Plans for development on the former Vallco Mall site in Cupertino are moving forward. On September 4th, the Cupertino Planning Commission voted 4-1 to approve the draft Vallco Specific Plan and a draft Development Agreement. A packed house of local citizens and advocates provided comments on the proposals, with the topic of housing dominating public remarks and the Commissioners’ deliberations. Many community members came out to share personal stories and anecdotes about the importance of providing a high number of homes and affordable homes at Vallco.

SV@Home, along with our partners West Valley Community Services, Housing Choices, and Destination: Home, spoke about the need to take full advantage of the housing opportunity presented by the Mall’s redevelopment. We stressed that the Cupertino community and Councilmembers had been clear in prioritizing the need for housing people of all incomes and abilities throughout the well-run Opticos public engagement process. We urged the Commission to press for housing as the key public benefit of the project, to raise the number of new homes to 3,250, increase the level of affordability to 30%, include 40 homes for people with intellectual and development disabilities, and include a Measure A project to provide Permanent Supportive Housing.

Despite a spirited debate led by Commission Chair Geoff Paulsen, who made an impassioned case for raising the number of homes and affordable homes in the Plan, the Commissioners could not find consensus on a recommendation to increase the overall housing allocation. They did, however, agree that the affordable housing component was a significant public benefit, and recommended the Council find a way to include 40 homes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as part of the final Plan. A long-running discussion over the nature of various public benefits included in the draft Specific Plan was finally resolved by a proposal from Commissioner David Fung, who contended that the City should provide a development option with a high number of housing units but a lower amount of office space, balanced out by reductions in the required public benefits.

While SV@Home is disappointed that the Commission was unable to reach agreement on a higher number of homes, we believe the efforts of housing advocates put a spotlight on the housing opportunity the site represents. We appreciate that the Planning Commission engaged in a meaningful discussion and took on board input from community members and advocates who want to see a Vallco that provides housing opportunities for people of all incomes and abilities.

Some of the ideas that emerged during the meeting, including finding creative ways to increase the amount of homes and level of affordability, as well as provide homes for vulnerable populations, will doubtless return when the Council holds a hearing on the Plan on Tuesday, September 18th.

Please join us at the hearing to make your voice heard.  The hearing will take place at 5:00pm in the Cupertino City Council Chambers located at 10300 Torre Avenue. Come out and tell the Council that you want Vallco to provide Housing for All, including:

  • 3,250 new homes, 30% of which are affordable as follows:
    • 50% (488 homes) for households earning less than $95,000 per year, including:
      • 40 homes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
      • A Measure A Permanent Supportive Housing project
    • 50% (487 homes) for households earning between $95,000 and $125,000 per year

Wait, what about the SB35 proposal? The Specific Plan process is being conducted in parallel to the SB35 application, which will reach its 180-day deadline on September 23rd. The contents of the Specific Plan are independent of the SB35 application. If a Specific Plan is passed in addition to the SB35 application, there will be two options for development on the Vallco site. SV@Home’s goal is to maximize the amount of housing and affordable housing in the Specific Plan to create the best possible housing outcome, no matter which option is exercised. SV@Home continues to support the SB35 application for the high level of housing and affordable housing it includes.

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