Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hidden Changes in the New General Plan Opens Door to Uncontrolled Development

Meeting notices and staff reports repeatedly stated that "the majority of the General Plan’s content will remain the same." We were told that the new General Plan, Community Vision 2040 (CV2040) contains only "updates to address recent State Law requirements" and some cleanup to be consistent.

However, we found that some important policies were removed when the state laws cited do not remotely require the removal of those policies. Policies meant to control development or put a condition on the approval of development proposals were removed. The Land Use chapter sees drastic changes, not required by the state laws. Since the Council was only able to focus on the Housing Element during the Dec. 2nd & 3rd meeting only, these important policy changes were never reviewed, deliberated by the Council. The public were never given a chance to comment on them since there were never explicit put on any Council Meeting agenda.

These policy changes open the door to uncontrolled development in Cupertino.

Please provide your input and written comments by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, July 31, 2015 at

These are just some of the hidden changes identified with the limited time we have to study and summarize them. Many more issues will be published on the site shortly as soon as we have time to summarize them.
School overcrowding could be the most important issue facing the majority of Cupertino residents. Yet, the policy trying to address the very issue was simply removed because it is illegal under Senate Bill50. SB50 should not be used simply as an excuse to ignore the problem. School overcrowding problem is true and real. Other policies should be considered to address the problem in different ways so that they do not directly violate SB50. But nothing were suggested as a replacement.
Traffic congestion around schools could be addressed. Air quality, noise and safety for kids walking and biking to schools could be addressed. Policies could be put in place so that Environment Impact Report (EIR) properly address traffic congestion and safety, noise and air quality issues around schools.
Important policies meant to maintain a tolerable traffic condition in Cupertino were removed in the new General Plan "Community Vision 2040" (CV2040) in order to comply with state law SB743. However, those policies on traffic Level of Service (LOS) do not violate SB374 at all. SB374 merely requires an alternative measure to be added for multi-modal transportation. This is yet another example where a state law was misinterpreted and incorrectly applied to the new General Plan.

All policies edited, added, removed to comply with the state laws in CV2040 should be reviewed in detail to determine whether the modifications are truly required to comply with the state laws.
The reasons given for each modification in Comparison Tables for the General Plans often do not reflect the true effect of the modification. "Edits" often drops one essential sentence in the original policy or soften the language or even replace a policy by something else with a totally different intent. "Merged" and "Split" often removes one policy or strategy, which is quite different from the policy it is replaced with. "Edited/deleted for compliance with a state law" is often misused since the specified state law does not require the given modification. Unless each column of the Comparison Tables is read in detail, one cannot truly comprehend how much is changed in a chapter.
Here are some policy changes from the Land Use Section where some significant changes are not properly described in the Comparison Tables. These are just important ones we come across in a casual perusal. Not a comprehensive list of all mis-described modifications. Many Planning Areas see fundamental and drastic changes on their characteristics. These changes were never discussed during Dec. 2nd & 3rd Council Meeting.
The Comparison Tables only compared policies, but not texts outside of policies. However, there are a lot of texts in the 2000-2020 General Plan that were deleted or dramatically changed. These texts often describe the desired character of the City under the General Plan or identify important issues to be addressed in the General Plan.
The new General Plan CV2040 does not mention these important issues any more.
The View Preservation policy in 2000-2020 General Plan seeks to "limit building heights in order to preserve hillside views throughout the City." This policy was totally removed in the new General Plan, Community Vision 2040" (CV2040). Such policy removal was not required to comply to any state law. And such policy removal was never put on the City Council agenda for discussion. The public was never given a chance to comment on it either.

And this is just one of the many examples of policies removed without any Council approval or public input. CV2040 should not be approved in its current state since it contains too many, way too many policy changes that drastically altered the intent of the original policy in the 2000-2020 General Plan.
State Law SB375 is used as the reason that to remove another important policy: Job-Housing Balance. However, SB375 in fact requires Job-Housing Balance in order to reduce greenhouse emission. We have to question. Have many policies the new General Plan "Community Vision 2040" are resulted from mistaken interpretation or improper generalization of the state laws?
Page 26 and 27 of the Comparison Table for "Mobility Element" confirmed that the following policies meant to protect communities from pollution caused by the Quarry and its traffic were removed or rewritten in the new General Plan "Community Vision 2040" (CV2040). These modifications were not required to comply with any state law. They were simply removed without Council approval. These modifications were never listed on any Council meeting agenda and never deliberated in any Council meeting.

Paid for by Cupertino Residents for Sensible Zoning Action Committee, PO Box 1132, Cupertino, CA 95015, FPPC #1376003

Sunday, July 26, 2015

GPA Comparison - Comment by 4:30pm on July 31

GPA Comparison - Comment by July 31 4:30pm

Although no more development allocation is added on May 19th, a new General Plan was still approved back on December 4th, 2014. The comparison tables published on site confirmed that the new General Plan "Community Vision 2040" (CV2040) is a massive rewrite of the 2000-2020 General Plan. The reason given in the comparison table is often 'edited', 'grammatical edits', 'split' or 'merged' and they are not required for any State Law or Housing Element.

Ever since July 2013, not one meeting notice or staff report mentioned the "new" General Plan until October 2014, just a few days before it was scheduled to be approved. Almost everyone believed that CV2040 only contains cleanup items to comply with Housing Element and State Laws. The most alarming is that CV2040 removed many policies without any discussion by the Council or explicit approval by the Council. Most notably policies to maintain a tolerable Level of Service (LOS) for traffic, to main job-housing balance, protection from quarry pollution, preservation of hillside views.

Other cities, such as Palo Also, San Jose, Sunnyvale and Campbell, announce that the city is working on a new General Plan well in advance and form an Advisory Committee or a Task Force consisting of mainly residents. The process normally takes 4 years. Even Cupertino had formed a Task Force of 63 members back in 2003 for the previous General Plan and the Council approved policies and even wording one by one over several months. So, Cupertino's new General Plan did not follow accepted procedure for such comprehensive update.

Cupertino Council should rescind the new General Plan and follow the proper procedure to review and approve the plan through multiple meetings to give the residents ample time to review and comment and give the Council members ample time to deliberate.
Please provide your input and written comments by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, July 31, 2015 at and
Paid for by Cupertino Residents for Sensible Zoning Action Committee, PO Box 1132, Cupertino, CA 95015, FPPC #1376003