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.

Sunnyvale City Council to consider General Plan revision: more jobs, more transit, less housing

On April 11, City Council is expected to review a revised draft of the Land Use and Transportation Element (LUTE) which is a chapter of the city’s General Plan. The objective is to move Sunnyvale towards being a “Complete Community” that is less dependent on automobiles. Major strategies include:

Village Centers: modify existing shopping districts to include housing. This will increase the housing supply at village centers and expand commercial opportunities for businesses there. Village center will be located near transit lines, improving the odds that residents can commute without driving.

Jobs/Housing Balance: Sunnyvale will add proportionately more jobs than housing. Under present conditions, Sunnyvale has 1.44 jobs per housing unit. By 2035, Sunnyvale will have 1.73 jobs per housing unit. This will make jobs more plentiful, and make it more difficult for residents to secure housing within Sunnyvale.

Multimodal Transit System: city policies will emphasize complete streets, carpooling, mass transit and bicycle infrastructure. As we approach and exceed Sunnyvale’s capacity to transport residents via private automobiles, residents will need better access to more efficient transportation.

LUTE-2035

Development will focus on transit corridors and village centers. Proportionately more jobs will be added. Most existing residential neighborhoods will remain low density.

What do you think? Let City Council know!

Contact City Council to share your thoughts on the LUTE.

City Council is expected to review the changes next Tuesday, April 11, at 7 pm in the City Council Chambers, 456 W. Olive Ave. Members of the public are welcome to speak at the meeting for up to three minutes each.

UPDATE: the City Council agenda for April 11 has been published. Council will review the Land Use and Transportation Element as agenda item #4.

Help VTA Improve Tasman Drive

VTA is undertaking a “Complete Streets” survey to determine what improvements can be made to Tasman Drive to make it safer and easier to use for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders. VTA has a nice website for this project, where you can click on spots on the map, make suggestions, and review and comment on other suggestions made by the public.

Tasman Map Blue3

Tasman Drive from Sunnyvale to Milpitas

Per VTA:

Gathering public input is critical to the success of all the planning efforts VTA undertakes. We want to hear from you. How do you use the corridor and what improvements would you like to see?
Tell us how we can improve this area in our online survey, or attend an upcoming public outreach events:

  • Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 6pm
    Riverwood Community Room
    2150 Tasman Dr
    Santa Clara, CA 95054
  • Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 6pm
    Lakewood Park
    834 Lakechime Dr
    Sunnyvale, CA 94089
  • Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 6pm
    Centria Community Room
    1101 S Main St
    Milpitas, CA 95035

RSVP:  View the meetings as Facebook events: Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and Milpitas/San Jose.

VTA taking applications for Measure B Citizens Oversight Committee

Do you have a passion for transportation, attention to detail, and a desire to help your community? VTA is taking applications for the Measure B Citizen’s Oversight Committee.

In 2016, the voters of Santa Clara County passed Measure B: a 30-year, half-cent sales tax, to fund transportation projects. The funding is allocated for projects along these lines:

  • $1.8 billion for expressways, highway interchanges and route 85
  • $1.5 billion to extend BART to Santa Clara
  • $1.2 billion to improve and repair local roads
  • $1 billion for Caltrain capacity and grade separation
  • $500 million for local public transportation
  • $250 million for bicycle and pedestrian projects

Per VTA’s website:

With the passage of the sales tax, VTA must develop guidelines for each of the nine program areas as described in the resolution that created the measure. In order to allow for sufficient time to discuss each of the nine program areas, VTA will present the proposed guidelines for three of the programs each month beginning in February. VTA will present the final set of draft guidelines in May.2016 Measure B Implementation Committee Work Plan small

The following VTA committees will be discussing the guidelines as part of their regularly scheduled meetings. The public is welcome to attend these meetings to learn more about the proposed guidelines and provide input. Please click each for meeting dates, agendas and a description of each committee.

The Citizen’s Oversight Committee being formed will also ensure transparency and accountability.

Citizens registered to vote in Santa Clara County can apply online. Applications are due by April 21.

Caltrain Electrification Deferred

Background

Due to the success of our local economy, the peninsula’s rail link, Caltrain, has record ridership. Trains are often packed to capacity. The system’s ability to carry passengers is critical to economic growth and to mitigating road congestion.

Caltrain's booming ridership. Source: Wall Street Journal

Caltrain’s booming ridership. Source: Wall Street Journal

The system is overdue for upgrades that would improve its ability to cost-effectively carry passengers. Caltrain has been working to electrify the system since the 1990s. Electrification will allow Caltrain to run trains faster, more frequently, and at lower cost.

In September 2016, Caltrain signed contracts to carry out the electrification work. The contracts are contingent upon Caltrain funding the project by March 1, 2017. Without funding, construction will be postponed and the contracts will need to be renegotiated. Local, state, and regional funding is committed, but the Federal Transit Administration has informed Caltrain that federal funding is deferred until the President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

Current Status

Earlier this Month, California’s Republican delegation asked US Transportation Secretary Chao to deny the funding for Caltrain in hopes of blocking construction of High Speed Rail. The Federal Transit Administration has subsequently informed Caltrain that federal funding is deferred until the President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

Caltrain Modernization would create jobs Across the United States

Caltrain Modernization would create jobs Across the United States

Unless the United States Department of Transportation releases the federal portion of the funding by March 1, the electrification project will be delayed. 9,600 American jobs associated with this work will not be created. Local commuters will continue to pack into overcrowded trains, and our roads will see no relief for another half decade.

Call to Action

Actions you can take:

  1. Sign Caltrain’s White House Petition
  2. Send a Letter to Secretary Chao
  3. Call Secretary Chao and her career staffers:
    Elaine Chao (202) 366-4000
    Matthew Welbes (202) 366-4040
    Lana Hurdle (202) 366-6031
  4. Call Democratic lawmakers and thank them for their continued support:
    Anna Eshoo (650) 323-2984
    Zoe Lofgren (408) 271-8700
    Ro Khanna (408) 436-2720
    Kamala Harris (415) 355 – 9041
    Diane Feinstein (415) 393-0707
  5. If you have friends or family living in Republican-controlled areas of the state, explain this issue to them and ask them to contact their Congressional representative.
  6. Check out http://www.greencaltrain.com/2017/02/top-actions-to-save-caltrain-electrification/

Plan B?

Green Caltrain has a good review of what could happen if the funding does not come through. One prospect is to proceed with the project, but use slower electric locomotives instead of optimal “Electrical Multiple Unit” trains, which would limit the capacity increases otherwise possible through modernization. Our region could and should to follow the examples of Seattle and Los Angeles to pass a transit “megameasure” to fund our own infrastructure, but such an undertaking could not even begin until November 2018. Caltrain could perhaps be combined with BART, privatized, or underwritten by wealthy local tech companies.

UPDATE: Kim-Mai Cutler has published an excellent article on this topic with greater context and a wider call to action.