City seeks Public Input: Vision Zero, Caribbean Drive

As part of the ongoing Vision Zero program to eliminate all traffic fatalities, Public Works have identified ten priority locations where they will work to improve safety. Public input is welcome online until 5pm April 27. Project locations include:

  1. El Camino Real between Mary and Mathilda
  2. El Camino Real between Taaffe and Fair Oaks
  3. The El Camino-Fremont-Wolfe triangle
  4. Remington / Fair Oaks between Iris and Manet
  5. El Camino Real between Henderson and Helen
  6. Mathilda and Maude
  7. Fair Oaks between Balsam and Taylor
  8. Fremont between Sunnyvale Saratoga and Floyd
  9. Homestead between Heron and Wolfe
  10. Mary between Remington and Fremont

Sunnyvale_Carribean_Drive_MapJPEGforWebsite 10-16-17

Additionally, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission (BPAC) will be meeting on April 19 at 6:30pm to review options to improve bicycle and pedestrian connections to the Bay Trail near the Water Pollution Control Plant and Caribbean Drive. To date, vigilant citizens have been engaged in this project ensure a safe, high-quality connection between Borregas and the Bay Trail.

Cyclist Death and a Call to Action

Last week, a cyclist was killed by a big rig truck at Borregas and Sunnyvale Ave, near the SMaRT recycling station. This is where Sunnyvale’s principle North-South bicycle corridor connects to the Bay Trail. There is further coverage at the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.

The SVBC has posted a Call to Action for City Council, which meets Tuesday evening. Folks are invited to contact City Council and request that the consent item for the Green Street Demonstration Program along Carribean Drive be pulled from the agenda and that additional review is made to ensure safety.

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 Public Safety Accepting Toy Donations until December 15

Via Twitter:

All Sunnyvale Fire Stations are accepting toy donations, until 12/15, for low-income Sunnyvale kids.

Station Addresses:

171 N Mathilda Ave
795 E Arques Ave
910 Ticonderoga Dr
996 S Wolfe Rd
1210 Bordeaux Dr
1282 Lawrence Station Rd

Survey on Accessory Dwelling Units

Sunnyvale is reviewing regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as “granny flats” or “in-law” units. An ADU is a small dwelling located on the same property as a single-family home, which includes its own kitchen/bathroom. It can be a part of the main home or a separate structure.

Sunnyvale’s current code places the following limits on ADUs:

  • Minimum lot size 8,500 square feet
  • Maximum unit size 700 square feet
  • 1 bedroom maximum
  • 20-year deed restriction requiring owner occupancy

This study will consider possible changes to allow more ADUs to be built, and to what standards. The concern is to allow residents to expand the housing supply while avoiding negative impacts to quality of life.

The State of California has declared that ADUs are consistent with single-family home zoning and density standards and considers ADUs to be a viable option to create more affordable housing in existing neighborhoods. ADU standards were recently liberalized state-wide. This study will also serve to reconcile Sunnyvale’s regulations with the new state standards.

Background on ADUs in Sunnyvale:

Residents are invited to share their perspective on ADU regulations at http://sunnyvale.peakdemocracy.com/portals/209/Issue_5092

New regulations will be reviewed by the Housing and Human Services Commission in July, the Planning Commission in September, and City Council likely in October.

Sunnyvale Community Award Nominations due June 16

[Via Alisha Rodrigues, Community Services Coordinator for the City of Sunnyvale]

Each year, the City of Sunnyvale presents Community Awards to recognize and honor the outstanding contributions of Sunnyvale community members. These awards are conferred at the annual State of the City, scheduled for July 29, 2017. Award categories include:

  • Distinguished Resident of the Year
  • High School Senior of the Year
  • Businessperson of the Year
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Arts
  • Educator of the Year
  • Outstanding Environmental Achievement
  • Community Volunteer of the Year

Please help us acknowledge individuals, groups or businesses that stand out in the Sunnyvale community by submitting a nomination(s).

Nominations are due by Friday, June 16, 2017, by 5 p.m. Information about each award criteria and nomination requirements can be found on the Community Awards Nomination Form.  All nominations will be reviewed by a committee and award decisions will be shared with all nominators by the end of June.

A list of past award recipients is posted on the city’s web site.

Apply to Serve on a Board or Commission: Applications due April 21

Would you like to have a greater understanding of and a voice in the management of your city? Consider service on one of our Boards and Commissions. These bodies serve some administrative functions and also advise the City Council on legislative matters.

Recruitment is underway for the following upcoming board and commission openings:

Applications are due Friday, April 21. Candidates are tentatively scheduled to be interviewed by the City Council May 16 and 17. Further information and applications are available at the city’s Board and Commissions web page.