Correspondences

  1. Bicycle Pedestrian Commission – 10/6/2014
  2. Bike Lanes in Cupertino are Still Too Dangerous after Child hit and killed by Truck on McClellan near Bubb – 10/27/2014
  3. The Hills at Valco EIR Scoping Public Comment – 11/15/2014
  4. Last Night’s Workshop (Regarding Tragic Death of Ethan Wong) What can be done to make streets safer – 11/21/2014
  5. A Solution for Future Sustainable Growth – 12/7/2014
  6. Mobility Element missing from the General Plan – Bicycles as an Alternative to more Cars – 2/14/2015
  7. Regarding Upcoming Council Meeting March 3rd regarding Bicycle Pedestrian Commission Report – 2/22/2015
  8. Bicycle Express Lane along Hwy 85 – 7/15/2015
  9. Future Traffic in Cupertino – 8/9/2015
  10. The Hills at Vallco EIR Scoping Public Comment – 11/15/2015
  11. A Building Moratorium between Major Developments to Control and Manage Growth – 01/21/2016

Date: 10/6/2014
To: Bicycle Pedestrian Commission
CC: City Council members
Subject: Bike Lane Design Ideas

Dear Bicycle Pedestrian Commissioners,

I feel that our city is lacking in safely designed bike lanes.  Cycling is ALL ABOUT MAKING CYCLIST FEEL SAFE.  If the city had such safe bike lanes then we would likely have 100-1000 times as many daily cyclist commuting to schools, work, shops, and for recreation of ALL Ages.  I am 70 years old and still can ride a bike but I cannot find a bike rout that I feel safe to ride so I walk or drive everywhere like you and everyone else.  Parents do not fees safe allowing their children to ride their bike to school.  People do not feel safe riding bike to work.  I do not feel safe riding bake anywhere in this city.

I have waded through over 100 relatively short Youtube videos about designs of bicycle lanes and came up with the videos below of bike lane designs and safety.  This city will never be a really bike friendly city unless it makes it a priority to make bike riders feel safe.  I don’t know how many of you on the commission ride bikes routinely but I hazard to guess none or you would know exactly what I am talking about and do far more about it.  Painting bike lanes neon green is simple the tip of the iceberg, a first step towards bike safety.  I hope you will go through these videos and learn from experts how to design bike lanes to get many more people feeling safe enough to cycle to work and to school and elsewhere to get more cars of the road to reduce traffic congestion.

Riding bike is also very good for everyone’s health and the reduction of pollution.  Bikes require no gas, license, insurance, and costly maintenance.  You could buy a top of the line bike for less than the price of a cheap car.  We have some of the best weather year-round in the world to cycle in yet we drive our cars everywhere.  There is something very wrong with that picture.

Best Regards,
Frank G


Date: 10/27/2014
To: Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission members, City Council members
Subject: Bike Lanes in Cupertino are Still Too Dangerous after Child hit and killed by Truck on McClellan near Bubb

Hello Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission members,

I was riding my bike down Bubb Rd. around 9:30am this morning and found McClelan closed off to traffic by sheriff officers and some activity happening near the railroad track near 7/11.  When I got home I received a text message from Nextdoor that a juvenile bicyclist was struck and killed by a truck.  When I turned on the TV the news was already broadcasting the news about the fatal accident on all bay area stations.

Cupertino may be considered by you and the City as a “Bicycle friendly city” but it is obviously not a bicycle safe city.  News reports say that this was the 6th bicycle accident this year in Cupertino.  That is 6 too many and 5 accidents that could also have resulted in fatalities.  These accidents most likely were preventable had bicycle lanes such as on McClelan Rd. which I use frequently were designed safely.  Had I ridden my bike there at the time the youth was killed I might have also been killed so this is very close to my heart.

I am outraged that this fatality and other bicycle accidents are allowed to happen in my city in our so called “Bicycle friendly city” on the exact road and spot where I also frequently cycle.  Now I feel much more insecure about riding my bike on the streets of Cupertino.  My heart goes out to the family of the youth who needlessly lost his life.

