Op-Ed: Sunnyvale’s Measure M Protects Public Property

The Sunnyvale Measure M’s Yes on Sunnyvale Public Lands for Public Use Act committee was formed to protect the future of public lands from sale or other forms of conversion to private businesses.

We are ordinary people, Sunnyvale residents who have an earnest desire to see no more of our public parks and community service amenities get disposed of without the consent of voters.

Over the last two years our group has grown to 80 members from all areas of the city, successfully created  Measure M and placed it on the ballot. Measure M’s sole purpose is to prevent public lands from being converted to possible private and non-public use without the consent of Sunnyvale’s citizens. We urge everyone to vote “yes” on Measure M. Without it, we have no such protection.

Our opposition consists of developers, lobbyists and insiders who have conjured up numerous situations in which they claim Measure M will block normal operations of the city of Sunnyvale, interfere with private property or development, and raise a storm of lawsuits that will disrupt management of city services. They go on and on to a really titanic number of problems that do not exist and most likely never will exist.

The opposition’s deceitful tactics and attempts bordering on influence peddling outside of public view are deplorable. Our opponents are incorrectly reclassifying every transaction a “lease” or “transfer,” even when the transaction is as simple as permitting the use of an unused Baylands parking lot for the proposed Animal Assisted Happiness project. Those can easily be converted to other types of agreements in the future.

But our opponents want to list every possible future transaction as something that would require a special election. They also rely on an independent analysis riddled with errors, inconsistencies and incorrect conclusions with no legal analysis whatsoever for their coverage and cost claims. You can be sure that cost is chicken feed compared to the value of any piece of public land lost forever.

There are many forms of agreements without a formal lease. It reminds us of the saying that if your only tool is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. There is nothing in Measure M that calls for an election or large expense for simple things like the barnyard animal project. As for the many leases already in existence, Measure M will not affect any existing agreements or leases as stated below.

Measure M is simple and straightforward. It requires public approval for the sale, lease, swap or transfer of public parks and community service amenities for private use. (Residents can still reserve the community center or a park for a private event, which is a use permit not a lease.)

Measure M also provides a new tool for Sunnyvale’s City Council and residents to reduce the extraordinary pressure to reallocate or re-purpose our public lands for non-public uses. It also allows Sunnyvale voters to have a say about the disposition and use of these valuable public parks and community service amenities.

There is nothing else in Measure M. It does not affect private property development, or the Fremont swimming pool or the Charles Street Garden agreements. It does NOT trigger a flurry of expensive special elections or general election measures; it does NOT raise taxes or affect the City budget or services.

Please learn the facts and Vote YES on Measure M, keep our public use lands public.

Signed,

Yes on Sunnyvale Public Lands for Public Use Act Committee

95 Comments

  1. This is so fascinating to me. Now that land values are so high here in the bay area, this seems to be the trend. And local governments are so strapped for cash, Mayor’s and City council folks seem to buckle under all these conversions of public lands to private lands.

    In San Jose there is a group of concerned citizens trying to encourage Liccardo and our council to vote no on GP16-003, a general plan amendment that would allow a parcel that is designated Open Space Parkland Habitat from being changed to Residential neighborhood (for a few high end homes on the Santa Teresa Foothills). The west end of the Santa Teresa Foothills near Almaden Lake are now being tossed around by a land use lobbyist and he’s trying to get them to take away the legally required label that protects it (Open Space Parkland Habitat) and change it to residential. Think about that. The public doesn’t even get a say because most of us never find out about it until the bulldozers are ripping out trees and hillside. This parcel is right across from Almaden Lake and provides the most amazing beauty to all park goers! It also is a wildlife cooridor. It also is the majestic end to the amazing “placemaker” Foothills that are in South San Jose.

    I thought San Jose’s new General Plan was all about infill development and preserving designated Open Space? Oh wait…it is about that!!!

    Lobbyist: “If you let us change the land use from Open Space Parkland Habitat and let us build a few nice homes here, the developer will help you build a trail.” What? It’s already designated in our city’s plan as Open Space Parkland Habitat! In fact, and we pay a parcel tax now of $24 (Measure Q) passed with supermajority of residents to ensure enough money in the fund to protect these parcels and to build trails to enjoy! Now they are at risk simply because some lobbyists is pulling a bunch of strings and is trying to change the land-use. The open space authority already has the money to buy and build a trail!!! Why is this lobbyist getting to take a chunk of steep hillside and turn it in another high-end single family home development that takes away the beauty and unique character of the foothills.

    I think San Jose’s Mayor Liccardo and City Council needs to think long and hard about allowing Open Space Parkland Habitat (steep hillsides providing unbelievable beauty for all of us living here) into another residential neighborhood. I wonder what the Mayor’s friend’s at SPUR would say about this? Aren’t they always preaching to us that infill will help save our environment? Or SVLG with Carl Guardino who helped pass measure Q saying it would protect us from sprawl on the hillside?

    Every time the city votes yes to on a five-story residential high-rise, they remind us that it’s necessary in order to protect our city from SPRAWL. Well then Mayor Liccardo and City Councilmembers….here’s your chance to vote NO on GP16-003 and prove that you are serious about the city’s reasoning!!!

    You can’t argue for high-density to preserve Open Space Parkland Habitat if you turn right around and vote to turn Open Space Parkland Habitat into residential. As the old saying goes, “You can’t have it both ways”.

    AND to voters out there…YES sunnyvale needs to do whatever necessary to protect Public Spaces!!! San Jose should consider the same measure.

  2. I find it rather ironic that in light of the KELO decision that city’s think they need protection from developers grabbing public lands. If your city council is doing bad things with the public trust, you need to replace the city counsel not pass a new law.

  3. Problem is politician lie in order to get elected. Sunnyvale council members Jim Griffith, Tara Martin Milius, Glenn Hendricks, Gustav Larson, and Jim Davis were supported with hundreds of thousands of dollars from developers and city employee unions (primarily Public Safety Unions or Associations as they call themselves). After the elections developers get rewarded with permits to do most of what they want including sale of public lands and City employee unions get lucrative contracts and Pensions that effectively choke City financing for current and future generations.

    Public Real Estate is a perpetual source of enjoyment for all future generations. We must not allow temporarily elected council members to personally profiteer by cashing out these perpetual assets in order to reward the special interests that funded their election.

    Please vote YES on Measure M and please DON’T vote for any council member opposing this measure or supported by Real Estate or Unions.

    • Mr. Brown,
      You have listed me by name. You state that ‘Politicians lie in order to get elected”. What lies did I make to get elected?
      You make the accusation that “elected council members to personally profiteer”. Can you explain how I have personally profited by cashing out…”? I have not profited from any vote that I have made on the City Council.
      Please do not try to just say a campaign contribution is some form of profit. Because if it is, the proponents of this measure have received the same profit. This opposition group has received campaign contributions.
      I stand by my public record and votes.
      Measure M is bad governance and will cause the City to spend funds on an unnecessary number of election items.

      How many Sunnyvale residents out there are happy they just had to spend money for a Special Election? And the spending of that money by definition is reducing City Services.

      I encourage residents of the City to come down to our Council meetings and be involved in the governance of the City.
      Glenn Hendricks – Mayor of Sunnyvale

      Vote No on M

      • Mayor Hendricks, with all due respect, residents of the City do go to Council meetings and are involved in the goveranance of the City – but often this is not enough. For example, the City Council failed to listen to many constituents – or to its Parks & Recreation Commission – when approving Raynor Park’s priority use permit by the private Stratford School. Although three Council members did listen (one even publicly apologized for the City’s mishandling of the entire matter) in the end the Council failed us. In spite of this we continue to be involved in the City’s governance, and one way is via active support of Measure M.

