Nancy has a strong track record in delivering innovative and effective solutions towards economic equity such as keeping a focus on wage theft until the City passed an ordinance. Once elected Mayor, Nancy will work to eliminate threats to hourly workers, increase opportunities for our young people to be more involved in our City, fight for more affordable housing, and provide more digital access for seniors and underserved youth, which is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the first things Nancy did as a Council Member in 2017 was resurrect a wage theft study issue which had been tabled. Nancy led the effort to bring the item back for consideration. In 2018, the City Council passed a wage theft ordinance to protect workers.
Nancy worked with other municipal leaders to elevate the voices of Sunnyvale residents who are being displaced by our uneven economy by reading their messages into the record at the League of California Cities Housing Community and Economic Development Policy Committee meetings. Through her efforts, the League of California Cities this year launched a housing production platform. The League of California Cities now advocates for legislation requiring cities to take fourteen immediate actions designed to help spur housing production, while ensuring cities like Sunnyvale retain flexibility. The only ones Sunnyvale does not do are to establish a Workforce Housing Opportunity Zone (WHOZ) or a Housing Sustainability District, allow up to fourplexes in single-family zones, reduce parking requirements, and adopt tenant protections. The platform also calls for the Legislature to provide new funding mechanisms for affordable housing. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has put a pause on these efforts, but as Mayor, Nancy will continue to push her colleagues around the state and the state legislature to build more affordable housing with all due haste.
One of Nancy’s core beliefs is that a diverse, vibrant community requires affordable housing. However, Sunnyvale rents have been shooting up in recent years. In particular, residents in Sunnyvale’s Plaza Del Rey Mobile Home Park have experienced dramatic “new buyer” rent increases for mobile home spaces. Although the average monthly rent for a mobile home space in the other Sunnyvale mobile home parks is approximately $1,300, Plaza Del Rey space rental is now about $2,250. Now other Sunnyvale mobile home parks have begun to follow Plaza Del Rey’s lead. The El Dorado Mobile Home Park is raising monthly space rents by as much as 7.5% annually. This has caused the market value of the park’s residents’ homes to decrease by about $80,000 per home. This is particularly harmful to mobile home park residents because a mobile home is often the resident’s most valuable investment.
Some of the residents of these parks are disabled, low income, or on fixed incomes. If the space rents continue to rise, it will devastate these residents. Sunnyvale has protected 400 acres for mobile home parks. Seniors on low and fixed incomes who live in these parks urgently need protection in the form of rent stabilization, rental agreements limiting rent increases, and vacancy controls. As Mayor, Nancy will lead the City Council to advocate for the individuals in these parks with the State and find innovative solutions to maintain space rental prices at affordable levels.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the importance of Internet access clearer than ever. Without it, at-home learning is severely limited, families cannot shop efficiently and safely for essential supplies, and communication is impaired. While the City has partnered with CPUC and tech leaders to provide access for some, we must ensure these options are expanded.
Seniors and Digital Inclusion
Nancy asks that the County broaden digital access for seniors. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal and state authorities have authorized Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for doctor’s appointments that can be conducted via telehealth. This has saved lives, helped reduce the spread of the virus, and enabled providers to scale the response of an overwhelmed health system.
Telehealth has helped keep older adults connected to their medical care providers. For these and other reasons, Nancy believes it is likely that telehealth will, at least to some extent, remain an option for Medicare beneficiaries beyond the pandemic emergency. However, seniors who lack access to technology will remain unable to utilize telehealth services.
Delivery services are also crucial in helping seniors remain safely at home. Those sheltering in place can have almost any product—including medical supplies, prescription drugs, food, and other groceries—delivered directly to their homes. While some delivery services can be accessed by phone, they are increasingly, and occasionally exclusively, internet-based. To the extent that seniors have greater access to these technologies, they will be more likely to use home delivery services, and less likely to put themselves at risk by shopping in stores.
In addition, sheltering has a negative impact on seniors’ mental health and well-being. Loneliness and social isolation have long been recognized as significant contributors to depression among older adults. Increasing access to technology, along with education regarding its use, will provide seniors with much-needed connections.
Digital Inclusion for Underserved Students
In 2018, Nancy collaborated with a student from Sunnyvale to launch a global digital literacy campaign for young and old alike. Through this initiative, Nancy played a key role in equipping both students and seniors with the tools and training required to gain access to the Internet safely. The student says that Nancy’s “unconditional support” helped launch his non-profit, which hosts regular events at the Sunnyvale Senior Center where teens share their love of technology with seniors. Nancy also worked with other members of the Sunnyvale City Council to authorize a digital access grant program for Sunnyvale students and their families. This grant ensured that Sunnyvale students in the program received eight hours of digital literacy training, low-cost broadband, and a device.
Youth in the Workforce
Nancy wants to create more options for our young people to contribute to Sunnyvale in the areas of policy, community development, public works, construction projects, museums, parks, orchards and gardens, and environmental services. Hands-on work experience for our young people will pay dividends for Sunnyvale as more of our youth become engaged with and knowledgeable about their city.
As Mayor, Nancy will scrutinize how we structure our local economy. She believes there is room for new approaches to support and encourage small businesses as well as larger corporations. Like some neighboring cities, Sunnyvale can look at ways to support worker and consumer cooperatives to better serve our residents.