I have already written you and City Council who are copied on my correspondences several messages with suggestion on how to make our streets much safer for cyclists.  I have also attended you last meeting where I suggested one possible solution along Bubb Rd.  Passing an ordinance to allow cycling on sidewalks is slightly better than nothing but endangers pedestrians so is only a band-aid, not a solution.  You must take some of the money intended for the new city hall and place it where it really counts, in the safety of Cupertino residents and cyclists.  There are far more residents cycling on our unsafe streets daily than using city hall.  It is unconscionable of the city to spend $30-50 million on a new city hall when they won’t spend a few million dollars throughout the city to make our city a safe place for kids and adults to cycle.  What good is it to declare our city a “Bicycle friendly city” when it is a “Bicycle unsafe city”?

One child’s life is worth more than a new city hall.  I doubt many residents will disagree with that.  Children are the primary reason residents move to Cupertino to attend our famous schools.  So what value does the City place on a child’s life?  What value does the city place on a senior’s life such as I who loves to cycle the streets of our city?

With Regards,
Frank G


Date: 11/15/2014
To: Planning Commission
Subject: The Hills at Valco EIR Scoping Public Comment

Smart Growth Considerations
When reviewing to approve any major development for the city, at the very least the City must consider its impacts upon the community and its sustainable growth impacts.  The principles embodied in “Smart Growth” are an excellent guide that the City should apply.  This is a movement which many cities throughout the nation have adopted.  It has its roots in Europe.  Car traffic is universally the most adverse impacting factor upon growth due to its combined physical, financial, and social impacts: traffic congestion; the space occupied on roadways and parking spaces; its demand on energy and fossil fuels; its production of greenhouse gases and air pollution; the cost of infrastructures to support its use; and its toll on human lives, especially the young.  Thus in any city planning involving growth traffic must be the greatest consideration in mitigate its consequences in order for a development to have growth sustainable impact.

Traffic Mitigation
Not only is its immediate impact important but also its future impact on limiting growth elsewhere.  So even though the development being considered may not in itself saturate traffic flow the increase in traffic created by it may hinder further effective city developments.  Heavily trafficked roads as a result of a development may also hinder later mitigation measures making such measures far more costly, time consuming, and compromised.  If a development increases traffic to near saturation levels during peak hours, partial road closures for maintenance, accidents, and road improvements may cause great hardships to whose whom it serves and provides a living.  This may also be problematic when other developers want to use the same road and freeway infrastructures making further developments unfeasible.  Thus there must always be significant extra road capacity to mitigate these eventualities.  It is simply shortsighted to use the best case scenario to decide upon the feasibility of a development.

Apple’s Impact
Apple’s Campus II will house about 14,000 employees resulting in an estimated 8,000 additional cars to freeways and local streets.  The 280 freeway exit onto Wolf Road is being widened to accommodate Apple’s increased traffic burden in addition to their buses and van-pools.  This may provide some marginal amount of overcapacity assuming there is no further growth on that site, an unrealistic expectation due to Apple’s rapid growth.  Originally they had estimated 13,000 employees but in the intervening year that number has increased by 1,000 employees.

Sand Hill Proposal and potential Impact
The current plans for Vallco recently submitted to the City by Sand Hill Development for 2,000,000 square feet of office space, 800 units of varied housing, retail, and other amenities will add an estimated 10,000-12,000 cars on the same freeways, freeway exits, and roadways as Apple Campus II just one block away.  Then Main Street will soon open nearby with more offices, housing and retail adding more cars.  Apple alone requested the freeway exit widening now underway.  Did Caltran anticipate Vallco’s 10,000-12,000 additional cars and those from Main Street when planning the freeway exit widening more than one year earlier?  Is there adequate over capacity to handle partial road closures from accidents, maintenance, and improvements with upwards of 22,000 combined new and existing cars during peak hours?  Is there adequate roadway capacity for additional businesses in the near future such as at The Oaks, Target, Marina, Cupertino Village, etc.?

