EDITOR’S NOTE: On Nov.17 and Nov. 30, student journalists from Summit Public School: Denali held a virtual press conference to meet Sunnyvale City Councilmembers Michael Goldman, Glenn Hendricks, Gustav Larsson, and Vice Mayor Nancy Smith. The councilmembers and vice mayor shared their stories on how they found their way into city politics and their goals for the city of Sunnyvale, Calif.
This article was updated at 1:53 p.m. on April 30, 2021 to include another subsection.
Sunnyvale Councilmembers Michael Goldman and Glenn Hendricks explain the power of local vs state/federal governments and their relations with local residents
By Samuel Dyke
In Sunnyvale, Calif., many people do not have a full understanding of the amount of power that local governments have. They would be surprised to learn that local governments do not have as much power as people think they do.
In an interview with Sunnyvale City Councilmembers Michael Goldman and Glenn Hendricks, student journalists asked many questions about the work of local government, the misunderstandings and relations with local residents.
When asked about what it is like to be a public figure, Councilman Goldman said, “The bad part [of being a political figure] is they expect more of you than you can do.”
He further elaborates on this. “A couple of the questions were like, ‘so when your mayor, what are you going to do about COVID-19?,’ and I’ll be like, ‘what can I do?’ I’m on the city council, I have no medical background at all,” he said. “What they want to hear is ‘I’m gonna solve it, I’m going to cure it and we’re gonna get back to normal.’ I can’t do anything of that sort, nobody on the city council can — no one in government can. If they could, they would.”
Councilmember Goldman also said that people ask a lot of “mundane” questions about problems that are not solvable by any level of the government. One example of a problem he used is people telling him all the time that traffic is crazy in this area and he already knows that. He said that people on the city council approve and supply money for the paving of roads, but they cannot tell people to not drive on them.
COVID-19 is one of those problems that the government can’t solve without scientists. According to Councilmember Goldman, “The government can fund them, our government can encourage them, but it’s up to them – up to the scientists to come up with something good.” He mentioned that a lot of people, usually without meaning to, frame or phrase questions for city governments in a way that can’t really be answered.
There are many people who think that local government can affect change, while in reality, those changes can only be done by higher levels of government such as the state government. However, there are also things that local governments can do that higher levels of government cannot.
For example, in the interview, Councilman Glenn Hendricks, when asked about what he thought his major impacts were on the city as mayor and council member, he answered with, “I need to look at my career more as it’s really more the day-to-day decisions we make.” He also noted that local governments often converse with each other and the state government when they want to make more large-scale decisions.
He added that when someone like the President of the U.S. or state senator makes a long term decision, goal or commitment, it is up to the local governments to actually work towards achieving them. Councilman Goldman said that he agreed with Councilman Hendricks on everything he said about this topic.
When asked about what they would change from their time serving, Councilmember Hendricks said, “I think the biggest thing I would like to try and do differently is communicate. One of the challenges that the city council has is … there are certain decisions we make that residents haven’t been you know, as agreeable with and I would have wanted to do more to try and help communicate to residents why we are doing this.”
Communication or, in many cases, lack of communication, Councilmembers Goldman and Hendricks agree, is one of the bigger issues, not only for the Sunnyvale city council, but also other parts of a city government. Miscommunication and/or lack of communication, tend(s) to also be part of what creates misconceptions and misunderstandings amongst residents of a city.
Overall, the members of the local government share the opinion that if communication between residents and local government were improved, it would allow greater relations to take place between the local government and local residents. As Councilman Hendricks said, “At the local level, we have a much better opportunity to have that direct connection with our residents.”
Sunnyvale Councilmember Michael Goldman fights for solutions to Bay Area environmental issues
By Clayton Schmidt and Justin Tilbury
Sunnyvale Councilmember Michael Goldman has dedicated much of his time in office to working with the community to fight for environmental issues. In 2019, Councilmember Goldman ran for the position of Sunnyvale Mayor. Although he did not win, he still uses his strong connection with the Sunnyvale community to continue fighting for better environmental solutions.
During a press conference on Nov. 17 with Summit News, Councilmember Goldman addressed his concerns regarding the environmental issues in Calif. “In California, [cars produce] 56% of all CO2 emissions,” he said.
Councilmember Goldman shifted to focus more specifically on Sunnyvale, again stating that commuting is the leading cause of carbon dioxide emissions in the area. “All that gas from people commuting back and forth from [Sunnyvale] to Pleasanton or Fremont,” he said. “Is equal to the CO2 coming out of buildings.”