        • To RCNE,
          Thank you for responding.
          1) I am aware that residents of the community come to Council meetings. I was stating that I encourage people to do so, and would like to see more people express themselves. (I am not trying to keep people away from Council meetings, as some people occasionally comment).
          2) Is your example meant to imply that if someone comes down to a meeting and advocates for a position, the Council should just do it? (How do you suggest resolving a vote when people argue for different positions on a topic?)
          3) Are you advocating that the Council should just accept and do every recommendation that comes from one of our Boards and Commissions? (Are you aware that residents come and tell us to not accept recommendations from our Boards and Commissions – from time to time).
          You say “Council failed to listen…..”. I disagree. I actively listen to all members of the public that speak at Council meetings. I read all the email that I get from Residents and reply to a large amount of it. I discuss with residents that call me. I discuss with residents that stop to talk with me when I am out in the community. I read the Staff reports that include comments from residents. I attend public session meetings held by the City. I discuss with residents when they invite me to attend meetings. I listen to what they have to say and I share my view and information on topics.
          One thing I can tell you, is that just because I did not vote the way you wanted – does not mean I did not listen (and think about the residents information in my decision making process).
          If you think the Council failed you – that is your choice. I can’t tell someone how to feel.
          I will say that passage of Measure M will create more situations where you are not going to be happy with the out-come of City governance.
          If you would like to discuss this in more detail, feel free to contact me directly.
          (Just for clarity – Who is RCNE? I assume I am not longer responding to Mr. Brown)
          Glenn Hendricks, Mayor, City of Sunnyvale

          • Mayor Hendricks, I’m not sure why I didn’t see your reply to me. For clarity, I (RCNE) am a long-term (since 1992) Sunnyvale resident who is extremely concerned about recent multiple impacts on our quality of life. I commented on your reply to Mr. Brown but am not Mr Brown.

            Of course I don’t think that “if someone comes down to a meeting and advocates to a position, the Council should just do it.” That (and your comment on Planning Commission advice) is simplistic and misses the point. It’s not a matter of a single person attending a single meeting and expecting the Council to agree to a specific position. I shouldn’t need to point out to you that many Sunnyvale constituents – and others who use our parks – attended several meetings and eloquently presented well-reasoned support for a position (which the Planning Commission had advised). Resulting City Council action seemed to indicate that council members did not listen, or at least did not truly hear or understand the many speakers.

            The Council failed us long before the public meetings even began. It failed us by not giving advance public notice of the sale of public park property. It failed us by selling to a private school with a contract for its priority use of a public field. (Were other potential bidders given the same offer?) It failed us by stating that said sale was the only way to fund a new library branch in another neighborhood. The first standing-room-only public Council meeting on priority use included attendance by the library director, with library staff speaking in defense of the sale, although that was not the point of the meeting. Arguments against priority use of a public field by a private school in one neighborhood do not equate to opposition of a new library branch in another. By the way, I (RCNE) am retired from my 25-year career as a reference librarian and resent any implication (heard from some during the public hearings) that I don’t support libraries. I do as much as I support full public use of our neighborhood public parks.

            RCNE

      • OK, lets look at the campaign contributions to Measure M:

        Notice the mailer you just got about “No on M”? All the endorsers are current or ex-City Council members (and their family members appearing to be “normal, average citizens”) that were backed by Big Development. http://www.specialinterestwatch.org/No%20on%20M.aspx shows the top-3 contributors as James Griffith $9,583.88, Gustav Larsson $7,000.00, and Glenn Hendricks $2,000.00 (all as “Resident”). What individual should have this much money to contribute to this cause? Something smells fishy here.

        Notice http://www.specialinterestwatch.org/Yes%20on%20M.aspx lists true average residents.

        Look at http://www.specialinterestwatch.org/Gustav%20Larsson.aspx , http://www.specialinterestwatch.org/Glenn%20Hendricks.aspx , http://www.specialinterestwatch.org/Jim%20Griffith.aspx
        The top three (by a long shot) contributors to “NO” on Measure-M are current City Council members.

        • Thank you, David O’Brien. This comment deserves wide distribution and its own separate post at the Metro and the San Jose Mercury News.

  4. The proponents are the ones that appear to be playing fast and loose with the facts. For one thing, the majority of people against Measure M are just regular Sunnyvale residents who are concerned about the hemorrhaging of city funds, upwards of $1M per year, for wasteful, multiple election and legal costs—money that can better be spent on public safety, roads and streets, the library, senior and youth services, park maintenance, etc.

    Are we to believe the proponents who claim to better interpret the impact of the measure than the professional independent analyst that was tasked with examining it? For the proponents to simply dismiss the analysis because it doesn’t agree with their belief system or biases and then have these same proponents to say, simply “trust us” is not palatable to the majority of people who know or learn about this measure.

    The proponents may tell residents that leases are not leases, that different “arrangements” can be made when renewing existing or generating new leases is a hollow promise they can’t possibly keep. Proponents have even suggested that some of these ballot measures— we would have had 12 already if this measure was in effect last year—is also fallacious. The Constitution of California has a “single subject” requirement so ballots can’t be bundled up. If the venues are different, the lessees are different or the terms of the lease are all different, they are considered different enough by the statute.

    The first ballot item during a regular election cycle costs $80K, and each additional one is $41K. If time if of the essence for some issues, and we don’t want to wait up to 2 years, a special election costs $767K. (We just spent that much in August for election that nobody wanted to have but the city was forced to hold.) There is no “free lunch”: the city is assessed the election costs by the county, so we don’t dictate the prices, and there is no other place this money can come from other than our general fund.

    And all this is based on a false premise: that the city is selling our parks or wants to sell our parks. This is not true– no parks were sold nor does the city staff of the city council wants to even entertain such a notion. In fact, the city opened two new parks (Swegles and Seven Seas) and expanded a third (Orchard Garden), and there are a couple new ones are on the drawing board.

    There is a reason no other city in California has a measure like this. The proponents want Sunnyvale residents to be guinea pigs for a poorly written measure.

    • You say “majority of people against Measure M are just regular Sunnyvale residents” yet, the Endorser list on the No Website is eerily similar to the Donor lists for Jim Griffith, Glenn Hendricks and Gustav Larson.

      City Council/Staff worked *with* Management Partners in producing the 9212 report, therefore, the report inherently was not “independent”. Simply watch this YouTube video to get an understanding of why the Impact Report lacks validity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSyBa_pzOhA

      Additionally, you claim that the city was advised by a Legal Analysis… a document the City Council will *not* release to the public. So clearly the Council is withholding something (the City Attorney said it was the council’s decision to release this document, and they chose not to)

      Other Cities already operate with the distinction between rent/lease, etc. To quote another commenter (Cindy):

      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.

      • How arrogant of you to assume that those of us who donated to Jim or Glenn or Gustav aren’t just “regular Sunnyvale citizens”. I’m not a developer. I’m not a councilmember or a former mayor. But I am a 23 year resident of Sunnyvale and based on what I’ve seen and learned myself Measure M would be a disaster. The opponents have backed up every claim they’ve made. The proponents, on the other hand, have played fast and loose with the truth at every turn starting with the time I was accosted at the Sunnyvale farmer’s market during the petition drive by someone telling me that the city had “sold Raynor park”. Scare tactics like that are a sure sign that something’s fishy in the pro Measure M camp.

  5. Sunnyvale’s public parks are our jewels. We worked hard for years to get the new Seven Seas Park built, which is now widely regarded as one of the best neighborhood parks in the Bay Area. We got the new Swegles Park built. We expanded Orchard Gardens. We have another new park coming in at Duane and DeGuine. And we’re in early discussion for no less than three new parks. That’s almost seven acres of new park land in the past four years, more than Sunnyvale built in the 30 years beforehand, with up to eleven acres of additional new parks in discussion now. The notion that we’d ever sell one of our parks is just silly and is contradicted by the extraordinary commitment to parks that the Sunnyvale City Council has made in the past eight years, starting with when we quadrupled park fees for developers.

    A Sunnyvale ballot measure costs $80,000 for the first one, $41,000 for each additional one. Sunnyvale budgets for elections and candidate races, but not for ballot measures. Instead, the City must approve a “budget modification” after elections to pay the additional, unbudgeted cost for ballot measures. Check out the budget modification needed after a handful of Sunnyvale ballot measures in the 2007 election – almost $200,000 taken from the General Fund.

    The claim that this doesn’t affect city services is false. The claim that this doesn’t change the budget or impact city services is laughably false.

    The claim that the City can finesse Measure M’s requirements by creating something that looks and smells like a lease but somehow isn’t a lease is also quite silly and wouldn’t stand up in court for a second.