The Proposal
It is most prudent to develop Vallco in a growth sustainable manner that does not significantly impact traffic flow to allows for future growth elsewhere in the city, has a positive impact upon the quality of life of our residents, and is a profitable and acceptable development option for Sand Hill Development.  I do not view this situation as an all or nothing proposition.  I propose an alternative plan based largely upon sustainable Smart Growth principles for traffic mitigation that also promotes community development that I believe will benefit all parties.  Each component of this proposal serves to offset the adverse impact of other elements or complement those that don’t.  If done optimally to mitigate traffic it might actually reduce overall peak traffic loads below Apple’s projections alone while still accomplishing all the things just mentioned.

The Details
The percentages stated are only suggestions.  The proportions of each sub-element should be adjusted to what is most sustainable and makes greatest sense for this community to thrive within itself.  The overall size of Vallco is also up for discussions and can very from 2,000,000-3,000,000 square feet or so.  It is always better to avoid a problem rather than create one then attempt to mitigate it later.  It will cost far less in the long run with more optimal results.  I envision Vallco as a self-contained community within a community:

  1. Business (50%):-
    1. Retail;
    2. Entertainment, gaming and sports recreation centers;
    3. Quality Restaurants and lower-end food courts;
    4. Hotel;
    5. Offices – doctors, lawyers, realtors, tax preparation, escrow, loans, after-school tutors, etc. (no more than 20% of businesses).
  2. Housing (40):-
    1. Studio – target single Apple employees;
    2. Single Bedroom – target married Apple employees;
    3. Multiple Bedrooms – target Apple and other families with children;
    4. Senior Housing – far more than the 40 units Sand Hill suggested.  If they can build 40 units they can build far more.  It would be kept separate form the other housing within easy walking distance to the green garden roof and could also include assisted living.
  3. Child Care (10%):-
    1. On sight School K-9 for onsite residents;
    2. High School club/meeting area and media center;
    3. Playground for school and children on the green roof;
    4. On sight Library (also for adults);
    5. Daycare Center for Vallco residents and shoppers.
  4. Mobility Alternatives:-
    1. Shuttle Bus for Vallco residents to:
      1. Public Transportation hubs;
      2. Caltrain;
      3. To High Schools and DeAnza College for students;
      4. To other businesses throughout town for those employed elsewhere in the city.
    2. Bicycle Facilities:
      1. Protected Class IV bikeways down the length pf Stevens Creek Blvd. to Vallco to safely accommodate riders of all ages and abilities;
      2. Bicycle lanes and parking throughout Vallco;
      3. Bicycle loaners or bicycle shares at the parking lot entrance to Vallco shopping.
    3. Pedestrian Friendly:
      1. Nice pleasant easy to walk sidewalks between locations with separate paths marked for bicycles;
      2. Lockers at various locations to temporarily store things;
      3. Water fountains spread throughout the walking paths and inside large retailers;
      4. Benches and tables for people to rest, eat, or read between shipping.
    4. Long secured bicycle/pedestrian enclosed bridge leading directly from the studio and single bedroom housing to the Apple Campus II building (joint project between Apple and Sand Hill Dev.).

Everything will be conveniently withing walking distance for occupants and visitors at Vallco consistent with the principles of <i”>Smart Growth. There is plenty of diversity in land use elements to complement one another and provide for all the needs of this community within a community and for the profitability of the developer and the sure success of Vallco with minimal impact upon traffic loading in combination with Apple Campus II.  This could also serve as a sustainable best practice model that other cities may want to adopt as a major mixed use development that for a change mitigates traffic.

