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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Sunnyvale City Council Campaign - 2018 - Josh Grossman

Online Interview with Sunnyvale City Council Grassroots Candidate: Joshua Grossman (Seat 2)

Josh Grossman and Family
(edited for readability - with additional web links by me, Michael Goldman)

Link to this post:

Link to interview with candidate Henry Alexander III:

Link to interview with candidate John Cordes:

Tony Guan conducted an interview with Josh Grossman, candidate for Sunnyvale City Council 2018.  The Google Doc containing the transcription is here:

(For the interview with Henry Alexander III see: )

(The following is my copy-paste of the transcription with editing for clarity and some additional links.  Full disclosure:  I endorse Josh Grossman, Henry Alexander III, and John Cordes  for Sunnyvale City Council and have contributed to their campaigns. - Michael Goldman - Sunnyvale City Council member - speaking only for myself)

In the following, TG is interviewer Tony Guan.

TG: On Oct. 19 2018, the Save My Sunny Sky Group ( , together with a group of 300 people, interviewed (online) one of the Sunnyvale city council grassroots candidates, Joshua Grossman. He is running for city council seat 2, and his campaign site is here:

This doc captures all of the conversation between the community and Josh. Please feel free to post this doc link ( into any social media (FB, Twitter, Instagram, NextDoor), email it to your friends, spread the word. We will update this doc with new materials when available, so please return to this doc!

(The "doc" and link referred to above is a Google Docs page. The link to this web page you are reading now is: - Michael Goldman)

Most importantly, Vote for him!

And we plan to interview all of the 3 grassroots candidates of Sunnyvale in the next few days, please considering join this interviewing (WeChat) group by scanning the QR code below with your smartphone:
Some reference links from Josh:
  1. Josh explains “Why He is Running for City Council”:
  2. The letter from his wife in his support:
  3. Josh and his mother-in-law (Chinese Language!):
TG::Hi Josh

Josh Grossman: Hi TG! Thanks so much for hosting this event!

TG::Would you like to give us a brief introduction in 5-7 sentences.

Josh Grossman: Hello everyone. My name is Josh Grossman and I'm running for Sunnyvale City Council Seat 2. I have many family members who live in Sunnyvale and my wife teaches Sunnyvale Students at Santa Clara High School. My campaign is not taking anything but individual donations. I'm really eager to work for you and excited to make decisions without fear or favor.

TG::Thank you Josh! Would you like to say something to the group in voice?
[Josh saying something in Chinese!]

TG:: Wow, that is quite impressive! How did you learn Chinese, and doing it so well?
YZN: I would say Josh speaking excellent Mandarin!

Josh Grossman: I lived in Taiwan many years ago and my wife and her family speak Chinese. I also studied Chinese at the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan while studying Chinese philosophy.

YZN: @Josh Grossman [Thumb Up]

Question 1 - What have you done in the past for Sunnyvale residents?

Josh Grossman: Thanks TG. I'm the former Chair of the Housing and Human Services Commission and currently I'm the vice chair. My proudest achievement is helping to pass the Edwina Benner center for disabled individuals and veterans that are homeless.

Edwina Benner Housing Complex
More info at:
I've also fought very hard to ensure that our many mobile home park residents are not made homeless by mobile home park conversions which would negatively impact our community. The mobile home park population is equivalent to about 11 percent of Sunnyvale residents by some estimates.

TG::As far as I know, there are 156,000 residents in Sunnyvale. So that 11 percent is about 15,000 people in need of your work! Happy to see that you are fighting hard for them. Thank you!
North Sunnyvale is where the mobile home parks are.

Question 2 - Why do think we should vote for you? What are the most important differences between you and your opponent.

Josh Grossman: The most important reason to vote for me is my independence. I will make decisions without fear or favor. I've only received individual donations. The most important question for voters to ask is if they think Sunnyvale is better off now than it was 4 - 5 years ago when my opponent took office. If the answer is no, then I encourage them to vote for me. I'm also interested to listen and be a voice for residents!

