City Hall Plans
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2023 City Council Majority Proposes a New, Luxury City Hall
The 2023 city council majority (Hung Wei, Sheila Mohan, JR Fruen) propose a new city hall with a royal price tag that could plunge the city into deep debt. The luxury amenities are not required and will not be appreciated by most Cupertino taxpayers. Hold the new majority responsible for their campaign promises of fiscal responsibility and properly prioritizing spending.
A Brief History
The current city hall contains 25,000 square feet. The need for seismic upgrades to city hall and the emergency response center were identified in 2005.
In July 2015, after two years of outreach and conceptual designs,out of three options, including a lower cost renovation-only option, the 2015 council approved the most expensive option for a Civic Center. The option included a new city hall and library expansion, with an estimated cost of $70M. The council item to pursue a $60M loan without voter approval was a Consent item (no public hearing) the following month. Fortunately, alert residents pulled the item off Consent to request the City to identify funding sources before proceding. In November 2015, the council dropped the plan because the staff could not reduce the cost to under $40M as requested. The 2015 Council did not consider the renovation-only option to reduce cost and to address earthquake safety first.
The 2019 Council split the Civic Center plan into two projects so that library expansion could move forward ASAP. Cupertino Library was the only County library without any space for community use for library programs, classes, and events. The library expansion completed on time and within budget in 2022.
In 2021, the Council addressed the other part of the Civic Center plan. To address the need for additonal space, the City purchased a building just across Torre Ave as the City Hall Annex to have 3000 square space and additional parking. The purchase also strengthens the city’s real estate portfolio. The Annex will house the Planning and Permit Center with conference rooms and the new emergency operation center (EOC), which requires a higher earthquake safety standard. If the EOC were located at the city hall, the cost for renovating the city hall would be higher because the entire building would need to adhere to the EOC standard.
The 2021 City Council gave direction to move forward with renovating the city hall, including retrofitting for today’s earthquake standards.. The staff brought back a plan in 2022 to expand the city hall to 36,000 sqft (40% increase) with a 3-story parking garage with a price tag of $75M for construction alone. The Council formed a subcommittee to work with the staff to examine options. In November 2022, the Council approved the $27.5M plan to renovate the City Hall with completion estimated in 2026 . The renovation option requires no outreach or architecture design, as would be required by a new city hall.
(If someone could dig up how much the council spent on community outreach alone in 2013-2015 for that dropped plan, that’d be great)
The 2023 council majority (Wei, Mohan, Fruen. Who won by a thin margin of less than 1% voe casted) proposed a new city hall that is larger and more expensive than the 2022 staff proposal. The 2023 proposal is larger (80,000 s.f. for city hall) (3.2 times of the current space) and adds a 500-person event center that would increase the size further. In 1Q2023, the cost has not yet been estimated.
The 2023 WMF Council Majority have rescinded the $27.5M City Hall Renovation plan, which will delay the much needed earthquake retrofit (found in 2005) two more years. Will we spend another two years paying consultants to come up with a plan and then decide that we cannot afford a shiny new city hall with all the bells and whistles?
The City has added ?? square foot of event space through the Library Expansion project and the City has added 3,000 square feet of office space through the City Hall Annex Project. Moving the EOC and equipment to the Annex will free up space in the renovated city hall. Do we still need to build a new city hall?
De Anza College already has a 600-person Performing Art Center and will construct another center to accommodate 1000 people, which was already funded by the taxpayers via a $989M (check number) voter-approved bond measure.
Any money spent to build a shiny new city hall will be paid by Cupertino taxpayers. A new city hall might not be put before the voters for approval. The 2015 Council put the item for getting a loan for the new City Hall on Consent, which they expected to get approved without any discussion. Some of the 2015 Council Majority are firm supporters of the 2023 WMF Council Majority. Will the 2015 council majority and the current majority attempt to seal their legacy at your expense?
CIVIC CENTER MASTER PLAN ARCHIVE https://www.cupertino.org/our-city/departments/public-works/capital-improvement-program-projects/civic-center-master-plan-archive
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By Eric, adapted from Liang’s email 3/1:
The new Council majority are pursuing an irresponsible plan for a new city hall. They have moved to consider a brand new city hall that is more than three times the size of the current city hall and in addition contains a 500-person event space. The plan includes seismic protection in excess of what is required.
The 2015 Council considered another plan for a new city hall and dropped it due to a lack of funds.
In pursuing a large and expensive new city hall, the new Council majority ignores the previous (2019?) council’s plan for a much less expensive renovation of the city hall.
The 2019? council proposed the minimum required seismic upgrade for the city hall and building a new emergency response center just across Torre Ave. The new ERC would be built to the higher earthquake safety standard that is required for ERCs
The (2019?) plan provides the required level of seismic protection and could be completed by 2026.
From Liang, 3/3
In 2022 staff proposed a new city hall. The cost for construction was estimated at $70 million, which did not include $4-5 million for community outreach and design and a 3-story parking garage.
The new council majority proposed a new city hall that is larger than the 2022 staff proposal. The 2023 proposal is larger (80,000 s.f.) and includes a 500-person event center that would increase the size further. It’s going to cost a whole lot more than the $70M that was estimated for the 2022 proposal..
More from Liang, 3/3
Below is some summary from 2015.
In this email, I included history from 2012: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hdf-7IlTN4nuvYKYS1eWiR0MidmNTktZcC6f_wf3cdY/edit?usp=sharing
There are some previous meetings on this project, including the financing options they explored.
- July 7, 2015 – Council adopted the Civic Center Master Plan, which includes a new city hall with added space and underground garage. The estimated cost is $70M.
- August 18, 2015 – Council did not approve the $65M loan or the $5M item to start architectural design. Council asked the staff to come back with financing options.
- November 17, 2015 – Council directed the staff to come back with a creative solution to keep the cost lower than $40M
- December 10, 2015 – The staff report concludes “Because we were not successful in our attempts to discover a project delivery process that could develop a $70 million estimated cost project for less than the maximum $40 million authorized by Council, we will not be bringing the project for further consideration unless so directed by City Council.“
- April 3, 2018 – Agenda Item is titled “City Hall Renovation Project”: “the proposed capital improvement plan for 2018-19 would include a budget for design costs of $2.1 million, followed by a budget in 2019-20 of approximately $18.9 million for construction (including staff relocations, temporary facilities, project management, contingencies, etc.)”