      1. Business is at the heart of this community within our city.  Retail, entertainment, sports, restaurants, and offices would have a captive community of housing occupants to serve as customers/clients in additional to other residents from Cupertino.  The hotel would serve guest of residents as well as Apple and other businesses in town with convenient shuttles to other businesses.  The emphasis should be to serve the needs of Cupertino residents.  Serving visitors from other communities is secondary as this creates more traffic especially during holidays.  What will attract Apple employees to buy housing here is a broad base of businesses tailored to the needs of Apple employees and young high tech adults as well as families and kids.   A vibrant retail is what residents want most complemented with a broad range of quality dining experiences and a mix of entertainment and sporting/recreational challenges and modest office services.
      2. Housing units to address the needs of Apple employees within walking distance of the new Apple Campus II and other local high tech companies range from studio to single bedroom housing.  It is important that retail, eateries, entertainment, and recreation be attractive to young Apple and high tech employees.  Multiple bedroom family housing would be available for families with children with child care amenities.  There would also be far more senior housing than suggested by Sand Hill to take care of a growing senior population separated form the other housing elements for quiet and privacy.  Seniors would have easy access to the green area on the roof to take walks and enjoy the out of doors.  This senior housing may also include assisted living.  Sand Hill could partner with a senior housing specialist.  All ages would be accommodated conveniently close to everyone’s daily need.  It may be possible for young adults, their parents, and grand parents to live in Vallco within walking distance of one another so they can all easily visit one another and keep an eye on their aging seniors while seniors visit or care for grandchildren.
      3. Child Care facilities such as a K-9 School, Library, Day Care Center, and a park and play area on the green roof would provide for a full range of child care needs for residents living in Vallco.  The Library and Day Care Center would also be available for shoppers and Cupertino residents.  The Library would have an added benefit of reducing the load on the Library at the Civic Center, the busiest in the County, and free up parking there.  Everything would be a short walk from everything else with safety and security for children.
      4. Mobility Alternatives to nearby work and public transportation will be readily available through shuttle buses and protected Class IV bicycle lanes.  Shuttle buses could be used for high school and DeAnza College students as well.  An agreement could be made with FUHSD that a lottery or other process would distribute high school students throughout the district or something similar.  This will avoid overcrowding a single school withing a single school zone.  Bicycles could be made available at the entrance of the shopping area so that they could be borrowed or rented through Bay Area Bike Share and ridden throughout Vallco or for simply carrying heavier loads.  Of course walking will always be an option to go everywhere withing Vallco as well as to the shuttle transit center.A long secured bicycle/pedestrian enclosed bridge leading directly from the studio and single bedroom housing units to the Apple campus (joint project between Apple and Sand Hill) serving as a perfect and sustainable path to bridge housing needs directly to Apple employees.  There would be a people mover like in airports also located on this bridge.  Exits leading below to convenient locations such as bus stops, bicycle lanes, and walking paths would descend through elevators in the support shaft structures of this bridge.

Win-Win Proposition
All of these interrelated elements could actually reduce traffic from the Apple employees living at Vallco, solve further overcrowding schools, provide residents and Vallco occupants with a vibrant shopping/dining/entertainment experience with legal, doctor, realtor, and other office services without overwhelming traffic, provide sufficient housing units to satisfy the city’s housing needs as well as ABAG housing requirements with a captive customers/clients for retail and offices, provide amenities for families, provide senior housing without impacting traffic our schools, provide family housing with children and supportive facilities, provide hotel lodgings for Apple visors, Vallco residents visitors, and other visitors with hotel taxes all going to the city, and providing a very profitable and successful investment for Sand Hill Development, a sustainable proposition for all.  Everyone gets most of what is most important to them.  And it is sustainable allowing for future growth in the city without overburdening traffic or anyone else, a win-win for all.

Office vs. Housing
As a side note if the city grants Sand Hill all the office space it requests for Vallco, most of it will likely go to Apple offices, Apple vendors, and Apple contractors due to its proximity to Apple Campus II.  This does nothing to help the city diversify its business revenue stream portfolio as it is still tied to Apple.  Housing however is probably more profitable to Sand Hill than offices and will always be in great demand with or without Apple and fulfill a critical shortage without negatively affecting ABAG’s future housing allocations as does office space.  Perhaps it will bring in a little less tax revenues for the City but it will otherwise be of greater benefit to the community without overburdening our local schools or traffic.  This proposal will have the greatest overall benefit to the community.  I hope this will have significant overriding consideration from the City even above the City’s desire for a more diversified revenue stream.

