Op-Ed: Sunnyvale’s Measure M Will Ruin Progress City Has Made

In the next few months, Sunnyvale’s City Council will consider allowing Animal Assisted Happiness (AAH) to lease an unused parking lot at Baylands Park. AAH provides special needs children and their families with opportunities to interact with barnyard animals in a safe setting.

The City Council approved studying this partnership after receiving strong community interest in supporting AAH, and identifying the unused parking lot as an option. Unfortunately, if Sunnyvale's Measure M passes in November, the AAH proposal will likely be summarily terminated.

Measure M requires voter approval before signing land use agreements like this. It would force the city to delay approval of AAH’s lease for two years so Sunnyvale can pay $41,000 for a November 2018 ballot measure, asking voters for permission to sign the AAH lease. Under Measure M, the only alternatives are to pay $767,000 for a special election sooner, or to kill the proposal. Faced with a two-year delay and $41,000 price tag, both Sunnyvale and AAH lose.

This isn't an exception.

Sunnyvale signs a dozen routine land use agreements each year, from month-to-month office leases to larger agreements. Measure M also applies when leasing land to or from others, and Sunnyvale leases much of its open space (Baylands Park, Sunnyvale Golf Course) from other agencies. Measure M forces long delays and requires voter approval for each individual ballot measure costing $41,000 or more. Finally, Measure M requires public votes before existing leases can be renewed—even for cell towers, and California law prohibits approving multiple leases with a single catch-all ballot measure.

But wait, there's more!

Measure M also restricts property purchases, because it prohibits “transfers” without a public vote. Add a two-year delay to land purchases, and you can forget about the city purchasing land in this Silicon Valley real estate market.

This is the reality of Measure M. An independent analysis of the ballot measure found that Measure M would result in:

  • a dramatic increase in election costs.
  • a significant loss of revenue from canceled leases.
  • loss of grant funding and debt financing opportunities.
  • a substantial reduction in city services due to these revenue impacts.
  • an onslaught of Measure M lawsuits from anyone unhappy with any land-use decision,

Why was Measure M proposed? The proponents peddle the necessity to “stop the loss of Sunnyvale's public lands.” They’ve silently ignored the fact that Sunnyvale has increased its public land in recent years, adding more new park space in four years than in the previous three decades. Two new parks, a new fire station (the first in 50 years), a third expanded park, another new park on the way and two more in early discussion, all within the past four years. No other nearby city has done as well. And this all happened by simply letting the City Council do its job.

Sunnyvale’s civic leaders recognize the real threat posed by Measure M, and they’ve overwhelmingly stepped up to oppose it. County Assessor Larry Stone and former Sunnyvale Mayor Dianne McKenna, Sunnyvale’s traditional good government advocates, both oppose Measure M.

Ten current and former Sunnyvale mayors, 15 current and former Sunnyvale council members, seven of the 10 November council candidates, the County League of Conservation Voters, the Sunnyvale Chamber of Commerce, the South Bay Labor Council and the Sunnyvale Democratic Club have all united to oppose Measure M.

Measure M is the opposite of good government. It’s obstructionism that hurts city services and costs Sunnyvale opportunities for future gains in parks and public land. Sunnyvale voters should soundly reject Measure M.

Jim Griffith is a Sunnyvale council member. He wrote this op-ed for the “Vote No on Sunnyvale Measure M” campaign. For more information, visit www.SaveOurSunnyvale.com. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.

61 Comments

  1. Even if measure M fails this will not end until you reestablish Sunnyvale resident’s trust in your motives and commitment to public lands.

    Give us back Raynor Park. Stop renting out our elementary schools to for profit private schools and shoving Sunnyvale students into portables.

    • I am a Sunnyvale resident and I don’t understand the anger. What Raynor park deal did was to put unused buildings to good use. It was the job of the school district to fund and take over that unused building if there was a shortage of classrooms in public schools and they didn’t do so. This does not mean no one else should be able to use those buildings. But now with measure M you are forcing the city to consult the residents in every single case. Couldn’t this have been written better?

      • Many residents in Birdland did not object to the sale of the Raynor Activity Center but rather the extensive priority park use granted to the highest bidder (Stratford). There were other bidders that did not require such extensive park use. Bottom line, City Council got greedy and opted for highest bidder, at the expense of local Raynor park users, so that they could increase the library expansion plans in the Lakewood Park area, and improve the pool in the Washington Park area. It was a classic “rob Peter to pay Paul” scheme. Measure M is an imperfect response to a serious problem.

