Monday, January 29, 2018

Better Cupertino News • January 2018

H A P P Y  N E W  Y E A R    J A N U A R Y   2 0 1 8   N E W S  ~

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. — EDWARD ABBEY
Online Survey: What's your opinion on Vallco?
Please attend State of the City address January 31!
Help a new citizen register to vote
Save the date for BC-hosted forum March 10
A N N O U N C E M E N T S  ~

Online survey: What's your opinion on Vallco?
Answer just FIVE questions, and make your voice heard! The fate of Vallco has been on the minds of Cupertinians for years. There have been many "community engagement" meetings held by our City and the developer, Sand Hill Property. But have they ever really listened to us? 

Click the button below and in three minutes or less you can take Better Cupertino's online survey on Vallco — we're listening. And please forward the link to local family, friends and neighbors — the more responses we get, the more accurate the results will be!
Take the Survey

Mayor Darcy Paul will be giving two State of the City addresses on Wednesday, January 31: the usual Chamber of Commerce/Rotary luncheon speech, and for the first time, a more accessible public speech in the evening. Last year, Better Cupertino requested the speech be given at a time when more residents could attend; apparently then-council member Paul made a note of it. The evening speech is from 6:30–7:30 at The Quinlan Center, on The Issues of Cupertino and Our Day. Light appetizers will be served.

The City is NOT giving the event much publicity, so let's show up to support the evening speech and Mayor Paul for giving it. Details below and at the city website:
Join us Thursday, February 22 and Thursday, March 2 to help brand-new citizens register to vote after their swearing-in ceremonies at The Heritage Theater, 1 W Campbell Ave, Campbell, CA 95008. It's a really fun and  rewarding way to foment democracy! For more information, email us at with "vote" in the subject line.
Save the date for BC-hosted forum March 10
Our next community forum will be on Saturday, March 10 in the Cupertino Room of the Quinlan Center from 6:30–8:30 pm. The panel and topic to be announced; look here for more news next month. For now, SAVE THE DATE!

Just days before City Council was to vote on it, KT Urban withdrew its latest application for redevelopment of the Oaks shopping center. According to the Mercury News article, city staff said the developer is working on alternate proposals.

Representatives from Opticos Design, Inc. (Opticos), the Berkeley-based land use and architecture firm hired by the City of Cupertino and paid for by the developer of the Vallco Shopping District site, visited Cupertino earlier this month to interview community members and business representatives. For the January interviews, City pre-selected individuals to share their visions of what they would like to see included in the Vallco Specific Plan with Opticos. Opticos returns to Cupertino in February for at least three community events: 

1)  On Monday, February 5th, Opticos meets with the community for information sharing. Opticos will inform the community about the project process for developing Specific Plan for the Vallco Shopping District site. Community members will also learn how to stay involved in the process (sign up for updates at

Kick-off Public Meeting
Monday, February 5, 2018
from 6 to 8:30 pm
Community Hall, 10350 Torre Ave, Cupertino, CA

2) On Tuesday, February 6th Opticos meets with even more pre-selected community members and business representatives in group interviews.

Group Interviews with Opticos Representatives
for seniors, youth, faith based, businesses, adjacent neighbors, parent groups, block leaders, tech workers, major employers, residents, and community activists
Tuesday, February 6, 2018, multiple sessions from 1 to 7 pm
(6 to 7 pm includes many friends of Better Cupertino)

Aloft Cupertino, 10165 North De Anza Boulevard, Cupertino, CA

3) On Thursday, February 22nd, subject matter experts meet with community members to discuss what issues should be analyzed in the environmental impact review (EIR) and any topics related to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 

EIR Scoping Meeting
Thursday, February 22, 2018
from 6 to 8:30 pm (tentative time)
Location TBD

Didn't receive your invitation to participate in the February 6th event?
Many of us didn't either, yet we'd like to be a part of the planning process. If you are free on February 6th and would like to participate in the group interviews, contact Cupertino Senior Planner Catarina Kidd ( before Wednesday, January 31st and request to be added to the invitation list for the February small group interviews.

If you can't attend one or more of the above events but would like to be notified of future events that will address planning for the Special Plan for the Vallco Shopping District site, sign up for updates on the
Envison Vallco website.

Commentary by Danessa Techmanski
While we do need to address our housing needs to more precisely match the jobs we have created in California, our housing problems will continue as long as we keep adding more offices (which brings in more jobs, which will require more housing). Not everything and everyone needs to be located here, especially when other parts of our country need the jobs, and our resources have been spread thin and we still have no Bay-Area-wide rapid mass transit.

