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City Council Adopts Resolutions that Could Bring Much Needed Housing to Cupertino

Post Date:08/26/2019

On Tuesday, August 20, 2019, the Cupertino City Council adopted resolutions that could bring much needed housing to the Cupertino community if the Vallco SB 35 project does not move forward.

The decision, made by a City Council majority, allows residential development by-right on 13.1 acres of the Vallco Shopping District Special Area. These changes would allow the property owner to build up to 620 residential units, after state density bonuses for affordable housing, without requiring the approval of a Specific Plan for the site. Prior to this decision, the General Plan required the approval of a Specific Plan for the Vallco site before any housing could be built.

The City Council’s decision to rezone a portion of the site follows a letter from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) stating that the City is in compliance with state housing law, but additional steps would need to be taken if the Vallco SB 35 project is overturned in a lawsuit challenging its approval.

“We’re considering 13.1 acres here tonight because we’ve been told to rezone sufficient land to meet our RHNA numbers in case the SB 35 project doesn’t move forward,” Mayor Steven Scharf said at the City Council meeting. “Somebody said, ‘What’s the rush?’ There actually is a rush. We need to do this.”

The resolutions also removed the General Plan’s allocation of 2 million square feet of office for the site.  While the General Plan required a Specific Plan before any office development could be built, the Vallco SB 35 project was able to bypass that community planning process. The City Council has expressed concern that the jobs-heavy project creates the need for more housing than it provides.  

The City Council directed staff to initiate a Specific Plan process for the entirety of the Vallco Shopping District Special Area—approximately 50 acres—that would include up to 1,500 housing units and reduce the retail allocation to 400,000 square feet.

The City Council also authorized City Manager Deborah Feng to begin negotiations with the property owner on alternative development plans for the site.

“I appreciate the confidence the City Council has shown me," Feng said. "I look forward to productive discussions with the property owner that I believe will lead to a project the community will be proud of."

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