Best Regards,
Frank G
Cupertino Resident

Note: for further development on this and related ideas see more recent posts at:


Date: 11/21/2014
To: Cupertino City Council
Subject: Last Night’s Workshop (Regarding Tragic Death of Ethan Wong) What can be done to make streets safer

Dear Honorable Mayor Wong, City staff and Everyone,

At the beginning of the meeting, which I also attended to the end, I also thought the audience rather rude and impolite. So I can empathize with Gary’s sentiments. The City did not have the opportunity to even start the Workshop. But as the discussions progressed I started to realize that this was one of the very rare opportunities that the City has actually had an honest and open dialog with the community over a controversial subject. And I thought the City Staff and guest speakers did an Outstanding job of patiently answering all the sometimes very tough and pointed questions.

During these discussions I felt that the ‘citizens against growth’ started to have a better understanding of the city’s proposals and constraints and that the city had a better feeling of its citizen’s feelings and concerns.

I learned more about why the city has a 400 housing unit cushion and a few other details that I didn’t understand before. So I came away better informed. But the main thing is that I think the community came away feeling that the city is finally listening to their concerns in a non-controlled, open, and quite democratic dialog. City staff even took notes of the questions and discussions. They have felt for too long that the city was not listening to their concerns.

I feel open dialogues should be part of the process when controversial topics are discussed. I felt that way about the bicycle safety workshop, leaving it frustrated and disappointed. I had much on my mind but no where to express it and ask the city questions. I am still frustrated that the city is so controlling about everything giving me and other citizens a feeling that all they are really interested in is diffusing issues and controlling situations. At City Council meetings we are given only 3 min. to state our opinion and no opportunity to engage in an open dialog with our city government about issues of great importance to us.

I feel an open dialog with city officials is a very effective way to make the city more transparent and to give citizens a feeling that their city really cares about them and their feelings. Perception is everything and even if the government is doing thing in the interests of citizens they must give their citizens an opportunity to feel that their government cares. Limited dialog and controlled Special Study Session and Workshops simply give many citizens such as I an impression that the city is trying to direct citizens toward solutions of their choosing and not allow the citizens to freely express what they really want.

I agree with Gary that that it seemed inappropriate for them to, in a sense, take over the meeting, but lacking a better opportunity for them to freely express their minds and ask the city pointed questions this was their only opportunity and the City staff very gracefully, and I thing very wisely, acquiesced.

I feel that our city government should do far more such open dialog meetings in addition to doing Special Study Sessions and Workshops. I think citizens will learn far more about the issues at hand and be much more informed and cooperative constituents if the city answers their questions. If citizens are still dissatisfied have more such open meetings with answers from the earlier session. Such open discussions should proceed Workshops so that citizens can make more informed decisions during these activities and ask fewer question so that Workshops will proceed much smoother and cooperatively with more meaningful results.

I hope City Council will give citizens far more opportunities to have open dialog with them and the city staff on controversial topics. It is useful for the citizens to have a venue to vent their concerns and feels and for the City to give citizens a feeling that it is really listening and cares. It also gives city government the opportunity to really answer citizen’s questions and make citizens far more informed. That is important for all governments.

There is so much distrusts among citizens of their governments. This is an opportunity to dispel that distrust. It won’t be easy on Council or city staff but ultimately citizens will come away feeling that Council is really listening to them. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. I wish City Council would have Town Hall meetings where citizens can freely speak and ask questions of Council and staff without a 3 min. limitation. Council does not have to make any decisions, only talk with, instead of to, its constituents. At least that is my opinion for whatever it is worth.

Very Respectfully,
Frank G


Date: 2/14/2015
To: Cupertino City Council
Subject: Mobility Element missing from the General Plan – Bicycles as an Alternative to more Cars

As an observer of what has transpired in the General Plan Amendment meetings and workshops it occurs to me that they are mostly about Commercial and Housing elements.  There is nothing about Mobility and Biking alternative to driving cars to all of these new commercial and housing developments.  As a matter of fact looking at the General Plan there is virtually nothing said about how people are to get to these Commercial and Housing developments and how to mitigate increasing traffic created as these developments grow over the years.  Traffic is already problematic in part of town.