TG: Alright, thank you Josh! We hope we can finally get councilmen who can hear us and work with us in the council.
Question 3 - What lesson have you learned from the garbage bin change program in Sunnyvale last year? Or what do you think Sunnyvale can do better in the future?

Josh Grossman: One of the big problems with that program is that despite a long outreach program the city was unable to discern that this was not the program people wanted. I hear every day that this is an issue that upsets people.  The level of transparency in the process was lacking. I have a new video on the garbage can issue that I will ask TG to send to the group. My concern is that if the council can't get the seemingly easier issues like the garbage can right how can they handle things like housing, traffic and airplane noise?

TG - Thanks, that is somewhat painful for a lot of residents in the city. You just need to go to NextDoor to see the hundreds posts of complaints on the program and the way it was handled by our current council.

Question 4 - How are you going to improve the transparency of the city council and operations if elected?

Josh Grossman: I'm a big believer in citizen's commissions. First off, I'd like to establish one for airplane noise. I'm also eager to see how we can make sure that decisions do not come down from the council as a done deal before a large group of citizens can have input. I know we can do better.

The current civic center project is a perfect example of a process that needs to be more transparent. Most citizens I talk to believe the current plans are too expensive and unnecessary but still the project is rushed to be approved.

TG - Thanks, Josh. Hopefully we can see some improvement on the transparency of the council and city, in the next few years to come!

Question 5 - How are you going to help us to work on the airplane noise pollution issue in Sunnyvale?

Josh Grossman: Thanks TG. I have a five point plan for airplane noise reduction:
  1. We need to have a more aggressive stance toward the FAA
  2. We need a citizen's commission
  3. We need to hire an expert to help advise the city and strategize on how to deal with the FAA
  4. We need to re-think the airplane noise measurement system that will not work
  5. Renegotiate the agreement for the city's round-table which is not favorable to Sunnyvale.
TG:: Point 5 is a really great point that a lot of people do not have a clear idea about it, unless you have worked on this issue for a while. Can you elaborate the last point so people can understand what you were talking about?
Josh Grossman: There are a couple of issues:
  1. we can be on the receiving end of more flights from SFO shifted on to us by other cities 
  2. the fee structure is based on population but voting is not. How is that fair? 
  3. the FAA basically made the round-table agree in the recitals of the MOU that grassroots solutions were problematic.

Question 6 - There are two major projects for the city now, the water project and civic center project, how to fund them?

Civic Center Plans
Josh Grossman: I'm most concerned about the Civic Center project. The favored scenario by the current council could cost upward of $200 Million and is largely unfunded. It is also enormously out of scope and scale. Do we really need three levels of underground parking?

The Civic Center land is agreed by many to be the most valuable commercial land in Sunnyvale. I'm concerned the project will become a huge boon to developers and we will be stuck paying the bills.

We should do a smaller project that utilizes some of the existing buildings and saves us money while providing the growth we need.  There is no reason for us to try and compete with San Jose on who can build the biggest city hall.

Proposed new city hall - $200M and rising.
From web site:

Question - 7: What is your position on rent control?

Josh Grossman: I don't support rent control for private homes. I believe the issue is complex and for apartments we should do a study issue before implementing anything. The voters should decide on any type of rent control ... not the city council.

I do believe that we should put a ballot initiative for mobile home park rent stabilization like many of our neighboring cities. This will protect the mobile home parks and allow them to continue to exist in Sunnyvale. If our mobile home park residents are forced from their homes we will see an explosion in homelessness... not to mention that the current situation with rent increases of 7% per year plus in many cases is unfair. 4800 mobile home park units at least in Sunnyvale. We need to ensure they have a place to live. 

Question 8 - What is your view on the RV Parking?

Josh Grossman: I don't believe the city should allow RV parking on city streets for more than 72 hours. We need to do this within the contours of existing California law.

Question 9 - What's your opinion on Homeless Issue in Sunnyvale?

Josh Grossman: As a member and former chair of the housing and human services commission I've spent a lot of time working on this issue. Fortunately, Sunnyvale is doing a good job of addressing homelessness and we are a role model for some other cities.