Cars are the leading pollutant in Calif., according to Councilmember Goldman. He offered solutions involving electric cars, approving of anyone who transfers to an electric car and plans to get one himself: “Mr. Hendricks has an electric car, so yay for him. I will, too, eventually.”
Now with this idea of getting more electric cars, it brings up the problem of how to charge them. Councilmember Goldman also suggested the use of more sustainable power generation over the major CO2 emitting sources more commonly used. “[California needs] more car chargers,” he said. “The number of car chargers were inadequate, and I agree with him completely.”
As previously mentioned, Councilmember Goldman raised concerns about the many different environmental pollutants in Calif. According to him, commercial buildings are one of the most significant polluters. “Natural gas in [commercial] buildings is equal to all the commuting, period,” he said.
To help lessen the major polluters, Councilmember Goldman has been working with the Sunnyvale community to pass the “Reach Code.” As Councilmember Goldman puts it, the passing of the Reach Code means that no natural gas can be used in new building construction. “Most people don’t realize how big a deal that is,” he said.
Councilmember Goldman is proud to be a member of the Sunnyvale community. He expressed pride in the achievements Sunnyvale has made towards lessening pollution in the area. He specifically took pride in talking about Sunnyvale’s community parks. “Our parks are really great,” he claimed during the press conference.
Councilmember Michael Goldman is striving to reduce Sunnyvale’s environmental pollution, and he truly cares about his community. He is working to put systems in place that help the community’s environment.
Vice Mayor Nancy Smith pushes to reduce car emissions and incorporate more clean power in Sunnyvale, Calif.
By Kristen Dalida and Kate Goshko
Sunnyvale Vice Mayor Nancy Smith mentioned that Sunnyvale is working to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. During the press conference, she also shared some of Sunnyvale’s hopes for tackling climate change in the future. When asked how Sunnyvale is combating climate change, she replied that Sunnyvale was combating climate change in many ways.
On Nov. 30, Sunnyvale Vice Mayor Smith and city Councilmember Gustav Larsson joined the Multimedia Political Journalism class at Summit Denali for a press conference.
2020 has been a difficult year. According to NBC News, there have been more than 8,200 fires in Calif. just this year and the numbers are still increasing. LA Times reported that “the most recent fire is the Coleman fire, which started on October 18” and it has been burning for 45 days.
The World Resources Center explains, “Increased global emissions lead to higher temperatures, which then create drier, more fire-prone conditions. With more fires comes more emissions, perpetuating the entire cycle.” To prevent fires, we must go to the source, greenhouse gas emissions.
When asked about the current measures to combat climate change in Sunnyvale, Vice Mayor Smith replied, “We are working on a microgrid in the area and that would help us to store power better, it would be kind of a virtual power plant where we take battery storage from around the area.” She continued, “When the power goes out in part of our region, we can provide power to vulnerable areas.”
Vice Mayor Smith further added that Sunnyvale is “transitioning away from gas-burning transportation is another big thing so we are investing money and making money available to invest in EV charging so that’s one way we are getting rid of greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change.”
Battery-powered vehicles were first invented around the mid-1800s and are known to be better for the environment because they emit fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline-run vehicles. Instead of getting their energy from gasoline, battery-powered cars are powered by electricity.
Vice Mayor Smith mentioned that “We just recently approved several policies relating to transportation and making it easier for people in Sunnyvale to walk and bike,” Vice Mayor Smith said. “So, we’re redesigning the roads to be safer for people to walk and bike on.”
USA Streets Blog stated, “Bicycling could help cut carbon emissions from urban transportation 11 percent.” However, UC Davis claims that “Most cities in the United States are not well designed for bicycling.”
Copenhagen, Denmark, often described as the greenest city in the world, has their own uniquely designed roads for biking. Climate Reality Projects claims, “Super cycle highways and other bike lanes around the city have led to 45 percent of the city’s residents commuting by bike every day.”
Vice Mayor Smith also said, “Another exciting thing that doesn’t get a lot of attention is that we’re adding more green spaces to our infrastructure, so whenever we do a roadway we’re adding green.” Trees provide many benefits, including aesthetic scenery, water conservation, and the reduction of carbon emissions.
