Comments on EIR:

Friedman, Barry

Grant, Pat

Hendricks, Glenn

Skewes-Cox, Amy

Henson, Alexander

Whittum, David

Comments about MAEP

Boehm, Jan

Staats, Debbie

Yeager, Don

Yeager, Jeanne

 is your most complete source of information on the City of Sunnyvale, CA,  proposed Mary Avenue Extension (MAE) (Bridge, Overpass, whatever), its Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and the litigation seeking to decertify the EIR. Home 

Mary Avenue Wiki

MAE -- The Project and EIR's in General Comments about the EIR Comments about the MAEP City Council Meeting 10/28/08 and start of Litigation The Litigation Continued (Under Construction)


Hendricks, Glenn

To: Sunnyvale City Council, Sunnyvale Planning Department

From: Glenn Hendricks

843 Trenton Drive

Sunnyvale, Ca 94087


(Resident, Voter, Tax Payer, Involved Member of the Community)

I am a member of the Sunnyvale Personnel Board. These comments are being made as an individual resident and do not reflect any connection or consideration with the Personnel Board.

The following are comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Mary Avenue Extension - SCH# 2007022024 August 2007.

These comments represent not just me but several homeowners and voters who live in the City of Sunnyvale. I will refer to our comments as "the Group". The Groups comments are to address the DEIR at the macro level. These comments break down. into four major topics.

Topic 1) Objectives of the project Section 1.1.2, page 15 states:

Over the course of the past 35 years or so, the City of Sunnyvale, Santa Clara County Traffic Authority, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), Caltrans, and Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company have explored and developed several concepts in the Mini-Triangle Area, which is formed by US 101, SR 237, and Mathilda Avenue, to address existing and future transportation deficiencies. Some of these concepts addressed regional deficiencies whereas others hoped to mitigate intraregional transportation issues.

The Mary Avenue Extension has been in the City's General Plan as part of the planned roadway network for several decades, Existing development, as well as future development, assumes this north-south connection will be constructed.

The proposed extension would help alleviate regional operational deficiencies by providing a vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle alternative to the existing north-south connections in the City. Without an additional north-south connection, delay, congestion, and operational speeds along Mathilda Avenue are expected to worsen (refer to Section 23 Transportation, Table 2.0-6).

Furthermore, within the Moffett Park Area and other areas adjacent to Mary Avenue, intersection. operations are expected to further deteriorate without the proposed extension.

What is causing this deteriorization at the intersections? Could this be managed by other planning and land use decisions? Is the new traffic being caused by increased use of existing residential and office space or because of new construction? This question is never clearly answered in the DEIR.

Section 1.3, page 27 states:

The project objectives are to:

  Provide an alternative vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle North-south connector to lands north of US 101 and SR 237 (including the Moffett Park Area); and

  Alleviate existing and future traffic congestion in the Moffett Park Area and other areas adjacent to Mary Avenue.

What are the specific congestion issues that are adjacent to Mary Avenue? These are never addressed in the DEIR.

Section, page 31 states:

The proposed project would provide an alternative to the existing north-south connections in the City and alleviate regional operational deficiencies.

Section 6.1. page 93 states:

As described in Section 1.1.2, the objective of the Mary Avenue Extension project is to provide additional north-south, transportation capacity in Sunnyvale. The additional capacity is needed to reduce existing congestion on other north-south routes, as well as to adequately serve future planned growth in the greater Moffett Park area. The long-term need for this additional capacity was identified in 1972, which was when the proposed project was added to the City's General Plan.

Are there any other descriptions for the objectives or success criteria for this project? These objectives seem to be missing something. It may be obvious but shouldn't the objectives also include language like "without negatively affecting the existing neighborhoods or quality of life for the current and future residents of the City"?

The Group believes this is one of the main points of resistance to this project. Many residents believe they are being asked to carry the burden of improving regional traffic issues and expanding office development in Moffett Park while reducing the quality of life in the City's neighborhoods. We need a better definition of success criteria for this project that is vetted with the residents before a determination can be made about this project.

Until we have success criteria that has at least been reviewed with the community, the different constituent groups will never been able to have common ground to evaluate any proposed solution. Right now multiple solutions are being proposed and we are all looking to see which answer sticks best. With no definition of "best"; is it what is best for Sunnyvale residents, Moffett Park office space dwellers, or regional traffic planners? This question must be resolved before going forward with evaluating this plan.

