Still More Corporate Office Towers

On Tues. June 14, 2016, at 7:00 p.m.  Sunnyvale’s City Council will vote to allow building of a 1.7 million square-foot office complex [the approximate area of 35 and a half football fields], near Mathilda Ave. and Highway 237.

It will include five more 129-foot-tall office buildings, 4 concrete parking structures and 5,340 parking spaces.  These office towers require the council to change the city Plan and the Zoning of the property to allow the developer to build nearly three times as much as normal rules allow.

5 councilmembers have taken money from the developer and/or the Political Action Committee funded by corporate real estate developers.   This council majority allows developers to build beyond what normal city rules allow.  Complying with building rules would reduce the developer’s profit.

Many of the more than 5000 expected vehicle trips per day generated by this development, will inch down Mathilda and Wolfe Rd.  The width of these streets was built for moving a much lower volume of traffic.  The significant increase in new vehicle trips will worsen congestion and emit toxic carbon monoxide, and particulate matter.

These pollutants increase asthma and other chronic respiratory illnesses among Sunnyvale residents and children.  This project, and the council changes to the building rules violate Sunnyvale’s General Plan requirements to protect public health and the environment.   This project breaks the City’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions.

The new office complex includes on-site facilities for the more than 9000 expected computer company workers to dine 3 times/day, gyms with shower and spas, and laundry facilities.   All washing and most bathroom activities will take place at the office.  During the ongoing drought Sunnyvale residents have been told not to flush their toilets.   Water conserved by residents will serve workers at this new office complex.

Many of the highly-paid 9,000 workers will compete for housing in north Sunnyvale to reduce travel time to the office.  The greater demand will significantly increase rents at local apartments.  It will be particularly painful at the nearby mobile home parks.

These parks have provided lower-rent housing, compared to other parts of Sunnyvale, for thousands of retired and moderate-income residents for the last 5 decades.   Recently, mobile home park seniors in their 80’s have seen sizable rent increases caused by a series of council approvals of high-density office towers which exceed normal city building rules.  Money used for heart medication must now go to pay for spikes in rent.  The elderly no longer can afford both.

This project will accelerate housing demand and rent increases.  High earners will force out seniors and lower-wage workers from Sunnyvale.

Paying all the costs of the development would eliminate the developer’s profit.  Thus, the city council majority transfers most of the costs to others to pay.

The office complex is being built on the shore of San Francisco Bay, in the risk zone for flooding from sea-level rise.  The council majority supports levying additional property taxes on Sunnyvale residents to pay millions of dollars to construct a seawall/levee to safeguard this privately owned land/office complex.

The developers demand Sunnyvale build a $100,000,000.00, 2000-foot bridge at the north end of Mary Avenue.  Taxpayers will be forced to fund this project.

Residents will pay the increased health care costs resulting from Pollution.

Sunnyvale small retailers lose shoppers discouraged by long and lengthening travel times to local stores.

Residents and businesses pay for fuel wasted while crawling along choked city streets.

Have an opinion?  Express it at the city hall meeting at 456 W Olive Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086.    Or send comments to


Sunnyvale Plans to Worsen Traffic

June 29, 2015

City government revealed its plan to significantly increase future building in Sunnyvale and the vehicle traffic that results.

The number of homes, beyond what’s already been approved, will increase another 24%, mostly in high-density condo towers.  Sunnyvale’s population will grow by another 30,000 to 35,000 people.

There will be an additional 12.3 million sq. ft. of office/commercial space beyond what city government has already authorized.  This 26% increase will be in blocks of office towers.  The council majority’s plans accommodates over 80,000 additional [mostly computer company] employees coming into Sunnyvale.

The plan allows vehicle flow to deteriorate considerably across Sunnyvale.  The amount of traffic congestion on a street is measured by its “Level Of Service”, or LOS.  The LOS ranges from traffic flowing smoothly at LOS “A”, to conditions getting progressively more congested from LOS “B” through “E” until vehicles reach gridlock at LOS “F”.

Currently 7 of the city’s 60 major intersections are at LOS “E” or “F”, where vehicles average actual travel speeds of 9 to 14 miles per hour.   The City council majority plans to more than triple the number of poorly functioning intersections to 25 of Sunnyvale’s 60 major intersections.  The city is calling this plan a ‘Land Use and Transportation’ update.

