Sunnyvale has been named the “Happiest Place in America.” Mayor Larry Klein laid out plans to keep it that way during his State of the City address, according to a ranking from SmartAsset.
This year’s speech focused on safety, diversity and the uniqueness of Sunnyvale, highlighting a variety of topics that set Sunnyvale apart from other cities.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Sunnyvale has a population of approximately 153,000, of which 48% are Asian, 28.9% are white, and 16.8% are Hispanic or Latino. The city’s median household income is $161,670 and 93% have a high school diploma or higher.
“The future is very bright from a Sunnyvale perspective,” Klein told San Jose Spotlight.
According to Klein, one of the most unique features of Sunnyvale city government is that the city charter requires a 10-year balanced budget and a 20-year plan. Part of this forward-looking approach is the renovation of the city’s 26 parks over a period of 20 years.
“We’re not trying to be reactive, but rather be as forward-looking as possible,” Klein said.
The city will soon begin renovations to Lakewood Park as well as the city’s first library branch near the park. Klein said this is important from an equity perspective because the surrounding neighborhood is “historically underserved.”
Beyond the park system, the city is emphasizing innovation with its new city hall, the first in the country. LEED Platinum building of its kind. The next steps in Sunnyvale’s urban development plans include building an addition or completely renovating the city’s main library.
Klein’s speech also covered recent developments in Moffett Park, a 1,300-acre office district north of the city where development has begun on 20,000 homes, 10 million square feet of commercial space and 500,000 square feet of commercial space. Companies like Google and iHealth Labs have already moved to the area as the city invests in trails throughout the neighborhood.
“We are creating places for retail, offices and housing to make it a location, a vibrant place, a vibrant community for years to come,” Klein said. “In my view, this is one of the best things you can do as a city councilor and as mayor.”
Diverse and safe
According to Klein, it is the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety that gives the city its reputation as one of the safest in the United States. There are 195 sworn public safety officers trained to be police officers, firefighters and paramedics. Klein said this helps strengthen public support for the department and makes public safety workers more accessible.
“When you travel to other cities, everyone loves firefighters, but some people end up being afraid of the police,” Klein said.
After the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 intensified the search for policing alternatives, Klein said leaders from cities across the country came to look at Sunnyvale’s public safety structure.
One of the city’s diversity principles is that the city’s inner workings reflect the diversity of its population, which includes Sunnyvale’s most diverse City Council in history, Klein said.
The city recently hired a new equity, access and inclusion manager, Fernanda Perdomo-Arciniegas, and created a Human Relations Commission to advise the city council on equity issues.
When one of the commissioners only spoke Spanish, Klein said it underscored 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 the town hall, where the first council meeting will take place on Tuesday.