These new changes to our city are following the vision written for Vice Mayor Smith’s campaign. Her campaign website writes, “As Vice Chair of the Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) Board of Directors, Nancy represents Sunnyvale in regional climate policy discussions to create recommendations for Santa Clara County communities… Nancy, in her capacity as Sunnyvale Mayor, will work to implement the SVCE policy guidelines in Sunnyvale – pushing the city towards a greener, more sustainable future.”
Moffet Park and Moffet Field gain interest from Google and Council
By Alexander Gorodnov
Vice Mayor Nancy Smith and Councilmember Gustav Larsson break the news about Moffett Park and Sunnyvale areas.
On Nov 30. Summit Denali’s journalism team interviewed Vice Mayor Nancy Smith and Councilmember Gustav Larsson, of the Sunnyvale city council. When asked about new upcoming real estate projects, Nancy Smith said, “Moffett Park.”
Contrary to its name, Moffett Park is not a park. It is a small land area in Sunnyvale, including infrastructure, a large parking garage, and VTA Station.
Vice Mayor Smith said, “Moffett Park is currently parking lots and roads, and Google has bought up 40% of it already, or more, and they have paid for a general plan amendment.”
That checks out, considering that Google has been slowly buying out property in the Moffett Park area since 2017.
On the other hand, Councilmember Larsson talked about how golf courses had become an extreme priority for the council. “As golf has become less popular, it started losing money,” he said.
Vice Mayor Smith also said, “I do not get the golf one,” while talking about objectives of the Sunnyvale Council to which Councilmember Larsson said, “Every year the losses started going up and up and up.”
A logical step would be to remove the golf course to which Councilmember Larsson said, “The bigger one [golf course] is very close to Moffett Field. It is just south of 101, and it is where the plains are coming into Moffett and going really, really low.”
Due to there being plains next to it Councilmember Larsson said, “The area also has height restrictions, which would prevent the field from being used as real estate property.”
Councilmember Larsson also responded to the point of turning it into a park: “If we turned it into a park, it would actually take up more money than a golf course.”
In total, the Sunnyvale council is working with investors from Google to change the area around Moffett Park into, as Vice Mayor Smith said, “A Nirvana,” without forgetting about their senior population by upkeeping the golf courses.
Sunnyvale Vice Mayor Nancy Smith speaks to student journalists on her work in the local community
By Riley DeLusque
Sunnyvale Vice Mayor Nancy Smith is a council member dedicated to renewable energy, waste reduction and supporting women in leadership. After being elected to the council in Nov. 2016, she was elected again in Jan. 2020, now serving as Vice Mayor.
Vice Mayor Smith grew up in Ill., earning her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics at Olivet Nazarene University. While living in Dallas, Texas, she served for five years as the Advocacy Chair on the executive committee of the board of North Dallas Shared Ministries, an organization focused on providing emergency food and rental assistance.
Today, Vice Mayor Smith is part of multiple groups and leagues, such as the Caltrain Modernization Local Policy Makers Group, League of California Cities Women’s Caucus, and League of California Cities Housing Production Working Group, to name a few.
Throughout her years as Vice Mayor, Ms. Smith has worked toward a number of changes in the Sunnyvale community. In a recent press conference she and Sunnyvale city councilmember Gustav Larsson attended with Summit Denali, Vice Mayor Smith stated that as Vice-Chair of the Silicon Valley Clean Energy Authority, they are able to “set aside proceeds from selling clean power to customers to do programs such as microgrids in the area to store power better, like a virtual power plant.”
Through the use of microgrids, “we can provide power to vulnerable areas,” Vice Mayor Smith said. “So we wouldn’t have to have as many generators running and resilience to protect vulnerable people.” She believes that microgrids will protect people such as those who are on life support systems.
Furthermore, Vice Mayor Smith says that they are working towards adding more green spaces to the Sunnyvale infrastructures. “So whenever we’re redoing a roadway, we’re adding green bioswales that helps us to save water and energy, and add more native plants.” Plants native to the state of Calif. are being threatened and in rapid decline due to urban sprawl, invasive species, and more.
“Recently, we approved several policies relating to transportation and making it easier for people in Sunnyvale to walk and bike,” Vice Mayor Smith said. “We’re redesigning the roads to make them safer for people to walk and bike on.” She explains they have “done a roadway safety study, so we have a really good idea of what the problem spots are.”