    The claim that Measure M doesn’t affect existing leases is bogus on its face, since Measure M requires expensive public votes for lease RENEWALS.

    Two City Attorneys’ opinions and an independent analysis of the effect on city services have all served as the the basis for every No on M argument. The Councilmembers working on No on M were additionally educated by a confidential legal analysis performed by outside counsel on exactly what Measure M would do. The Sunnyvale Democratic Club did its own analysis before opposing M. The Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters did its own analysis before opposing M. To date, there are multiple outside analyses all siding with No on M’s arguments.

    In contrast, not a single outside analysis agrees with the proponents’ fictions. The No on M team is relying on subject-matter experts for every opposition argument. The proponents are entirely relying on wishful thinking. This only leaves them with the option of character attacks on their critics, which is evident here.

  6. While true, Sunnyvale elections are being inundated with outside money from Developers and Real Estate PACs. It’s hard for a grassroots candidate to raise the capital to counter (or even keep up with) the massive amount of funds and marketing that the following council members received:

    Jim Griffith:
    http://www.specialinterestwatch.org/Jim%20Griffith.aspx

    Glenn Hendricks:
    http://www.specialinterestwatch.org/Glenn%20Hendricks.aspx

    Gustav Larson:
    http://www.specialinterestwatch.org/Gustav%20Larsson.aspx

    Tara Marin Millius:
    http://www.specialinterestwatch.org/Tara%20Martin-Milius.aspx

    • Why does a post from “Lakewood Resident” feature the photo of Tim Dietrich, head of the Yes on M campaign and a resident of Birdland – a neighborhood as far as possible from Lakewood in Sunnyvale?

      All of us are posting under our true identities. The President of the Yes on M campaign is faking identities on comment boards. So who is lying to readers now?

      • It was an honest mistake. I was using a public computer and the WordPress prefill was already filled out. I changed the email, but forgot the name. I noticed the error after hitting submit, but apparently we can’t edit comments on this site.

        Funny observation though, coming from the person that registered tapmerrickforsunnyvale.com and pointed it to his own domain…

          • Jim Griffith was not open about registering the “tapmerrickforsunnyvale.com” domain. It was only after I found his listing by accident after Griffith had listed it for two weeks., and brought it to the public’s attention, did Griffith take it down. I called attention to this violation to the Council and they refused to do anything about it. The Sunnyvale Sun later interviewed Griffith and he admitted doing this.

            Tap Merrick
            Candidate for Sunnyvale City Council, 2013
            39 year Sunnyvale homeowner

      • Because they are concerned about neighborhood residents losing their power to greedy politicians? I think people from Lakewood deserve credit for caring about Birdland and all of Sunnyvale!! Shout out thank you to Lakewood…we are better together!

        • Thanks, Barbara. This reminds me that council members often tried to make the Raynor Park facilities sale an issue of neighborhood vs. neighborhood, or a park in one neighborhood vs. a library branch in another. *Sunnyvale parks are enjoyed by residents who live throughout and beyond the city!* From Little League participants to those who work but don’t live nearby, many people are adversely affected by restricted use of our neighborhood parks.

          • Hello Henry,
            I am not sure what type of response you are looking for from the Council at this time and in this forum.
            The item you reference (and Thank You for sharing it with the public) is not scheduled to be dealt with by the Council until November 15. It is not appropriate for Council to publicly comment until we have had a chance to read the Report to Council (RTC) and have a public hearing and find out what people have to say about the topic. (I think you want us to take public comments into our decision making process).
            Members of the public can come down and share their thoughts at the public hearing. They can send comments directly to the Council. (Via the City website) They can send comments in advance to the Staff and those comments will be included in the Report to Council. Those mechanisms are much better suited to a public decision, the Council is about to make.
            This forum is discussing a Measure that will be on the election ballot this Nov. (already been voted on by the Council). This forum is not part of the public record that will go along with the Council decision item you are referring to. That is why I encourage people to send their comments to the Council or staff so that they will be included in the RTC. I think you are aware of this process and the need to keep an open mind until the public hearing has closed.

            Glenn Hendricks
            Mayor, City of Sunnyvale

          • Hi Mayor Hendricks

            Thanks for responding back. I’d like to know how the consideration of a half million dollars is considered fiscally responsible? I’ve read many comments from those who are against Measure M who have explained the fiscal impact of a vote of Yes on measure M will mean. I’d like to know Council’s thought about the alternative which is up for Council vote in November.

            I understand the process and apologize if I was unclear in my original post. I don’t expect an answer about how you will vote.

            I actually think that this has very clear relevance to the discussion. Had Measure M been in place when the decision was made to sell Raynor School and park space to Stratford perhaps this consideration of additional Sunnyvale taxpayer funds to finance this type of additional project would not be an issue.

            I will keep an open mind as per your request but I ask that others in opposition return the favor and have confidence in the residents of this great City to make the best informed decisions when it comes to public space.

            Henry Alexander

  7. The charge that Sunnyvale is somehow ruining its public spaces is nonsense. Sunnyvale has actually increased its park space over the last few years, opening Seven Seas Park and Swegles Park, the first parks to be opened in the city in decades.

    This measure is backed by a group of residents who are upset that the city council made the difficult decision to sell a piece of land after five years of trying — and failing — to find a tenant who would pay for the necessary upgrades. The property was unusable as it was and the city did not have the funds to rehabilitate it. The proponents are also upset the proceeds from the sale were not spent in their neighborhood, instead being used to fund a branch library to increase access in northern Sunnyvale and to fund a long overdue renovation at Washington pool.

    The opposition consists of residents who value good, responsible government, who understand that we elected a council to make the hard decisions for us. This measure siphons off valuable city resources, costing the city $1 million annually, to pay for elections and creating a whole new bureaucracy. The measure is poorly written that it actually results in all the citizens being asked to vote on numerous routine administrative transactions each election cycle. If this measure passes, there would be 12(!) additional items requiring votes in just the Nov. 2018 election alone.

    We elect the city council to do a job, and those of us who oppose this measure understand that sometimes we will disagree with the outcome. That’s what representative democracy is all about. It doesn’t mean that you should force all the citizens to vote on every little thing to micromanage city operations. If you want to have a greater say, run for council.

    • “The property was unusable as it was and the city did not have the funds to rehabilitate it.”

      Hello…this is the problem! Just because the city does not have the funds does not mean you sell it off! Believe me, it would mean San Jose should sell off everything it owns! Local governments end up making bad choices because local governments keep making bad choices and so it goes. So we keep paying and paying and paying our taxes only to find out it doesn’t really matter anyway – sell it off! We just can’t afford anything anymore! Sorry…but looks like other hard choices might need to be made like…yes…paying to have people micro-manage the government because officials are selling away what is important to so many. Maybe the point of the measure is that citizens are not being represented and they are sick of it.

    • If the buildings were not usable and there weren’t funds to rehabilitate them; then tear them down and keep the Raynor Park facilities 100% publicly available instead of giving a privileged private school special access.

      In the future, when there are funds; build more park facilities where the buildings stood(stand).

  8. Vote No on Measure M. Its not good government.
    I find it interesting that, this Opinion piece starts by saying they “are ordinary people”. So, are the Members of the Council. The City government is made of people in the community. People that do listen to input from residents and then make decisions.
    We are not as the article says “developers, lobbyists and insiders who conjured up….”. I am the Mayor of Sunnyvale, not a magician. I have no powers to “conjure”.
    There are no “tactics and attempts bordering on influence peddling outside public view are deplorable”. This is just inflammatory language to incite a belief in their cause. There are no facts or real considerations in this comment.

    I encourage all Sunnyvale voters to actually look at what this measure does. This Op Ed states “ Our opponents are incorrectly reclassifying every transaction a “lease” or “transfer”. No, we are not. What we have to deal with is what the language actually says. (And it’s a poorly written Measure). And how any group or individual will force the City to classify transactions. Even if the proponents don’t feel something needs to be treated as a lease other members of the public might have issues with a transaction, and they will require it to be dealt with under these rules – if it should ever be passed.

    This measure is not simple and it is not straight forward.

    Measure M is a bad idea. It is bad governance and it will negatively affect services in the City of Sunnyvale. (Please don’t confuse this with measures in different cities).