The key is to transition folks to permanent housing and make sure they can at the same time begin working. Our downtown streets team which is a non-profit group is doing wonders in this area.

Nonetheless, we still see some that are really suffering. I'm currently working on a case where a man was made homeless by the death of his partner and he's a senior. The problem is really heart breaking and we need to to all we can.

Question 10 - What is your view on campaign donation money cap? Do we need to limit the maximum money to a candidate from a business or association?

(Click image to enlarge)
Josh Grossman: I think campaign finance reform is critical for Sunnyvale. The huge amounts of money spent on Sunnyvale elections by outside sources undermines our citizens faith in democracy. I will have over one hundred individual donations by the time the campaign ends and I'm very proud of that fact.

There is no reason that groups like the national association of realtors should be spending $70K on an independent expenditure for a Sunnyvale city council candidate as they did for my opponent in the last election cycle.

Just today I sent back a donation that I received from an organization. It's hard to do but I'm glad I did.

Question 11 - What is your plan to ensure that students have safe routes to school? The Homestead corridor is very dangerous for students riding their bikes.

Josh Grossman: The safe routes to school program is great and we need to expand it immediately. I believe we can work even more closely with the district and our public safety officers to make things better. We need to make this a top priority as there have been a number of students hit in just the last few months.

Question 12 - The following questions are somewhat on the same topic, so I combined to one, here it goes.
  1. Everyone agrees traffic is a huge problem. Seems like it would help to bring back school buses. Why is this never even mentioned?
  2. With all the new building, specifically housing, traffic is a huge issue. But what about the other infrastructure like schools and grocery stores?
  3. What is being done to estimate traffic congestion and delays and the resulting pollution, from increased housing and office space?

Josh Grossman: One key part of the solution is to stop building without thinking of infrastructure to support the projects.  
  1. Have a holistic and comprehensive smart cities traffic management solution 
  2. Stop building office space without residential matching units
  3. Work with companies like Google and others that use our streets and are based in Sunnyvale to see how they can help. Google has provided a shuttle in Mountain View. We should try for something similar here.
The current impact analysis are very inaccurate. We can do better. Butcher's corner is a perfect example. We need balanced growth that is good for the city.

Question 13 - Sunnyvale City Budget has been in dire shape for the past few years, primarily due to labor cost. City has reported to selling properties to developers to balance the budget. What's your plan to return to fiscal responsibility?

Josh Grossman: Our budget is actually not in terrible shape but it could be better and we need to have a way to stop the city's addiction to building offices in order to generate revenue. I also believe we need to reexamine the city's business license tax which allows the largest companies like Apple and Google to pay about $12,000 per year to do business here. Generating a huge amount of debt by building a huge civic center is not something we want to do as well.

Question 14 - Relating to the budget, more specifically, how will the city limit its budget exposure to pensions?
Pension "Underfunding gets worse over time"
Josh Grossman: I think the key thing is to get our largest companies to pay their fair share including the developers making millions in Sunnyvale. I don't think it's fair to shift the burden of pension reform on to the workers in Sunnyvale government. In addition, this should not be a burden tax-payers have to bear.

Question 15 - This has been asked, but I would like to formally ask the question in public, just for the sake of record: if pot store (marijuana store) ever shows up on the Sunnyvale council meeting, what would be your vote? Yes or No?
Josh Grossman: No. I don't think dispensaries are in the best interests of Sunnyvale and citizens clearly oppose them being in the city. I understand the concerns of parents regarding this issue. My wife's a high school teacher and I have two kids as well.

Question 16 - How are you going to make Sunnyvale safer again? Do you have plan to reduce the house and cars break in. Number of crimes are increasing recently. How do you plan to keep our city safe?

Josh Grossman: First and foremost, we need to listen to our public safety officers who have said this is a serious issue and we need to stop unrestrained building that doesn't account for necessary infrastructure. My opponent likes to claim that Sunnyvale is the safest city in the US but my research indicates otherwise. Here's a link: first thing that comes up in Google that lists us 17th:

Question 17 - Can you talk about the district based council election, and the litigation risk the city is being put under right now?
More details on letter city received here:
Josh Grossman: The city has received a notice letter from a large law firm on this subject and they seem to be on track for a large lawsuit. We need to act on this in a total of 45 days and the clock in already ticking. Here's a good article on the subject.

