|September 6, 2021|
R E F R E S H E R C O U R S E
WHAT IS THE VALLCO SB 35 TOWN CENTER PLAN, AGAIN?
T A K E A C T I O N
WRITE A LETTER / SPEAK AT TUESDAY’S COUNCIL MEETING
What is this pretty picture hiding?
Six 22-story towers, 1/3 to 1/2 of which is under green roof (no sun)
2,402 residential units (square footage unknown)
6,005 residents projected (adding an additional 10% to current population)
1,201 of which are below market rate (BMR) units (one good thing!)
But all BMR units are under the 30-acre green roof (and often facing multilevel parking garage)
486,000 sq. ft. retail1.99 million sq. ft. office
11,000 office workers projected (almost double of residents housed, creating need for more housing than project provides)
Green roof is 30 acres on top of 50-acre project footprint
Green roof soil has 20 inches of soil, so trees shown in pretty picture probably aren’t viable
1. As some alert citizens have known all along, the Vallco site is contaminated with toxic chemicals and will require cleanup under the supervision of the Santa Clara County Dept. of Environmental Health. As a result, the project was never eligible for approval under the SB 35 law.
2. The soil contamination is much broader than expected, and in areas not anticipated. It was only “discovered” when the City did its own review with a third-party consultant. Both the Developer and staff had to know at least something about this, as they possessed studies that showed at least some of the contamination.
3. Cupertino asks the developer to pay $125 million in impact fees (which are estimated real costs of the impact of the project on the City). The developer refuses. If the developer doesn’t pay, taxpayers will bear the cost. So far, the developer isn’t budging.
4. The Developer hasn’t even submitted plans for the “green roof,” and discussion so far reveals major emergency access and structural issues.
5. Yet the Developer is asking for a one-year extension beyond the Sept 21, 2021 deadline to begin vertical construction. They are nowhere near ready, and it is unlikely given their history that they’ll be ready by Sept 21, 2022.
6. No demolition work has been done, nor soil even tested for known contaminants, on the east side of Wolfe Road. As the SB 35 statute calls for housing to be built before or concurrently with other uses, the Developer cannot begin construction of any of the project until that parcel is ready. For some reason, this issue isn’t even addressed in the report(s).
Quotes from the Status Report
“The initial three-year period has proven insufficient to begin vertical construction.” (detailed status report, pg. 1)
“Specifically, Vallco’s own estimates predict that the Project would bring over 8,700 new jobs to the City of Cupertino, thereby creating a need for nearly 6,000 more housing units, while only providing 2,402 of those new housing units. As a result, the Project results in the need for 3,410 more housing units than it provides, further exacerbating the Bay Area housing crisis, and seemingly in opposition to the goals of SB 35.” (summary status report, pg. 2)
“The Vallco Project anticipates that Santa Clara County Dept. of Environmental Health’s oversight will continue until Spring 2022, although recent testing has revealed even greater contamination issues than previously identified, including some measures beyond permissible residential thresholds.” (summary status report, pg. 2)
“Relatively little is known about the 30-acre “green roof” proposed on top of most of the buildings…” (summary status report, pg. 3)
“… the applicant for the Vallco Project believes most of these (Impact) fees should be waived or significantly reduced. Payment of the fees in full or City Council approval of any reduction or waiver of these fees will be required before certain permitting and other approvals are possible, prior to the commencement of construction.” (summary status report, pg. 4)
“The three-year project approval expires on September 21, 2021, and a one-year extension of the approval would expire September 21, 2022. However, the Vallco Project applicant and the California Housing and Community Development Department have argued that the three-year deadline has been “tolled,” or extended, due to prior litigation. This argument is based on a misreading of the statutory provisions governing the term of SB 35 project approvals and is incorrect.“ (summary status report, pg. 4)
“The plan review has resulted in the identification of issues related to soil remediation, fire and life safety, structural design, traffic, transit, the provision of water to the development, affordable housing, development impact fees, parcel map processing and other issues which are discussed in this report.” (detailed status report, pg. 4)
“The District views the Vallco Project as “a city within a city” in terms of its fire and emergency medical services demand.” (detailed status report, pg. 7)
“… much of the green roof is inaccessible to people and is primarily unusable open space.” (detailed status report, pg. 8)
“A large portion of the green roof is elevated approximately 100 feet above the ground. This height is beyond the reach of the Fire District’s equipment (ladder and snorkel trucks) in an emergency.” (detailed status report, pg. 9)
“The Development has not submitted any plans for the green roof at this time.” (detailed status report, pg. 10)
“The developer has indicated that they have designed their foundations, structural supports and super structure to support a 10,000 lb. weight limit for the emergency vehicles, which is inconsistent with the Fire Department specification provided above.” (detailed status report, pg. 11)
“This review revealed that twenty-one intersections could be impacted, both locally and in the region. Ten of the impacted intersections are in Cupertino.” (detailed status report, pg. 11)
“In March 2021, the City Transportation Manager requested additional analysis of the impacts of the proposed design on traffic and emergency response times. City staff repeated that request in July 2021 and again in August 2021 and are awaiting a response from the Developer.” (detailed status report, pg. 13)
“As discussed above, the Project includes a cistern system to harvest rainwater; however, it is anticipated this supply will be inadequate for the annual irrigation and cooling tower needs.” (detailed status report, pg. 16)
“The Developer is also required to prepare an affordability covenant for review by the City Attorney. The affordability covenant must be recorded prior to the issuance of the first building permit …” (detailed status report, pg. 17)
“The Developer has raised numerous arguments that it should be entitled to a reduction in or elimination of the amount of parkland, transportation, and affordable housing impact fees to be paid to the City. The City disagrees with these arguments and had calculated that the Project owes impact fees in excess of $125 million to the City alone” (detailed status report, pg. 18)
“Despite this determination, the outstanding issues are substantial. Prior to issuing an extension, the City plans to seek written commitments from the developer on a timeline for addressing outstanding issues…” (detailed status report, pg. 120)
NOW TAKE ACTION!!!NOW is an excellent time to remind City Council and city staff that we still oppose this development and this developer. We urge you to write a letter and send to each City Council member and the City Manager (email addresses below). If you can do it by Tuesday, even better. And we urge you to tune in to Tuesday’s meeting and speak up during the public comment period, which immediately follows the Vallco Town Center Status Report item (no. 12 on the agenda).
firstname.lastname@example.orgMayor Darcy Paul
email@example.comVice Mayor Liang Chao
firstname.lastname@example.orgInterim City Manager Greg Larson
Cupertino City Council meeting Tuesday, Sept. 7, 6:45 pm
Teleconference and commenting instructions here
Register in advance here