On the topic of roadway safety, when approached about plans involving more self-driving cars, Vice Mayor Smith explains that on making infrastructures friendlier to self-driving cars “we opted not to do that, we are waiting to see how the industry unfolds.” According to a Business Insider headline from 2016 on self-driving cars, they claim that “10 million self-driving cars will be on the road by 2020.”
These new technologies are exciting, as self-driving cars could significantly reduce car accidents by a ton. However, many are worried that the computers in self-driving cars could be hacked, affected by weather conditions, or simply malfunction and end fatally, reads an article from Keith Michaels PLC on pros and cons of driverless cars.
Since self-driving cars are not yet on the market, Vice Mayor Smith brings up a point: “The capacities of self-driving cars are changing so fast that we are taking a wait-and-see approach,” she said. “One of the hopes that is we can eventually use self-driving cars as shuttles.”
Throughout the interview, Vice Mayor Smith showed clear interest and passion for her job on the Sunnyvale council, and her involvement in several organizations dedicated to improving Sunnyvale in different ways. From Ill. to Texas to Calif., Vice Mayor Smith has worked tirelessly for her community.
In the conclusion of Vice Mayor Smith’s introduction via her website, it reads “when we work together, we make our community stronger. And when we do it so that every young girl, every child with parents born an ocean away, thrives, we are all lifted up.”
Sunnyvale City Councilmembers Michael Goldman and Glenn Hendricks give glimpses behind the scenes of local government
By Hugo Fonzi and Ethan Narimatsujayne
Sunnyvale City Councilmembers Michael Goldman and Glenn Hendricks both have a completely different story for why they decided to run for city council. Councilmember Hendricks started with feeling as if he was not being heard, and Councilmember Goldman was not being able to have his kids take all the AP courses he wanted them to.
“My kids were in high school, and I didn’t like that my sons [my two boys] couldn’t take all the AP classes I wanted,” Councilmember Goldman said.
The start of the road to city politics for Councilmember Goldman was due to his sons’ high school curriculum. He was frustrated that his sons could not take all the AP classes he wanted them to, so he ran for the school board and lost with 46% of the votes.
Councilmember Goldman’s real start for city council began when he started campaigning for a ballot measure. “I saw some plans for the Civic Center which really bothered me and something going on with Raynor Park, so I got my friends interested and then they got their friends interested, so we combined forces and I campaigned for a ballot measure that made it difficult for the city to sell public land without 50% approval,” Councilmember Goldman said.
He eventually broke off from the campaign because he was unhappy with how it was being run and started his own campaign for city council. He is now a city council member with his term to expire in Jan. 2021.
“It just showed to me that I needed to be able to get more engaged and more involved with what was happening in the city government,” Councilmember Goldman said, regarding his decision to run for city council.
Councilmember Hendricks’s story is very different from Councilmember Goldman’s.
15 to 16 years ago, there was a local event that happened near Councilmember Hendricks’s house, so he went to the city planning commission to talk about it, but nobody listened to him. He went back two weeks later to the city council meeting and again he felt as if nobody listened to him.
Councilmember Hendricks said to himself as he left the building, “These people just made the biggest mistake of their lives, because I’m coming back.” It wasn’t that he was coming back to become a city councilmember or to become mayor, but it was that he needed to get more engaged and involved with the city government. Councilmember Hendricks then started going to city council meetings and found it fascinating.
“They were constantly dealing with things that impacted and affected my life,” Councilmember Hendricks said. He wanted to get more involved with the decision-making process, so he got on the city’s personnel board and then the planning commission.
After having his decisions overridden many times, he decided he could do that job better than others could. That’s when Councilmember Hendricks decided to run for city council.
Councilmember Hendricks said, “I actually don’t consider myself a politician, I’m just a regular member of the community like anyone else you know, just trying to work for the betterment of everybody.”
“City governments only deal with a very specific set of things. We deal with budget, public safety, land use, transportation, roadways, parks, libraries,” Councilmember Hendricks said.
Local government is an integral part of our everyday lives. “The city council is doing the things that have direct impact on your lives on [literally] a day by day basis,” Councilmember Hendricks said.
According to Councilmember Michael Goldman, many people are over-estimating the power of government. “[There is a] tendency of some people to look at government as some parent figure, just like mom and dad who can come in and fix that thing that’s bothering you,” Councilmember Goldman said. An analogy that he later made was that the government can do things for the environment, but that matter is to ask companies and people to treat the environment better and not literally cleaning the air or the environment.