The City’s Community Vision 2040 is supposed to act as a guide to the General Plan to take into considerations such things as traffic as outlined in Chapter 5: Mobility Element to counter the effects of Chapter 3: Land Use and Community Character Element.  Yet in the current General Plan there is no Mobility Element.  There is no plan for dealing with increasing traffic and traffic congestion problems.  There are only plans for building parking structures for parking more cars.  This seems an oversight that needs immediate attention and logically should be made part of the General Plan Amendment so the city can allocate money and make long range plans to deal with this growth.  Apple, Main Street, and the Valco renovation will very soon overburden the Wolf Road exit to HW280.  What are the City’s plans to mitigate this looming problem?

I would suggest the City give serious consideration to public transportation and especially Biking as alternatives to more cars on our roads.  Why can’t the city put aside $10-20Million for enhancements to our streets for bicycles and pedestrians to encourage more people to ride their bikes and walk our streets and even a public shuttle in the next couple of years.  There are many things that can be done throughout our city to make biking more safe and attractive.  How about making street safe for kids to bike to schools so more kids will be encouraged to bike instead of being driven causing traffic congestion and dangerous street conditions for those biking and walking to school.  How about subsidizing schools to bus children living far from schools.  Many of our sidewalks are missing or in disrepair.  How about fixing them or subsidizing residents to make repairs?  How about making bike lanes far safer by physically isolating bike lanes from traffic?

There must be a plan for dealing with Mobility and it should be incorporated into the General Plan Amendment if Cupertino is to have any chance of Sustainable Growth as outlined in Chapter 5: Mobility Element.  The alternative it to become a sea of congested streets in the future.  The city should set aside $10-20 Million every couple of year to enhance these alternatives.  Let us truly be a Bike friendly city, unique in the Bay Area, for those of all ages and riding abilities.  It will put us on the map of uniquely bicycle friendly cities, something to be proud of.  I am not saying to replace all car with bikes.  What I am suggesting is to encourage more residents to use their bikes when possible to effectively reduce the number of cars on the roads.  Other cities like Portland Origin are doing it.  So why can’t we?

Best Regards,
Frank G
Cupertino Resident


Date: 12/7/2014
To: Cupertino City Council and other Community Leaders
Subject: A Solution for Future Sustainable Growth

Dear Cupertino Community Leaders,

Since the tragic death of Ethan Wong and the contentious GPA meetings I have been working on a solution to Cupertino’s ever increasing problems of traffic congestion, accidents, overcrowded schools and general citywide growth.  Below is the essence of that solution copied from the Home page of a blog I am working on:  Biking Cupertino.

For those who have had a sneak preview, I have made major changes so please have another look.  This is not very long.

I invite your questions and comments.  Let us get together and talk so I may explain more clearly this Vision and how to eventually achieve it.

It is achievable and is being done elsewhere as Growth and traffic are not unique to our city.  I truly want the city to solve its problems and have little interest in claiming credit as those who know me well are aware.  I am a problem solver, not a public person.

Feel free to forward this message to others.  I will broadcast this Blog to the general public a few days after sending this message to you.

Best Regards,
Frank G
Longtime and devoted resident of Cupertino

===============================

Cupertino is obviously suffering from the Consequences of rapid Growth.  Apple’s 13,000 employee campus and other citywide developments, returning job, and our World-Class Schools are attracting more families.  Worsening traffic, especially during rush hour and around schools, is making it more dangerous for those on bikes or on foot.  Ethan Wong’s death is a tragic reminder of the urgency for far more bicycle/pedestrian safety.

Many citizens are fed up with the Consequences of Growth and have turned against further citywide growth.  But growth is inevitable for the reason stated and a State mandate for more housing.So how do we cope with Growth without a plan?  How do we Alleviate the Consequences of Growth?  Perhaps by first asking the right questions:

      1. What are the Major Consequences of Growth? – Three issues of critical concern are: 1) Traffic congestion, especially around schools; 2) Car accidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians; and 3) School overcrowding;
      2. What is the Predominant Consequence of Growth? – Cars is the single most impactful Consequence of Growth.  Bond measures will continue taking care of overcrowded schools, (but so will the suggested solution);
      3. What can be done to Remove that Consequence? – reduce the number of cars on the road as Growth inevitably continues.