Another confusion point in the document is the term "Project Alignment". The DEIR skips back and forth between talking about what will happen within or next to the specific project area (the actual overpass connection between Mary Ave and Eleventh Ave) and discussing City wide/Regional issues. Prior to the final version, the DEIR should be restructured to clarify Alignment and regional issues and deal with them as distinct and separate issues.

The DEIR. tends to focus on the mitigation efforts around the Project Alignment and the benefits to the Region. It does not address the negative impacts to the neighborhood and community qnality of life for the residents of Sunnyvale. The DEIR. only speaks to theoretical average traffic growth at a limited number of intersections in the City. The DEIR needs a "resident quality of life" section.

If the DEIR is not the correct part of the overall approval process to address these community quality of life concerns, where is the appropriate step in the process to address these? The community is looking for leadership from the City government to help direct us to the appropriate forum. (Interesting note: I asked this question in the Study Session with the Planning Commission on September 24 on this topic. The only answer I received from City representatives was to ask this question in my comments to the DEIR). The Group is very concerned that there is not an appropriate forum in the process to get the quality of life concerns addressed.

The Group has chosen to live in Sunnyvale because of the quality of life we can experience in our community. We do not feel the City of Sunnyvale quality of life should be negatively impacted so that "regional operational deficiencies can be alleviated".

Topic 2) Actual Impact to the Community Section 1.1.2, page 15 states:

The Mary Avenue Extension has been in the City's General Plan as part of the planned roadway network for several decades. Existing development, as well as future development, assumes this north-south connection will be constructed.

The Mary Avenue over pass is only mentioned once in the Land Use and Transportation Sub-Element of the General Plan. On page 154 R1.6: it states "to preserve the option". For the amount of times the General Plan is referred to as the rational for this project, there are frighteningly few words to describe the need or rational for this project. (The Mary Ave over pass does show on several of the diagrams). Given the lack of information about this project in the current version of the General Plan, the references to the General Plan as the rational for this project should be removed from the DEIR. Or the importance of the General Plan references should be reduced in the DEIR.

Is the Moffett Park Area a viable property for development without the proposed Mary Ave. extension?

         If yes, then the Mary Ave Extension is not required and this assumption is not a valid argument for its construction.

         If no, then has any promise or commitment (written or verbal) been made to the developers or companies that the Mary Ave. Extension will be built? In the absence of any prior commitment for the Mary Ave. Extension being built, this assumption is not a valid argument for its construction. If a commitment has been made, this should be added to the public record. Who made the commitment and when?

The developers and current companies in the Moffett Park Area made decisions to build and operate their businesses in this area with the clear knowledge of the positive or negative transportation aspects of this property. The Group has heard previous declarations about the viability of development in the Moffett Park Area because of its easy access to transportation. (101, 237, 85, Light Rail) Has something changed in all of this that now reduces the benefits of developing this land or increases the negatives?

How does all this affect the communities of the City of Sunnyvale? The impact area of this project is much larger than just the Project Alignment area. Section and forward talks about the inter-linking effect of this project with the City. The DEIR states there is a regional impact to this project. It will affect the entire area bounded by Homestead, Bernardo/85, Lawrence Express Way and 101/237. All traffic patterns in this area will be impacted. The DEIR does not appear to adequately define or measure the impact in this entire area. This should be corrected before the final version of the document is submitted.

Figure 2.0-1 Existing Transportation Network and Study Intersections also highlights the fact the impact area of this project is greater than the Project Alignment Area.

You can also see by the comments extracted from the DER the impact area is much larger than the Project Alignment Area. It is also likely to induce additional growth because of this project.

Section 3.2, Page 88 states:

The project is located within an urbanized area of Santa Clara County, and its construction will not open additional areas to development.

The proposed project will likely have an indirect growth-inducing effect since it increases the capacity of the area's transportation network. To the extent that the provision of an adequate transportation network is essential to growth, the lack of such capacity is a constraint to growth. Therefore, the project would remove one potential constraint to growth.

This is an inconsistency in the DE1R. It some sections it assumes no new growth from this project and some sections assumes there will be growth due to this project. Assuming there will be new traffic growth in the City is probably a more realistic assumption. All the traffic numbers and patterns should be re-done using this assumption before the final version of the DR.

Section, Page 47 & 48 states:

Unlike a project that constructs or expands a land use with a resulting increase in traffic (e.g., residential subdivision, shopping center, industrial park, etc.), the proposed project is designed to accommodate existing and projected traffic demand. As such, the proposed project would not

change overall traffic volumes in the area. Instead, because the project consists of a new north-south roadway connection, its primary effect will be to change the traffic distribution in the area.

