited the site in person to discover that there were about 26 clear feet between Caribbean and the fenced-in landfill that provided plenty of space for a two-way multi-use trail instead of a pedestrian sidewalk. Also, the detours through Yahoo and the SMART station had navigational challenges and some safety issues in addition to being longer and out of the way — sometimes adding a couple of extra miles to what should have been a short connection.

Thanks to a flurry of dialog from some council members, myself, and many other advocates including Bay Trail staff and former council members, Sunnyvale staff did finally come up with a proposal that included a multi-use trail on the north side of Caribbean to provide safe and easy access between Borregas and the Bay Trail for bicyclists of all ages and abilities. This was confirmed in an email communication from Sunnyvale staff in late October.

In the end, we should now get a connection between Borregas and the Bay Trail that is an enhancement over the current Bay Trail connection, but it was touch-and-go for about a month. If not for the quick and concerted effort, we could have been stuck with degraded bicycle access.

Some key takeaways from this experience:

1) Never assume. It is incredible how many ways things can go wrong.

2) Must be present to win. We need bicyclists at as many public meetings as possible to make sure we catch design issues before they are set in stone (literally). It is often surprising how many developments can have a significant impact on bicyclists and pedestrians.

3) Our network is our strength. Only by leveraging our network did we have enough influence to change plans in the very late stages of this project. Also by having a big network, we can cover more territory and meetings. We need a network of alert advocates to ensure we eventually get a vast network of beautiful routes throughout Silicon Valley. Being a member of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition is HUGE! Please encourage your friends to join us!

Thanks!


Tim Oey is currently the president of the Friends of Stevens Creek Trail, vice chair of the Sunnyvale Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, life member of both the Adventure Cycling Association and League of American Bicyclists, and an SVBC member since 1989.

Sunnyvale Events Calendar: December, 2017

NOTE: It has been a busy year for me, but I am trying to get this website back on its feet for 2018. I will try posting upcoming events each Thursday at 2pm. -danny

Saturday, December 2: 18th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration

Start the holiday season with the tree lighting ceremony at Downtown Sunnyvale. Entertainment provided by Dance Attack, Columbia Middle School, Homestead High School, Fremont High School, and Santa Claus.

Saturday, December 2, 2:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Historic Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale
See Also: http://www.sunnyvaledowntown.com/holiday-tree-lighting.html

Sunday, December 3: Les Artisanes French Boutique and Cafe

Les Artisanes are a local group of independent French designers. Join them to enjoy French creations and gourmet food. Lunch will be hosted by Saveurs Provence.

Sunday, December 3, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Fairbrae Swim & Tennis Club
696 Sheraton Dr, Sunnyvale
See Also: https://www.facebook.com/events/127073804622690/

Sunday, December 3: Story Time with Author Arjun Rihan of The Wrong Stripes

Rudy the zebra has a peculiar problem: his stripes zag instead of zig. Unable to fit in with his herd, he sets off on an adventure with the hope of finding someone like himself. On his journey, Rudy discovers a world full of animals with vibrant spots, dazzling points, and other mesmerizing patterns. But will he find what he is looking for?

Sunday, December 3, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Bookasaurus
125 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale

Sunday, December 3: Caltrain Holiday Train

Glowing with thousands of lights and holiday decorations, the Holiday Train will stop at nine train stations over two nights. During the 20-minute station stops, Santa, Mrs. Claus, Frosty and the gang will get off the train to greet children and spread holiday cheer. Bring the family to join in the fun, and bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to the Holiday Train Toy Drive.

The Caltrain Holiday Train will stop in Sunnyvale on Sunday at 7:50 p.m. The Sunnyvale event will feature Sideshow events and a balloon artist. The train will make stops in Mountain View and Santa Clara on Saturday. The Mountain View event will feature the Peninsulaires Barbershop Chorus. The Santa Clara event will feature the Salvation Army Band and an open house event at the South Bay Railroad Historical Society.

See Also: http://www.holiday-train.org/

Tuesday, December 5: El Camino Real Corridor Specific Plan Advisory Committee

The El Camino Real Corridor Specific Plan Advisory Committee (ECRPAC) will hold its sixth meeting to begin discussion on development standards and design guidelines for the ECR corridor. Based on the City Council selected land use alternative and the draft vision statement for the Specific Plan, the project team will provide a presentation on topics including node/district identity, distribution of density/uses along the corridor, and design strategies to ensure minimal impact on adjacent properties. Feedback from the ECRPAC will allow the project team to further refine these concepts for review by the ECRPAC at a future meeting.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Senior Center (Laurel Room)
550 E. Remington Drive, Sunnyvale
See Also: http://plansunnyvaleecr.m-group.us/

Wednesday, December 6: FREE Workshop – Slash Your Energy Bills this Winter!

Green@Home is a program sponsored by the City of Sunnyvale and offered by Acterra, a local non-profit.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Sunnyvale City Hall – Council Chambers
456 West Olive Avenue
RSVP: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/acterra-greenhome-in-sunnyvale-1503379603

Saturday, December 9: Breakfast with Santa

Kick off the season with holiday cheer, fun crafts and a delicious breakfast. Bring your camera or pay $5 for a photo. Live performances by The Singing Children and The Entertainers Choir. Bring nonperishable items to our food drive for home-bound seniors.

Admission: $5 per ticket, $7.50 per ticket after Friday, Dec. 1
For tickets visit the Senior Center front desk or call 408-730-7360.

Saturday, December 9
Seating at 8:00 – 9:30 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Sunnyvale Senior Center Orchard Pavilion
550 E Remington Dr, Sunnyvale

December 15-16: 2017 Holiday Pottery Sale

Pick up a unique, handcrafted ceramic for yourself or a loved one. Free admission with plenty of parking. Sunnyvale Pottery Studio instructor Hsin Chuen Lin will be holding a pottery demonstration at the sale with the date and time to be determined. Part of sale proceeds will go towards supporting the Sunnyvale studio.

December 15-16, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunnyvale Community Center Park
550 E Remington Dr, Sunnyvale

Saturday, December 16: An Evening with Andy Weir

Andy Weir, the author of last year’s hit novel, The Martian, is coming to Sunnyvale to discusses his new novel, Artemis. Seating is limited, admission will be on a first-come, first-served. Seats may not be saved or reserved. Doors will open at 4:15 p.m. and the event will run until 6:00 p.m. with a book signing to follow. Bring your own copy of The Martian or Artemis to be signed by the author. Copies of Artemis will be  available for purchase on-site by Leigh’s Favorite Books. Ample parking is available in the lot adjacent to the Theatre.

Saturday, December 16, 2017, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Sunnyvale Theatre
550 E. Remington Drive, Sunnyvale
Contact: 408-730-2772 or 408-730-7302

Sunday, December 18: Blue Hawaiian Party

Sunnyvale Democrats are holding their annual holiday potluck. The theme is “Ride the Blue Wave to Victory.” If you can help or would like to ask what to bring, please contact Hospitality Chairperson Marge Goka at teardropowner@gmail.com.

Sunday, December 18, 2017 at 2 p.m.
Fairbrae Swim Club
696 Sheraton Drive, Sunnyvale