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.

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.

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