City government is seeking to sidestep and deflect public opposition to the plan by directing residents to fill out a survey.  The questionnaire tells respondents to rank vague terms like ‘Complete Community’, ‘Attractive Design’ and ‘Environmental Sustainability’.  The survey avoids asking “Do you agree with more building of office and condo towers in the city?   Direct questions like “Do you support dramatically increasing traffic congestion in the city?” are nowhere to be found in the survey.

However, you can write your direct answers to these important questions.  Send in your opinion about the plan to significantly increase future building in your community and the vehicle traffic that results. By U.S. mail to:

Sunnyvale City Hall

456 W. Olive Ave.

Sunnyvale, CA 94086

Or by email to:

In recent years Sunnyvale has grown tremendously in construction of new buildings and population.   Massive, impersonal blocks of buildings now loom over single family homes.  Schools and parks are overcrowded.  [The council majority has recently sold city park land while simultaneously increasing the number of residents that need to use parks.]

Movement of people and emergency vehicles is now unreliable.    Traffic snarl on Sunnyvale streets burns unnecessary fuel and emits toxic air contaminants for prolonged periods.    The greater air pollution increases respiratory illnesses in children and adults.

The hundreds of thousands of additional sinks, bath tubs and toilets installed in the council majority’s new buildings will explode the demand for water during worst shortage in recorded history.

Residents’ demand for rationality in public planning needs to be expressed.

Council Majority Receives Money from Developer + PAC . . . then Rezones Developer’s Land

The City Council majority gave a Real Estate Developer special rezoning to build very high density, 89-foot tall office towers along N. Wolfe Road, and Arques Ave., 500 feet away from Sunnyvale residences.

The towers will contain ¾ of a million square feet of office space, triple what the current building limit allows.  160 ‘Heritage Trees’ will be cut down, making a mockery of Sunnyvale’s Urban Forest Plan.

A City-owned street is being abandoned and the land given to the developer to provide more area to build on.  Nearly 100 million pounds of concrete will be poured, including to build 2541 parking spaces.

This complex of office towers huge costs on the Community.

  1. It adds more than 3,000 new vehicle trips at area intersections, with extreme negative effects on traffic flow.
  2. The gridlock burns fuel and emits toxic air contaminants at a higher rate for a longer period.
  3. The increased air pollution results in increased respiratory illnesses and diseases in children and adults.
  4. The complex dramatically increases the number of people seeking housing in the city and seriously aggravates the upward spike in housing costs and apartment rents, forcing lower and middle-class families to move out.
  5. Thousands of additional sinks, shower stalls and toilets installed for the 2,500 employees working in the new towers [with a full gym] will drain water from the limited supply available to Sunnyvale families during the worst drought in recorded history.

This real estate developer hired a promoter, to ease the way for the project’s success.    The promoter is also the treasurer of a real estate developers’ political action committee (PAC), which has raised tens of thousands of dollars from developers.  This PAC has contributed thousands of dollars to the campaigns of each member of the city council majority.

Councilmembers solicit and receive money from real estate developers, whom councilmembers know have building proposals that will come before the council for a vote of approval on the developers’ requests to substantially exceed the City’s building limits.  The particular developer for this project gave money as recently as May 2014.

This project would have no chance of approval without the votes of the councilmembers, who took money from the real estate developer, its promoter and the real estate developers’ political action committee.

Sunnyvale needs a Conflict of Interest ordinance to require recusal by councilmembers from voting on a proposal by any individual or entity from whom or which, the councilmember has taken money.

City Council’s Budget Undermines Interests of Residents

Last week the city council approved an annual budget that carries out the goals of the councilmembers, rather than serving the needs of local residents.   The taxpayer’s money is wasted.

The budget contains money for additional employees to speed up the processing of requests by real estate developers for deviations from municipal building limits.   Councilmembers have taken money from the real estate developers.

There is no money in the budget for legal action to take control of all or a portion of the downtown property and complete the project.   Councilmembers have taken money from the downtown developer and are allowing him to lock up the project for years.