  2. Please remember that Jim Griffith is funded by the developers who want to land grab the Civic Center. Of course he is against Measure M! He’s been promised a new “Griffith Library” with his name on it, and he’d be willing to give away land to do so. He cannot, and should not, be trusted.

    • Your comment is just not true. Jim Griffith has not been promised any library. This type of unsubstantiated comment does not help to inform voters. Jim has taken the time to educate people and does not warrant baseless commentary. Measure M is bad for the residents of Sunnyvale.

      • “Jim has taken the time to educate people”…HAHAHAHA…Hilarious.

        Jim has taken the time to try to defend his legacy. He was the strongest proponent of the Raynor-Stratford deal, and he may be the single biggest reason that Measure M is on the ballot in the first place.

        Had he listened to his constituents, or to the Sunnyvale Planning Commission (who opposed the deal), or to several of his fellow Council members (who opposed the deal), then it’s abundantly clear that Measure M would not have been on the ballot.

    • Just an average Sunnyvale resident here trying to figure out which way to vote on this measure, and unhinged comments like this one (“Griffith Library”? seriously?) really make me want to side with the No on M people.

      • This is not as far-fetched as it sounds. While the library may not bear his name, the city website states “On November 19, 2013 City Council approved the sale of the Raynor Activity Center to Stratford School and directed that $11.5 million in proceeds from the sale be used for design, construction, and start-up costs for a new branch library located at Lakewood Park.” This page (http://sunnyvale.ca.gov/Departments/SunnyvalePublicLibrary/BranchLibraryConcept.aspx) states that as of April 2016 there are new developments to the branch library plan and that staff is working on an update to the page, so perhaps this is changing but it would appear this is still the plan of record since that statement hasn’t been removed. It is worthwhile to note the CM Griffith lives in the Lakewood neighborhood.

        Mayor Hendricks, CM Griffith – if this is no longer the plan of record then please get the update to the website done so we know what the current commitment is.

  3. Very good explaination of the issue and why Measure M is so bad for the residents of Sunnyvale

  4. Raynor Park has not been sold or given away. The City of Sunnyvale still owns all 11 acres of it. The activity center (those buildings that used to be school) was sold, per the request by the neighborhood years ago, to be a school again (instead of to a developer), which the city eventually did—to the Stratford School who, as a condition, has to have 51% or more Sunnyvale students. Like any school that abuts a park, they need priority use of some of the fields (1/3 of the park) during school hours to help promote the healthy physical development of the kids there, so they entered into a Joint Use Agreement (JUA), much as exists in all parks adjacent to schools here. Neighbors can use 2/3 of the park all of the time and the remaining 1/3 when the school isn’t using it. Measure M does not govern JUAs since they are not leases.

    • And, what’s the penalty if Stratford has fewer than 51% Sunnyvale students? Absolutely nothing of consequence. Read the contract.

      Also, Stratford has priority use of the park well outside of normal school hours. Read up on it. Don’t take my word for it, just Google “Raynor Stratford priority use hours”. You’ll see that Stratford has priority use outside of school hours and, in fact, during some hours over the summer.

    • The Raynor Park neighborhood goes to Santa Clara Schools. So though it is nice that Stratford is supposed to have 51% Sunnyvale students, the neighborhood will still be overwhelmed with cars – which may or may not be families from our neighborhood.. This does not help with the overcrowding in the SCUSD schools. The City Council, especially Jim Griffiths has lost the trust of many of us in this neighborhood. We are in this corner of Sunnyvale that goes to Santa Clara Schools and the Council does not do much to look out for us.

      A large number of Santa Clara residents use Raynor Park. But they don’t get counted when Sunnyvale is showing how much park space is available for its residents. Some members of the Council already pitted one neighborhood against another with the sale of the Raynor Park buildings money to be used for a library in another part of the city. Let’s find ways of bringing folks in the city and the surrounding cities together and not divide them.

  5. I think it’s fair to point out that the author of this article is a former mayor of Sunnyvale (and current council member), and the only person defending him is the current mayor of Sunnyvale. It seems the two are not looking forward to losing power after Measure M passes. I will be voting for it.

  6. The Sunnyvale residents who put Measure M on the ballot may have a legitimate gripe, but Measure M is the wrong way to go. Jim Griffith is right. Passing Measure M would be like dropping an A bomb on Sunnyvale to kill off the cockroaches. Sunnyvale would be destroyed, but the cockroaches would probably thrive.