With Councilmember Goldman starting with not being able to sign his kids to all the AP courses he wanted, and Councilmember Hendricks not being felt he was listened to, both councilmembers have shared their different stories on how they were introduced to city government. Councilmember Hendricks believes that the city government affects Sunnyvale’s citizens on a day to day basis, and Councilmember Goldman believes that people are over-estimating the power of government.
Sunnyvale City Councilmember Glenn Hendricks values little things that people take for granted
By Jesse Yao
Councilmember Glenn Hendricks values the little things that people take for granted just as much as the major problems citizens of Sunnyvale deal with, claiming that the majority of the city council’s work is on a day-to-day basis rather than large scale impacts.
“Let’s have less drama in the city government compared to the cities around us and let’s just do the core business of cities,” Councilman Hendricks said when asked about his impact on the community in a student-led press conference at Summit Denali.
Mr. Hendricks continued to list small things that were a necessity to a city, but often overlooked in favor of the big things – “Things like finance, libraries, public safety and clean water,” he listed, concluding with, “let’s just make these things work and not be drama-filled.”
In addition to talking about things like street repair that nobody ever thinks about, he also talked about his contributions to climate change.
He said, “President Obama got us into the Paris climate accords but to fix climate change, it’s gotta be done on a local level.” Then he continued to talk about how small things that can be done by everyone, such as walking to school, can make a big difference.
Furthermore, he also talks about a bill he pushed, about how the reconstruction of buildings also contributes greatly to climate change. As the process of building a building in Sunnyvale currently emits a significant amount of greenhouse gases, he advocated for a change in the requirements “where we are changing the requirements to build a building to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions.”
According to Councilman Hendricks, the state and federal governments actually do not impact the individual greatly at all. Instead, it is the local government doing things on a day-to-day basis that directly affects our lives.
He said, “It is very clear to me that your local government affects you on a day to day basis way more than Sacramento or the federal government. The decisions we make in the city council literally impact your lives almost every decision we make.”
To expand on his point, he pointed out various things that the federal and state governments have no control over: “Street repair, public safety, fire departments, whether or not we actually have clean water.”
To close off, Hendricks finished with an emphasis on the smaller contributions to society. “When I’m asked if I would like to join the federal government or state government, my answer is always no,” he said. ”Because as a direct impact, it doesn’t impact you.”
Sunnyvale prepares for the future
By Donovan Pelton and Kazuma Posley
Sunnyvale City Councilmember Gustav Larsson has noticed “Climate change has become a bigger and bigger part of the conversation that we [Sunnyvale City Council] have.” Climate change was one of the primary topics talked over by these two members of our local government.
A press conference was held with Councilmember Larsson and Vice Mayor Nancy Smith to talk about the priorities and issues for our local government. Climate change was brought up and talked about somewhat extensively about their plans to combat it. The city council has not only thought about how do deal with climate change, but has actually implemented some solutions that are in place today.
During the industrial revolution, a spike in the use of fossil fuels caused a large increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a trend that continues to this day. The massive amount of fossil fuels being burned, as well as other factors, including methane from farms, as well as other pollutants, have caused a gradual increase in temperature throughout the world.
This is no coincidence: Scientists believe the fossil fuels that are burned every day cause there to be a barrier of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, preventing heat from escaping the earth. As we learn more about this global issue, scientists agree, we need to do something, this will not go away on its own.
Councilmember Larsson and Vice Mayor Smith believe it is up to the government, as well as the people, to combat this. One of the larger culprits of climate change is the generation of electricity, so in order to slow the massive amount of carbon dioxide released by the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity, “Sunnyvale worked with a number of cities in the county to form Silicon Valley Clean Energy,” Councilmember Larsson said. He also stated that because of Silicon Valley Clean Energy being the default choice for electricity in Sunnyvale is “making a huge reduction in our [Sunnyvale’s] greenhouse gas emissions.”
While much is happening at the federal level to combat climate change, Councilmember Larsson believes that the federal government “gets everyone moving in the right direction,” but “the day-to-day decisions that really make a difference are made by city governments.”
Local governments have indeed been instrumental in instituting many new and innovative policies to assist in the fight against climate change. According to Councilmember Larsson the city of Sunnyvale has made climate change one of its official top priorities.
The Sunnyvale council gathered together and created a “Climate Action Plan.” It listed 130 plans for the city to combat climate change. According to Councilmember Larsson, “One thing really stood out: cleaning our energy source.” The council has established many clean energy sources and is working on transitioning away from gas burning transportation.
