Cupertino City Council to Redo General Plan, Housing Element Discussion

Cupertino, Cupertino City Council, Sand Hill Property, The Irvine Company, Vallco Shopping Mall, Barry Swenson Builder, Silicon Valley real estate, Silicon Valley housing

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By Nancy Amdur

A more than 10-hour Cupertino City Council meeting and public hearing held in November during which council members discussed amending the city’s General Plan and updating its long-term housing plans will be a do-over due to a noticing error. The city announced that the public hearing and consideration of these topics will be held again at the council meeting Tuesday, Dec. 2.

[contextly_sidebar id=”YFxhmivnbsdXaEJUZCaWWrQpPGrAQDW1″]The council will be advised to “rescind all final actions” it took at the Nov. 10 meeting, according to the city clerk’s office. However, a video of public comments made at the earlier session will be part of the city’s record.

Adding housing is a contentious issue in Cupertino, in part due to residents’ concerns about traffic and the impact on local schools. But a state mandate requires all California cities to choose sites for potential future housing to accommodate projected regional housing needs, including affordable units, according to the City of Cupertino’s Web site. The housing element piece of the local general plan is updated periodically, and this new planning cycle will last eight years. Cupertino must adopt its updated housing element by January 31, 2015.

The city council in a straw vote on Nov. 10 recommended allotting 1,386 housing units among five sites, including 582 for Sand Hill Property Co.’s proposed mixed-use project at Vallco Shopping Mall, and 650 units at the Irvine Company’s Hamptons apartment community at 19500 Pruneridge Ave., located near the under-construction 2.8-million-square-foot Apple Campus 2. Another 93 units were recommended for the 517-unit Glenbrook Apartments at 10100 Mary Ave.; 50 units at the Village Oaks Shopping Center at 21267 Stevens Creek Blvd.; and 11 units at a Barry Swenson Builder-owned site on Stevens Creek Boulevard between Finch and North Tantau avenues.

The allocations identify these sites for more housing, but a developer would still go through the city’s planning process before building.

Cupertino’s Vice Mayor Rod Sinks said at the meeting that the Hamptons site is ideal for housing as it is located near a freeway and Apple’s campus, which is expected to accommodate up to 12,000 employees. “I can’t imagine a better place to put housing,” he said. The Irvine Company development also would not have an impact on the Cupertino Union School District, since the location geographically sits inside Santa Clara Unified School District. This was addressed at the city council meeting, and it was one of the main reasons why this development was awarded such a high allocation of residential units. Representatives of the Orange County developer, however, were vying for a figure closer to 750 units in total.

Council members also agreed that redeveloping Vallco should be a priority for the city, so they allocated an amount of housing very close to the number Sand Hill had requested.

If a Sand Hill Vallco project is not approved within four years, the council recommended moving to “Scenario B,” which would divvy up housing units another way. The Hamptons would jump to 748 units; Vallco would not be allocated any units; Village Oaks would receive 235 units; and units for Glenbrook and Barry Swenson would remain the same. Also, the Villages at Cupertino apartments at 20875 Valley Green Drive would be allotted 62 units, and 169 units would be distributed to an office property owned by real estate developer Carl Berg on Valley Green Drive just west of North De Anza Boulevard.

Additionally, Cupertino’s City Council agreed to allow up to 3 million square feet of office space in the city, including about 2 million square feet of office space at the Vallco site. This proposal also included a Plan B scenario in case the Vallco development didn’t materialize after four years.

Some Cupertino residents plan to rally in front of city hall before the Dec. 2 meeting to encourage council members to focus only on the housing element; spread the housing allocation evenly throughout the city; and not rezone Vallco without a development plan, according to the Web site BetterCupertino.org.

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