Sanctuary City and Anti-Registry Policy Considerations

On October 24th, the Mountain View City Council adopted policy language pertaining to the City’s role in federal immigration law and to the potential creation of a Muslim registry. Specifically, the language states that the City does not use “resources to create, implement, provide investigation or information for enforcement, or otherwise assist or support any government program requiring the registration of individuals, creation of a database of individuals, and/or detention relocation or internment of individuals on the basis of religion, national origin, or ethnicity.” Further, the Council adopted language stipulating that it is neither the City’s mission nor role to enforce federal immigration laws, and that the City’s law enforcement will not arrest any person on the basis of any civil immigration laws.

The Council had originally directed staff to explore Sanctuary City and “anti-registry” policies during the goal-setting process, but after Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 31 (the California Religious Freedom Act) and Senate Bill 54 (the California Values Act), staff recommended no further action, as these laws essentially implemented these policies at the state level. During the meeting, there was significant public support for stronger measures, including for model Sanctuary City and “anti-registry” ordinances. The Council accepted some, but not all, of the actions proposed. Accepted actions include, prohibiting conditioning of City benefits and services on immigration status (unless required by law), removing immigration status from City applications and forms, and allowing for the presentation of an identity document by the individual’s nation of origin when a driver’s license or identification card is an acceptable form of evidence of identification.

The Council agreed with the Police Department that existing City law enforcement policies pertaining to immigration law sufficiently protect members of the immigrant community in the City. The Council was not comfortable eliminating the discretion of law enforcement to contact the federal government in certain, rare instances when current law enforcement policy allows such contact.

Los Altos School District – Transfer of Development Rights

In a study session on October 3rd, the Council provided additional direction on a program that could potentially allow the Los Altos School District to more easily acquire land in the San Antonio area for a tenth school site. The “transfer of development rights” (TDR) process provides a funding source to support development of a public school by allowing private property owners to purchase and utilize the development rights of the potential school site at another property. The sale of these development rights reduces the land acquisition cost for the school district.

To enhance the viability and attractiveness of the program, the Council supported allowing the conversion of residential floor area to office floor area through the transfer, waiving public benefit contribution requirements for the floor area transferred, and allowing the transfer of floor area outside of the San Antonio area. Additionally, the Council supported a contribution of $6 million per acre, up to $23 million, of Park Land Dedication funds to the Los Altos School District to assist with the purchase of open space, with the understanding that the City will have access to the open space or recreational facilities constructed on the new school site.

Magical Bridge Foundation – All-Inclusive Playground

The Magical Bridge Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded by the community members who coordinated and successfully created the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, an “all-inclusive” playground accessible to everyone, regardless of disability or age. All-inclusive playgrounds go “beyond ADA requirements by utilizing designs and equipment that help address physical, mental, and development needs.” On October 3rd, the City Council directed staff to execute a contract with the Foundation and to apply for up to $2 million in matching grant funding from the Santa Clara County All-Inclusive Playground Grant Program. Under the agreement, the Magical Bridge Foundation will assist the City with the design of the playground as well as with fundraising. The Council selected Rengstorff Park as the preliminary site for the all-inclusive playground.

Automated Guideway Transit Study Update

Over the past two years, the City has been studying the feasibility of an off-street “Automated Guideway Transit” (AGT) system that would connect the jobs-rich North Bayshore area with the Downtown Transit Center. Four transportation technologies have been studied:

  1. Aerial Cable Transportation – systems that carry passengers in cabins suspended by cables. Examples include gondolas and aerial trams.
  2. Automated People Movers – automated rubber-tired or steel-wheeled transit systems featuring large capacity vehicles operating on a fixed guideway. Examples include monorails and Maglevs.
  3. Automated Transit Network (ATN) – these include Personal Rapid Transit and Group Rapid Transit systems. They provide point-to-point service and can bypass other stations to get to the passenger’s destination.
  4. Autonomous Transit – driverless vehicles capable of integration with mixed-flow (non-exclusive right of way) traffic.

On October 17th, the Council provided direction to focus on the newer, emerging technologies – Automated Transit Network and Autonomous Transit. Although less mature, City staff recommended these technologies because they potentially could provide the greatest passenger experience, serving anticipated travel demand between North Bayshore and Downtown, and they allow for greater flexibility in expanding the system to serve other areas of the City. Council further directed exploration of at-grade elements, which means that Autonomous Transit technologies could have lower infrastructure impacts on the City if current infrastructure can be utilized (rather than utilize an entirely new aerial or dedicated off-street structure). The study is projected to be finalized in 2018, when Council will be provided proposed next steps.

— Lucas Ramirez, Observer