Sense of Place: East Sunnyvale

Sunnyvale’s rezoning of industrial land to residential in strategic areas of the City have helped it meet growing housing needs while maintaining its important tax base. However, the prior industrial uses have resulted in car-centric areas with missing sidewalks, crosswalks, and other basic pedestrian facilities. To improve the experience of these transition areas as livable, desirable residential neighborhoods, the City has developed a Sense of Place Plan for each location to encourage non-vehicular modes of travel, enhance neighborhood identity and character, and provide a quality residential experience through a focus on a vibrant streetlife.


Callander Associates has been retained to develop a Sense of Place Plan for the East Sunnyvale area of the City. The plan would function as a policy document to ensure that future improvements would support land uses that contribute to development of a vibrant residential neighborhood. The Plan would:

  • Enhance the quality of life for existing and future residents by encouraging and supporting a vibrant streetlife through wayfinding signage, seating areas, access nodes, and the addition of destinations and neighborhood-scale amenities.
  • Encourage non-vehicular modes of travel by making those options (pedestrian, bicycle, transit) more comfortable through circulation, landscaping, lighting, and streetscape improvements.
  • Enhance the neighborhood character and identity by providing entry monuments to define the limits of the neighborhood and beautifying the streetscape.


Proposed improvements include completion of gaps in pedestrian facilities, increasing walkability of the neighborhood through smaller-scaled blocks, improving pedestrian safety and crossing ease on a key school route, and improving access to destinations such as schools and parks. Green-colored bike lanes on major streets will improve the visibility and comfort of bicyclists. Re-allocation of the street right-of-way from vehicles to bicycles, sidewalks, and landscaping allows a complete streets approach without requiring additional right-of-way. School route access will be improved through intersection enhancements that include in-pavement warning lights, high visibility crosswalks, and bulb-outs. Other traffic calming practices such as raised crosswalks, removal of ‘pork chop’ islands, and reduction of intersection corner radii will be implemented to moderate traffic speeds and volumes.



The streetlife experience will be enhanced through consistent treatment of street frontages with lighting, street trees, and a parkway strip.  Seating areas will be located to encourage neighborly interactions and ‘eyes on the street’. Public access corridors through private residential developments will be clearly delineated through special paving, signage, and entry treatments such as thematic lights.


These improvements pertain primarily to the public right-of-way, although some recommendations for circulation and streetlife enhancements affect site and building design and orientation. The plan also contains sections describing likely costs, potential funding sources, and methods for and timing of implementation.

Marie Mai, Associate


April 30, 2015 at 4:18 pm