    Everything Jim Griffith lays out in his statement about Measure M is correct. Measure M would apply to any lease of any public land that falls within the very broad definitions of the Measure. Take the Baylands Park. Measure M would require a City wide vote on whether the Indian community could lease the Park for the Dewali holiday or Rang De Holi.

    If Measure M should pass, there will be lawsuits against the City about what constitutes a lease of City land. The comment by Peter above states that Measure M would not govern Joint Use Agreements because they are not leases. It’s not that easy. A Joint Use Agreement might be a lease; the Santa Clara County Superior Court would have to decide that question.

    As Jim Griffith said above, the Sunnyvale Democratic Club opposes Measure M. After careful study of it, which included my interviews of its proponents, including Michael Goldman, we concluded it is unworkable, particularly because of its provisions limiting the leasing of City land. And, by the way, for those supporters of Measure M who are angry with Jim Griffith and the City Council, the Sunnyvale Democratic Club was not influenced by Jim Griffith or any City Council Member in its decision to oppose Measure M. We reached our decision based on our careful analysis of its provisions.

    • David, I’m puzzled by this statement “Measure M would require a City wide vote on whether the Indian community could lease the Park for the Dewali holiday or Rang De Holi.”

      In my reading, Measure M would not prohibit the Indian community, or any group, from renting any of the park facilities. Park facilities, for example the amphitheater, would remain available for group presentations, ceremonies, music events, etc.

      Are you suggesting the city (or city attorney) is confused about what constitutes a lease (land lease or ground lease) of city land vs. a rental agreement for park use?

      • Cindy, one Mirriam-Webster definition of lease is “a contract by which one conveys real estate, equipment, or facilities for a specified term and for a specified rent.” A contract is an agreement. So a “rental agreement for park use” is a lease. As to whether the city attorney is confused, I don’t know because I have not seen what he has said about Measure M. But I’m confident I’ve practiced law longer than he has. Park facilities such as an amphitheater would fall within the ambit of “community service amenity” and the rental of such facilities would have to be voted on by the City.

        • David, is Merriam-Webster the final legal arbiter of the word “lease”? There are other sources that define a lease as usually being a periodic payment, i.e. a one-time payment is not considered a lease. And, is there legal precedent for the word “lease” being used for something that lasts only a few hours? I, frankly, have never leased a U-Haul truck or any equipment from home improvement stores. Sure, I’ve rented them. But never leased.

          • Look at realestate.findlaw.com. Rental agreement is synonymous with lease.

          • Please review Kozinski’s analysis of the contemporary rule of binding precedent, …legal precedent is justified today as a matter of public policy.

        • David, your claim that park facility rental would need to be voted on by the City is ludicrous. When I reserve a park bench at Raynor for a family picnic, I am not leasing that park bench and that use does NOT qualify for a citywide vote according to Measure M. Do not mislead people!

          • Cindy, you’ve made an ad hominem attack here. You’re arguing now by a form of invective (“ludicrous claim”) without basing the argument on fact or logic. I actually practice law, and do at times have to deal with such issues as contract law (a lease is a contract), and every day I have to engage in the interpretation of state statutes and city provisions. I have not tried to mislead anyone. The analysis I’ve provided is just what a lawyer does every day.

            The question you raise about reserving a park bench is an interesting one. I would have to know more about the facts to decide whether it’s a lease and whether Measure M would apply to it. But the rental of a park for a day would without question be a lease and Measure M would apply to that lease.

        • Nolo Press seems to differ from your legal opinion.

          Rentals are short term agreements, which don’t need term a comprehensive written agreement. A “lease” implies a comprehensive written agreement. Time also matters, rentals usually are less than 30 days, and leases are longer.

          So according to the above: rental contracts, permits, use permits, etc. would of course NOT be subject to Measure M. It is pure misinformation to say it would require a city wide vote for the Indian community to RENT the Baylands Park, even if it were for an entire month.

          Also, according to yelp, you practice auto accident cases, so I’m not sure how that qualifies you as an expert in land use law, but to give you benefit of the doubt as a practicing lawyer I would assume you know the difference between rent and lease… which then means that you are intentionally trying to mislead people.

          Reference:
          http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/leases-rental-agreements-faq-29104-2.html

          • Thanks Craig.

