The Sunnyvale Public Lands Act
Oct 18, 2016 – The Registry
Tension in Sunnyvale over the purchase, sale and lease of public lands will culminate in November, when voters will decide whether to approve or deny Measure M, which seeks to give the city’s voters significant control over the future of parks and other public land amenities. In July 2015 a City Clerk’s Certificate was issued verifying that the 7,411 signatures required to put Measure M on the election ballot were valid and exceeded the minimum requirement of 5,531 signatures. Despite the strong backing of the initiative by many Sunnyvale residents, some elected City officials are opposed to the Measure due to its alleged ambiguous wording, arguing that, if approved, it will lead to increased expenditures and interfere with City operations.
The ballot initiative grew out of efforts by a coalition of residents from about 20 Sunnyvale neighborhoods who created Yes on M, Sunnyvale Public Lands Act Committee, and crafted the Measure itself. If passed, the sale, swap, purchase and lease of all public park and community service amenity lands costing or priced at $75,000 or more will require approval by a majority of public voters.
Similar initiatives, Santa Clara’s Measure R and Milpitas’ Measure K, will also go before voters in November, but a notable difference is that the scope of these Measures is limited to parkland and open space. In Sunnyvale, Measure M’s “community service amenity” refers to “libraries, swimming pools, community centers, performing arts venues, gardens, golf courses, zoos, city hall, city administration buildings, and other similar facilities and the land on which the facilities stand, whose primary purpose is to provide the public a place of city government administration, recreation, education, exercise, or enjoyment.”