MYTH: If GPA can not be approved in time (Jan. 31, 2015), we are going to be sued and punished by state and get even more housing unit assigned.
FACT: Current GPA is in effective until 2020. State does not ask us to amend GPA now, state ONLY asks for Housing Element, which requires the City to identify enough housing sites for 1064 housing units. If we cannot complete this requirement by Jan. 31, 2015 (there is 120 day grace period, the absolute due date is in May, 2015), we could be punished. No such consequence will occur if we only submit the Housing Element without a full GPA.
MYTH: If the Housing Element portion of the General plan is not completed to the satisfaction of the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), we will be put on a 4year rather than an 8year refresh cycle.
FACT: Partial truth. We are now on a 5year review cycle, but cities have the option of moving to an 8year cycle this year. So going to a 4year cycle is not a big deal, because Cupertino is on a 5 year cycle now and is not now on an 8year cycle. Cupertino is trying to get to an 8year cycle.
MYTH: We need to rezone Vallco to meet the Housing Element quota.
FACT: With allocation on existing sites, the state requirement can be met even with a 40% buffer. Vallco does not need to be rezoned to add housing sites to Housing Element quota. However, in GPA, there is a specific plan to consider Vallco. With an issue as important and complicated as Vallco’s commercial success, we should not tie it to the Housing Element, because of the time constraint on the Housing Element.
MYTH: Vallco needs to be rezoned in the GPA so that the developer can start planning.
FACT: Vallco or any site can be rezoned later even if it is not included in the GPA. The city should consider each site separately so that once the developer has a building plan it can be studied and approved by the affected communities.
MYTH: Rezoning Vallco to mixeduse does not mean any house will be built.
FACT: This statement on mixeduse zoning is actually true. The City has no way to enforce a developer on what to build on a mixeduse site. Example, a part of Apple campus 2 is a mixeduse housing site from the last Housing Element cycle, but no housing units were built. Meanwhile there is no upper limit on the number of housing can be built on a mixeduse site either. Keeping the current
zoning intact maintains a higher threshold for approval. Recall that a Main Street project was originally approved for 143 senior housing units, and was changed to a 120 unit market rate after it was approved.
MYTH: GPA and the Housing Elements include extensive community outreach and public input.
FACT: According to MIG the consulting firm hired by the City. Out of the 60,000 residents in Cupertino,
● 260 people registered at the Citysponsored web site. Those people received notices of meetings and workshops.
● 4 Citysponsored workshops received 170 “participants” (1 person attending 4 workshops=4 “participants”).
● 60 people took an online survey.
The City was forced to “invalidate” the entire November 10 Special City Council Meeting due to a violation of a California public meeting noticing law. A citizen complained to the Council about the violation before the meeting. The City Attorney insisted at that same Council meeting that the City was in compliance with the meeting noticing law, so the meeting was held. When that same citizen threatened legal action, the City was forced to admit its mistake.
MYTH: A large portion of the housing units to be built will be Below Market Rate (BMR) housing. The housing price in Cupertino too high. We need these BMR units.
FACT: The housing requirements for each municipality is spelled out in its RHNA quota. The RHNA specifies housing unit quotas in 4 income categories. The City needs to identify 365 socalled very low income housing units. This requirement is left over from the last cycle, because less than 30 Below Market Rate (BMR) housing units were built out of the more than 300 that were originally planned. This deficit in very low cost housing has become an excuse for the City to put in a 40% surplus on top of the current total RHNA housing requirement. More housing sites will result in more units being built, but not necessary more BMR housing units. History has shown that no matter how many housing sites are available, BMR units will not be built. The real problem is the City’s inability to get BMR units built, rather than the shortage of sites for housing.
MYTH: If we remain “recalcitrant” on meeting our RHNA mandated housing requirement, we will cede our authority on land use.
