Vallco Shopping Mall: Remove Office Allocation and Restore Maximum Building Height

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UPDATE, New Letter to the Cupertino City Council—October 7, 2017

Dear Cupertino City Council,

We urge you to remove 2,000,000 square feet of office space that was unduly gifted to Sand Hill Property Company (SHP) in a General Plan amendment in December 2014, shortly after SHP completed the purchase of the Vallco Shopping District site (Vallco).

The office allocation gift decreases the power of residents and our city representatives when negotiating the future of Vallco. From October 2014--when SHP threatened that SHP would not develop Vallco without an allocation of 2,000,000 square feet of office--SHP's plans have always included 2,000,000 square feet of office space. Even after SHP's "chime in" campaign--which ostensibly solicited residents' feedback on Vallco--SHP did not change the proposed massive office allocation.

The gift is especially troubling because it was given in the wee hours of Thursday morning, 12/4/2014, after most residents had left the council chambers, and after the council members had agreed earlier in the meeting--in front of a packed chamber of concerned residents--that the council would not allocate office space at that meeting.

Remove the office allocation so that SHP negotiates fairly from what SHP purchased--a retail and entertainment center that had zero (0) office allocation.

Sincerely,

Informed and Concerned Community Members

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Dear Mayor Vaidhyanathan, Vice Mayor Paul, and Council Members Chang, Scharf, and Sinks:

While some Community Members support a community centered-process to create a plan for Vallco, others have no interest in spending taxpayer money to benefit a developer’s return on investment for a Cupertino property.

We Are Community Members Who call for the City Council to reject the creation of a community-centered process on a plan for Vallco. Instead, we urge all Council Members to consider the following changes to the Cupertino General Plan for the Vallco Shopping Mall:

  • removal of the office allocation of 2 Million square feet
  • restoration of the maximum building height for new construction in place on December 3, 2014

We Are Community Members Who reject Municipal Code (zoning) changes if a Vallco Specific Plan were adopted that added office allocations or increased maximum building heights.

We Are Community Members Who understand the Cupertino General Plan offers a kind of Constitution for the City. All development within the City must be compliant with the Municipal Code, and the Municipal Code must be compliant with the General Plan.

The Cupertino General Plan (Community Vision 2040) offers this prescient statement in its introduction:

“Community Vision 2040 is a roadmap to the future that encompasses the hopes, aspirations, values and dreams of the Cupertino community. The underlying purpose of this document is to establish the policy and regulatory framework necessary to build a great community that serves the needs of its residents, maximizes the sense of connection between neighborhoods and enhances Cupertino as a great place to live, work, visit and play.”

In the early morning hours of 12/4/2014, a majority of City Council Members approved changes to the Cupertino General Plan that added office and housing allocations to the Vallco Shopping Mall. The Council majority also removed approximately 600,000 square feet of retail, the maximum building height restriction, and the minimum setback restrictions.

Residents spoke loud and clear over the two-night meeting culminating on 12/4/2014 that Cupertino needs a destination shopping venue. Residents continue to support a destination shopping venue at Vallco today. The shopping venue offered at Vallco must provide stores and services that allow residents to meet their needs locally for shopping, entertainment, recreation, dining, and personal and family care. Services that could be provided at the Vallco Shopping Mall include child care, fitness and sport centers (volleyball, swimming, ice skating, bowling, gymnastics, basketball, yoga, martial arts, others), study/tutoring centers, teen centers, arts centers, elder care centers, medical offices, and others.

We Are Community Members Who recognize that successful, prosperous shopping malls require active, professional mall management in order to thrive. Shopping mall management must attract stores and services that meet the needs of the local community. Facilities must be contemporary and safe. Visitors must be able to park, travel within the mall, and exit the mall quickly, with minimal time spent in search of parking or departing the parking structure.

We Are Community Members Who support majority retail (stores, services, entertainment, dining) at Vallco and reject General Plan and zoning changes that would transform Vallco's primary function from a destination shopping venue to any other use.

For example, under the developer’s Measure D (Vallco Specific Plan) that failed in 2016, primary use at Vallco was changed from destination shopping venue to massive office complex, including the following uses by square footage and percentage (based on data derived from Measure D text):

Under Measure D for the Vallco Shopping Mall

Office/Office Support, Square Feet
Office, 2,000,000
High School Innovation, 10,000
Civic Meeting Space, 4,000
Office Amenity, Event Center, 20,000
Office Amenity, Cafe/Fitness Center, 20,000
Office Amenity, Skybridges/Lobby, 100,000
Loading/Facilities/Security Areas, 135,000
Testing + Workshop, 175,000
Central Plant, 45,000
Total Office/Office Support, SF 2,484,000
Total Office/Office Support, Percent 56%

Residential
Residential SF, 961,622
Residential, Percent 22%

Retail/Recreation, Square Feet
Retail, 640,000
Health/Fitness Club, 40,000
Banquet Hall, 15,000
Total Retail/Recreation, SF 695,000
Total Retail/Recreation, Percent 16%

Hotel
Hotel, SF 277,332
Hotel, Percent 6%

We Are Community Members Who recognize that massive density, thanks to unlimited building height, and a paltry 16% retail allocation vs 84% “other uses” allocation is a very bad deal for residents. Acceptable retail allocation at the Vallco Shopping Mall will be something much closer to “overwhelming majority” retail allocation.

There is no point to discuss future development at the Vallco Shopping Mall until the most contentious aspects of the Cupertino General Plan and zoning code, if applicable, associated with the site and described at the beginning of this petition, are corrected.

We urge City Council Members to act at the earliest opportunity to align the Cupertino General Plan and zoning code, if applicable, with the values of the community where the Vallco Shopping Mall is concerned.

We urge City Council Members to keep “destination shopping venue” top-of-mind when considering a viable future for the Vallco Shopping Mall.

Sincerely,

Informed and Concerned Community Members



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