There is no money in the budget to rent a structure for use as a homeless shelter after the council majority closed the longstanding neighborhood shelter.  The council majority says there’s not enough money for the homeless.  But the budget does include money for pay raises for the councilmembers.

The budget doesn’t include money to fix all the known, broken public sidewalks in the community.   The budget doesn’t include money to even survey of all community public sidewalks to identify all the broken ones.   The council majority say it’s strategic not to know which ones are broken.  Because claiming ignorance makes it easier to avoid legal responsibility for injuries.

The budget does include additional money to pay 100% of the increased costs for councilmembers to have full vision, dental and health insurance.   Councilmembers will pay none of their own premiums.

There is no money in the budget to reimburse low income seniors for the significant increases approved by the council majority for garbage and water rates.   A major portion of the rate increases is to fund the $1,500,000.00 additional payment the council majority approved for the garbage company in the middle of a binding contract.   Councilmembers have taken money from the garbage company.

The budget includes money to pay the increased costs for retired councilmembers lifetime medical reimbursement.  Seniors, who are retired councilmembers, are taken care of in the budget.   All other Sunnyvale seniors, who are not retired councilmembers, are forgotten.

Pat Meyering voted against approving this Budget.

The Sunnyvale City Council majority Votes to grant SummerHill Apartments a Special Development Permit for a 105-unit 4-story apartment complex at 455 S. Mathilda Avenue

Posted November 11, 2013

The Sunnyvale City Council majority Votes to grant SummerHill Apartments a Special Development Permit for a 105-unit 4-story apartment complex at 455 S. Mathilda Avenue.

The project creates multiple problems for Sunnyvale residents.

  1. The 3 commercial buildings on the site have been occupied by non-technology companies that hire Sunnyvale residents with diverse work experience and educational backgrounds. These businesses offer a wide range of services directly to residents.   The proposed project illogically converts this commercial space to residential use.  Conversion forces the current commercial tenants out of Sunnyvale and, in some cases, out of business.

According to Stephen Levy, director of the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, the non-technology companies employ a lot of people and serve a lot of customers.  In 2012, non-tech companies were more profitable than their technology counterparts.  These businesses were able to capture revenue without having internal higher labor costs and other overhead.

  1. It is not compatible with the commercial nature of a successful downtown to forcibly replace operating businesses with residential units. Conversion of this site erodes the synergy that develops among multiple, nearby commercial enterprises.   This synergy is needed to make Sunnyvale’s downtown, which is on life support, successful.
  1. The proposed apartments significantly increase traffic congestion in an already gridlocked area.  No Traffic Impact Analysis was conducted.  A claim is made in Report 2013-7468 that the project will generate fewer p.m. peak hour auto trips than the existing office use.  No explanation is provided as to how residents of 105 housing units, returning from work and school, would result in fewer trips than the workers at a dozen small businesses leaving the office.
  1. The residents of the apartments and their guests and service providers will generate a significant increase in new vehicle trips, which will emit pollutants, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and particulate matter.   These pollutants will increase the risk of asthma and other chronic respiratory illnesses among Sunnyvale residents and children.  This project violates General Plan requirements to protect public health and the environment.   This project breaks the City’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions.
  1. With its sole access on Charles St., the apartment project will generate too many vehicle trips northbound through a single family residential area, as project residents seek to avoid the standstill traffic and multiple red lights on northbound Mathilda Av.
  1. The inadequate parking at the proposed project will result in a significant demand for on-street parking at night, to the detriment of residents along Charles St. The current commercial use generates zero demand for on-street night parking.
  1. The proposed project will result in a more than seven-fold increase in the amount of floor space used at the site. Over 166,000 square feet of floor space will be added on this 1.6 acre parcel.  At its peak, the building will be over 54 feet in height.  This is too large a building for the site, neighborhood and adjacent roads to accommodate.
  1. The squeezing of 105 residential units onto 1.6 acres results in inadequate open space for the new Sunnyvale residents, less than 80 sq. ft. per unit, some of which contain 2 bedrooms.
  1. The proposed density of 65 housing units per acre is out of proportion to the typical Sunnyvale ratio of 7 to 8 housing units per acre. Local  government does not have the education, law enforcement, road and park resources to properly service this level of occupancy.
  1. There will be significant negative impacts on Sunnyvale’s only Community Garden.   Located on the opposite side of Charles Street, the growing area of the Garden will be shaded during portions of the day by the more than 54-foot height of part of the apartment complex.  The resulting reduction in sunlight available at the Garden will negatively impact residents’ growing of vegetables, plants, flowers and herbs.

