Sunnyvale City Councilmembers visit Denali student journalists

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Oct. 22, Sunnyvale City Councilmembers Nancy Smith and Michael S. Goldman, along with Mayor Larry Klein, came to Summit Public School: Denali for a press conference with Summit News staff writers.

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Sunnyvale seeks to improve transportation

By Ruby Balbuena, Nathan Pruitt and Natasha Reinitz

Staff Writers

The Sunnyvale City Council is proposing multiple reforms to ease the load on public transportation. They hope these changes will make the public transit system easier to use and reduce the city’s carbon footprint.

Currently many Sunnyvale citizens use personal cars. The city councilmembers are encouraging people to bike, walk and take other forms of public transportation.

On Oct. 22, Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein, Councilmember Nancy Smith and Councilmember Michael S. Goldman attended a press conference at Summit Denali High School hosted by Summit News. 

Mayor Larry Klein said, “The city is doing a lot to try to actively give alternates. The active city transportation plan that the city is using to make it more [pedestrian] friendly, to make it more bike friendly, to get people out of their cars, to look at other solutions. But at the end of the day, transportation is a regional issue.”

The Sunnyvale School District has partnered with the City of Sunnyvale to create the Safe Routes to School Program. The program promotes walking, biking and other alternative forms of transportation to get to school. The school district hopes to improve physical fitness, reduce air pollution and decrease traffic.

“We can’t mandate that everyone walk to work or that all cars are electric,” Councilmember Goldman said. “What we can do is try and make it so that it is easier and there are inducements to get electric cars.” 

Councilmember Smith said that the city of Sunnyvale will be “working on transportation and how we can reduce greenhouse gasses emission from transportation.” 

Councilmember Smith explained that the Caltrain system, which currently runs on diesel fuel, is being switched to run on a renewable electric grid. She said that this reform will make the train system faster and more environmentally-friendly. “One idea is to get people out of cars a bit more than they are. Another thing is that we are electrifying Caltrain … it will soon be running on electricity, which has a lot of benefits.”

The city also intends to implement a shuttle system to solve the pollution problem. “We can ultimately provide conceivably a citywide shuttle, which you’ll start hearing more and more about next year,” Mayor Klein said.

Sunnyvale plans to implement a pilot program of the shuttles in 2020.  The shuttle will focus on transporting people from the Caltrain stations to the Peery Park neighborhood.

***

Sunnyvale seeks to improve housing availability

By Andrew Larkins, Louis Park, Alaya Scarlett and Ines Villarreal

Staff Writers

The City of Sunnyvale is working to improve the availability of housing, which is an extremely prevalent issue and has been for decades. As Councilmember Michael S Goldman said, “You can’t open a newspaper without hearing about it.” 

Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein addressed the issue and introduced a possible solution. “As far as housing prices, of course you know the state is doing certain things as far as rent stabilization. Basically, reducing the amount that your rent can be raised on a yearly basis,” he said. “From a city standpoint, we try to help fund affordable housing non profits.” 

Mayor Klein, Councilmember Goldman and Councilmember Nancy Smith attended a press conference at Summit Public School: Denali on Oct. 22. The conference was hosted by student journalists in order to discuss the current events of the City of Sunnyvale, including the issues and solutions related to housing prices. 

The City of Sunnyvale has previously begun implementing solutions to this problem. For example, they’ve started offering a large number of units for people in need.   

Mayor Klein said “just south of Denny’s, [the City of Sunnyvale] owns all those homes, and we’re actually converting that into 90 units for seniors and previously homeless and people with disabilities.”

Housing has become more available for those in need – specifically those struggling with homelessness and those with disabilities. Because housing has been such a prevalent issue within Sunnyvale, the city council is currently working to improve the support of people who are in need. 

Last month the City of Sunnyvale passed inclusionary housing. This will allow housing to be more attainable and affordable for those with lower incomes.

