Does Better Cupertino support housing at Vallco? If so, what types of housing (i.e. affordable housing, condos, market rate apartments, etc.)

Better Cupertino supports sensible growth that is aligned with the needs and interests of a majority of residents. Cupertino is a family-friendly community that values education, environmental protection, safe roadways, community services, parks, and open space.

While Cupertino’s General Plan identifies the Vallco Shopping District site as “Cupertino’s most significant commercial center,” the General Plan’s Housing Element A also allocates 389 housing units to be co-located at the shopping mall provided that property owner is able to prepare a well-respected specific plan for the Vallco Shopping District site that the City Council is willing and able to approve by May 31, 2018.

If the property owner for the Vallco Shopping District site were to offer an attractive shopping district proposal that also includes 389 or fewer housing units with 2/3/4 bedroom units that could meet the needs of families, roommate pairs or groups, and assisted living co-housing for people with mobility, intellectual, or age-related limitations or disabilities, probably most Better Cupertino supporters would stand behind such a proposal. A proposal that includes destination shopping plus 389 family-friendly housing units would likely be regarded favorably by Better Cupertino supporters because it conforms with the General Plan and addresses a housing need that aligns with the core competency of our community: Cupertino is a great place to raise a family!

However, Better Cupertino supporters have spoken out firmly against the conversion of the Vallco Shopping District site to an urban office complex or an urban office and housing complex with thousands of housing units for as long as these ideas have been in wide discussion within the community and as far back as 2014. Adding office in any amount further exacerbates the region’s housing crisis and puts even more displacement pressure on our most vulnerable residents, including students, fixed-income seniors, the disabled, and anyone working in lower-wage occupations. Better Cupertino supporters strongly oppose office allocations or office and massive housing allocations at the Vallco Shopping District site.

Some people have labeled Better Cupertino as a NIMBY group. What are your thoughts on this? 

NIMBY and YIMBY are unfortunate marketing terms created and used by people with a vested financial interest to convert suburban communities into urban centers unencumbered by zoning (also known as “mixed use” or “form based code” projects) and building height limits.

Derogatory terms “NIMBY” and “YIMBY” separate ordinary residents from each other and prevents them from finding common ground, working together to fight for responsive, accountable government, and passing laws that would build actual affordable housing (not the mythic “trickle-down” market-rate housing that would likely be imposed on most communities if SB 35 passed last year were to stand under legal scrutiny).

Yet so much development pressure exists because of urban development boundaries, which define across the horizon where development is acceptable and not acceptable. We have urban development boundaries to preserve open space and wetlands and to preserve the environment. All laudable intentions. But where are the corollary vertical development limits — the constraints on how tall we will build?

Certainly there are negative environmental impacts to building too tall just as there are negative environmental impacts to building in the hills or on wetlands. For example, when we build tall we increase the people load for an area, draining our water supply; overloading our power grid, sewers and waste management systems; increasing congestion and particulate pollution; and reducing per capita solar energy capture.

It appears government, developers, and environmental groups accept without question the necessity and merit of urban development boundaries, but to ask about vertical development limits is to invite comments of ridicule. But why?

Despite the apparent communication breakdown regarding “vertical sprawl,” how do we determine our region’s vertical development limit? How do we decide what is tall enough versus what is too tall? Can we decide “too tall” only after a structure or “urban village” is built? Or, can we set vertical development limits for the region today before our suburban homes are consumed by by-right urban development?

What’s a misconception that you’d like to address about your group?

Better Cupertino supporters are local residents from Cupertino, San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale. Our mission is to support:
•    Informed, empowered residents who are engaged in civic matters
•    Transparency and accountability in local and regional government
•    Sensible growth that is aligned with the needs and interests of a majority of residents

Better Cupertino is an all-volunteer grassroots organization with no membership, only supporters. Formally, there is an FPPC organization (Better Cupertino Action Committee) to support candidates, initiatives and referendums; and a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization (Friends of Better Cupertino) that funds non-campaign activity in pursuit of our mission.

Do you feel Better Cupertino represents the voice of the majority of residents in Cupertino? Why or why not? 

Better Cupertino’s efforts are primarily to inform Cupertino residents rather than to be their voice. Better Cupertino supporters believe informed residents are far more likely to engage in civic life and advocate in favor of policies and projects that will improve quality of life for all. In 2016, with the election of Better Cupertino supporters to the Cupertino City Council and Cupertino Union School District Board, and the defeat of a $7 MILLION ballot measure that would have converted the Vallco Shopping District site to a massive office complex, we believe Better Cupertino has helped refocus attention on resident interests, which of late had been largely ignored by local government..