Silicon Valley City to Approve Massive Vallco Development, Like it or Not
"In a critical test of a controversial state law intended to fight California’s crippling housing shortage, [the city of Cupertino] is just days from being forced to approve a massive residential, office and retail development that some residents fear will destroy their quality of life," according to an article by Marisa Kendall.
The word "forced" in that passage raises a question about local control, and state legislation by the name of SB 35 is the answer in the form of state preemption. "[U]nder SB 35, the developer that bought the rundown Vallco Mall holds most of the cards — and appears likely to build more than 2,000 badly needed homes on the site, whether the community likes it or not."
As described in a Planetizen post from earlier this year, SB 35, authored by State Senator Scott Weiner and approved in 2017, streamlines approvals for projects including affordable housing and meeting other requirements like union labor for construction.
Sand Hill Property Company plans to add some 2,402 residential units, 400,000 square feet of retail space, and 1.81 million square feet of office to the Vallco Mall property.
The political drama is still playing out in Cupertino, reports Kendall. "Developers, academics and advocates throughout the Bay Area and beyond are rapt as they watch the confrontation that has turned Cupertino into a microcosm of the forces at play in the housing crisis — and a potential precursor for development battles across the state." An organization called Better Cupertino is fighting the project, and could sue when/if the plan is approved by the city.