In addition to the aforementioned efforts, Sunnyvale is making plans for future problems that climate change may cause in the future, such as sea level rise. Vice Mayor Smith noted that “a part of dealing with climate change is adaptation.” Because of this philosophy, the council is taking precautions in areas that may be vulnerable to rising sea levels.
For example, on Dec. 1, a council meeting was held to consider the viability of development at Moffett Park, which the council believes is currently considered to be vulnerable to sea level rise.
Despite these remarkable efforts it is often easy to overlook the significance of local governments. While in reality, many local governments are part of a greater whole.
Many cities in the Bay Area, Sunnyvale included, have formed a Clean Energy Coalition allowing the cities to work together to wield greater sway and further their collective agendas. Together, they have experimented with turning food waste into fuel and creating a stable circular economy; an economy that focuses on reusing and recycling its resources. According to Vice Mayor Smith, the goal is “to reduce our organic waste by 75%,” so there will be “big changes coming.”
Councilmember Larsson noted that “working for the greater good brings people together.” The efforts of the Sunnyvale local government against climate change are surely an excellent example of this methodology. In this spirit, the Sunnyvale councilmembers reassure their community that the local government is a force to be reckoned with, and they are working on numerous policies with the intent to slow climate change the best they can.
Sunnyvale council members and vice mayor voice their thoughts, ideas, plans, and opinions to student journalists at Summit Denali
By Jerry Yu
The council members and the vice mayor of Sunnyvale all have thoughts, ideas, plans, and opinions on the city, as well as other topics. There are a wide variety of them, some of which include suppressing greenhouse gas emissions, a safer city, communications, and more.
Councilmember Michael Goldman was asked for his opinion on whether or not nuclear energy is a sustainable energy source. “It basically honestly doesn’t even matter if it is a good sustainable source or not,” he said. “The public in general in the U.S. and Japan and Europe is so worried about it because they’ve seen big big accidents.” Councilmember Goldman continues, “There is a lot of public outcry against it, the insurance rates has to be insured by the federal government…and it just takes a lot of money to build.”
Councilmember Goldman supports energy sources such as nuclear energy. However, he is not fully on board with energy sources such as solar energy or wind energy. “There are also limits that you can do with solar and wind,” he said. “Some sort of storage lasts about a day, which isn’t that much.” He continued, “When you get to 80%, the storage requirements go up to no longer one day, they go up to like a week or two.”
Everything has limits, according to Councilmember Goldman. He sees that things will be easy at first, but get harder and harder as time goes on. Although at the same time, there are workarounds for these problems as well, but the only problem is that it simply becomes harder.
In order to combat global warming and climate change, Councilmember Glenn Hendricks said that “you have to start at home. That’s what you see happening with city government, they are doing what they can. The city of Sunnyvale with our reach codes and trying to go electric and reducing greenhouse gasses. Even if we get to 100%, we are an infinitesimally small part of everything that goes in the U.S and stuff, but you have to start somewhere, you have to be setting examples.”
With some thoughts and ideas about self-driving cars, Councilmember Gustav Larsson said, “If you have self-driving cars then it makes a taxi service much more feasible and you don’t need these big parking lots outside of, say, strip malls.” He continues, “I have noticed that more and more developers as they are building parking garages, for example, they are making plans that in the future that can be converted to office space or something else.”
Although self-driving cars have good benefits, it is still a new kind of technology and is still improving, so they need more information before they make any decisions. However, he predicts that self-driving cars will not be fully functional until at least 15-20 years in the future.
The Sunnyvale Safety Department was deemed to be a “good public safety model” by Councilmember Larsson. He thinks it is a good public safety model. It is difficult, however, to take in people that want to train on the fire fighting side and want to learn the control side as well, but it is easier to find people who want to be police officers and also be a firefighter, but he believes that mixing the police and the firefighters jobs together can bring benefits.
Councilmember Larsson said that ‘In some ways it is very difficult to be a police officer and really see people in very difficult circumstances sometimes at their worst when they are just having a really bad time whereas firefighters often get to be the heroes. And so the ability for any officer to do both of those i think it is a much more balanced experience for those officers.”
