We invited all Sunnyvale City Council candidates to speak directly to the voters through The Silicon Valley Voice website. If you don’t know what Sunnyvale District you’re in, please check the City’s District map on their website.
We asked candidates to answer the following questions in 100 words or less:
- What do you think is Sunnyvale’s major challenge?
- What do you think is the major challenge for your district and how would you address it?
- What’s the first motion you would make as a Councilmember?
Here are the candidates’ answers, unedited. We note candidates who chose not to respond.
- The biggest issue facing Sunnyvale is the housing crisis. Too many of our residents are being forced into dangerously overcrowded conditions by high rents, or forced out of the city entirely. We need an all-of-the-above approach to solve the housing crisis. That means building subsidized affordable housing. It means prioritizing tenant protections, especially for our mobile home residents. And it means building more market-rate housing, especially missing-middle and transit-oriented housing, to relieve pressure on existing affordable housing. Let’s ensure that our children will be able to live in the city they grow up in. Let’s build a Sunnyvale for all.
- The biggest issue facing District 2 is successfully completing the downtown as we recover from COVID-19. Downtown is the heart of our city, but it’s been in limbo since the last recession. We need to be prioritizing walkable, transit-oriented, mixed-use development in our downtown. This will support our existing small businesses, bring new retail for our residents to enjoy, and bring badly needed tax revenue. That’s why I was proud to support the downtown specific plan, which my opponent opposed. We can make Sunnyvale’s downtown a regional destination. Let’s build the vibrant downtown we need. Let’s get this done.
- I will introduce a study issue to streamline and clarify the process for neighborhoods to get street safety improvements such as crosswalks. Right now it is too hard and takes too long for residents to get basic improvements. We need to invest additional resources to ensure these requests are addressed quickly, and use quick-build techniques to keep costs down. We also need a public system that makes clear where each request is in the process, the final outcome for completed or rejected requests, and why that outcome was reached. Let’s build safe streets for all.
- I believe that the biggest challenge facing Sunnyvale is over development and the negative impact that this development has on the residents of our city. The ill-conceived redevelopment of the Civic Center (City Hall) is emblematic of the mistakes the Council is making. The last thing we need in the midst of a pandemic and projected revenue short fall is a $400 million city hall when we could refurbish it at a fraction of the cost. I would address over development by rejecting large projects that lack proper infrastructure and have a negative impact on our residents.
- The major challenge facing District 2, like the City itself, is over development. Our district’s residents have seen the livability of their neighborhood degrade as neighbors are forced out through gentrification. In addition, added construction has reduced available parking and strains resources while overburdening infrastructure. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the increase of crime in District 2 and Sunnyvale overall which has increased 81% since 2010. (https://sunnyvale.ca.gov/government/safety/crime/statistics.htm) I would address this issue by taking a hard look at new projects in order to ensure we protect the affordable housing stock that exists in District 2.
- My first motion as a Councilmember would be to propose a new development fee that would cover the costs to provide Fire and Police coverage to all new projects.
- I believe housing affordability is Sunnyvale’s major challenge. As we continue with housing developments we should do more to address this housing crisis. My stance on how to supplement housing development has been to focus on lowering housing costs by strategically decreasing the local housing demand via greater implementation of the option to Work From Home (WFH) from regional companies, where/when possible. My proposal is not to completely transition to remote working nor discourage people from moving to Sunnyvale, but rather to provide the freedom to relocate more evenly throughout the region while increasing housing availability for those in the local industries that cannot work remotely. On this note, I am not in full support of MTC’s major employer “mandate” to keep 60% of workers remote by 2050.
- Apart from the housing crisis, a major challenge for District 2 is the continued development of the Downtown Specific Plan. This is a long-term commitment that may encounter challenges along the way. A lot of effort has gone into creating and executing this plan and I aim to collaborate with the rest of the city council to ensure that the plan is executed as planned, on schedule, and that all decisions made are in the best interest of Sunnyvale residents and the city’s finances.
- As neighboring cities have adopted some level of rent control, I would like to include measures that go beyond what is currently being proposed in Sunnyvale’s Housing Strategy. One of my proposals is to present local rent control or an MOU that is more stringent than the statewide mandate and that applies to not only mobile parks, but to the rest of the city. Once implemented, this is to be monitored and analyzed as to the effects on landlords and renters as we navigate through this fragile economic state over the years.
