Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Better Cupertino News • December 2017

Better Cupertino newsletter
~ H A P P Y   H O L I D A Y S    D E C E M B E R   2 0 1 7   N E W S ~

Very depressing news — if the Cupertino City Council does not take immediate action, the General Plan, as it stands today, would permit a massive development twice as large as Measure D (rejected by voters in 2016) under new housing laws. It could include 2,000,000 square feet of office space AND 2000 or more housing units and only 600,000 square feet of retail. The retail portion would be only 8% of the entire project! And the City Council might not be able to reject such a massive project without facing legal challenges. Such shocking invasion of Cupertino's autonomy is made possible by a series of pro-housing bills adopted in September 2017. As a result, Vallco is already rezoned to include 2,000,000 square feet of office space and 2400 housing units, as of Jan. 1, 2018.
Unfortunately, the City Council is unwilling to take action to protect Cupertino's General Plan due to pressure from the developer and out-of-town YIMBY groups. Please sign this petition to urge the city council to take immediate action to clarify zoning standards at Vallco by openly discussing the potential risks of these laws and their unintended consequences!
Drawing of proposed Oaks redevelopment

WHEN:      January 16, 2018    
WHERE:   Cupertino City Council meeting
WHAT:      Public hearing & vote on Oaks shopping center redevelopment application  
WHY:        Because they can!    
On January 16, 2018, there will be a ANOTHER public hearing and City Council will vote AGAIN on whether the Oaks Shopping Center redevelopment application for a GPA (General Plan Amendment) can go forward. The developer KT Urban's most recent plan WAS VOTED DOWN 4-1 by the Cupertino City Council on August 15. However, due to application procedures adopted by City Council in September 2015, developers are allowed to resubmit applications within 30 days with minor changes, which KT Urban did. Thus WE MUST SHOW UP AGAIN IN NUMBERS at the January 16 City Council meeting TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST this OVERLY TALL, OVERLY DENSE development at the already congested intersection of Hwy 85 and Stevens Creek Boulevard. Download and read KT Urban's application and project plans at the city website.

If we don't show up, the plan will likely go forward!
Which will make it harder to fight over-development at Vallco!

what a typical AC Marriott loks like

On Monday, December 11, the City of San Jose Planning Department held a community meeting at the Cypress Community Center about the proposed hotel at Stevens Creek Boulevard and Stern Avenue. Notices were sent to residents in a 1,000-foot radius, which included the lower blocks of Stern, Bret and Judy Avenue. It was billed as a meeting for residents to comment and ask questions about the project. About 25 people attended, including Cupertino's mayor, Darcy Paul.
The Planning department spokesman spent some time explaining how thorough the City of San Jose was in their process of developing its Urban Village general plan, in which they offered plenty of opportunities for public input. When asked directly if they were responsible for any accommodation to the neighboring jurisdiction (Cupertino), the answer was "No."
Residents asked why the meeting notice said the hotel would be six stories with 132 rooms, yet the plans shown at the meeting were for seven stories and 168 rooms. The explanation was that it was a late change — but still allowable under the General Plan. Other questions were about parking and traffic, such as what would be the impact of a 99-space four-level underground garage, or of the minimal auto entrance on Stern Avenue for guest drop off and pick up. Residents asked that the traffic study include the 5–6:30 pm rush hour; the planners said that it would. Residents also felt the hotel as planned is not suitable for the site — it is twice as high as the apartment buildings next door, and has a modern urban design that does not fit in architecturally. They were basically told "too bad."
To keep updated on this project, visit the United Citizens for Sensible Development (UC4SD) web page on the hotel. To express concerns, contact Robert Rivera, Project Manager, City of San Jose Planning Division (, 408-535-4843).
~  R E Q U I R E D   R E A D I N G ~
Yes in My Backyard (YIMBY) is a term you can't have missed if you've been reading Bay Area newspapers the last couple of years. It refers to various groups who advocate building as much housing as possible to solve the housing crisis. They are not usually referring, however, to affordable or BMR (below market rate) housing sorely needed for non-tech service workers, and they oppose traditional affordable housing groups by promoting the belief that market-rate housing will "trickle-down" to affordability eventually. Though they often claim to be grass roots, their organizations are funded by the the tech and real estate industries. Below are links to recent articles about local YIMBYs with excerpts:
'Homes for human beings': Millennial-driven anti-NIMBY movement is winning with a simple message In California, there is a new lobby for renters — market-rate renters  Katy Murphy • Mercury News • November 12, 2017. Excerpt:

YIMBYs are united by a central idea: A shortage of homes — not an influx of new tech workers and other young people moving to the booming Bay Area — is the main culprit for the pain caused by runaway housing costs, including the displacement of longtime working-class residents.""YIMBYs are united by a central idea: A shortage of homes — not an influx of new tech workers and other young people moving to the booming Bay Area — is the main culprit for the pain caused by runaway housing costs, including the displacement of longtime working-class residents.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dear YIMBYs: The brutal, unfettered market won't stop displacement
Leslie Dreyer, Joseph Smooke and Sarah Sherburn-Zimmer San Francisco ExaminerJuly 20, 2017. Excerpt:

When the California Legislative Analyst's Office misused UC Berkeley's Urban Displacement Project data to advocate for the construction of market-rate housing as an anti-displacement tool, the researchers responded, in summary, by saying:
  1. Producing tons of market-rate units to lower rents may take generations and may never actually work to relieve displacement pressures.
  2. Subsidized units for low-income folks have more than twice the impact on reducing displacement pressures.
  3. Housing development in the short term in San Francisco can't create a dent in affordability or displacement.
  4. At the regional scale, producing more market-rate housing will decrease housing prices in the long term. But at the local scale, new luxury buildings could send signals to the market that such neighborhoods are desirable for wealthier residents, resulting in new demand.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
YIMBYs: The Darlings of the Real Estate Industry  Toshio Meronek and Andrew SzetoTruthoutWednesday, May 10, 2017. Excerpt:
"Foote Clark's Oakland-based counterpart, Victoria Fierce, is a former techie who was bestowed enough cash by wealthy benefactors to work "as an activist full-time." Fierce moved to the Bay Area three and a half years ago, and describes her YIMBY organization East Bay Forward as an "anarchist" group that wants to see market-rate housing built now so that in 30 years, low-income people might be able to afford to move here."
 ~  B O O K   R E V I E W  ~

"We must not build housing, we must build communities." –Mike Burton
Total Housing book coverTotal Housing: Alternatives to Urban Sprawl by Albert Farro is a collection of innovative housing solutions showing how communities are built in urban environments. The buildings are designed for their environments and to solve the housing issues of that location. For example, the Mashrabiya House in Israel uses an envelope of stone screens which cool the building in the day and release heat in the evening—in addition to providing privacy. While in Chile, the aim of the Quinta Monroy project is to provide safe housing for the poorest by providing them with a basic shelter that can be modified and added to as the family's finances improve.

These projects bridge the gap between the residents' need for privacy and their need for community. There is no desire to pave over the whole environment even in densely populated regions. The MTN project in Copenhagen mirrors the structure of mountains, while providing gathering space and separate outdoor green space, all within walking distance of a commuter train station. The philosophy of these projects is that residents need privacy as well as community,
and that social interaction builds healthier communities.

This book is available through the Santa Clara County Library system. Check it out.

Review by Brooke Ezzat

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