Along with having a balanced experience, the officers are diverse in their people and trained in different ways. They get crisis intervention training as well as normal police training, so instead of always having to pull out a gun they can try to de-escalate the situation that the crisis is in. The officers are also of diverse backgrounds, whether it is race and ethnicity or where they came from and why they became an officer.
Vice Mayor Nancy Smith has plans to make the city safer and has thoughts on how women leaders are important as well. some of the plans to make the city safer include changing roads in order to make it safer for people to walk or bike on it, meaning there will be less accidents where people are hit by cars and then injured or killed.
When asked about what Vice Mayor Smith is doing to empower women as leaders, she replied, “Another thing that is happened recently is, I do not remember the exact number, it is now required that a certain percentage of publicly traded companies to have women on their board of directors…That is gonna be really helpful for companies to take a more holistic view of what it takes to be an employee or worker.”
Although that is not the whole story, Vice Mayor Smith wants people to get exposure to how the government works and to “learn the ropes” of how things work so that they can move into leadership positions. Being in a leadership position allows someone to work their way up into a board position.
The councilmembers and the vice mayor of Sunnyvale all have different ideas and approaches to improve the city. Some of them think forward to how new potential technologies could change the city or ways to combat climate change. Others wish to make the city a safer place and listen to the concerns of the community. All want to make the city a better place for the people who depend on their work.
Sunnyvale City Councilman shares how remote work will function in future
By Skyler Sauer
In a student-run press conference for Summit News that included Councilmembers Michael Goldman and Glenn Hendricks, Councilman Goldman shared his opinions on many topics, including the effect that this pandemic has had and will continue to have on the way citizens of Sunnyvale work.
“The change will be drastic,” the councilman said, when referring to the ability for someone, now or in the future, to work in Sunnyvale without actually living here. The shift away from in-person work will change the way we live, he added.
NBC Bay Area says that the housing crisis in Sunnyvale and the Bay Area comes from large companies and their offices there. The employees of these companies must live in a relatively small area around these offices.
Next, many people, especially those in the Bay Area and Sunnyvale have had their work and schooling affected by the pandemic, forcing them to stay home and use video calls to communicate with colleagues. This change and the fact that a notable portion of the Sunnyvale workforce has moved out of the city, state, or country without interruption of their work means that companies could expand their further out.
This, as Councilmember Goldman said, means that “these companies can hire from anywhere.” He refers to his hometown as an example, saying that a Sunnyvale company could hire a person from Iowa just as easily as they could someone within their own city.
Would this pose issues to the workers and their ability to perform their jobs? According to the results of a survey the councilman cited, no. The Councilmember Goldman said, “Almost a third of Sunnyvale workers never want to go into work again.” While the real number is about one in four remote workers, the point remains the same. The exception here is a monthly team meeting in person or something similar.
The councilman did not address the potential mental and physical health implications that changes like this could have on the workforce, though this may be important as people continue to stay home.
Councilmember Goldman continued by saying the changing workforce primarily affects those working in technology at Bay Area companies like Google, Apple and others. This means that employees could be working from home for even longer than anyone could have predicted.
He says that even though companies have been fighting against this transition for years, through this forced experimentation, they have discovered that it does truly work, and in many ways, works better.
Finally, the councilman shows how this will solve many of the problems we face today, saying that the things he hears about most are traffic and housing prices and that both are eliminated by this change.
Sunnyvale Councilmember Gustav Larsson advocates for clean energy usage
By Nikhil Shah
Sunnyvale City Councilmember Gustav Larsson believes that the key to preventing climate change is transitioning to clean energy. In a press conference on Nov. 30 with Summit News, Councilmember Larsson said that for the last few years, Sunnyvale has been amplifying its focus on climate change. Additionally, he said that the most impactful factor by far was clean energy.
“About 4-5 years ago we wrote up a climate action plan, where we came up with about 130 different actions that the city could take and ranked them by their effect on addressing climate change,” Councilmember Larsson said. “There was one thing that really stood out, it had a bigger effect than the other 129 things combined, and that was cleaning up our electricity source.”
Clean energy has been widely considered to be a crucial measure in combating climate change, and in the case of Sunnyvale, Calif., it would potentially result in negative environmental impact being drastically reduced. “So Sunnyvale worked with a number of cities in the county to form Silicon Valley Clean Energy which I’m happy to say is up and running now, providing us with very clean power,” Councilmember Larsson said. Silicon Valley Clean Energy is a countywide electricity service that provides affordable power to Santa Clara County from renewable energy. This resulted in the county’s energy sources being 100% renewable in 2017, and Sunnyvale’s power is now “100% carbon free and sourced from equal parts renewable and hydroelectric power.”