FACT: True. Menlo Park and Pleasanton were sued by housing advocacy groups because they did not meet their requirements for providing below market rate housing. Here are Cupertino’s current RHNA housing requirements:
Income Category Very Low Low Moderate AboveModerate Total Housing Need
356 207 231 270 1,064
Since the organizations that have sued to force RHNA compliance are low income housing advocacy groups, they focus on the BMR categories of housing. Those are indeed the ones that Cupertino is “recalcitrant” in providing. So it is true that we could be sued because of lack of BMR housing units. Somehow the threat of being sued is being used to justify more market rate housing and not more below market rate housing. We do get credit for housing that is approved this year which is 62 and brings our total required
housing units to 1002. That’s the good news. The bad news is that all of those 62 units are above moderate income units.
MYTH: New housing on Vallco and other sites has less than a significant impact on schools and parks.
FACT: This conclusion is based on the comparison of increased enrollments to the total enrollments in the entire city. But for the actual impacted area, such as Collins Elementary School, more than a quarter of projected enrollment will come from the proposed new housing on Vallco. The total projected enrollment will be 1,029 by 2040 which doubles the current designed capacity. Similar calculations have been done on parkland. If a parkland per person ratio is calculated city wide there is no significant impact. The picture looks quite different on local impact though.Another big problem is the logic of that because the schools are already large and crowded, incremental students do not matter. According to a demographer’s report to the FUHSD, Cupertino High School’s enrollment in October of 2014 was 2,119. They are projecting it to grow to 2,720 by October of 2020. Little numbers add up to big numbers.
MYTH: Vallco cannot survive as a shopping mall
FACT: On surface, Vallco looks bad. The fact is that all the anchor stores, Macy’s, Sears and JC Penny all make money on Vallco site, not to mention AMC. Sears even sent a letter to City expressing their support for Vallco to remain as a retail mall before their site was bought by a developer. Given massive new constructions now around Vallco, there could be new chance for a vibrant shopping mall. Meanwhile, we keep on hearing only a mixed use town center type of development will be successful. But no tangible plan or numbers are shown. The truth is that we don’t know what is the best for Vallco. Both arguments have their merits. We need to carefully examine pros and cons with detail plans and numbers, not to rush into a decision that may turn out to be wrong.
MYTH: Rebuilding Vallco brings more revenue to school than kids
FACT: Could be true if we demolish the mall and build a new retail entity. The Cupertino Union School District is not likely to benefit from tax revenues from a new construction, because it is a revenue limit school district. The Fremont Union School District will get more tax revenues, because it is a basic aid school district.
Any gains in tax revenues to the FUHSD will be offset by the expenses to educate the students living there. The CUSD receives per pupil funding from the state, so if the incremental students from a new development doesn’t require new facilities, it should be a wash. If new facilities are required, both the FUHSD and the CUSD have gotten taxpayers to pay new facilities via bond tax measures. For instance, the FUHSD passed a $296 million bond measure to fund new facilities earlier this year. Compared to the bond measure, the development impact fee could be charged is negligible, $4.1 million for CUSD and $2.72 million for FUHSD.
There is also the issue of parcel taxes. The FUHSD currently levies a $98 per parcel tax and the CUSD levies a $250 per parcel tax. A typical condo or single family home generates a total of $348 in parcel tax revenues. Since multiple rental units can be located on a parcel, the tax generated per unit is $348 divided by the number of units on the parcel. An apartment complex with 100 units on a single parcel will only generate $3.48 per unit in parcel taxes.
MYTH: GPA should comply with environmental law and regulations
FACT: Unfortunately this is not required. The current GPA does include an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) analyzes proposed projects in GAP according to standards set up by various laws and regulations. It identifies three significant and unavoidable environmental impacts, i.e., traffic, air quality and noise. According to EIR, “unavoidable” means that there is no feasible mitigation solution to reduce the impact to lessthansignificant. However, the City overrides these considerations by citing “Having balanced the economic, legal, social, technological or other benefits of the Project, including regionwide or statewide environmental benefits, against its significant and unavoidable environmental impacts, the City finds that the Project benefits outweigh its unavoidable adverse environmental effects, and that the adverse environmental effects are therefore acceptable.”