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Developer Invokes SB 35 To Push Forward Controversial Development In Cupertino

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Developer Invokes SB 35 To Push Forward Controversial Development In Cupertino
Rendering of Vallco Town Center

A Silicon Valley developer is hoping to use a new law to get a long-stalled and controversial redevelopment off the ground. Sand Hill Property Co. has submitted new plans for its proposed redevelopment of Vallco Shopping Mall in Cupertino under SB 35, making it the second Bay Area developer to use the law, the East Bay Times reports.

separate project in Berkeley became the first project to invoke SB 35, a law that allows fast approvals for certain residential and mixed-use projects that include at least 10% affordable housing.

Cupertino officials have 180 days to approve the plans under SB 35 as long as the plan meets the city’s zoning and planning requirements.

The proposed Vallco Town Center is the newest iteration of the developer’s plan to redevelop a derelict mall into a mixed-use project with 2,402 residential units, 400K SF of retail and 1.8M SF of office. Sand Hill Property’s original plan was to build 800 housing units, 640K SF of retail and 2.4M SF of office.

The development community has long been critical of Cupertino’s lack of new housing development. From 2007 to 2014, Cupertino issued 784 permits, most of which were for high-income housing, according to data from the Association of Bay Area Governments. It only issued 69 permits for low- and very-low-income housing during this time.

The project will create 1,201 affordable housing units, increasing the amount of affordable housing five times over, according to SV@Home Deputy Director Pilar Lorenzana.

“Cupertino already has very few affordable housing units, and two-thirds of them are set to expire within the next 10 years,” Lorenzana said in an emailed statement.

According to SV@Home, 14 low-income workers compete for each individual affordable housing unit in the city.

The Vallco Mall was built in the 1970s, but started to have issues when Valley Fair Mall opened 10 years later. Vallco Mall has faced a slow decline since then and lost several large stores, including Macy’s, J.C. Penney and an AMC theater in recent years. Sand Hill bought the 58-acre property in 2014 and has been pushing for a redevelopment since 2015.

Community members have not been swayed by these plans, resulting in the project being in limbo for four years. Many have expressed concerns about increased traffic, overcrowded schools and losing local retail shops, according to the East Bay Times.

Under SB 35, city officials and community members have limited means to reject the plan. Officials will need to provide evidence that the plan does not comply with state law or create an alternative for the developer to consider.