    I am on the Sunnyvale City Council. A body that was formed to protect and govern the City and its residents. A body that is elected and responsible to the residents of the City.

    Glenn Hendricks – Mayor of Sunnyvale

    • Glenn, no City Council members are not ordinary people. Most take large amounts of money from developers and realtors. No one donates the amount of money they did (both direct and indirect) to your and Gustav Larsson’s campaign without expecting outcomes favorable to themselves.

      “ordinary people” aren’t involved like this.

      As I biked around Sunnyvale the weekend before your election; I saw the large Army of door-to-door walkers the Real Estate PAC paid for and staffed. At first I was impressed by the numbers of what looked like grass-roots Sunnyvale citizens walking the neighborhoods. But then I talked to several of them, so I learned what was *really* going on.

  9. Other than Sunnyvale council members, looks like everyone is for Measure M. The council has truly disappointed us, and its time for the people to stop this abuse.
    Please vote yes on measure M

    Vijay
    A concerned resident

    • It would be more correct to say, “Other than a few NIMBYs, everyone is against Measure M.” A bunch of residents who are already unhappy about this year’s $767,000 special election and don’t want a dozen more such wastes of money, newspaper editorials, the former director of finance for the city, anyone in town who knows anything about land use, the public safety officers’ association, the labor council, the local Democratic club…the list of opponents grows every day. “Everyone is for Measure M”; what a laugh.

    • There are at least two people commenting on this article who are not city council members. I bet there’s a whole lot more who don’t want to engage only to be called names.

      Glenn is right. The members of the council are also members of the community. We live here and we shop here and we send our kids to school here. I am a former mayor and councilmember. I am also a native of Sunnyvale, and I bet I’ve lived here longer than most of the people commenting on this article. I love this town, and I ran for council because of issues relating to the downtown and the plans to overdevelop it. I can tell you from experience, it’s a lot harder to sit up there and make those decisions than it is to sit back and criticize with impunity. I have never met a council member — and I’ve met all of them from at least the past 20 years — who didn’t believe passionately in doing everything possible to make Sunnyvale a better place. Councilmembers may disagree on the methods, but everybody had the same goal.

      And I have never met a councilmember who didn’t believe that more open space was a bad thing, or that selling property was anything but an absolute last resort. Multiple councils held on to the land where Seven Seas Park now sits for more than 20 years, and more than one city manager who urged us to sell. Land sale is the sort of decision that no one in that position takes lightly. So please stop calling it “abuse.” It was a legal land sale that you disagreed with. If you want to change that, I suggest you run for council so you can be one of the seven who has to sit in that seat and make that call.

    • I am not, nor have I ever been a Sunnyvale council member. And I have been at odds with Jim Griffith at times. But Jim Griffith is exactly right on Measure M. It would be a disaster. It is poorly written and entirely too broad. It would encourage litigation against the City over the sale or lease of land. Our form of democracy is generally representative democracy. The proponents of Measure M want to turn it into micro-management democracy. That’s what the M is for: micro-management.

  10. I spent over 8 years on the council and was never “pressured” by anyone to sell a city park. No park has ever been sold by Sunnyvale in its 100-year history. I have never met a Sunnyvale resident of any kind who wanted to sell a park. It has never happened and never will. The more that every possible stakeholder chimes in against Measure M, the more lies the proponents make up. Sunnyvale’s public lands are not vanishing, and are not under threat. The whole Measure M campaign is a big fat lie started by NIMBYs in the Raynor Park area. They were wrong on their issue, they lost in court, they lost at council, and so Measure M is their revenge. Their biggest campaign contributor is a defeated council candidate who moved out of town and apparently still hasn’t accepted the fact that the voters preferred his opponent to him. Sort of like how Donald Trump is saying that if he loses the presidential election it will mean that the election was “rigged.” Some people just can’t handle the concept that the majority does not agree with them. The rhetoric you see above about how “evil developers” are somehow coercing councilmembers into selling city parks, or how councilmembers personally profited by selling city assets, is paranoid fantasy. Whenever one of these jerks would accuse us of “taking money under the table” because we didn’t vote his way, my wife always used to ask, “So where is all this money that you are getting?” Sorry, I’m a school teacher and I don’t make a lot of money and I never got a dime personally from a contributor, and nobody ever spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars” on my campaign. Others can say the same. These personal attacks on honest people by embittered losers who didn’t get their way have really dragged the whole public conversation in this town into the sewer.

    One hint: never believe anything posted by someone who won’t put their own full name on their words.
    Hint #2: never believe anything posted by someone who accuses everyone who disagrees with him of being “a special interest.” The Special Interest Watch website written by someone who lost two council races and could never accept that someone else just had more voter support once listed all of Otto Lee’s friends who made $100 campaign contributions as “special interests,” possibly because many of them had Chinese names. That kind of nonsense makes the whole city look bad.

    Selling the asbestos-filled and unusable Raynor School buildings to a new school to restore the neighborhood to its original design (a school surrounded by homes), as recommended by two different city managers for years, thereby liberating millions of dollars of Sunnyvale taxpayers’ money that was tied up in useless buildings, enabling the funding of capital projects that had been waiting for years for funding, was absolutely the right thing to do. When that school is operating and sharing the original school playing fields (now Raynor Park) with residents, it’s going to work out exactly as it did at DeAnza Park, where a Stratford School also shares former school playing fields with the city, and there has never been any conflict over use of the park space. The Measure M proponents will have no harmful outcomes to point to except their own bitterness and the damage to the quality of public dialogue in Sunnyvale. Just as the East Birdland residents had to admit that allowing people to turn left out of Kaiser Hospital onto Homestead Road has caused no problems whatsoever (they were screaming about how traffic would inundate Birdland) or how the Mountain View NIMBYs who opposed the Stevens Creek Trail are now completely silent since that amenity has proven to enhance their neighborhoods dramatically, the Raynor neighbors will eventually have to either admit that the council majority was right, or at least just stop telling lies, which will be a blessing. I am confident that their neighborhood will benefit and not be harmed. But if this spiteful measure passes, the entire city would be harmed. There’s no excuse for that.

    • Chris,

      Apparently you are trying to isolate 80+ volunteers from 20+ neighborhoods, and 7,400 citizens into a NIMBY Birdland issue. The fact is, the Measure M group came together over multiple issues, one of those being when the City entertained a 99-year lease and public/private partnership of a major portion of the Civic Center land to a private developer.

      During that 2014 Strategic Planning session (before this initiative), then-Mayor Jim Griffith is quoted as saying “We have to come up with a solution to the problem… That is our priority. If that involves voter approval for that particular approach, great. If it doesn’t. great.” How is anyone to interpret that other than “We don’t care what the voters think”?

      In addition, you are calling voters of this City names: jerks, losers, etc. People, no matter their opinion or how they voted, you were supposed to be representing. But apparently, your true feelings are that people on the other side of the isle from you are losers.

      How is the public supposed to have faith in it’s civic leadership when it’s clear, via your own words, that you don’t care about them?

      Further, you are trying to flame war usernames on an *anonymous forum*, but never spoke up when Jim Griffith, a sitting Elected Official, purposefully registered websites in the name of his opponent! Talk about deceit and lack of public trust – while in office! The fact that you are even trying to parallel the two issues is absurd.

      Finally, you go into great detail defending your political donations, and how they had NO influence over your decisions, then go on to say that the Measure M team is influenced by it’s “biggest donor” – you can’t have it both ways. Do donations influence or not?

      -Tim Dietrich

      • It is too bad that the cameras during Sunnyvale council meetings only show the speaker and do not show the faces of Sunnyvale council members/mayor while they are supposed to be listening with an open mind to whatever members of the public or other council members are saying. I attended a few council meetings while Chris Moylan was on the council, and I watched him roll his eyes repeatedly and make faces while other council members (not in the majority, so with a point of view different from Chris Moylan’s point of view) were speaking, or members of the public were speaking. Watching the eye rolling and face making completely changed my formerly positive view of Chris Moylan. I’ve never before seen an elected official behave that way toward others who are presenting an opposing point of view. I’ll bet if the cameras were on the whole council while they are supposed to be listening to members of the public that the eye rolling/face making would cease.