            Upon further investigation, I learned that when a city “rents” a park bench, amphitheater or other community amenity, they are neither renting nor leasing. The city issues a “license to use”. It doesn’t matter that they call it a rental. It is not a rental (or a lease). Whereas leasing confers a “bundle of rights”, “interest in the land” and “dominion and control” of the space – a license to use merely conveys permission to do something (have a party, etc) on the land. So the entire “rent” vs. “lease” discussion was irrelevant. Thus, Measure M will have no impact on the ability of a community group to “rent” a city park site for an event.

            This makes sense because in other cities where the city charter has been amended to protect public lands – using language similar to Measure M (e.g. inclusion of the term “lease”), citizens can still “rent” park sites, gazebos, ski warming huts and a host of other community amenities.

  7. This is a tactic used by some of the city council members. They pit residents against residents to promote their agenda, which is the sale of city land, payed for by citizens. First they pitted Raynar residents against Lakewood residents, now they are pitting special needs children against Yes on M voters. Sunnyvale has very little parkland compared to other cities with similar populations. Yes on M.

  8. Who exactly did his “independent analysis”??? His piece amounts to a slice and dice argument. What’s wrong with having to ask the voters, who collectively “own” these properties to express their approval? Sure it cold, on the worst case, result in a 2 year wait for another ellection, but it could allso be only a matter of a few months wait in that cycle. We have the wonderful example of Palo Alto selling off schools for mini mansions and “loot” for a lot of developers – and now facing extremely crowwded schools with temperorary buildings stacked on topof each other. Sunnyvale City Council has not achieved a greatly admired status for their foresight. Look at downtown as an example.
    Remember the old song “this land is your land,, its not their land”?
    Let’s vote YES on M…democracy always has a way of winning in the long run. If it doesn’t work well in the future we can always change it later. We, not they.

  9. Yes, Jim Griffith and his city council cronies have seriously eroded Sunnyvale residents’ trust. The Raynor Park issue was botched from the start, including failures to: announce potential sale to the public, heed Parks and Recreation Commission recommendations *against* the sale, and heed many opposing voices of the council’s constituents (and non-Sunnyvale residents) who will no longer enjoy access to the entire park throughout the day. Thanks to Jim Griffith et al this park is now only *partly* public and its field use is limited to a *private* school’s after hours. Half of its students are non-Sunnyvale residents, so traffic through the neighborhood’s center will be heavily impacted at least twice a day. (So much for Jim Griffith’s previously expressed passion to battle global warming.) This should have never happened and must never happen again in this city.

  10. You reap what you sow. The Birdland community overwhelmingly opposed the sale of a portion of our public park to a private entity, the planning commission opposed it, but the council did it anyway. So much for representative government. Measure M may not be perfect but I will be voting for it. I don’t trust this council to protect my interests. They’ve sold themselves to developers and I’m done with it.

  11. The City of Sunnyvale and Councilman Jim Griffith have been attempting to get rid of parkland in the Birdland neighborhood for some 8 to ten years. The City has consistently claimed that it would cost $10 to $12 million to earthquake retrofit the old Raynor School safe for children. The actual cost that Stratford will spend to earthquake proof the school is $0 (zero dollars). Jim Griffith, who has no children, and thus has little use for park lands, lives in the one neighborhood that has the most park space of all city neighborhoods (some 10 to 16 acres per 1000 residents, depending on the specific areas mentioned) as compared to Birdland, which has less than 3 acres per thousand residents. His neighborhood has gotten an additional acre of new parkland and is slated for a new branch library, whereas Birdland, also farthest away from Sunnyvale’s existing public library, loses a potential library site by selling off Raynor School.

    The Birdland neighborhood attempted to solve its park space problems when Peterson Field (part of SCUSD) was being split up, leaving only15 of the original 26 acres available for youth sports. A suggestion was made to sell Raynor School and use the proceeds to buy the 11 acres now being used for Full Circle Farm, which may lose it’s ability to fund this spot due to insolvency problems. The City Council refused to do anything. Full Circle Farm’s ten year lease will soon expire. No one knows if SCUSD will renew a lease, or for how long.

    Meanwhile, the Raynor Park lands use by the general public will re reduced dramatically because the preferred arrangements that Stratford now has with the City limits the open field use by the public to after dark, and a few weekend daylight hours per week.

    Measure M will stop these ongoing injustices from continuing without the public’s specific approval. Too bad that it had to come to this, but the developer funded council (with over $146,000 given by developers to their candidates and nearly $385,000 spent by the victorious developer candidates, including Griffith and Hendricks, in 2013 needs to be stopped and our children’s welfare protected.

