Planning for Our Future

addressing housing and its extreme effects

Housing is the talk of the town here in Cupertino—and for good reason. The decisions we make concerning housing access and affordability will dictate Cupertino’s future. Currently, homes in Cupertino regularly run upwards of $2 million, and rent $3,500. We have an incredible opportunity to make Cupertino an even greater place, while maintaining our large number of single family homes in Cupertino. We can bring in new neighbors without hurting our current ones. Currently, our lack of diverse and affordable housing options in Cupertino has led to several forms of stagnation:

General

 
  • New families cannot afford to move in, creating an invisible wall of exclusion
  • Homelessness continues to greatly increase as more families fall behind on extreme mortgages and rents
  • Renters face enormous financial stress, leading many renting families to leave
  • The lack of new residents deprives our small businesses of the customer base they need to survive
  • Daytime middle-class and working-class workers cannot become fully-fledged residents. They contribute to our community, but can neither vote nor call themselves residents.
  • Our own teachers and their families suffer from the same dynamic, as well as De Anza College students and faculty
  • Youth who grew up in Cupertino cannot afford to come back and raise their families here
  • Cupertino lacks a steady, broad tax base, reducing our ability to expand on key city services

Effects on Schools

  •  The lack of a steady tax base forces schools to rely on unpredictable renewals of parcel taxes to make up for funding shortfalls
  • Many of our schools lack socioeconomic diversity leading to more insulated and less equitable learning environments
  • Our school districts struggle to recruit and retain faculty due to the lack of nearby housing
  • Enrollment continues to decline as a result of a lack of new families moving in. Our funding is directly tied to enrollment
  • Schools are like to close as a result of CUSD being on the verge of bankruptcy, unless we fix this systemic issue

 

The Environment & Climate Change

  •  The inaccessibility of Cupertino housing necessitates widespread commuting–even “super-commuting”—leading to immense traffic and the exacerbation of climate change
  • A lack of diverse housing options limits vibrant mixed use projects that promote walking and biking. We deserve to live where we eat, work, and play
  • Without sufficient housing, we are unable to reliably run a transit network, as bus and light rail lines require sufficient ridership and identifiable hubs
  • A lack of socioeconomic diversity via housing affordability reduces transit use, as working and middle class communities are more likely to rely on transit
  • A lack of housing in the Bay Area promotes urban sprawl, leading to development in fire-prone, sensitive urban—wild life interface areas

 

Exclusion

  • Other cities must pick up the slack when Cupertino fails to build housing, triggering displacement in more sensitive and vulnerable communities

  • Cupertino currently has the worst low-income jobs:housing ratio in the entire Bay Area

  • The lack of affordability in Cupertino has locked historic patterns of socioeconomic and racial segregation in place

 

How we can fix it

 

Land Use

  • Legalize more forms of housing. Currently, 91% of Cupertino is zoned for single-family homes–a lovely and desirable form of housing; we can allow other forms of less expensive, more efficient housing for those who cannot afford a single-family home.
  • Plan for medium density, transit-oriented developments along major corridors like Stevens Creek Boulevard, such that we promote new species of housing more affordable even at market rates
  • Promote mixed-use zoning in underutilized commercial-only zones, so new housing also provides shops, restaurants, parkland, and community spaces for existing residents
  • Focus on infill development: convert empty, unused parking lots into vibrant communities

Financing Affordable Housing 

  • One affordable unit can cost more than $700,000. We need to be innovative and ambitious in financing these projects
  • Plan for medium density, transit-oriented developments along major corridors like Stevens Creek Boulevard, such that we promote new species of housing more affordable even at market rates
  • Keep our affordable housing fees intact, so developers continue to pay into affordable housing, when they build market rate housing, or (better) build affordable housing on-site
  • Work closely with philanthropic organizations, other cities, the county, and the state to greatly expand our affordable housing fund
  • Create incentives to design projects around key demographics that are in need of housing, such as teachers, seniors, De Anza students, existing daytime workers, young families, and young professionals just starting their careers. This guarantees a net reduction in traffic as well

  • Make it easier and less costly for homeowners to build naturally affordable accessory dwelling units/granny-flats on their own property
  • Reduce certain fees and regulations that burden the housing development process. Currently many developers choose not to build in Cupertino because of how long and expensive the process takes. We can hold developers accountable, while actually making sure things get built

     

     

Maintaining Cupertino

  • As a lifetime resident of Cupertino, I understand resident concerns over big changes due to development. We can maintain our character as a city while promoting housing, community, and vibrancy
  • Consider shifting to more form-based coding which could allow us a greater say in the design and implementation of housing  
  • Start planning NOW with our upcoming housing element, so we as a city have a greater say in the process, rather than the state taking over
  • Intelligently maximize housing on corridors, rather than in existing single-family areas
  • Continue to ambitiously meet our housing goals, so that stringent laws like SB-35 do not apply to Cupertino

What happens if we don’t?

  • If we fail to adequately plan for the 6,000 new homes the state will mandate for Cupertino over the next decade, the state will sue us:

    • Cupertino could be fined for up to $600,000 per month

    • A judge could decide where housing goes and what sort of housing we authorize instead of our city council and community

  • State housing laws will dictate our planning process, similar to what happened with the Vallco SB 35 project

  • Development in Cupertino would become haphazard and uncertain

  • We may see more school closures than those already tentatively suggested as housing projects respond to state law requirements instead of actual local needs

  • We will continue to have one of the worst reputations in the Bay Area with regard to our politics and refusal to build housing

  • We will lose our ability to negotiate better benefits and mitigate traffic impacts