        • I agree. I attended several Sunyvale Council meetings where I saw the eye rolling and face making of city council members while my fellow Sunnyvale residents were speaking from the heart. The lack of respect was shocking. I wish the camera showed both sides.

      • Happy to reply to your questions.
        “entertained a 99-year lease” is a complete fabrication and you know it, whatever you mean by “entertained.” I was in office when the city manager suggested a public-private partnership as one possible way to save the voters the cost of fixing the many inadequacies of the civic center buildings. But that idea never got far enough to discuss such things as the term of a hypothetical lease. Every time the Measure M campaign repeats this lie, it confirms that it deserves to have no credibility.
        How is anyone to interpret Jim’s comment? Here’s how: “We will come up with a solution, whether it requires a ballot measure or not.” That’s how you should have interpreted it, because that’s what it means. I have heard examples of city councils deciding not to fix problems because they don’t want to go to the trouble and expense of a ballot measure. Jim was saying that we will fix the problem even if we have to go to that trouble and expense. If you could shake off your colossal bias for a second, and just read the English sentences, with the word “great” included in both options, perhaps you would understand.
        The only people I feel are jerks are people who lie to voters, and who call out from the council seats, “That’s why I didn’t vote for you,” as a Raynor neighbor did to one of my colleagues one evening. I have disagreed with many people over time, most of whom are very respectful, but the only group I have ever seen being openly hostile, disrespectful, and rude in council chambers is the group of people demanding that the city not do anything with the defunct Raynor school buildings. That is the only group of citizens I have seen treating “people on the other side” of them with deliberate hostility. The preposterous lawsuit was icing on the cake.
        “Flame war usernames”?? People who stand by their opinions put their names on them, even if not required. Go ahead and call yourself “Lakewood Resident” or “The Dalai Lama” if you like, but some of us won’t bother to pay attention to the post. And I am not trying to conflate two issues; you are. I have nothing to do with the other issue you invoke.
        “Do donations influence or not?” The only people that can be “influenced” are elected officials (as opposed to ballot measure proponents). In my experience, at the local level, I never saw anyone vote in a manner that made me suspect that it had anything to do with a campaign contribution. (The Federal level, where the costs of campaigns and the sizes of contributions are orders of magnitude bigger, is a different story, but I have no direct experience there.) But contributions do enable campaigns. The Measure M campaign is primarily enabled by someone who doesn’t live in Sunnyvale and who wouldn’t have to live with the consequences if it passed. I don’t believe that person would have voted preferentially in favor of his campaign contributors if he had been elected, but he is definitely making your campaign possible, which puts the city at risk. Looks like spite to me.
        The definitive statement on elected officials being influenced by contributions was the famous remark by the late Jesse Unruh about lobbyists when he was state treasurer: “If you can’t eat their food, drink their booze, sc**w their women, take their money, and then vote against them, you’ve got no business being up here.” City councilmembers don’t deal with lobbyists, so most of that doesn’t apply, but what voters should look for is whether a councilmember ever votes against a campaign contributor. I did it on multiple occasions and so did others on the council when I was there. And there were never any negative repercussions. Most people who contribute to campaigns want to be listened to and have votes explained. They don’t expect perpetual agreement. Most people in Sunnyvale are very reasonable.

        • Gustav Larsson, in the same 2014 Civic Center meeting, is quoted as saying: “A big worry upfront, when I hear about the 99-yr ground lease… 99 years is a long time. I would be concerned about the duration because 40 or 50 years from now the City may need to do something different. And if we’ve locked ourselves into a longer timeframe, that could be a real problem.”

          Therefore, the “99-year lease” is NOT a complete fabrication – It was addressed specifically by a City Council member.

          http://sunnyvaleca.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=4&clip_id=1459 starting at 1:07:10.

          I hope everyone can now see how much you are misleading people.

          -Tim Dietrich

        • Chris,
          “The Measure M campaign is primarily enabled by someone who doesn’t live in Sunnyvale”; please post a $$ amount and reference. I’d truly like to know if someone is behind Measure-M other than who I think it is. I’ve seen the “Non-Resident $2,000″ reference vs. the “Resident $13,177.97″ reference. Is this wrong? Are you saying the non-resident $$ is larger? Is it a non-direct contribution? Who?

          • I’m pretty sure it is who you think it is… a resident who recently moved out of Sunnyvale but lived here for 30+ years.

            Speaking of following the money…

            I just received in the mail a “No on M” flyer from the National Association of Realtors. Why would a Political Action Committee, based out of Illinois, be funding a a No campaign against protecting *public* lands in Sunnyvale? It’s not like Measure M prevents any private development…

          • Dear David,
            I am the one former Councilmember Moylan is in reference to. I did not write Measure M, nor was I on the committee that organized it. I have donated $4000 to Measure M because I believe that it’s intentions are good. I lived in Sunnyvale for 37 years, and once two of my grandchildren reach 18, 7 years form now, may well return to Sunnyvale. I currently rent out my Sunnyvale residence. Given that, is my local realtor status (as a landlord) qualify or disqualify me to donate to or against Measure M? And if it disqualifies me, what about all of the other realtor/developer dollars donated against Measure M and the over $150,000 donated in the 2013 council elections to keep/place realtor and developer friendly people in office?

            I coached, officiated and served on boards of directors for my two children when they were growing up (19 seasons). I would hate for current Sunnyvale children to miss out on all of the activities that were available to my children. Voting Yes on Measure M will give you, the voters, say on many of those big decisions.

            As with Presidential candidate Trump, Mr. Moylan is well schooled at only addressing some of the facts, the ones he likes. The others he ignores or falsifies. I have a well documented history of always telling the truth, and if wrong, will readily admit it and correct it.

            The presentation by the “non-partisan” group that reviewed Measure M when they presented it to the Council, omitted many of the good points that they actually acknowledged in their write up, and only presented the potential, but misleading expenses that might not ever occur.

            Thanks for caring,
            Tap Merrick
            39 year Sunnyvale homeowner

    • Wanting to vote on taxpayer publicly funded properties is revenge? WOW! Consider that Raynor Park neighbors may in fact just want full useage of the public park they bought houses next to. YES ON M

      • Tap, I think that Raynor area is fortunate to have your continued support.

  11. Are there any other measures or initiatives that the Council is vehemently opposed to? Although my active experience has been a mere 8 years in Sunnyvale issues, I can’t recall another topic that has raised the emotions of Council in such a way. Again I ask because from my vantage point I am seeing residents not only more actively engaged but also willing to take ownership of decisions of their own public space.

    I am personally very happy to see the amount of active participation by my neighbors all across Sunnyvale. I think that people have realized that paying attention to government from the City level affects their day to day lives in a much more significant way. When development supercedes park space it forces residents to take a micro view of where the Council’s priorities appear to be.

    It’s been great seeing the parks happen in Sunnyvale it just seems a lot harder to see them with more and more development occurring in and around them.

    • Henry, you raise an important point. You are right that a lot of the new parks have developments around them. That’s because, since Sunnyvale has no vacant city-owned property to convert into parks, the city government makes creation of new parks a condition of some development projects. The developer is given permission to build the project under the condition that part of his land is turned into a new park.

      You are also correct that citizen engagement is a good thing. There is a whole group of approved city policies designed to encourage more citizen engagement. But just because a group of previously unengaged citizens decides to participate in the public process, it isn’t necessarily true that their goal is good for the city. Imagine that a bunch of citizens who had never voted in a city election decided to push a ballot measure saying that all buildings constructed since 1960 must be torn down by eminent domain and converted back into farms. We could praise them for getting involved, but we’d have to defeat their ballot measure because it would do irreparable harm to Sunnyvale.

      • Chris I think that your analogy is mixing apples with oranges. That is like saying that when the law of the land says that slavery is the law that makes it ok?

