The Sunnyvale council chambers were abuzz with energy and more than 80 people on March 5. Local and neighboring residents participated in a lively debate about what the Grand Boulevard Initiative means for their stretch of El Camino Real.
Michael Garvey, local government veteran and consultant, described how El Camino Real could transform into a street bubbling with activity – where pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and drivers could all navigate the street with ease. Nearly all of the cities in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties have adopted the ten guiding principles of the Initiative (Sunnyvale adopted them in 2008). These nonbinding principles guide each city’s decisions about El Camino Real.
After a warm welcome from Councilmember Jim Griffith and a humorous but unsuccessful attempt to watch a short film explaining the Initiative (watch it!), Dena Belzer took the podium. Belzer, president of Strategic Economics, discussed the current economic trends that make the Grand Boulevard Initiative possible and, in fact, imperative.
A thought-provoking discussion followed with a five-member panel fielding questions:
- Councilmember Chris Moylan (Sunnyvale’s representative to the Grand Boulevard Initiative Task Force)
- Susan Stuart (Health Planner with the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health)
- Kevin Connolly (Manager of Transit Planning with the Valley Transportation Authority)
- Chris Lepe (Community Planner with Transform)
- Dena Belzer (President of Strategic Economics)
The questions were diverse, thoughtful and more plentiful than the time allotted. The lanes for cars and Bus Rapid Transit were on everyone’s minds; Valley Rapid Transit is currently proposing rapid buses along El Camino Real in Santa Clara County. Unanswered questions will be posted soon.
In small groups, people then discussed which of the principles of the Grand Boulevard Initiative is the most important and what needs to be done to achieve it. Some people thought that the Initiative would make traffic and living conditions on El Camino Real much worse and others loved nearly everything about the vision.
Do you have a suggestion for topics of future forums? We welcome comments below!
Missed it? You can check out the evening’s presentation.