Mayor Klein said that this new ordinance will ensure that “all new apartment buildings built within the city, 15% have to be below market, 5% very low, 10% low-income based upon the median Bay Area income range.”

In doing so, Sunnyvale citizens of varying incomes will have more opportunity to live affordably within the city. This will be beneficial in developing more opportunities for people who have difficulty obtaining a place to live.

Elected officials for the City of Sunnyvale have been and continue to seek solutions to improve the availability of housing. Within this press conference, several opportunities and solutions were acknowledged, including offering housing for seniors, previously homeless, people with disabilities and those in low-income brackets.

***

Sunnyvale works hard to develop climate policy 

By Justin Lin, Hari Prakash, Riley Quigley and Tristan Wagner

Staff Writers

The Sunnyvale City Council is working diligently on climate change and pollution. Climate change has been central to a nationwide focus on environmental policy, with potential Democratic nominees attending multiple forums around the issue, and Sunnyvale has a long-standing environmentally sound record on policy

On Oct. 22, Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein attended a press conference at Summit Denali High School hosted by Summit News. He was joined by Councilmembers Nancy Smith and Michael S. Goldman. 

When asked if he considered pollution and climate change growing problems, Councilmember Goldman answered that pollution and climate change were “problems everywhere.” He said that there was an operation in place spending billions of dollars to upgrade clean water facilities. 

Councilmember Goldman also said, “I think that making it easier to get electric cars would be a good idea.” When asked a follow-up question about cleaner highways, Councilmember Smith responded that Sunnyvale officials “count on the state” to keep it clean. 

Summit Denali students seemed to care a lot about the environment, as the next question also related to climate activism. The next student asked the group of officials what their “plan for helping the environment” was. Councilmember Smith seemed to think that the climate solution was dependent on the youth. She said that “engaging with youth” is important to her and her peers. 

When asked about his current top priority, Mayor Klein answered that “waste water treatment” plants were close to the top of his list. 

In response to a question about youth climate activism, Mayor Klein said that removing food from garbage cans was important to his administration. He said that “40,000 tons were removed from the landfill” after separating food from other trash. 

Councilmember Goldman agreed. He said that his children were teaching him and that climate activism is as much a personal effort for him as a government one. 

Councilmember Goldman also noted, “If all cars were non, you know, non-carbon-generating; all electric cars, all fossil-free-powered, that’s 56% of the U.S. greenhouse emissions. That’s a lot. But there’s 44% left. That’s still a lot. Where is that? That’s in agriculture, making cement. That’s in making steel.” He also said that beef generates a lot of greenhouse gases and that local Sunnyvale citizens can help a nationwide movement by cutting down on beef. 

Councilmember Smith said that the government needs to “figure out how to sequester your carbon.” She also wants to find a way to take the carbon out of the air and possibly change the way farmers rotate crops. 

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Sunnyvale city council urges citizens to help the environment

By Elizabeth Hall, Kaashika Raut, Alina Raykovich and Taylor Vu

Staff Writers

Local government officials believe that Sunnyvale residents can help combat climate change. They believe the amount of natural gas use needs to be reduced in homes and more renewable energy sources should be used overall. Residents can bike or walk to work and start eating less meat. 

Larry Klein, the mayor of Sunnyvale, and two Sunnyvale City Councilmembers, Nancy Smith and Michael S. Goldman, came to a press conference at Summit Public School: Denali on Oct. 22. They were greeted with cameras and reporters ready to ask questions.

Councilmember Goldman brought up a specific way that families could fight climate change: eating less meat. “So, as an individual, you could eat a little less meat. I’m not saying you have to go vegan, I’m not, I’m not about to, but beef is you know, I’m not gonna say anything against it, but it generates a lot of greenhouse gases,” he said. “Chicken not so much, fish almost nothing. The greenhouse gas impact from fish and fish free protein, that’s almost the same as being vegetarian. So just cutting back on some of the red meats like beef and lamb and stuff, that would be one thing.”