Pollution deposits from the increased auto exhausts emitted at the project’s sole driveway on Charles St. will build up on the plants growing in the vegetable garden.  Accumulation of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter will negatively impact the edibility of the produce.

  1. The building style will resemble that used for the new apartments on W. Washington Av., on the former Town and Country shopping site. Many Sunnyvale residents are critical of the architectural style of the Washington Av. apartments, describing it as unappealing, fortress-like, blockish, with a predominance of concrete construction.
  1. The proposed clearcutting and destruction of all 43 trees on the site violates City policy and goals. Many of the current trees are large and provide a canopy at more than 50 feet in the air. These trees provide carbon sequestration, intercept airborne particulates, aid soil water retention and reduce erosion, provide shelter for wildlife, reduce the urban heat island effect and increase quality of life for neighboring residents and visitors.
  1. Under the proposed residential use, there will be 88% ‘Lot Coverage’. Report 2013-7468 does not identify what the ‘Lot Coverage’ is under the current use.  No meaningful comparison can be made for decision making purposes without that data.
  1. No data is provided as to the distance between buildings under the current use and under the proposed residential use. No meaningful comparison can be made for decision making purposes without that data.
  1. The proposed use violates the objectives, purposes and goals of Sunnyvale’s General Plan. Diverse office and commercial uses are removed from the Downtown.  This undermines the cohesiveness, vitality and viability of a commercial core for the City.
  1. The proposed use impairs the existing uses being made in the nearby neighborhood of single family one-story homes.
  1. The site, along a seven-lane, heavily traveled arterial road, is not physically suitable for residential use. Bedroom windows and balconies setback  6 – 10 feet from Mathilda Ave. jeopardize the health of the future Sunnyvale residents.
  1. Traditionally a developer is required to install roads to allow travel to and from a new project. The current streets around the proposed site were built to move a much lower volume of traffic. The width of the current streets was designed to move a smaller number of people going to smaller surrounding buildings.

To increase its profit, the applicant obtained permission from the council majority to significantly increase the size, density and usage of buildings beside the City’s older roadways.   Such permission should have been denied or in the alternative, tied to a corresponding responsibility to build more roads or a transit system.  To do otherwise creates havoc in the City, significantly impeding the mobility of Sunnyvale’s residents and the customers, employees and suppliers of the City’s businesses.

Sunnyvale Garbage Rate Hike and Downtown Fiasco Show Council’s Repeated Conflicts of Interest

Sunnyvale’s city council majority voted to increase your garbage rates.

garbage truckAbout 50% of the increase is to fund payment of an added $1,517,500.00 to the garbage company.     Some Sunnyvale councilmembers received financial contributions from the company owner.   Subsequently the majority of councilmembers approved payment of the added $1,517,500.00.             This payment comes while a valid and binding contract between the city and the garbage company, for a lower payment, is in effect.

The city and its residents get nothing in return for transferring the extra money to the councilmembers’ donor.   The original garbage processing contract was awarded through a competitive bidding process. The benefits to Sunnyvale residents of using a low bid procedure were undone by the city council paying more than the originally agreed contract price.   The council’s action increases the profit for the private company and disadvantages Sunnyvale residents.

There is a conflict of interest on the part of councilmembers who received financial contributions from the garbage company owner..  The authority on ethical requirements for local government officials is Santa Clara University.   Scroll down to the 9th paragraph at     where the rule is stated:

It is not sufficient for government officials to make conflicts public. They must take themselves out of the decision-making process altogether.

Among the ‘yes’ voters for the additional $1,517,500.00 payment, are those councilmembers who also took money from the downtown developer and then voted to approve an unusual development agreement. The developer was excused from the standard requirement of purchasing and posting an overall performance bond. That developer delayed and then walked away from the downtown project, wanting to bid in the subsequent foreclosure procedure, pennies on the dollar for the city’s downtown land.  As a result, Sunnyvale’s downtown has been and will remain a broken fiasco for years into the future.

