Vallco site was a retail-only site before 2014 GPA. The building height limit was 4~6 stories.
On 12/04/2014, Cupertino City Council passed a GPA at around 3am when most residents left the community hall. In this GPA, building height limit and density limit was removed from the entire Vallco site. That means the Vallco developer can build whatever they want at this place.
Councilmembers who voted YES were: Gilbert Wong, Rod Sinks, Barry Chang, Savita Vaidhyanathan. The only Councilmember who voted NO was Darcy Paul.
After that night, Cupertino became the only city in California to remove building height limit at its largest retail site. The damage made by this pro-developer council is long-lasting.
From 2014 to 2017, hundreds of residents spoke in city council meetings, wrote thousands of emails to council, invited them to meet and talk, hoping they could fix this loophole. But the majority pro-developer council refused to do anything. Better Cupertino also organized several rally in 2015 and 2016, asking city council to re-consider the GPA re-zone part of Vallco. But they simply didn’t listen.
In 2017 public meetings, Councilmember Darcy Paul, Steven Scharf and many engaged resident warned about the potential damage that may be caused by this GPA loophole. The California state law SB35 was going to take effective in 2018. For any site without an objective height limit in the zoning code, a developer may take advantage of it. That means, the Vallco developer can build as high as they can by following SB35 without our city’s permission. But the other three councilmembers (Rod Sinks, Barry Chang, Savita Vaidhyanathan) just pretended they didn’t hear this.
The Vallco developer had submitted the Vallco SB35 plan in 2018, which was approved by former city manager, David Brandt. The City Attorney Randolph Hom pointed out the potential problems with this plan. But he was forced to leave Cupertino. That means the former city manager and city council enabled the Vallco SB35 plan go forward smoothly even without the City Attorney’s approval.
Our pro-resident councilmember gained majority seats in November 2018 and fixed the loophole in 2019. So, if the Vallco developer doesn’t want to follow SB35, which has to include almost 50% BMR housing to build their project in the future, they have to follow the new General Plan and respect the building height limit in city law.