For mobile home residents this election is a critical event. At our park, Plaza Del Rey, we are in urgent need of Rent Stabilization/Vacancy Control. Without Vacancy Control all of our residents are facing financial destruction. Our park owner has implemented such a high space rent for a new buyer that we can not sell our homes as many find necessary. Most can not find a buyer even after dropping their sale price to half of its market value. Their dreams of having some equity to live on is gone!
The Sunnyvale city council in the past has turned a deaf ear to our plight. With this election and new candidates we hope that they will vote for rent stabilization / vacancy control. Our mobile home coalition has received direct commitment from Josh and now Hina that they would vote for us.
Alysa is the ONLY candidate endorsed by the Santa Clara County Democratic Party, the Democratic Club of Sunnyvale, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, South Bay Labor Council, and many more! Vote Alysa: the clear progressive choice for District 2.
Can we take a minute to reflect on how we got to our housing crisis? A city council and past city councils who said “Yes” to every opportunity to allow a giant office complex to be built to support the growth of our tech corporations. (And I see all these folks listed as endorsements on Alysa’s second mailer this month.) Do we really want the mindset which allowed the mega growth of the office buildings to solve this with hyper-growth of our housing? Must apartment complexes like the Landmark be flipped to condominiums which the current residents could never afford? What’s next after you finish downtown? More apartments bulldozed into high density housing? Seems to be the pattern. Do we want Sunnyvale’s skyline look like San Jose’s and San Francisco’s? I say no. Let’s have a future city council with a diversity of viewpoints like Josh Grossman’s on how to solve this. But that’s not where we’re headed, is it?
There are so many loaded words with shaded meanings here that it is hard to know where to begin.
Starting with housing crisis, affordable housing, dangerously overcrowded conditions, and subsidized housing: all of these suggest that 1) there are many people who want to live here and cannot, and 2) that somehow, some or all of us need to help that to happen by subsidizing their housing and accepting reduced quality of life associated with overcrowding and hyper-development. Where the assertion fails is that work location has changed dramatically and probably permanently with COVID-19. Most of us are working from home, and now home can be in the Sierras or the Santa Cruz Mountains or Colorado. No need to live in Sunnyvale anymore and many have left for good. So no need for residents to make immediate sacrifices with regard to overcrowding, gridlocked streets, and strained city services. We can spend the necessary time to understand the true depth of the problem and the best solutions, rather than “build, build, build!”
Secondly, “let’s finish the downtown” translates into “let’s spend $400M on a lavish new civic center,” enriching a billionaire developer, who, by the way, funds the campaigns of the pro-growth candidates. If you think the funded candidates will vote against his project, think again. If my estimates are correct, this works out to about $5,000 per household in new debt at a time of great economic uncertainty. We could renovate the existing civic center and support the city’s decreasing employee headcount by spending one tenth the money, but unfortunately the city council is not listening to this advice. We need to elect councilmembers who will listen.
Consider carefully why these people are running, and take them at their word and the word of their funders. Josh Grossman has taken no PAC or developer money and has accepted no endorsements from pro-growth organizations like YIMBY, ardently advocating for hyper-development. He is the sensible growth candidate, balancing growth against quality of life for existing residents.
Paul, I have neither the time nor the energy to dispense with all the misinformation in your post, but there’s one thing that I really must correct you on. The downtown and the civic center are completely separate projects in different neighborhoods, with different developers and different landowners and different goals and different… well, everything, really. Do try to get the facts straight.
“ Most of us are working from home, and now home can be in the Sierras or the Santa Cruz Mountains”
Who is “us” exactly?
And which parts of the Santa Cruz Mountains? The parts that *aren’t* on fire? Dumbass
I think Paul makes good points. Good catch on the two separate projects. But waving your hands and saying “Fake news” to the rest leads me to believe he’s right. Today’s rents are going down, housing is getting more affordable, blame work from anywhere. Check out this October 1 news article and the July article it references.
“In the Bay Area, San Francisco’s rent drop is matched by similar declines in Cupertino, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Menlo Park and other Silicon Valley towns. Oakland one bedroom rents are down 14 percent, and San Jose one bedrooms are down 9 percent.”
“The new report suggests a continuation of trends from earlier in the pandemic. The Bay Area’s lax and long-term work-from-home policies seem to be contributing to a “tech exodus,” as evidenced by the steep rent declines in Silicon Valley and San Francisco proper. Many of these residents appear to be heading to other regions or more spacious suburbs like Antioch or Sacramento — if the latter can be called a suburb of the Bay Area.”