Strike Called Off; City and SEA Reach Last Minute Deal

The strike by city workers called for today, May 1, has been called off, due to a last-minute agreement between the Sunnyvale Employees Association (SEA) and Sunnyvale City Council. Details of the settlement have not yet been announced.

Via the Mercury News:

The SEA announced the tentative agreement in an e-mail at 3:18 a.m. Monday, saying its members have canceled the strike. Details surrounding the agreement were not immediately made public; union leaders are waiting to present the details to workers.

In an e-mailed statement, Sunnyvale Mayor Glenn Hendricks said: “We are extremely proud of the work our employees do every day and believe our city services are second to none. This agreement means those services won’t be unnecessarily interrupted during work stoppages. We are also very grateful to Supervisor Chavez for getting the two sides together to facilitate the deal.”

Sunnyvale Employees to Strike May 1

The City of Sunnyvale has issued a Press Release confirming that city staff affiliated with the Sunnyvale Employees Union (SEA) will be on strike May 1.

Key takeaways:

  • Police, Fire, Garbage Services are not impacted
  • Parks, Library, Recreational, and Development Services will be limited or unavailable

During a strike, police, fire, dispatcher and EMT services will not be impacted; garbage collection also will not be interrupted. But many other services will not be available or limited to weekend-level staffing. Services at the Library, Community Center and Senior Center will be limited for the duration of the strike. There will be no counter service for City departments, including the City’s One-Stop Permit Center. Regular road service crews will not be in service, but emergency crews will be on standby and be available on an as-needed basis.

Labor negotiations have been ongoing since 2015, and a strike was authorized by union membership this Tuesday, April 25. Residents are advised to visit the city’s website for additional updates: http://sunnyvale.ca.gov/

Sunnyvale City Employees Vote to Strike

The Sunnyvale Employees Association (SEA) is a labor union representing about 485 city employees.  The union has been in contract negotiations with the City of Sunnyvale since their previous contract expired in 2015. Negotiations have been at an impasse since June 2016, when the City issued its “final offer” of a 10% wage increase over 15 months. The union seeks a 17% increase, 4% of which would be retroactive while offering to increase employee retirement contributions.

SEA Strike Vote

Strike Vote and ballot.
Source: Kori Thompson

On Tuesday, 98% of union members voted to strike. On Wednesday, the city requested a court injunction to require essential workers to stay on the job, including water pollution control plant operators, environmental chemists, water and sewer plant crew leaders, landfill technicians, public safety records specialists and fire department fleet mechanics.

The SEA represents blue-collar and white-collar employees, including planners, engineers, mechanics, clerks, accountants, and technicians. Public safety, teachers, and solid waste collection would not be impacted by a strike.

UPDATE: there are conflicting media reports as to what the union in asking, ranging from 14% to 17%. This article has been revised to cite figures from The Mercury News.

Silicon Valley Report Card: economy booming, housing shortage and commute time worse

The San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, commonly known as SPUR, have updated their Silicon Valley Indicators for 2017. Some key takeaways:

  • The regional economy continues to grow … but at a slower rate
  • Unemployment is under 4%
  • Home prices continue to outpace income growth
  • Last year added 115,000 jobs … but only 6,000 homes
  • The median home price in Santa Clara County is now $1,080,000
  • Fewer than 30% of residents can qualify for a mortgage at that price

On infrastructure, jobs/housing balance, and commute times SPUR reports:

It comes as no surprise that the physical infrastructure of Silicon Valley is experiencing a lot of strain. What’s worse, we haven’t been making very good decisions to actually improve it. Despite adding more than 115,000 jobs last year, the region only approved 6,000 housing units.

Less than half of the new commercial space approved last year (and about a third in 2014 and 2015) were near transit — meaning that we’re still putting jobs in places where driving is the default transportation option.

Most commuters in Silicon Valley know this problem intimately, as their travel times have gotten longer and longer. The Index reports that the average commute in Silicon Valley has gotten about 17 percent longer in the last ten years.