Table 2.0-1 shows projected ADT volumes on roadways in the project area with the proposed Mary Avenue Extension in place. As noted above and as shown in the table, the project will redistribute traffic in the area since it will provide an alternative north-south connection across two major freeways. Figures 2.0-3 and 2.0-4 also illustrate this point; the figures depict the projected changes in 2020 peak-hour volumes due to the project, as compared to "no project" conditions.

With the project, traffic from Mathilda Avenue will shift to Mary Avenue. As a result of the additional capacity available at Mathilda, some of the traffic that currently uses Fair Oaks Avenue and Lawrence Expressway to access Moffett Park area will shift to Mathilda Avenue.

At a number of other study intersections, the project would slightly but not significantly worsen peak hour operations. At other intersections the effect would be negligible or nonexistent.

It is the combined effect of these traffic pattern changes that will negatively affect the quality of life for residents of the City and the neighborhood communities. Per the DER, traffic is going to be re-distributed across the City. The DEIR tries to state that the effects of this re-distribution will be negligible or nonexistent. The Group disagrees with this assertion.

Table 2.0-6 2020 Average Daily Trips Comparison shows greater growth in City traffic.

Note: There is a significant inconsistency in two of the line items in this chart. The "South of El Camino" and the "North of Fremont" line items show different projected growth patterns, yet they appear to be referring to the same section of Mary Avenue. This same inconsistency also exists in Table 20.0-1 Existing Average Daily Trips.

In only one area of the DEW does it mention actual "field observations". The Group feels this is another disconnect between the DEIR and the residents views about the impact of this project on the quality of life and the City. The residents make daily "field observations" and are not solely relying on mathematical models. There is a big disconnect between the reality of life on the "Streets of Sunnyvale" and the theoretical models used in the DEIR. This should be corrected for the final version of the E1R.

Topic 3) NASA Impact

The recent announcement by NASA about Goggle flights and their intention to build 1 million square feet of office space was not included in the DEIR. The Mary Avenue overpass does not feed directly into the NASA side of the Moffett development area, but building a large amount of office space in the NASA area would have a huge impact to the traffic use of the overpass. Assumptions for traffic gowth generated by the building on NASA land should be included in the traffic models for this project before the final version is published.

Topic 4) City Residents verses developer needs

The only mention of residents in the DEW is on Page 14 Known Views of Local Groups and Areas of Controversy. It mentions a little known meeting on Feb 21, 2007. Again, the Group does not see anything in the DEER to ensure the community quality of life is not negatively impacted. The DEIR spends more time describing and documenting the potential short-term impact on Burrowing Owl, Nesting Raptors and construction related noise than it does to the long-term impact to the residents and the communities within the City. The Mary Ave Extension, if it is approved, will be in place and affect the City for decades to come. (Please don't get me wrong, I am all for protecting the environment and small woodlands creatures). But, I am just as concerned about protecting the well-being of the residents of the City.

Side note about mitigation steps: If the mitigation. steps in MM BIO 1.1 and MM BIO 2.1 are completely followed you cannot construct this project. These two mitigation steps close the entire year to construction because of the non-overlapping breeding seasons of both the Burrowing Owl and Nesting Raptor.

The Group feels that a better assessment of the impact to the residents, neighborhoods, communities and the City needs to be undertaken before a decision on this project can be evaluated. This project will have far reaching impacts to the entire City and as such warrants better review of the potential benefits verses the probable negative impact to quality of life for the voting, tax paying residents that have invested in living in this wonderful place we all call home, Sunnyvale.

If the DEIR is not the appropriate place to have this better review, can you please communicate the appropriate step in the process where this review will take place and how the residents and community can effectively participate? Currently, residents do not feel their quality of life concerns are being heard, let alone addressed.

Why does there appear to be a sense of urgency for this project now? This potential transportation concern was formally identified in 1972, Thirty-Five years ago.

Summary Call for Action

                     Quality of life concerns have not been addressed in the DEIR. Is there a more appropriate place for them to be addressed before a decision is evaluated?

                     It is an open question if the Moffett Park Area requires the Mary Ave. Extension to be developed. There is no doubt the Moffett Park developers and regional traffic planners would prefer the project.

                     NASA building development concepts need to be included in the models for this project.

                     The reason for urgency to move forward on this project is unclear.

For these reasons, the Group requests that the Mary Avenue Extension project be placed on hold until an appropriate assessment can be made of the practical impacts to the quality of life for residents of the City.

Thank you for you time in reading this material. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or responses to this material