    Thanks for caring,
    Tap Merrick
    39 year Birdland homeowner

    • Totally agree with the residents for measure M. It is sad to see the city council not heed the voice of residents and pander to big money. Jim Griffith and the council in general have abused their power, and its time for the people to take it back from them.

  12. The question is whether you trust the city council to look out for the interests of Sunnyvale residents or the interests of the developers who paid for their campaigns. The funds they received certainly came with strings attached, and the Raynor school sale was indicative of that. They ignored the recommendation of the planning committee, gave park land to Stratford for the driveway and basketball court, and gave them priority use of the park both during and outside of school hours. The Raynor park sale & JUA are a done deal and I don’t believe that Measure M changes any of that. But do you believe they will act any differently when there is a development in your neighborhood? If you haven’t, I’d urge you to watch the Feb/March city council meetings where the sale of Raynor was discussed and voted on before you decide how to vote on Measure M. I, for one, will be voting Yes on M.

  13. I feel like it’s a really low tactic to try to use the disabled as a method to gain support. Basically if what you are saying is correct then AAH would remain in it’s current state UNTIL THE VOTERS MAKE THE CHOICE. Are you saying that the voters of Sunnyvale are incapable of making decisions? In your infinite wisdom Mr. Griffith are you implying that we as Sunnyvale residents are mentally incapable of deciding what WE want to do with OUR public lands?

    It begs the question of why you are so anti democracy. Using your line of logic it would appear that these are very communistic ways of governing. Are we to assume that is where you are leading Sunnyvale? As preposterous as that sounds it is equally, if not more ridiculous to use Animal Assisted Happiness as your way to play with people’s emotions. I think the only real mistake here is that the voters voted this current Council into office. Now that there is a threat to have oversight by the people of Sunnyvale you seem unreasonably concerned. Are we again to assume there is another motive? Please don’t play those childish games Mr. Griffith and those who are against Measure M. You are insulting our intelligence and it will not be overlooked.

  14. I only have one question to those who are anti Measure M. Why is there such a push to take away the vote of the majority when it comes to public space? Any of the Council are more than welcome to respond. It just to me seems like it’s perfectly reasonable that if the people want something or don’t want something that we should decide. Granted you were voted into Council by the public but it’s not taking any of your authority and/or power away. It actually helps people become more aware and informed which is what I believe everyone wants.

    • “Take away” implies it’s something residents already have, and they don’t have such a vote, for very good reasons. “Letting the people decide” isn’t like sending an email or taking an online poll. It’s not cheap, it’s not at all quick, and under Measure M, it’s not at all rare.

      I’m not worked up about votes before sales of park space. Those sales virtually never happen, and if your proposed measure simply said “you can’t sell park space without a public vote”, it would be very hard to argue against it, probably not even worth the effort. But that’s not even 5% of what Measure M says – it also restricts leases, lease extensions, swaps, and transfers (which includes purchases), and it includes administrative space and a whole lot of property that residents don’t even know the City owns. Those transactions happen dozens of time every year without anyone realizing it. In the time of the two Council items that the proponents have challenged, some 50-100 of these transactions have also occurred, so I’m not exaggerating when I say 5%. Charging $41k each and delaying those agreements hurts the city a lot and damages city services, and in ways even the proponents will notice and object to.

      The reason why we don’t have a whole lot more construction vehicles trucking through town every day is because we sign very short-term leases with utility providers and public works contractors, letting them stage those vehicles on nearby parking lots that aren’t heavily used for overnight storage of those large vehicles (Devcon at the Golf Course, KJ Woods out near Fair Oaks, one right now out near Fair Oaks and 237 for the recycled water project on Wolfe). That reduces the wear on our roads and large vehicle traffic, and those agreements can’t happen under Measure M. The dozen office leases in the Civic Center that net us $300k in extra revenue for services can’t happen if Measure M passes. Leases of cell towers in parks and on administrative land (and their frequent lease renewals). NOVA’s leases. And so on. Two years ago, were you even aware that any of these transactions happen on a regular basis? No? And now you insist that you need to vote on them?

      And why on earth would you insist on a public vote before the City can renew a lease of property FROM another agency? Is there a single objectionable case of Sunnyvale gaining additional public space through a lease that you can point to? Do you not like having the Sunnyvale Golf Course, or Baylands Park, or the John Christian Greenbelt? Because that’s what Measure M says – the residents must have a say in renewing those leases or future ones. Strangely, Measure M doesn’t prevent the City canceling those leases outright, which residents would object to quite strongly – just in renewing them. Again, the authors didn’t know what they were doing.