        I think that again, this is a byproduct of how the democratic process can work and the formerly “un-engaged” as you mentioned may exist but there are also a large portion of the group that felt as though fighting City Hall is not an option. Of course I realize that those in Council must make difficult decisions that everyone may or may not agree with. This I see as different however. This is about public space. Not a “building constructed since 1960″. I still have not heard a legitimate reason however why providing the citizens of a city the right to choose is detrimental to the future of Sunnyvale. If tax payers are ok with the costs (of which I still am not convinced that there will be any additional) then so be it. The goal of public office is in my mind to be a “public servant”. What appears to be happening is that the members of Council are more concerned with loss of authority based on some of the comments I have read. I have seen little that has caused the type of passion from Council than this topic. I have never accused nor would I accuse the council of having a personal stake in the defeat of this measure but the manner in which some of the dialogue has progressed makes it understandable why some would think this way.

        It really feels like what some in the council and others who wish to defeat the measure are implying is that the residents of Sunnyvale are not intelligent enough to make a decision about their our city that we pay taxes in.

        I’ve also read the sentiment that residents should vote out those who disagree with how the majority feels. Unfortunately campaign promises hold little value as often those who run for office are more moderate during the campaign trail and once elected shift dramatically.

        I don’t see myself stopping my efforts to inform neighborhoods about decisions that affect their day to day lives. I think that through some of these decisions that Council has made however to over develop from our perspective this measure was birthed. At some point I believe the residents feel as though enough is enough. But please don’t consider any of those who support this measure uninformed or lacking good judgment. I think that those who support agree that it is “not good government” (to quote Mayor Hendricks) that has inspired the closer scrutiny and decisions for a proactive approach. We can agree to disagree however that is what I believe Yes on Measure M means.

        • Henry Alexander,
          This is Glenn Hendricks, Mayor of the City of Sunnyvale.

          You are correct, the Council does make difficult decisions – virtually every meeting. And all of these decisions carry important implications across the City. I do not know of anyone on the Council that is against this Measure because we are “concerned with losing authority”. We are against this measure, because it is bad governance.

          The poorly worded language of this measure interferes with the normal function of the City. It causes transactions, that even the proponents of this measure don’t think need to be included, to be voted on by the residents and negatively impacts the services the City provides to residents.

          I don’t understand your comment that the Council doesn’t have “passion” about decisions. You should come to more meetings. I see this “passion in decision making” at almost every meeting.

          No where have you ever heard me say or imply that voters are not intelligent. Quite the opposite, I think voters have been correct to elect Members to the Council and make these difficult decisions on their behalf. To understand the interconnected nature of decisions, to look at all aspects of the issue, to actively listen to public comments, to look at what is most appropriate for the community and then render a decisions. That is the job voters elect us to do. And I believe that we take that responsibility seriously and try to execute that responsibility to the best of our ability.

          I agree and have publicly stated – residents should be more engaged, they should speak up and share their views to decision makers on all topics we vote on. (And there are several mechanisms that are open to residents to do this). That is not the same as putting a poorly worded measure in place that is not good governance and reduces services to the residents. I suggest the residents “engage” with City Hall. Its not a question of fighting, it’s a question of engagement.

          And since you quoted me. My comment is that “Measure M is bad governance”. Please vote No on Measure M.

          • Hi Glenn

            I never intended any of my comments to be personal first and foremost. When I mention the implied tone and messaging from the opposition I am merely echoing some of the thoughts of the public with whom I am in close interaction with. I think it’s important to recognize that this is a very real sentiment. My comments have been in a general sense and in no way has specified any one individual on Council unless a comment or question was directed specifically to me.

            I definitely have attended a fair share of meetings before and during your time on Council and have seen plenty of passion to say the least. The passion I refer to now is to defeat a measure that would, by vote, allow residents to vote on what how public land is sold, leased, rented, or gifted. I can’t, in recent memory recall another measure that Council members have put such a focus upon. Again I could be wrong and if I stand corrected I am willing to accept that. My message is not one of accusation but a request for clarity to understand the reason with real qualified data.

            I am not one who insists upon having a circular conversation and I respect that you and others may feel a certain way about the measure.

            It is my belief that it will give this great city the ability to not only help shape the future in a positive way but also provide the engagement that we all agree lacks. I still have not seen any convincing information that supports that this measure will result in the reduction of services for the residents of Sunnyvale.

            Until then, myself and many others will continue our support and will vote YES on Measure M.

  12. I am an ordinary citizen of Sunnyvale (over 20 years), not affiliated with either side of this debate, and rarely take the time to post a comment online.

    After reading everything posted here and several other articles on Measure M and the corresponding comments, I am definitely voting NO on Measure M. It would be an unmitigated disaster for our great city.

    If you’re not happy with the council, vote them out of office, but don’t cripple our local government in the process for years to come.

    • Jeff, very well put.

      I will also be voting NO on measure M. In a fully developed city (as Sunnyvale is) and county enjoying an economic boom with a resulting acute housing shortage, over crowded roadways, and very complex land management choices, having the public vote on all city wide public lease issues just won’t work. The reason, very few citizens can spend the time understanding enough details about any one issue to make a good choice. So glossy mailings and signs by well funded campaigns will carry the day. I believe better decisions are made by elected officials and staff who do spend time to understand the tradeoffs.

      Consider Raynor Park. I suggest that the majority of Sunnyvale voters can’t tell you where these buildings are located, let alone understand details about their state of decay, history of the site, and how they have been used in the past. I certainly didn’t for over 30 years as a voter in Sunnyvale until I became involved with Full Circle Farm, across the street. If the sale of the property were put forth to the voters, do proponents of measure M think it would have failed? I very much doubt it. Most residents of the city are not impacted one bit by this sale. Indeed, most residents in Raynor Park aren’t impacted as the buildings were privately leased and not accessible to the public. And the argument that the required maintenance costs could be better spent on services which benefit all would be difficult to overcome.

      Likewise, the civic center. I have participated in the public outreach process on how to upgrade our city offices and library. This issue is even more complex. Putting it to the voters who don’t have the time or energy to be informed can result in a bad decision for all.

      We need more public involvement in dealing with multiple decisions going forward. I wish public outreach meetings, conducted by the city, were packed with citizens instead of the 10 to 20 who usually show up. I wish people would spend more time picking the right candidates in council elections. The debates should be held in an auditorium packed full of citizens, instead of in park buildings with 15 to 20 participants.

      Personally, I didn’t like the Raynor Park building sale to Stratford, a private school affordable to high income people who for the most part don’t even live in Sunnyvale. But Measure M is not the answer. Two wrongs never make a right.

      danh

  13. Those supporting Measure M keep making personal attacks on those of us who have concluded it will badly harm Sunnyvale. They say the opponents are all “developers, lobbyists and insiders.” Not true. The Sunnyvale Democratic Club is opposed to Measure M. The op ed in support of Measure M does not really address the language of the measure.

    Here’s what the Sunnyvale Democratic Club has to say about Measure M: http://www.sunnyvaledems.org/Public%20Lands%20Act.html. We address the actual language in Measure M.

      • Barbara,
        The Sunnyvale Democratic Club is a group of people who periodically gather to, in Sunnyvale’s situation, control the City Council. Members include Councilmember Jim Griffith and many of his allies whom you will often hear speaking in favor of developer interests. They carried forward a lie about me when I ran for Council in 2013. When I asked for a retraction or, at least a source, they refused to respond to either. All because I refused to accept developer donations.

  14. Can anyone show statistics at what rate and how much has public land in sunnyvale been “converted” (sold, long leases that easily renew, or any other mechanisms that cities uses to give land rights away to limited entities). And perhaps even benchmark it to all other cities in the Bay Area and maybe even around the state and country (normalized to area, population, annual household income property value and other potential correlations)

    I think showing this may help the folks new to this discussion get a better idea on what’s going on, beyond the rhetorics.

    Having people talk about how this is going to cost more or that we haven’t never converted a park( btw assuming this measure is more than just parks ) , or we have opened more parks recently than in previous years is not data driven decision making. What I think remains in addressed are key questions like
    1) is the measure going to slow down the conversion of public lands more than what has been happening in the past ?
    2) is the rate of public land conversions or perhaps the concept of public land conversions a “good thing” (supported by data) and ?
    3) what does the majority of the city residents want in terms of public land conversion ( zero or some other “sustainable” percentage) ?

    I really would like to see data not accusational logic based on character assassination so that anything that person states cannot be “correct”.

