A Building Moratorium between Developments to Control Growth

This article is not so much about bicycles as it is about impacts on them and the rest of the city.  I first became aware of Moratoriums from a comment by Kent Vincent on Nextdoor.com on 11/30/15.  Apple Campus 2 is well on its way to completion and will house 14,000 employees in our small city of population a little over 60,000.  The Main Street project is almost complete and is starting to be occupied.  The Biltmore Apartments is complete and renting.  The vast majority of employees will be commuting from out of town.  Vallco business and shopping mall, with its proposed 2,000,000 sq. ft. of office space next door to the new Apple campus has been submitted for the city’s approval which would bring in more than 10,000 employees.  The Oaks and Goodyear Tire proposals have just been submitted for consideration.  The Target property has been purchased by a developer and will soon have a proposal as will Marina, Cupertino Village and many others.  This onslaught of new construction and growth in our small city in a short space of time brings with it concerns of exploding traffic congestion and other consequential impacts such as on the safety of bicycle riders, pedestrians, and other cars.  It also creates far more traffic congestions on local freeways due to thousands of more employees commuting to work from out of town.Moratorium Process

This proposal consist of placing a Building Moratorium (BM) of a certain length of time on proposed building permits on the prior projects totalling a certain number of square feet of habitable space calculated at the time the clock start such office, retail, housing, and hallway space beginning after a certain percentage of occupancy has been reached.  For example a BM of 3 years would be imposed on any project totalling 1,000,000 sq. ft. or more of habitable space determined when the clock starts after the previous development has been completed and 75% occupied before a new building permit can be issued.  This does not stop a developer from submitting a proposed plan for approval any time during this 3 year period, but is would be prudent that any plan not be submitted until all impacts have been characterized by at least a CEQA report.

This BM serves a number of functions:

  1. It controls the growth of major developments to prevent clusters of major developments being built too closely together in time thus placing more control over the overall rate of development growth;
  2. It would suggest a CEQA be generated no less than one year after the BM countdown goes into effect to allows an adequate period of time to study the rate of development growth upon various infrastructures such as traffic on roadways after being for example 75% occupied to provide hard data to better predict the impact of the next major development;
  3. It provides time for the city, developer, and residents to actually see the impacts of the earlier development and better discuss and determine what is most appropriate for the developer to build;
  4. It allows time for any infruststurcure improvements to be made as a consequence of the earlier development and for the community to adapt to the development and to foresee the pitfalls of the next development;
  5. It is a very short, simple, and easy to understand proposal that could easily be integrated into the General Plan or be placed on the ballot as an Initiative.

Its simplicity, brevity, fairness, clarity of goals, and clearly defined benefits far exceed the lengthy, complex, potentially ambiguous, expensive, voter intensive, and unequal treatment of Vallco of the Initiative being petitioned for now.

This proposal actually solve many problems not addressed in the current Initiative which places any variances to the Initiative up to vote.  If the BM is to be done as an Initiative there only needs to be one election, that of passing the BM Initiative.  The beauty of the BM is its simplicity and efficiency at bringing far more control and certainty over growth.  It does not change the General Plan procedures other than spacing major developments further apart in time.  It is less politically contentious as it is possible that different Council Members will review the proposed developments and making the final decisions as they term out during that period.

So far as major developments are concerned time is on our side.  Providing a buffer time between major developments is far less contentious than grouping them all together as is now the process.  The current procedure of reviewing a group of developments at the same time makes such reviews far more complex and often confusing.  It is also much more confusing to the community when trying discussing each one on its own merits as it is easy to mix different developments up.  The BM allows people to focus upon one development at a time.

If this were implemented through an Initiative it would require almost no EIR or CEQA because there would be no impacts on the community other than what currently exists.

About Frank Geefay

Sustainable Bicycle and Smart Growth Advocate
This entry was posted in Considerations, Growth, Ideas, Legislation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Building Moratorium between Developments to Control Growth

  1. Pingback: Vallco – Housing for Apple 2 Employees to Mitigate Traffic | Biking Cupertino

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