      We’re not making up these agreements or those costs or these impacts, and even we had no idea how insanely broad Measure M was until first the City Attorney and Public Works staff and later the 9212 report consultants started telling us about all of these agreements. Don’t give me that nonsense about “loss of authority” – the City Manager currently manages most of those agreements without any Council awareness. I didn’t even know about half of them, nor do I particularly want to micromanage those lease agreements. And I’m off Council in two years anyway, so I’ve got nothing to protect except the City.

      Pretty much all of the people arguing for Measure M are focused on the less than 5% of Measure M’s impact that has some good reasons behind it (even if I disagree with them). But the proponents ignore the more than 95% of cases where a vote requirement makes no sense and apparently isn’t even wanted by them – cases that will either require delays and extra money for lots of ballot measures, or will simply be too expensive and require too long a delay and force the City to just say “sorry, we’re not allowed to do that now”. I like what David Wessel said – it’s using an A bomb to kill a bunch of cockroaches. And the proponents have no valid or legal answer to any of these cases except “well, voters can fix the measure in subsequent elections”. Approving leases to different lessees with a single measure isn’t legal. And ballot measures aren’t free or cheap. It takes General Fund revenue that would otherwise go to services residents care about (like, oh, I don’t know, PARK MAINTENANCE?). The City doesn’t budget for ballot measures, much less the sheer volume of measures required under Measure M to maintain normal city operations.

      So forget about land sales and talk to me about why renewal of dozens of existing routine leases should need the cost and time for a public vote at the expense of other services that residents really want. Because I’ve got two City Attorneys, a bunch of City staff, and an independent consultant that tell me that’s exactly what Measure M does, and the proponents only have wishful thinking on their side.

      When 95% of the impact of a measure is undesired by everyone including the proponents, the measure isn’t salvageable – it just needs to be trashed.That’s why I’m personally opposing it, and “taking away a vote of the majority” isn’t even part of that decision.

      • Ok I suppose if you’re going to use my words in the most literal sense I am obliged to do the same.

        1. “if your proposed measure simply said “you can’t sell park space without a public vote”, it would be very hard to argue against it, probably not even worth the effort.” It’s not my measure so I’m not sure why you are insinuating that it is.

        2. “But that’s not even 5% of what Measure M says – it also restricts leases, lease extensions, swaps, and transfers (which includes purchases), and it includes administrative space and a whole lot of property that residents don’t even know the City owns.” In actuality the initiative only applies to a proposed sale, lease, swap or transfer between the City and another party involving a public park or community service amenity, which includes facilities and land whose primary purpose is to provide the public a place of city government administration, recreation, education, exercise, or enjoyment. The measure does NOT apply to non-community service amenities, commercial properties, utilities or infrastructure. (“FAQs – General Questions.” Sunnyvale Measure M. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Sept. 2016.) Can you reference to where the measure is actually costing the budget that you are referring to?

        3. ” Two years ago, were you even aware that any of these transactions happen on a regular basis? No? And now you insist that you need to vote on them?” No I wasn’t and being much more informed as many of us are now that a public land sale has occurred in our neighborhood which will increase traffic has forced the hand of all of us to be much more diligent. Without the oversight what we saw as residents were the majority of Council not acting in line with those who would be most affected by the use agreement made with Stratford. I honestly believe that this has caused more focus on the City of Sunnyvale’s decisions with all public space.

        4. “And why on earth would you insist on a public vote before the City can renew a lease of property FROM another agency? Is there a single objectionable case of Sunnyvale gaining additional public space through a lease that you can point to?” Not yet no, but again as I mentioned in point 3 there is far more scrutiny now that residents have seen first hand that this Council has voted against the majority of it’s residents in the case of Raynor Park/Stratford. Because it appeared that so much was “overlooked” and that there were, in the opinion of the 1000+ who were against the sale as it was presented, little that the public could do to avoid a decision that appeared predetermined.

        5. “Don’t give me that nonsense about “loss of authority” – the City Manager currently manages most of those agreements without any Council awareness. I didn’t even know about half of them, nor do I particularly want to micromanage those lease agreements. And I’m off Council in two years anyway, so I’ve got nothing to protect except the City.” So we are in agreement here then? I was making the point here that no one from Council would lose authority.