This action was one of the first of many by cities in the United States, and the state of California is currently planning to drastically reduce nonrenewable energy sources. If these plans are carried out it will “double the state’s clean energy capacity over the next decade.” Climate scientists believe that initiatives such as these will be a key factor in slowing climate change.
“That’s making a huge reduction in our local greenhouse gas emissions,” Councilmember Larsson said. While there is still additional progress to be made with emissions, cutting nonrenewable energy sources out of the city is making a significant impact.
However, Councilmember Larsson’s work does not stop there. Another significant source of greenhouse gas emissions is natural gas usage: according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a third of carbon emissions come from natural gas usage.
“Just recently we took a look at reducing natural gas hookups in new construction,” Councilmember Larsson said. Following the removal of nonrenewable energy from the city, this would result in another significant reduction in emissions from Sunnyvale, furthering the city’s goal to contribute to a greener planet.
Sunnyvale prepares for the future
By Donovan Pelton and Kazuma Posley
Sunnyvale City Councilmember Gustav Larsson has noticed “Climate change has become a bigger and bigger part of the conversation that we [Sunnyvale City Council] have.” Climate change was one of the primary topics talked over by these two members – Councilmember Larsson and Vice Mayor Nancy Smith – of the local government.
A press conference was held to talk about the priorities and issues for the local government. Climate change was brought up and talked about somewhat extensively, including their plans to combat it. The city council has not only thought about how to deal with climate change, it has also implemented some solutions that are in place today.
During the industrial revolution, a spike in the use of fossil fuels caused a large increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a trend that continues to this day. The massive amount of fossil fuels being burned, as well as other factors, including methane from farms and other pollutants, have caused a gradual increase in temperature throughout the world.
This is no coincidence: scientists believe the fossil fuels that are burned every day cause there to be a barrier of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, preventing heat from escaping the earth. As we learn more about this global issue, scientists agree, we need to do something; this will not go away on its own.
Councilmember Larsson and Vice Mayor Smith believe it is up to the government, as well as the people, to combat this. One of the larger culprits of climate change is the generation of electricity, so in order to slow the massive amount of carbon dioxide released by the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity, “Sunnyvale worked with a number of cities in the county to form Silicon Valley Clean Energy,” Councilmember Larsson said. He also said that because Silicon Valley Clean Energy is the default choice for electricity, Sunnyvale is “making a huge reduction in our [Sunnyvale’s] greenhouse gas emissions.”
While much is happening at the federal level to combat climate change, Councilmember Larsson believes while the federal government “gets everyone moving in the right direction,” the “day-to-day decisions that really make a difference are made by city governments.”
Local governments have indeed been instrumental in instituting many innovative policies to assist in the fight against climate change. According to Councilmember Larsson, the city of Sunnyvale has made climate change one of its official top priorities.
The Sunnyvale council gathered together and created a Climate Action Plan. It listed 130 plans for the city to combat climate change. According to Councilmember Larsson, “One thing really stood out: cleaning our energy source.” The council has established many clean energy sources and is working on transitioning away from gas-burning transportation.
In addition to the aforementioned efforts, Sunnyvale is making plans for future problems that climate change may cause in the future, such as sea-level rise. Vice Mayor Smith noted, “A part of dealing with climate change is adaptation.” Because of this philosophy, the council is taking precautions in areas that may be vulnerable to rising sea levels.
For example, on Dec. 1, a council meeting was held to consider the viability of development at Moffett Park, which the council believes is currently considered to be vulnerable to sea-level rise.
Despite these remarkable efforts, it is often easy to overlook the significance of local governments. While in reality, many local governments are part of a greater whole.
Many cities in the Bay Area, Sunnyvale included, have formed a Clean Energy Coalition allowing the cities to work together to wield greater sway and further their collective agendas. Together, they have experimented with turning food waste into fuel and creating a stable circular economy; an economy that focuses on reusing and recycling its resources. Vice Mayor Smith said the goal is “to reduce our organic waste by 75%,” so there will be “big changes coming.”
The Sunnyvale councilmembers reassure their community the local government is a force to be reckoned with, and they are working on numerous policies with the intent to slow climate change the best they can. Councilmember Larsson said, “Working for the greater good brings people together.”