The same councilmembers, who took money from the downtown developer are now blocking legal action by the city to acquire title to the downtown property. Those councilmembers say they want to maintain amicable relations with the parties, one of whom is their donor. Among the ‘yes’ voters for the additional $1,517,500.00 payment to the garbage contractor, are councilmembers who have also taken thousands of dollars from a real estate developers’ political action committee and then repeatedly voted to approve high density, multistory condo and office towers for those developers, while waiving the multiple violations of the city’s General Plan and Municipal Code contained in those developers’ new projects.

Money is given to councilmembers because of their seat on the city council – because of their ability to affect city government decisions. No money is given by the donors to Sunnyvale residents, who are not on the city council.  Decisions unfavorable to residents, but favorable to donors, are made by the city council after receiving money from those donors. This method of governing and lack of ethics results in reduced Police protection, sidewalk/street repair, red curb painting, and other services because the fees and taxes you pay have been steered by councilmembers to extra payments to their political donors.

Sunnyvale’s City Council majority votes to pay more than the originally agreed contract price to a garbage processing company, after the company contributed to council members

Posted May 1, 2013

Sunnyvale’s City Council majority votes to pay more than the originally agreed contract price to a garbage processing company, after the company contributed to council members.

The council voted to allow the private company an additional payment of $607,000 per year for 2 and a half years [for a total added payment of $1,517,500.] The original contract for garbage processing was awarded through a competitive bidding process.

The contract amendment, which is retroactive to July 1, 2012, increases the profit for the private company.   The company asserted that the profits (under the terms of the original contract) weren’t what they anticipated.

There is no gain to residents from the city awarding a unilateral benefit to an experienced business. Unanticipated profit fluctuation is the risk that every business deals with. The benefits to Sunnyvale taxpayers of using a low bid procedure were undone by the city later agreeing to pay more than the originally agreed contract price.
There was no evidence requested by the city or submitted to the council showing the private company was experiencing financial hardship.

The California Constitution, Article 11  Sec. 10.  (a) states that *A local government body may not grant extra compensation or extra allowance to a public officer, public employee, or contractor after service has been rendered or a contract has been entered into and performed in whole or in part, or pay a claim under an agreement made without authority of law.*

The Sunnyvale city council granted extra compensation to the garbage processing company after a contract had been entered into and performed in part.

There is a conflict of interest on the part of councilmembers [including Spitaleri + Moylan], who received financial Contributions from the company owners.

The 2 major owners of the garbage processing company are listed at:

One of the garbage company owners was seated in the audience at the April 30, 2013, city council meeting when that evening members of the Council, who had received contributions from him, would vote to give his private company more than $1,517,000  in additional payments.
The site shows candidate contributions. A second site that shows the same candidate contributions is:

The authority on ethical requirements for local government officials is Santa Clara University:

Note in the 9th paragraph, it’s stated that It is not sufficient for government officials to make conflicts public. They must take themselves out of the decision-making process altogether.

The Sunnyvale council NEITHER made their conflict with the garbage contractor public nor recused themselves.    The council’s action increases the profit for the private company and disadvantages Sunnyvale residents.   The recipients of campaign contributions awarded a unilateral benefit to their donor, who runs an experienced business.

The story about the contractor’s extensive experience going back decades to even collecting garbage using horse drawn carts is at:

Sale of City-owned Land, Open Space and Trees

Posted  August 13, 2012

On August 28, 2012, the city council is scheduled to consider a proposal by a real estate developer to deviate from Sunnyvale’s General Plan and approve the conversion of commercial office space along Mathilda Ave. to very high density (69 units per acre) apartments.   This is the first step in City Hall’s plan to sell off substantial portions of the city-owned land and open space in the nine square blocks between Mathilda and Pastoria and from El Camino to just south of Iowa Ave.

This plan was first revealed to some residents at the July 31st  special council meeting, held at the Sunnyvale Public Library and not televised or video or audio recorded.   The meeting concerned the Library and Civic Center Facility Options.

The below city photograph depicts how the area would be densely rebuilt, removing open space and many significant trees.  Under the plan, it looks like the Charles St. organic community garden will be discontinued.