        6. In you op-ed piece you mentioned “This is the reality of Measure M. An independent analysis of the ballot measure found that Measure M would result in:
        a dramatic increase in election costs.
        a significant loss of revenue from canceled leases.
        loss of grant funding and debt financing opportunities.
        a substantial reduction in city services due to these revenue impacts.
        an onslaught of Measure M lawsuits from anyone unhappy with any land-use decision,”

        Who was part of this independent analysis? How is any of us to know that it was truly independent? I could easily find 5 respected individuals who would counter each of the results that you listed in your op-ed. It would be great to know who so that here could be greater credibility in what you are presenting as facts.

        7. “So forget about land sales and talk to me about why renewal of dozens of existing routine leases should need the cost and time for a public vote at the expense of other services that residents really want.” Why would anyone forget land sales when that is what this measure is written specifically for? As I mentioned in point 2 can you reference to where within the measure this cost is coming from? The costs would be minimal as review of covered projects would occur once every two years during already scheduled general elections. I’m not sure how this dramatically increases any costs to the city.

        I am not sure how my one paragraph was cause for such a response. I do however feel strongly that this measure has grown in popularity because of decisions like the Raynor/Stratford sale. What I have heard overwhelmingly is disappointment and apathy from many who feel as if they have no voice based on what happened with the Raynor/Stratford sale. It’s clear to me that this is the best opportunity to give the voice back to those who felt as if they have none. It’s my hope as well that there will be an even greater participation by Sunnyvale residents by supporting a measure like this which would give a reason to truly pay attention.

        Isn’t that we all want Jim, a more engaged city with more engaged residents? I don’t see that as a bad thing and I hope that you can see that this effort is only to help foster and encourage Sunnyvale to be the best city it can be. I welcome yours or anyone else on the Council’s feedback or opinion on that hope that many of us truly have.

        • Way to go Henry!!!! Maybe if the residents felt heard and that their council actually represented their interests we wouldn’t need to use an A bomb to kill cockroaches. But when a 1,000+ people feel marginalized and condescended to by officials we elected in good faith well sometimes drastic measures need to be taken. Maybe a lesson will be learned for the next time.

      • My honest opinion is that the City Council is against Measure M ( letting taxpaying, concerned citizens vote) because THEY realize that WE would not vote for THEIR special interests. Instead we could start to take back some control of our expensive environment.

  15. Measure M may not be the perfectly written measure. It likely has it’s own demerits. However in the broader scheme of things, it will protect the residents of Sunnyvale from the greedy hands of developers and private interests.

    The bay area is facing an increasing pressure on land. And history has shown (across cities around the world), public land is the first to go in such scenarios. Today it is Raynor park, tomorrow it might be City Hall and day-after-tomorrow it might be Baylands park. Irrespective of which community you live in, think of this issue as something that will impact you “one day”. Now is the time to act, vote YES on M, and to protect your future.

    • “Measure M may not be the perfectly written measure.”? That’s putting it lightly. That’s like having a boil on your leg and having your doctor amputate the leg. At least the problem with that boil is now gone, but I think most people would consider that overkill.

      That is tantamount to the type of treatment that this measure will provide. There is no “free lunch”—the upwards of $1M each year in costs that measure will sap from the city general budget has to come from somewhere: public safety, roads, parks, libraries, plus a variety of other services and infrastructure the residents all enjoy, and they will all suffer. There is no other place where these costs can come from.

      If this measure passes, would the proponents then apologize to the residents when this invariably happens?

      • If Measure M is truly the nuclear option, why is the city council not offering alternatives?

        Sunnyvale residents have made it clear we’re sick of the city putting Stratford’s priorities over our own kids’ best interest. What is our government doing to fix the underlying problem?

  16. Why do we need money to sustain our infrastructure? Where is our tax revenue going? I can’t understand, with all of the unbridled corporate development, which is always given the green light by the city council, why we would even need to sell off the little parkland we have. Something doesn’t make sense.

    • That’s a false premise: parks are not being sold. In fact, Sunnyvale just opened two new parks: Swegles Park and Seven Seas Park, and they expanded Orchard Gardens Park– all in the last 4 years. And a couple more new ones are in the planning.

