Controversial Vallco housing, office project moves one step closer to another vote

CUPERTINO — Residents fighting efforts to turn the ailing
Vallco Mall into a behemoth housing, office and shopping complex
won a small victory Thursday, moving one step closer to a city-wide
vote on the project.

City officials said four petitions by slow-growth group Better
Cupertino opposing a Vallco redevelopment plan gathered enough
valid signatures to qualify as voter referendums. City Council
members will meet Dec. 18 to discuss the results and Cupertino’s
next course of action, according to a news release. The council
could opt to repeal the ordinances and resolutions regarding its
Vallco plan, or put the matter up for a vote in a special election
next year or the general election in 2020.

Each petition needed 2,887 signatures to qualify. Better
Cupertino had said it collected 5,062.

Now Cupertino voters may weigh in, for the second time, on the
controversial transformation of the mostly vacant mall. The
proposal in question would turn the site into 2,923 homes, 1.8
million square feet of office space, 400,000 square feet of
commercial space and 191 hotel rooms. Supporters of that plan say
Cupertino needs to build that many homes to help pull itself, and
the rest of the Bay Area, out of a dire housing shortage. Opponents
counter that introducing so many new homes and offices would
exacerbate traffic woes and stretch the city’s resources.

But no matter what happens with the referendums, the Vallco
redevelopment likely will proceed regardless. That’s because
developer Sand Hill Property Company already has gotten the OK to
go ahead with a slightly different plan for the mall — one that
includes less housing and allows for taller buildings. And that
plan is immune to ballot challenges and other roadblocks, thanks to
SB 35, a new state law designed to fast-track housing
construction.

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Demolition
on the mall site began in October
, and Sand Hill has vowed to
move full-speed ahead.

After receiving approval to go ahead with its plan under SB 35,
in an effort to engage the community, Sand Hill agreed to consider
an alternative plan designed by the city with resident input —
the plan for 2,923 homes. But Sand Hill warned that if opponents
tried to block that plan with a ballot referendum, the developer
would abandon the community-driven plan and proceed with its own
under SB 35 rather than fight a ballot measure.

If Vallco makes it to the ballot, it will be the second time. In
2016, two dueling ballot measures — one that supported turning
the site into a mixed-use development, and one that opposed it —
both went down in defeat.

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Controversial Vallco housing, office project moves one step closer to another vote