California's new housing legislation ignores the impacts of adding additional office and it completely fails to address the means necessary to support such large amounts of new housing such as the transportation needed to move people around, funds for the schools that are impacted, and the costs of additional infrastructure. Where will the money for that come from? Taxpayers of course. Additionally, proposed
SB 828 (Wiener) will double the Regional Housing Needs Allocations (RHNA) for California cities despite that they may lack the available land and funding to reach those goals. Cities are not the builders of homes, and as such these new laws may force them to accept proposals far below their normal acceptable health, design, and safety standards in order to remain compliant. 

Under the new bill
SB 35, a development only needs to include 10-15% Below Market Rate (BMR) housing units in order to bypass city council approval (called streamlining) if it meets certain criteria. The housing bills do not specify what makes up the other 90% of that housing which is likely to be more high-end to pad the costs. That may raise the median price threshold overall and force more residents into the low-income housing bracket as their wage increases are not proportional. I have never seen any data to support that building more housing in highly desirable areas with land shortages will bring down prices. It would take a 20% increase in California's housing stock to bring prices down even 10%. The end result of not having enough affordable housing is that we will continue to lose the hourly and service workers, teachers, and others who are so vital to our economy and communities, as well as many of our young people and seniors.

In several recent surveys, 75% of millennials polled said that they dreamed of owning a single family home when they settle down. Yet these bills applaud the cannibalization of single-family homes, and prevent young people from building equity through home ownership as the bills encourage rentals over for-sale housing (that equity will instead be in the hands of developers). This will cause more people to move further out from work centers looking to buy homes, thus increasing traffic, air pollution, and lost production and family time.

Bills like
AB 678 allow for any "reasonable persons" (which includes the developers themselves) to readily challenge a city's decisions and local expertise to put constraints on developments in the courts for fines of $10,000 per housing unit if the city loses, despite the fact that developers have huge financial interests and are not responsible for the long-term health and welfare of residents where they build.

And if all this wasn't enough to make us cautious about the new bills, there's another catch: developments that include BMR housing can bypass the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In certain instances developers can build with mass density and up to 85 ft. without city approval. Sounds like a win-win for developers. One can only imagine what this will do to already highly impacted traffic areas, or how it will affect neighborhoods with single-family homes.

We need to guard against letting our current housing crisis become a convenient situation for developers to grab power and take away local decision making. On the surface these bills appear to have the merit of increasing low-income housing, but at only 10-15% BMR it doesn't look likely, and they bring with them many other unintended consequences. One-size-fits-all legislation may overlook crucial situations unique to individual cities, and it takes away the democratic process.

this guide by The League of California Cities to learn more about the new housing laws that went into effect January 1st.
R E Q U I R E D   R E A D I N G  ~

Housing within 500 feet of freeways causes higher rates of asthma, heart disease, cancer and other health problems linked to auto pollution.

It seems odd that as our state government rushes to pass legislation to build our way out of a severe housing shortage — decades in the making — all thoughts about pollution, climate change, the lack of mass transit, and California's vulnerability to drought have magically disappeared. The state has even developed amnesia about its own recommendations against building homes within 500 feet of freeways (where people suffer higher rates of asthma, heart disease, cancer and other health problems linked to auto pollution.) Here are some articles to remind ourselves of why that's not a good idea:

Even Breathing Is A Risk In One Of Orlando's Poorest Neighborhoods  Julia Craven • Huffpost • January 23, 2018.
During the 15 years that Jacqueline Young lived in Griffin Park, a federal housing project, she always worried about the air that she and her granddaughter were breathing. • On bad days, her throat would hurt, and her granddaughter would have violent asthma attacks. Young, who often walked neighborhood kids to and from school, noticed that many of the children wore masks to protect themselves from pollution. • The air inside wasn't much better. The decrepit air-conditioning unit in Young's apartment spewed out dust and forced her to keep the windows open, even when traffic was heavy. Sometimes, soot and particles floated through the air inside her apartment "like it was snowing dust," said Young. "We could never not think of the air we were breathing," she said.
Living close to a major roadway could increase dementia risk, study says  Meera Senthilingam • CNN • January 4, 2017.
The robust observation of dementia involving predominantly urban versus rural residents opens up a crucial global health concern for millions of people.

Health Effects of Ozone and Particle Pollution  American Lung Association
The dirty, smoky part of that stream of exhaust is made of particle pollution. Overwhelming evidence shows that particle pollution—like that coming from that exhaust smoke—can kill. Particle pollution can increase the risk of heart disease, lung cancer and asthma attacks and can interfere with the growth and work of the lungs.

Birth defects linked to air pollution in new Stanford study  Erin Digitale • Scope (Stanford Medicine) • March 28, 2013.
We found an association between specific traffic-related air pollutants and neural tube defects, which are malformations of the brain and spine," said the study's lead author, Amy Padula, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar in pediatrics.

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