      • Nope, sorry. Not premise, but fact. Park land WAS sold off at Raynor Park to create the driveway that goes around the Stratford to help with pick up and drop off. It was a small chunk. And there was NO need for a new basketball court with Peterson right across the street. Also, the use of the fields by Stratford after school hours basically removes the ability of the public to use them…and those are EXACTLY the hours when the public needs those fields the most. Effectively, as far as the public is concerned, those fields were sold as part of the deal.

  17. Neil,

    Under the law there is no difference between a lease and a rental. Yes, there is legal preceeent for “lease” being used for something lasting a few hours. Every time you rented a U-HAUL truck you leased it.

    • David, by your logic, every time I rented a car …I leased it. Clearly, there is a difference between leasing a car and renting a car. That difference is defined by the terms of the agreement. The legal precedent here is ample. You are intentionally misleading people. I am now very dubious of your “independent analysis” of Measure M.

      • Cindy, a car rental is a lease. The rental of a piece of land, including a park, for one day is a lease. One California Court of Appeal defines a “lease” as: “[i]t imports the giving, for a consideration by the owner of the greater estate, of the possession and use of a lesser estate in his property with a reversion to the owner of the greater estate at the end of the term.” A rental of a piece of land is the same thing. The term may be only one day. Parts of a park can be rented, and those rentals would be leases. (I am not saying here that the reservation of a park table for a picnic is a lease (or a rental). If no consideration is involved, then it may not be a lease.)

        Rentals and leases are the same thing under the law. You may choose not to believe this, but your choice would be the same as choosing to believe that the earth does not revolve around the sun.

        • David, we will have to agree to disagree on the “rent” vs. “lease” definition. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. They not interchangeable in legal contracts. If you have any doubt, the next time you rent a car try crossing out “rent” and replacing with “lease”.

          Back to the original topic, if I want to host a party or community event, I can “rent” a large picnic site at Baylands (seating up to 325 people) for $425. To suggest that, should Measure M pass, this will require a public vote is misleading. Below is a link to the red-lined version of the the changes to the Sunnyvale Municipal Code for Measure M. Which line item applies to my picnic party plans?

          Many other cities have adopted similar measures to protect public space, and the sky hasn’t fallen on them.

          https://sunnyvalepublicparksact.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/ballot-initiative-redline.pdf

  18. Measure M should be titled “Protect Sunnyvale Public Space from Jim Griffith”.

    I agree that it’s not perfect – what law is? – but with the blatant and constant disregard that particular members of the Sunnyvale council have shown to the city’s resources, I strongly believe that change is needed here to protect our city.

    If it does become a problem we can always make changes to it after its passed.

    • Wow, Steve, thanks for posting those links. Many head-scratching council decisions make whole lot more sense now that I’ve seen these investor lists.

  19. I am definitely voting yes on Measure M after witnessing firsthand how Jim Griffith abused the trust of Sunnyvale residents and sold off rights to our local public park to a private business. I witnessed firsthand how he disregarded the pleadings of Sunnyvale residents to keep the public land public. We lost that battle on a 4-3 council vote. We are adding new housing units at an unbelievable rate, our neighborhoods are growing increasingly crowded. I think Sunnyvale residents deserve a vote anytime someone decides they would like to cash in one of our precious public spaces.

    • Nice post Peggy, I’m with you. My Mathilda commute has turned into a parking lot due to the council’s complete lack of planning, and it’s only going to get worse. I have zero trust for this council to do any respectable work.

  20. Yes, thanks for posting, Steve, Now I know why council approves most every corporate real estate development rezoning request and barely asks for meager concessions.

  21. I would like to stop hearing constantly from CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS on this site. Glenn Hendricks, Gustav Larsson, Jim Griffith, Pat Meyering, Tara Martin-Milius, and Jim Davis. We already know your positions and have seen your handy work (downtown Sunnyvale Condo debacle, ). Power to the PEOPLE YES on M

    • The more public scrutiny the better. Our quality of life has been destroyed by the actions of the politicians who kow-tow to the developers. They take campaign donations and do their bidding. Traffic is unbearable and yet the high rise construction continues.
      Our peace and quiet is more important than increasing tax revenue that results in no benefit to Sunnyvale residents and property owners. All we get is higher fees, less service and congestion.

  22. Thank Jim Griffith and the likes of Jim Griffith (establishment, power grabbing, greedy, City, County and State Democrats and Republicans) for the rise and likely presidency of Donald Trump!

  23. Why is former Councilman, Chris Moylan calling the Birdland residents, “NIMBYs?” They already lost out to the City and at this point, seem to be fighting for all Sunnyvale residents.