This plan to sell off substantial portions of city-owned land and open space needs to be widely known and discussed, so all those in favor can rally support and all those in dismay can rally opposition.

Residents who oppose the plan are already at a disadvantage.  Although the real estate developer has its parent corporation’s headquarters in southern California, it has retained the services of a local promoter.  The promoter, who eases the way for the developer’s success, has  contributed to the campaigns of several city councilmembers.

The promoter is also the treasurer of a political action committee (PAC), which has raised tens of thousands of dollars from other out-of-town developers.  This PAC has likewise contributed thousands of dollars to the campaigns of each of 5 of the 7 Sunnyvale councilmembers.  In these circumstances, if a mere majority of residents express opposition, they will be ignored.  A super majority is needed.

Stopping the first step in the plan to sell off approximately 14 acres of city land and open space, and build very high density housing and commercial towers where the library and city hall now stand, requires residents to each bring 3 other residents with them to the council meeting on August 28th  and express their views.

The City Council Has Lost Its Way

Posted  January 23, 2012

Recently residents of Sunnyvale have raised concerns about graffiti clean up.  A councilmember responded that graffiti cleanup can be provided, if:

  1. residents are willing to have other services cut such as library, streets, parks, etc., or  b.  if residents are willing to pay more taxes.

As you ponder these choices, please keep in mind the following facts.

1.the city manager’s current annual compensation is $360,000

2.the city attorney’s current annual compensation is $320,000, (I’ve been practicing law in Santa Clara County for 21 years. The city attorney’s compensation is 2.5 times higher than what the average local lawyer makes.)

3. the assistant city manager’s current annual compensation is $300,000.

The wage rate continues similarly for the other 800+ city employees including

4. a city water Meter Reader, whose current annual compensation is $73,627 per year.

5. a city council member in Sunnyvale, receives the highest annual compensation for a councilmember for any city in Santa Clara County for a part time job – $25,064 salary per year, plus health insurance costing the city $8,533 per year.

6. the recently retired city manager (age 61) receives an annual pension of $216,000.

A full list of city salaries can be found at:\00&year=2009&GetCsu=False

The City of Sunnyvale was created 100 years ago on December 24, 1912. If you read the historical literature, the ONLY reason residents of this area voted to establish a municipal corporation was to better themselves. They would each pay a small amount of taxes, which would be combined into a general fund. Residents would then get many services that they could not individually afford. Examples are police protection, water, parks, streets, sewers, library and other services. The newly hired city employees and council members were to be public servants. Residents/Taxpayers were to be the Masters.

During the last 8 years the city council has turned this plan on its head. The council has taken a 48 % pay raise for itself and voted itself lifetime health insurance benefits.  City employee compensation has doubled.  The average city employee now makes twice the amount the average Sunnyvale resident makes.

Services to residents have been repeatedly cut. Street paving has been cut 50%.  10 police officer positions have been left vacant. The library has been closed 2 nights per week. The job match program a the Senior Center, to help residents over 50 find employment during the worst recession in 80 years, has been eliminated.

At the January 10, 2012, council meeting, I asked that the council place on the agenda for the next council meeting, the following 3 proposals.

  1. Cut by 50 % the compensation for the 10 people who control city government: the city manager, assistant city manager, city attorney and the 7 council members (including myself).2. Immediately cancel the lifetime health insurance benefits for former councilmembers.3. File a lawsuit against the most recent downtown developer (who made thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Sunnyvale councilmembers) to collect the $5 million penalty, the developer owes for failing to complete the project.

Placement on the agenda does not obligate a councilmember to vote in favor of the proposal. It simply allows the council to receive public comment on the specified issue, discuss the options and then vote as they see fit on the issue. None of the other 6 councilmembers would support even putting any of the 3 proposals on the agenda.

If you’re not content with this situation, you’re going to have to take action.

This year the city’s annual budget spends $265 million of your tax money. There IS enough money to pay for graffiti removal if council and employee compensation is reduced to a usual rate paid by ordinary employers. Our predecessors in Sunnyvale designated you, the residents, as the Masters, councilmembers as the servants. It’s time the Masters gave clear, unequivocal orders for the servants to follow.