In Sunnyvale, the FoodCycle program has been implemented. The program gives Sunnyvale residents a food waste bin as well as garbage, recycling and yard waste bin. 

But people have been complaining. Mayor Klein spoke on this, saying, “So it’s having people change how they basically operate and removing their food from their garbage and as much as many people complain, and I still get the random complaints about people saying you reduce the garbage I can throw away if we split their bin into garbage and food. Ultimately that saved more than 40,000 tons out of the landfill.”

Councilmember Goldman later brought up a point that touched on the effects of car pollution nationally. “If all cars were non carbon-generating; all electric cars, all fossil free powered, that’s 56% of the U.S. greenhouse emissions. That’s a lot. But there’s 44% left. That’s still a lot. Where is that? That’s in agriculture, making cement. That’s in making steel.”

Councilmember Smith spoke about how students could get to school or other places in ways other than driving. For example, they could try to bike, walk or use public transportation in order to reach their destination.

There are things that citizens can do in their homes to help. Councilmember Goldman spoke about how putting solar panels in your home and getting an electric car. He said, “You can’t make everyone drive electric cars.” They discussed the fact that right now a lot of electric cars are really expensive, but eventually will become affordable and people will buy them.

Councilmember Smith suggested that the younger generation, people in middle school and high school, have options on what to study and what to do in their lives. She said that kids could grow up and go into studies about climate change. 

There are many ways that the people of Sunnyvale help to combat climate change. People can attempt to bike or walk to school or work, using renewable energy, and just trying to do something to help. 

“Everybody can make minor changes, whether or not that’s separating their food, whether or not that’s not using straws, whether or not that’s you know, all these little things that make a difference,” Mayor Klein said.

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Sunnyvale councilmembers address the housing crisis and traffic issues

By Daisy Ding, Soojeong Kim, Izabella Trejo and Eva Weisenfeld

Staff Writers

Members of Sunnyvale City Council are concerned with the rise of housing prices. To further complicate matters, they believe that the increase in prices is progressively causing traffic to worsen.

Michael S. Goldman, a member of the Sunnyvale City Council said, “Legislative analyst organization … [a] government agency in Sacramento came out with a report that basically said that since around 1970-1980 housing prices in California have been about double the housing prices in the rest of the country. So we’ve had this for basically 50 years … So what has changed? What has changed is it’s reached a point that in certain areas like LA and the bay area, two major metro areas, you’ve reached a point where any further expansion [is] just too difficult.”

On Oct. 22, Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein, Councilmember Nancy Smith and Councilmember Goldman visited Summit Public School: Denali to attend a press conference held by student journalists from Summit News. There, they commented on the current housing crisis throughout the Bay Area. 

“One thing that is a big problem is that the last big housing boom was in the ’70s and we all know what happens to populations … they grow,” Councilmember Smith said. “So, people move in and have children; you’re going to need more and more housing. We have not built enough to keep up with that … by a lot. This is not just a Silicon Valley [problem,] it is a statewide problem, it’s a national problem actually.”

Sunnyvale city councilmembers also believe Sunnyvale has reached a point where further growth is not possible due to difficulties in transportation. “It’s not a matter of how high you can build,” Councilmember Goldman said. “It is a matter of how you can get people in and out and goods in and out [of the city].” 

The reality is that Sunnyvale’s roads are always congested, creating a somewhat constant pattern of traffic. Mayor Klein said, “30% of the traffic you see on our roads doesn’t start here, doesn’t end here and is just passing through.”

However, Councilmember Goldman said he believes that the traffic issue in Sunnyvale will always be an issue.  He brought up the Marchetti’s constant, explaining that the balance between the desire for a dream house and hope for shorter commutes keeps traffic at a constant.

“That’s why Rome stopped growing, that’s why LA stopped growing, and that may be why we stop growing,” Councilmember Goldman said. “There is a limit to what you can do. If everyone wants a single-family house … there is not enough space unless we redo the laws of physics.”

 

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