  15. My husband and I worked hard to get measure M on the ballot. We originally moved to be by the lovely Raynor Park. Now you’ve sold the taxpayer funded school and park to a private school. Another blow against long term citizens and taxpayers in favor of the nouveau riche private school types….Id like to see a list of all the public schools that have been sold into private use without the permission of the taxpayers in the past 15 years…Please provide this to the public–Sunnyvale City Council—Laurelwood Elementary school is impacted while residential housing is exploding in that area. What a shame to have had Raynor Elementary never used for its originally slated purpose, A PUBLIC SCHOOL. Is it Sunnyvale or is it MONEYVALE $$$

    • Hello Ms. Lee,
      My name is Glenn Hendricks. The mayor of Sunnyvale.
      I don’t believe any Public Schools in Sunnyvale have been sold in the last fifteen years or so. The School Districts (not the City) sold off Public Schools back in the 1980’s. (I believe it was that time-frame). That was their answer at the time, to address declining enrollment.
      At the time that the City was looking to sell the Raynor Activity Center – the Santa Clara School District did not choose to bid on the site.
      You mention taxpayers. If Measure M passes, it is actually a net negative to the Taxpayers of Sunnyvale.
      The lovely Raynor Park is still there.
      And I do not believe there has been any significant housing built in the Laurelwood area of Sunnyvale to impact enrollment. I believe all the housing development you mention took place in other Cities that also attend Laurelwood.
      I appreciate that you have a concern and that you worked to get Measure M on the ballot. I have publically said we should celebrate the engagement that people have had on this topic.
      However, that engagement does not change the fact that Measure M is not worded well and will cause a reduction in services to the residents of Sunnyvale.
      These reduction in services will be caused by the time and money that will be needed to put many transactions up for vote in an election – that the initial proponents of this measure agree do not need to be voted on.
      I base this analysis on the facts; I have read the measure, I have read the arguments for and against, I have spoken to many residents of the City and by being on the City Council for almost three years. I have to make the difficult decisions for the City. I have to look at all sides of a question. I have to look for the best answers for Sunnyvale.
      Measure M is a badly written measure and is bad governance.
      I appreciate you have been involved in this and hope that you will continue to participate in Sunnyvale and share your thoughts and ideas with the Council.
      Everyone – Please vote NO on Measure M.

      Glenn Hendricks
      Mayor, City of Sunnyvale

    • Barbara, You have to understand the separation between local government and school government. The school boards and districts in California are 100% independent from the local city governments of the boundaries within which they reside.

      The question you’re asking is likely one for school districts and not the city. It is my understanding that the buildings at Raynor park are unique in that they were a Santa Clara School District school, but the Santa Clara School Board gave the land + buildings to the City of Sunnyvale.

  16. City council members have an obvious bias to justifiy their previous and ongoing positions. This website would be much more informative if it were voters speaking other than council members. Perhaps Sunnyvale and Santa Clara School jurisdictions could cooperate to provide public education for those overflow children of Laurelwood School. Raynor School is empty and conveintly located about 4 blocks away. YES on M

    • I am an independent voter and not affiliated with the council or anyone else. I have done my own independent analysis and Measure M will cost the city and us, the taxpayers, HUGE amounts of money! It’s not the answer. NO ON M!!

    • Hello Ms. Lee,
      I am not justifying a previous position. I am looking at the information that has been presented and coming to a conclusion, based on the totality of the information available.
      I am sorry if you do not appreciate that members of the Council are taking the time to respond in his forum. In your previous note, you asked for someone on the Council to provide information about School Sales in the last 15 years. I did.
      The City of Sunnyvale does work collaboratively with the Santa Clara School district, as well as the other districts in the City. (Sunnyvale School District, Cupertino School District and Fremont Union High School District). I believe Milpitas also has area in Sunnyvale – just no one lives in that area.
      The last I heard,Santa Clara School District did not have plans to reopen the Raynor School, even if they were able to acquire the property. (But, you would need to contact the School District and see if there is any new information on that topic).

      Everyone – Please vote NO on Measure M.

      Glenn Hendricks
      Mayor, City of Sunnyvale

  17. The two Stratford schools that already exist ,(one on Hollenbeck and one on Pastoria) took over already existing schools. Werent they previously taxpayer funded public schools? Is Sunnyvale slowly getting out of the public education system?

    • What if:

      – the Sunnyvale School District says “we don’t have enough enrollment and can’t use these buildings”
      – the city says “we want to lease these unused buildings to a private school and generate needed revenue for other services”
      – the voters say “no” (requiring a SPECIAL ELECTION which will cost us even more money)

      = we have unused buildings and less revenue for other city services.

      The city can’t force the school district to open new schools, and if the district needs the site they will tell the city. The school district and city are separate and have different budgets. We elect a school board to manage this for us just as we elect a city council to manage the city, if we aren’t happy with the job they are doing we can elect a different council with different views. Measure M is an extreme example of micro-management.

      Yes, there are some schools that are crowded and have portable buildings, that doesn’t mean the district has the money to open another school site which is far more expensive. Measure M does nothing to address school funding which is a statewide issue.

      If there is a member of the Sunnyvale school board or district administration who has an opinion on Measure M, I would like to hear what it is?

      • When public schools are sold as private schools, the remaining public school become impacted and the pressure increases to provide kids with a private school education. Many people prefer a public school as it is more affordable, less special interest (religious, ethnic, ect.) and definetly more diverse and democratic. Also, if our schools are sold where does the money go? Who dedides? We want to decide..YES on M

        • Barbara, it is more complicated that than. The Sunnyvale School District is a “Basic-Aid District”. This means more tax money comes in withing the boundary than the district would get from the State for ADA (average-daily attendance).

          A Basic-Aid district (e.g., the Sunnyvale School District) gets all that tax allocation whether or not a child within the boundary goes to the district school.

          So the Sunnyvale School District’s dream is that they have a single student (to stay in business) and get all the others to go to private school (or other out-of-district schools). In other words, a Basic-Aid school district is highly motivated to push students out of schools to private or home schooling. What a nice way to encourage that be ensuring there are 3 private schools within Sunnyvale’s boarders so they are convenient to attend.

          This is one messed up system that was created by Prop-13 in creating “Basic-Aid” districts.

      • When our Sunnyvale schools were originally built, they were built to accommodate about 350 students per school. Now our local schools are rebuilding or renovating or adding portables to accommodate about 700 students per school, thanks to Prop. 13, passed by voters in 1977. However, as these school district facilities have shrunk in size based upon the then existing student populations, populations have again grown due to increasing area jobs, thus now requiring more classrooms to meet the growing demand. City governments are different than school board governments, and they just don’t care. Students don’t vote.

        The Raynor School would have been a great place to now accommodate the over 700 area students wanting to go to public school in their own neighborhood, bot some can’t. Even SCUSD would have loved to have this property back, but can’t afford to buy back for $13 million the school and land they sold for less than $2 million. Especially as Cupertino, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale have all decided to build much larger multi-family developments without providing for the school resources needed to build new schools and fund on going teacher expenses.

        Measure M would be another check on city government to better provide for our children’s public educational needs.

        • I agree with you, but that is NOT what Measure M does! It is VERY POORLY written and has many other consequences far beyond what you are stating, which will gridlock our local government and cost taxpayers many tens of thousands of dollars which then won’t be available for other services.

          If you want to stop the SALE of public lands and/or school facilities without voter approval, then put a measure on the ballot that will accomplish that. Measure M goes way to far and is bad for the city, not the council, but for everyone.

          The people who authored Measure M have good intentions, but it is poorly executed and should not be passed, the collateral damage is far too great. Please try again but do it right next time, NO on M.

        • Tap, you are out of date. Ellis has nearly 1,000 students. Cherry Chase is 871. Cumberland is also high 800’s or low 900’s [Data from the Sunnyvale School District Meeting 10/28/2014, at the Cumberland School]

          • David,
            Nothing that either you or I said is in error. Iwas talking about 1960’s and 1970’s, not today. and so you know, Stocklmeir has 1200 students.

            Thanks for your comment.
            Tap

    • Wrong on Pastoria site. Stratford School took over the old senior center, after the City build the amazing new facility on Remington. And the school district makes a handsome profit on that lease agreement. stop your careless deception and get your facts straight if you are attempting to be a leader.

