The goal of eyesunnyvale publication is to share useful information that will encourage other citizens to raise their voices, get involved and advocate for their homes, neighborhoods and community. Each voice matters, and YOU can make a difference!
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and City Government became important to eyesunnyvale when the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) announced their proposed expansion project located within the Sunnyvale Heritage Neighborhood. The scope of the project was huge – 5 levels for the main building (3-story above grade -150,000 square feet, with a 2-story parking garage below grade – 399 parking spaces), plus an additional 3-level parking structure within a residential neighborhood.
Eleven “core” neighbors (plus nearby homeowners) banded together, forming a group called CARz (Citizens Against Re-zoning) to meet with the City of Sunnyvale Planning Staff, Planning Commissioners and Councilmembers. We were consistent, separating “topics” to cover many issues, passing out fliers in the neighborhood (beyond the limited 300 foot notification area), had meetings, created a website, placed advertisements in the Sunnyvale Sun, approached council, requested meetings with PAMF, etc. It was effort, and we effected positive improvements as a result.
There were a multitude of issues that a single person could not cover on their own – the PAMF Environmental Impact Report EIR process, traffic analysis, flow and congestion at the stop sign intersections of Old San Francisco Road/Bayview/Cezanne/Carroll, PAMF vehicle entrance ramps positioned on the residential streets Carroll and Bayview (rather than Old San Francisco Road), requests to close of Carroll and Bayview, construction noise concerns, construction air quality and dust concerns, directing construction equipment and vehicles away from the residential streets, pedestrian and child safety, hours of operation, noise from backup generators and other mechanical equipment generator location, parking garage exhaust vents, lack of privacy for neighbors, the size of the building, the 4-level parking garage at Kenny Court, not having employees park on the residential streets, zoning, traffic calming measures, etc.
It was not a “Fred and Ginger Rogers” waltz, each CARz member and participating neighbor had a significant role, brought various skills, ideas and knowledge to the table resulting in a more favorable modification.
PAMF ultimately scaled down the project size from 150,000 s.f. to 120,000 s.f. (eliminating 30,000 building square footage) and removed one level from the separate parking structure. PAMF will state they “listened to the neighbors” however; my sense is that the reduction modification made pertained to the Sunnyvale Solar Access Ordinance (Municipal Code Section 19.56.020). A building shall not exceed a 10% shadow on the rooftops of nearby homes on the shortest day of the year between 9:00am and 3:00pm.
All to say, when challenging a project, it is advisable to study the local codes, ordinances, CEQA, all laws that pertain to developments in your city. The more community members that you can involve in your quest, the better – the city will note how many participants are involved, and it makes a difference.
What eyesunnyvale has found the most interesting, and wish to contribute, is the city politics and procedures that are involved with approving these projects.
We encourage you to become involved. YOU can make a difference! And most importantly, Sunnyvale needs Civil and Council representatives who will listen to the needs of the residents, to build a city that we are proud of.