Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 28, 2018

Bypassing lane

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

This could be the first of many developments that are eased through planning process because of the slew of housing bills passed last year.  From the Mercury News:

Vallco Town Center, as the plan is called, envisions a thriving community space where people from Cupertino and beyond will come to browse their favorite stores, take in a movie, picnic with their families or even play sports. Mixed into the project will be 2,402 residential units, half of which will be reserved for low-income residents — a major boost to the housing stock in a city where booming job growth and sluggish housing creation has driven the cost of renting or buying a home through the roof.

Developers plan to do it all without giving Cupertino’s city leaders a chance to say no. Sand Hill Property Company on Tuesday submitted an application for the project under SB 35, a new housing-focused state law that requires California cities to approve certain residential and mixed-use projects — cutting out the opportunity for the political delays Sand Hill says have bogged down its Vallco redevelopment efforts for four years.

Because these developers are reserving half of the project for low income families, they’ll get the streamlined process that essentially cuts the city out of the approval process where these projects get stymied by NIMBYs, I mean, community input.


 [C]ity officials have 180 days to approve the proposal under SB 35, assuming it meets the city’s big-picture zoning and planning requirements — which Moulds says it does.

Sand Hill Property Company bought Vallco in 2014, with the intention of redeveloping it into a mixed-use complex. The developer spent nearly a year getting input from the community, and in 2015 unveiled plans for the Hills at Vallco.

Those plans were derailed when the Better Cupertino political action committee introduced a ballot measure, known as Measure C, to reserve the Vallco site for commercial development only. Sand Hill responded with Measure D, which asked voters to approve the Hills at Vallco plan. Both measures lost in the November 2016 election.

This is definitely a project to watch to see how effective SB 35 ends up being.  Cupertino, like Alameda, doesn’t have the best track record of meeting its RHNA goals.


  1. Hell yeah

    Comment by BMac — March 28, 2018 @ 6:53 am

  2. Great news!

    Alameda’s staff claimed in a recent analysis of last year’s new housing laws, including SB 35, that the Alameda Council would always be in the loop for approving developments here as no developer would be able to finance a project with 50% affordable housing.

    How Sand Hill Property Company plans to finance this project – especially whether developers in Alameda could follow suit – may have important implications for Alameda’s development of the Northern Waterfront, the North Housing Area, and Alameda Point. I submitted comments on the Draft EIR (Enviromental Impact Report) for the Alameda Marina encouraging the City to include an alternative with 50% affordable housing in the Final EIR.

    Comment by 2wheelsmith — March 28, 2018 @ 11:21 am

    • In Cupertino, the median sold price for a home is $2.3M. Well over double what Alameda’s is. And I would be willing to bet, w/out having looked, that the site in question does not have the same infrastructure burdens that Alameda’s housing opportunity sites have. If a home costs $500k to build and sells for $2M, it makes triple the profit of a home in Alameda that sells for $1M. Ergo- they can afford to build much higher percentages of affordable units in Cupertino than Alameda.

      Comment by BMac — March 28, 2018 @ 9:56 pm

  3. Developers could possibly raise the number of subsidized affordable units, but we’d have to allow them to build the qty of market rate units for that to pencil out. In this case I believe there’s something like 2400+ units on the table. I would love to see the day when Alameda is ready for a 2000+ unit development with 50% affordable housing. Let’s Captain Picard that and make it so!

    Comment by Angela — March 28, 2018 @ 2:58 pm

    • Suncal proposed a development of about 2,400 units at Alameda Point many years ago. They forgot to check with the affordable housing community, though, and instead sponsored a voter initiative which could have relieved them of the 25% affordable housing requirement that the City was legally bound to at Alameda Point. With Alameda’s slow growthers and the affordable housing community both opposing the initiative, it was defeated by a historic margin with over 80% of the voters opposing it.

      Senator Scott Wiener also neglected the need for affordable housing requirements in his initial version of SB 827. It still remains to be seen if he will do more to address those requirements. Along major transit corridors, my guestimate, based on RHNA numbers and impact studies of market rate housing, is that an inclusionary requirement of about 66% would be required to provide the affordable housing required for workers who support residents of the new market rate housing. Such a requirement is unlikely to be feasible, which means that SB 827 must rely on other means than an inclusionary requirement if it is to provide equitable housing for all income levels. One possibility would be a local and state wide housing bonds.

      Comment by 2wheelsmith — March 28, 2018 @ 4:03 pm

  4. I believe that SB 827 is good thing. It will provide yet another tool to help solve the housing crisis, spur innovation and create a more just and FUN society in California. I don’t understand the fear behind executing new projects in Alameda. Why is the lack of infrastructure and a high percentage goal of affordable housing a problem? All you have to do is adjust your model to include enough units make the project feasible. The point is that we have all the tools we need: low cost capital, fantastic urban planning principles (new urbanism), LAND!, willing investors, modern financial modeling tools, engineering expertise, proof that inclusion and diversity is a winning socio-economic model, good government oversight principles and tools, fantastic citizen involvement and communication tools, hard working people that are ready to make it happen. Seriously, I am to understand that this end of social and economic progress for Alameda (and the great State of California)? So what, exactly what is the problem? Let’s get it done. It will never be easier than now.

    Comment by Vancouver Jones — April 1, 2018 @ 9:27 pm

    • I wish that new housing could be constructed without concerns for financing, transportation, infrastructure, schools and social equity. SB 827 addresses two of these concerns – financing and transportation but ignores the others. Near some transportation hubs and lines existing infrastructure and schools may be adequate to support the higher proposed densities. By relying principally on market rate housing to finance affordable housing, SB 827 only worsens the shortage of affordable housing by increasing the demand for such housing more than the supply.

      As SB 827 relies principally on market rate housing to finance affordable housing, the bill as is will facilitate actually increase the demand for affordable housing by far more than it increases the supply. At best SB 827 will build about 1 affordable unit for each market rate unit when 3 units of affordable rate housing are required to meet the demand for support workers created by each market rate unit. SB 827 is good for high paid employees and a few lucky people who qualify for the few new affordable units, while forcing most new support workers to double up in existing housing or to live in the streets.

      Comment by 2wheelsmith — April 2, 2018 @ 10:19 am

    • You sound exactly like Matt Regan. Are you him?

      Comment by vigi — April 2, 2018 @ 1:36 pm

  5. Comment by vigi — April 2, 2018 @ 1:33 pm

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