      • Ted, wrong in what way? The Pastoria site WAS a public Sunnyvale School District school.

        http://www.sesd.org/Page/602

        creation of three schools (Sunnyvale Avenue School, Pastoria School and Fair Oaks School – now Bishop, Adair/Sunnyvale Senior Center, and Ellis School) each in housing areas which could soon support neighborhood schools.

        • David – The school was shuttered in the 80’s due to declining enrollment and it become the former City Senior Center. Measure M proponents conveniently twists facts to say, Stratford closed or took over existing public schools. They say this to make it look as if city/school governance are selling off the lands indiscriminately. In the Pastoria case, the district leased to the City (cheap lease terms), then to a private party and receives a significant lease anally that funds other school programs.

          Weblink only for long term history, not past 30 years.

    • The Hollenbeck and Pastoria schools (and DeAnza school) are all still owned by the Sunnyvale School District.
      (which has no control or affiliation with the City of Sunnyvale Council & Government).

      The Sunnyvale School District chooses to rent these facilities to elite private schools rather than use them for public education. All the while there is over crowding at Cherry Chase and Cumberland. (research the resent re-boundy fight of the Southern Washington Park neighborhood)

  18. More money and space is set to be considered for Stratford School at an upcoming Council meeting being held Tuesday November 15…

    “16-0718 Approval of a Reimbursement Agreement with Stratford School, and Approval of a Water Line Easement Benefitting Stratford School”

    This is related to the closure of the Raynor Activity Center. As part of the closure, Raynor Park requires a new solid waste enclosure and storage shed. To facilitate construction, and make it more efficient and cost effective, staff is proposing to enter into an agreement with Stratford School to perform the work as part of their project construction at the site. There will be a new trash enclosure, storage shed, driveway to access the trash bins, and sidewalk conforms. The total cost is approximately $500,000.

    This will include the existing water line that serves the existing buildings which was not located per historical plans. The council will be considering granting an approximately 100 feet long easement to Stratford for the existing water line.

    I find it interesting that this Council is very keen about “good governance” and “fiscal responsibility” however will likely vote in favor of almost $500,000 in additional costs.

    Since we clearly have Councilmembers in this forum I’d be interested to hear from them how this consideration is helping the City of Sunnyvale. Can you please tell us all how a half a million dollars, which will be voted upon AFTER the November election is anything that the residents should not have a say about?

    I invite you all to consider the upcoming election and those who support these types of considerations on the Council. I also ask that you support Measure M with a YES vote so that these types of actions are never repeated in our City.

    (This was originally posted on a Birdland and Raynor Park neighborhood email group but I also wanted to ensure that all of the Council who are very active in this discussion have an opportunity to respond. Not just the Councilmembers who are subscribed to our neighborhood Yahoo group.)

  19. > Tribalist? i dont want more, i just dont want less and less. YES M

    Barbara:

    How do you know that the amount of land the city owns is the right amount of land? Maybe they own too much.

    The federal government owns 48% of California, way, way too much.

    It costs the taxpayers money when the city owns land it doesn’t need for legitimate government purposes.

    • sjoutsidethebubble, you’re comments seem rather out of the mainstream. What is a “legitimate government purpose”?

      Sounds like you’re against parks and Federal Open Space.
      You’re the only one I’ve ever heard suggesting that the City of Sunnyvale owns too much land.

      • > sjoutsidethebubble, you’re comments seem rather out of the mainstream

        David:

        You are correct, I AM out of the mainstream.

        You, on the other hand, seem to be squarely in the mainstream and surrounded on all sides by people you agree with. I’m sure it makes thinking a lot easier.

        You lucky guy!

  20. parks and schools that people have come to depend on and use are very legitimate uses. YES on M and a new city council before we lose too much of what we moved here to enjoy…And building parks in other parts of Sunnyvale to make up for Selling Raynor makes no sense when you bought a house next to Raynor. And when you name parks, please dont name them after council members (insult to injury) YES MMMMM

  21. All of Sunnyvale public land is in jeopardy while people wait for a “well written measure” Is it worth the wait? Does the Sunnyvale City council work for Sunnyvale citizens or for Sobrato construction? I am also confused about this idea of Schools becoming unnecessary and therefore needing to be sold off. Population never drops in this area, and rarely even stabilizes, Raynor could have been used for students for at least a decade now instead of laying fallow. Property is always increasing in price and declining in availability.(which leads me to believe that there is NO plan to EVER replace that public school) How will the government reimburse the citizens for the taxes that went into that school building and park and maintenance? Maybe a reimburse in the form of Private school tuition for the neighborhood kids?

  22. Mayor Hendricks, I’m not sure why I didn’t see your reply to me. For clarity, I (RCNE) am a long-term (since 1992) Sunnyvale resident who is extremely concerned about recent multiple impacts on our quality of life. I am not Mr. Brown but commented on your reply to Mr. Brown.

    Of course I don’t think that “if someone comes down to a meeting and advocates to a position, the Council should just do it.” That (and your comment on Planning Commission advice) is simplistic and misses the point. It’s not a matter of a single person attending a single meeting and expecting the Council to agree to a specific position. I shouldn’t need to point out to you that many Sunnyvale constituents – and others who use our parks – attended several meetings and eloquently presented well-reasoned support for a position (which the Planning Commission had advised). Resulting City Council action seemed to indicate that council members did not listen, or at least did not truly hear or understand the many speakers.

    The Council failed us long before the public meetings even began. It failed us by not giving advance public notice of the sale of public park property. It failed us by selling to a private school with a contract for its priority use of a public field. (Were other potential bidders given the same offer?) It failed us by stating that said sale was the only way to fund a new library branch in another neighborhood. The first standing-room-only public Council meeting on priority use included attendance by the library director, with library staff speaking in defense of the sale, although that was not the point of the meeting. Arguments against priority use of a public field by a private school in one neighborhood do not equate to opposition of a new library branch in another. By the way, I (RCNE) am retired from my 25-year career as a reference librarian and resent any implication (heard from some during the public hearings) that I don’t support libraries. I do as much as I support full public use of our neighborhood public parks.

    RCNE

  23. Regardless of what becomes of Measure M, I am proud of the effort and organization that it took to get this far. Just realising that the city government is self serving and money driven and making a determined effort (as a group) to keep a leash on these people (and replace them) is a huge step in the right direction. For years I thought Sunnyvale had gone completely brain dead and its SO comforting to see that concerned citizens are still alive and well and willing to work for justice. My husband and I were at Las Palmas park with a Measure M petition getting signatures,3 days after he was released from the hospital after a quadruple bypass. My kids enjoy hearing that story and knowing their folks are working to preserve what the townspeople built and depended on for their future.

    Every time I go by Raynor Park, its like a punch in the gut. It looks more and more like a prison, we paid for it and now were locked out

  24. >Just realising that the city government is self serving and money driven and making a determined effort (as a group) to keep a leash on these people (and replace them) is a huge step in the right direction.<

    Barbara! This is exactly what I think about these things. We need everyone to rise up in their local communities and create new groups of voters that "get it" and will not only "leash" greed driven policies but REPLACE THEM!

    Thanks for your post!

  25. Thank you Jill, Its so good to find like minded individuals…yay.

    I want to add to the list of public schools sold to the private sector, SUNNYVALE HIGH SCHOOL was sold to The KIngs Academy. I would like to find a way to get that income from the property back to the citizens who paid for the public school originally. Also, shouldn’t taxes be lowered every time one less school is being maintained for the public? The public will need more money when sending their kids to public school is no longer an option. Losing all these public schools is bad thing for democracy and equality.and unbias education.

    • Hello Barbara,
      The Sunnyvale High School property has not been sold to Kings, its a lease. And this is not City property, it’s School District property. You need to talk with the School District, it has nothing to do with the City or Measure M.

  26. Sunnyvale taxpayers should organize a law suit to get reimbursement for the public lands that have been sold. The public shouldn’t be shorted because of City Councils short sightedness. Any lawyers out there? City Councils have no right to play fast and loose with our money, and end up profiting at everyone else’s expense. Citizens shouldn’t even have to spend more for gas to drive their kids out of the neighborhoods for private schools..