Sunnyvale City Council Passes General Plan Revision

NOTE: originally posted by Adina Levin at greencaltrain.com. Republished with permission.

Earlier this month, Sunnyvale City Council passed an update of the Land Use and Transportation Element of its General Plan, by a 6:1 vote. The plan anticipates adding commercial space for 42,000 jobs and 15,000 housing units through 2035, worsening the jobs/housing balance from 1.44 to 1.73.

At the same time, City Council passed a motion to support further study of additional tools that could improve the jobs/housing balance, due to concern about the housing shortage and affordability. Most community comments at the meeting supported the growth in the plan but wanted to see more housing and an improved jobs/housing balance.

The City Council maintained a policy to create “village centers” – walkable, mixed-use areas which had drawn mixed community response. Some valued opportunities for more housing in increasingly walkable places, while others were concerned about density and traffic. Council supported a requirement that proposed Village Center proposals have community outreach before review by the Planning Commission. Council also added consideration of the southwest corner of Sunnyvale/Saratoga as a village center which would be served by the new, frequent VTA 523 service.

Overall, the plan envisions to have growth concentrated in focused areas such as the Downtown, Lawrence Station Area, and some growth in the Village Centers. Over time, Sunnyvale has been strengthening its goals to have more sustainable transportation and fewer car trips in its change areas, including a new policy in an early adoption phase to have transportation demand management for residential developments.

Wednesday, April 26: The Future of El Camino Real

ECR+Plan+Study+Area+by+the+City

ECR Plan Map, City of Sunnyvale

This Wednesday, April 26, the Sunnyvale Sustainable and Affordable Living Coalition, Greenbelt Alliance, Sunnyvale Cool, Sunnyvale Democratic Club, and Friends of Caltrain are hosting a panel discussion, moderated by Tara Martin-Milius, regarding the future of El Camino Real in Sunnyvale.

Questions that will be explored:

  • How can we create great neighborhoods that we can all afford?
  • What can be done to make safer places for walking and biking with smart transportation choices?
  • How will the future of the corridor affect our economy, our environment, and our quality of life?

Panelists include:

Larry Klein, Sunnyvale City Council Member, former Planning Commissioner, a long-time advocate for affordable housing, open space, and walkability. Larry was involved when the Downtown Specific Plan was kicked off more than 15 years ago. He was previously on the Sunnyvale Planning Commission for 9+ years.

Adina Levin, a passionate transit advocate, co-founded Friends of Caltrain and currently serves on the Menlo Park Transportation Commission, the San Mateo County Congestion Management and Environmental Quality Committee, and the Silicon Valley @ Home policy advisory committee.

Kirk Vartan, owner of New York Pizza in Sunnyvale. Kirk is a strong advocate for smart urban design, including transit, housing, and agrihood. He is Co-chair of the Stevens Creek Advisory Group in San Jose, which addresses issues and opportunities that will come with the development of that region’s urban villages.

Marie Bernard, Executive Director of Sunnyvale Community Services since 2010. The mission of Sunnyvale Community Services is to prevent homelessness and hunger in the local community, helping 8,000 people each year with financial aid, food assistance, case management, and bringing together 2,000+ volunteers from public, private, and faith communities.

Jaime Fearer, AICP, Deputy Director in San José, is passionate about where we live and is interested in the critical intersection of equity, public health, and active transportation planning and advocacy. She focuses on California Walks’ partnerships across the state, to positively influence policy that will improve pedestrian safety and walkability. She represents San Jose on the VTA’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

Details:

Wednesday, April 26
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Ballroom, Sunnyvale Community Center
550 E. Remington Dr. Sunnyvale, CA 94087

RSVP: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-future-of-sunnyvales-el-camino-real-a-panel-discussion-tickets-33120918559

Sunnyvale ECR Corridor Specific Plan: http://plansunnyvaleecr.m-group.us/

Questions: contact Sue Serrone at sueserrone@comcast.net