Cupertino’s Controversial Vallco Mall Project: By the Numbers

Vallco Shopping Mall’s planned transformation has become a flashpoint in debates about the regional housing shortage and the tech sector’s runaway growth, which has deepened economic divisions in Silicon Valley. The San Francisco Chronicle ran a piece over the weekend about the project’s potential impact on the city of Cupertino, a suburban town of 60,000. Here’s a recap of some notable numbers about the project.

Sand Hill Property, the company behind Cupertino’s controversial Vallco Mall redevelopment, has full financing—a mind-boggling grand total of $4 billion—to move forward with the long-planned project thanks to the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority signing on as an equity partner.

The number of housing units Sand Hill plans to build as part of its Vallco Mall overhaul. Fifty percent of which would be below market rate, which qualifies the project for fast-track approval under SB 35, a new state law designed to speed up much-needed residential development.

The number of housing units Cupertino planned to build in total from 2014 through 2022, despite a severe housing shortage in the town of 60,000, where the median home price has skyrocketed to $2.3 million.

The number of square feet of office space the Vallco Mall project would encompass upon completion. That’s in addition to a 400,000-square-foot retail center.

How much in fees the Vallco Mall developers would have to pay the city. That’s pretty much on par with other projects. Sand Hill hasn’t introduced a traffic mitigation plan, which has angered thousands of residents, and it wants to build up to 240 feet, which is nearly as high as some of San Jose’s tallest towers.

Sources: City of Cupertino, San Francisco Chronicle

11 Comments

  1. Wow, someone needs to do some basic research prior to publishing articles!

    Cupertino has approved 37-40% more housing than required by their RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Allocation). Their Remaining RHNA requirement is 1002, not 1064.

    Cupertino has two different plans for housing, one provides 1386 units, one provides 1400 units. Some of the projects for these additional units have already been approved but developers have not pulled permits. Some of the allocations have not yet had projects submitted. How do you force developers to actually build the housing that they are allowed to build?

    Cupertino already has one of best jobs/housing ratios in Santa Clara County. San Jose is better. Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Santa Clara are much worse.

    • Rajesh, I think what people don’t understand is that units just need to get built, everywhere. Real affordable housing only happens when there is overdevelopment. “Smart Development” is just double talk for NIMBYism and keeps prices high, right where the “smart” people want them. Build, build, build and adapt, that’s the only way to get housing prices down. There are just too many people involved in these decisions.

    • I feel this recap basically captures the essence of the situation fairly well.

      I agree with many residents that there is too much office space in this SB35 approved Vallco plan as well as other proposed plans. But 1201 BMR units in the SB35 approved plan, which is a huge record breaking amount of affordable housing, is very costly to the developer and must be paid for some way. Office space is the most effective way of offsetting that large cost. The developer is also building large and very large market rate luxury housing units to help offset the loss in revenue from the 1201 affordable housing units. The developer’s SB35 State approved plan is going to be difficult to overturn but the Better Cupertino group has a lawsuit attempting to overturn the city ministerial approval of the State approved Vallco Plan.

      The city hired a consultant (Opticos) to engage with residents and the developer to come up with a Specific Plan as required by the City’s General Plan. It came up with a somewhat ‘camel’ like plan with good community benefits for the city and schools which was approved by the majority of Cupertertino City Council. But the Better Cupertertino grass roots movement did not like it. Instead they said they preferred the SB35 State approved plan so gathered signatures to put an Initiative on the next ballot to override the approved Specific Plan.

      In the meantime the candidates representing the Better Cupertino movement have gained a strong majority or super majority on city council so I do not know exactly what is their next move. This is how I understand the situation.

      I basically don’t agree with Better Cupertino’s approach to routinely using lawsuits and initiatives to get around decisions made by governing bodies (city council) to get around decisions made by elected representatives. It defeats the purposes of representatives government. Representatives government is not obligated to represent the will of the people. It is intended to simply decision making in the governing of all with its jurisdiction which consists of more than just its voting residents. It also consist of business who paid by far the most for the City’s income.

  2. Forgot to mention, every single picture in the papers/websites of Vallco has Scott Weiner in it. He is a a state senator representing San Francisco and behind SB35. Please go home and represent your own district man and leave Cupertino alone. It is very sad this guy comes into our town and is dictating and cheerleading what is happening here. He does not live here, is not affected by local conditions, he does not represent us, and we can’t even vote for him. Take your agenda elsewhere dude.

  3. It will happen whether the anti folks like it or not. Could have had productive input but were so radically and rabidly against the whole thing that we all pay the price. Thanks a lot.

  4. Watched the old Vallco going up in the 70’s.. Sears and Bullocks were the anchor stores. This whole area is unrecognizable. Its high tech zombie land. 99% transplants who have taken over. Glad I left when I did.

    • Glad you left too. How does it feel the house you sold for 300k is now worth 3 million? Sure if must be hurting. I feel your pain, man!

  5. Sri – Congratulations on your ability to own a $3M home. I think you may want to consider the fact that many people don’t want to live next to people who can afford $3M homes. I know it is hard for you to believe it, but rest assure, there are people out there that would prefer living next to normal, humble people who struggle with normal, humble problems. There is an authenticity that humility brings, but I understand not everyone is looking for that.

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