I'm concerned continued inaction could cost us $Millions like it did the City of Palmdale who paid $4.5 million in legal fees for opposing council, interest and their own legal fees. "At-large" elections also put grassroots candidates like me at a huge disadvantage. That's part of the reason the establishment is so eager to fight the losing battle to keep "at-large" elections in Sunnyvale.
( see also: , mg)

Question 18 - As the population is growing fast, there is a heated debate on "growth". What is your take on the current council's actions and prospects on city growth? To be more specific, mixed commercial villages, mid/high density housing, mixed office/residential buildings. What do you consider as "aggressive"/"negative" growth vs "reasonable" growth? It is greatly appreciated if you can comment on office growth and residential growth respectively.

How dense?
Josh Grossman: I think we need reasonable growth near transit hubs. I'm not a no-development candidate. I also think that any new office buildings should have a 1:1 ratio of housing somewhere else in the city. I'm okay with balanced development but projects like Butcher's Corner that benefit developers and our opposed by residents and don't include affordable housing units are a big mistake.

Additional questions:

Could you please explain more details about your plan on reduce crime?

Josh Grossman: We need to look at high tech solutions to help solve this problem like predictive analytics that have worked well in other jurisdicitons. We also need to make sure that new developments really include a look at necessary infrastructure for public safety. This is something we need to add to the approval process for development.

LYQ:Go Blue @Josh Grossman

Josh Grossman: Go Blue! We need to win more games! Wish we had a better quarter back.

XM: Josh, is there another city that you think Sunnyvale should try to model after?

Josh Grossman: I think Vancouver is a pretty good model. I also like some of the Midwestern cities like Ann Arbor and to a lesser degree Columbus. San Francisco is a cautionary tale for us.

Ann Arbor, MI, - List of "Top #"
Click image to enlarge

Q: I’ve only become involved in the city politics recently. But I’ve heard “Butcher’s Corner” being mentioned several times since. What is the issue with it? Thank you for the education.

(Josh didn't get to this. For more on Butcher's Corner see here:

Q: What do you do outside of “politics/campaigning?”

JG: I'm an attorney and tech executive. I handle IoT and Edge and Servers for a large supply chain company.

Q: So many new offices and residents buildings, any plan for stores? We don’t want to always go to San Jose or PA to shopping. We want to have more local shops and parks.

Josh Grossman: We need to encourage our small businesses to stay in the city. This means buying local. I plan to start a buy local program with local merchants if elected. I've seen it work well in other cities.

Q: What kind of infrastructure you have in mind? Security cameras?

Josh Grossman: I don't support security cameras run by the city for privacy reasons but there are other technologies that are not invasive that can work well. One example is using algorithms to predict where crimes are likely to occur and then having police in those areas.

TG::If no more questions, I would like to have Josh say something as the closing statement.

Josh Grossman: Thank you so much to everyone for taking the time to listen to my plans for the city tonight. I'm honored and humbled by all the support I've received for the campaign and I can't wait to work for you to bring positive change to Sunnyvale. If you'd like to get involved please come to  or send me an email. Most importantly tell you friends.

TG::I guess Josh is pretty tired now. Thank you @Josh Grossman !
KC:Thank you !! Learned a lot today!

Josh Grossman: Thank you TG! Goodnight everyone.

TG::Stay tuned for the other two grassroots candidates. We are going to interview with them too, in the coming few days! And I would like to ask everyone to help Josh, if what he believes have the shared values as you. As grassroots, they have much less visibility than the current councilmen and they have much much less money, because they do not want to be manipulated by the special interest groups.

It is us, and us only, that they can count on in this election. So please, whatever you can help. If you want to donate to him please try to use some amount of $x8.08 (e.g., $78.08) because that is our signature money amount for all of the grassroots candidates, from our Chinese community!