Rapid Growth in Sunnyvale Spurs Concerns in Public Safety

Police officers and firefighters in Sunnyvale are going public with their concerns that the city is allowing business to boom without enough consideration for public safety.

On Thursday, the public safety officers union sent a letter to City Council members formally requesting they take a closer look at the Sunnyvale's looming development plans, especially the proposed massive Google campus.

It's yet another sign that Sunnyvale is losing its small-town atmosphere to Silicon Valley growth.

For the city’s public safety officers, who alternate between being cops and firefighters, it's becoming more than they can handle.

In one national survey, Sunnyvale has been hailed as the country’s safest city for the past three years. It’s probably one reason Google has applied to build massive projects there, including a reported 1 million square foot campus as well as another 400,000 square foot project, adding thousands of new employees.

Google is also asking the city to consider building new high density housing.

The president of Sunnyvale’s Public Safety Officers Association, made up of 200 cops, firefighters and dispatchers, is worried.

"I’m sure they’re kind of star struck with some of these big companies wanting to come to the city to do business, which we’re all for," union President Frank Bellucci said. "But we just want to make sure that type of growth is done wisely."

So, the union sent the letter to City Council members, formally requesting impacts to public safety be specifically analyzed. The letter points out the city last year saw a 13-year high in some major crimes, including rape, aggravated assault, robbery, larceny and vehicle thefts.

"We are also seeing huge problems with traffic in our city,' Bellucci said. "That will add response time to our being able to get to you when you call 911, and it’s also causing some problems with some of our pedestrian collisions that are occurring in the city."

A union consultant and adviser said the focus is on protecting public safety but added litigation has not been ruled out.

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