Sunnyvale has been named “happiest place in the U.S.” by a SmartAsset ranking, and Mayor Larry Klein in his State of the City address laid out plans for keeping it that way.
This year’s speech was themed around Sunnyvale’s safety, diversity and distinctiveness, highlighting a wide variety of topics that distinguish Sunnyvale from other cities.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Sunnyvale has a population of about 153,000 that is 48% Asian, 28.9% white and 16.8% Hispanic or Latino. The city’s median household income is $161,670 and 93% have graduated high school or higher education.
“The future is very bright from a Sunnyvale standpoint,” Klein told San José Spotlight.
According to Klein, one of Sunnyvale’s most unique city management features is that the city charter requires it to have a 10-year balanced budget and a 20-year plan. Part of that forward looking approach is to renovate the city’s 26 parks within a 20-year span.
“We’re not trying to be reactive, we’re trying to be as predictive as possible,” Klein said.
The city will be breaking ground soon on renovations to Lakewood Park, as well as the city’s first library branch near the park. Klein said this is important from an equity standpoint because the surrounding neighborhood has “historically been underserved.”
Beyond the parks system, the city has been emphasizing innovation through its new City Hall, which is the nation’s first LEED platinum building of its kind. Next stages in Sunnyvale’s civic development plans are to either build an addition to or fully renovate the city’s main library.
Klein’s speech also touched on development updates from Moffett Park, a 1,300-acre office-dense neighborhood to the city’s north where development has begun on 20,000 homes, 10 million square feet of commercial and 500,000 square feet of retail space. Companies such as Google and iHealth Labs have already moved into the area as the city invests in walking paths throughout the neighborhood.
“We’re creating places for retail, for office, for housing, to make it a location, a vibrant place, a vibrant community for years to come,” Klein said. “From my standpoint, that’s one of the best things you can do as a council and as a mayor.”
Diverse and safe
Sunnyvale’s Department of Public Safety is what gives the city its reputation for being one of safest cities in the U.S, according to Klein. There are 195 sworn public safety officers who are trained as police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. Klein said this helps build public support for the department and makes public safety employees more approachable.
“If you go to other cities, everybody loves the firemen, (but) some people are afraid of the police at the end of the day,” Klein said.
After the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests elevated searches for policing alternatives, leaders from cities across the nation came to analyze Sunnyvale’s public safety structure, according to Klein.
One of the city’s tenets of diversity is to make the city’s inner workings reflect the diversity of its population, which includes the most diverse Sunnyvale City Council in history, Klein said.
The city recently hired a new equity, access and inclusion manager, Fernanda Perdomo-Arciniegas, and established a Human Relations Commission tasked with advising the city council on topics relating to equity.
When one of the commissioners only spoke Spanish, Klein said this accentuated the need to find ways to make city services more accessible to non-English speaking residents through the use of simultaneous translation and other means.
The State of the City event ended with a final tour of City Hall, which will house its first council meeting on Tuesday.
Read the full transcript of Mayor Klein’s speech.
Contact B. Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] or @SakuCannestra on X, formerly known as Twitter.