But how is it possible to reduce the number of cars on the road while the population increases?

Denmark for decades and Portland Or. more recently among other cities have made Bicycling their highest priority for reducing cars and their negative impacts.  So why can’t we?  There is precedence to follow and experts to consult.

For Every Bike Ridden one less car is driven.

If 1-2% of the population starts regularly biking every year we could have a Growth Sustainable city where traffic will decrease.  Streets would become increasingly safe from cars and free of traffic jams.  If more residents biked to work, school, and/or everyday activities, companies, schools, and merchants could replace parking spaces with more businesses, classrooms, and shops.

So Bicycling really is the solution to long term Sustainable Growth and cars is its downfall.  There are many benefits to biking over driving but its overwhelming benefit to our City is Sustainable GrowthIf only our School and Civic Leaders had the Political Will and Vision to collaborate to make it happen.  But how?

Biking Cupertino reveals a Vision of the distant future with paths forward that nurture the transition of Cupertino into a more Bicycle-Oriented Culture by making it Safe, Appealing, and Convenient for the everyday casual bicyclist in the foreseeable future.  This Blog will reveal how Bicycling fosters financial, social, educational, health, and other enhancements to the quality of life.  And you can’t get much Greener and environmentally cleaner than this Vision with zero carbon footprint.

Most Important for the City is having a Vision going forward to serves as a Beacon upon which to focus all future decisions and priorities enabling cohesive, systematic, and detailed long term planing and budgeting to take place.

My Mission:

      1. To facilitate a Paradigm Shift of civic leaders, educators, and the community to a more Bicycle-Oriented Culture as envisioned by the Vision of thisBlog;
      2. To demonstrate the benefits of bicycles as the vehicle of choice for Sustainable Citywide Growth and for solving current Consequences of Growth;
      3. To foster long-term infrastructural changes to improve Bicycle Safety, Appeal, and Convenience throughout Cupertino.

Bicycle Culture by Design: Mikael Colville-Andersen at TEDxZurich – A very inspiring YouTube clip about car culture vs. a bike culture.


Date: 2/22/2015
To: Cupertino City Council
Subject: Regarding Upcoming Council Meeting March 3rd regarding Bicycle Pedestrian Commission Report

Dear Mayor Sinks and City Council Members,

The Bicycle Pedestrian Commission will be presenting to you a report and requesting funds for bicycle lane improvements. I have had a chance to review some photos of what is being proposed and find most inadequate to make our citizens feel our streets much safer than the currently are. As a cyclists I personally find our streets inadequately safe for any but the most ardent cyclists. I am 70 years old casual cyclist and feel most of our major and busy street unsafe even with green paint such as along Stevens Creek where I occasionally ride. I have had a number of close calls especially when a car is making a right turn and I am in their blind spot (right hook).

The Bicycle Pedestrian Commission will primarily recommend painting bike lanes green in heavily traveled and problematic areas. The problem with paint is that vehicle drivers who don’t pay attention will be oblivious of bicycle lanes whatever color bicycle lanes are painted. When the traffic is bumper to bumper the cars in front often obstruct the driver’s view of the bicycle lane making it difficult to see and endangering the bicycles riding along side the vehicle’s blind spot. This has been the cause of some accidents and many near misses. Green paint is simply not adequate enough.

The city needs to invest far more money to design Protected Bike Lanes (Best Practices in Bicycle Lane Designs) as was developed in Europe and now used in many US cities such Portland Origin which physically separate cars from bikes. There are different types of Protected Bike Lanes depending upon how much room is available for a bike lane. But they cost considerably more than paint. However they offer significantly more protection to cyclist and make it more difficult for bicycles to move into traffic since bicycles are sometimes the cause of accidents. Most are also far more durable than paint.

If it is the objective of the City to truly make streets safer for bicycles and the city spends the needed money for such improvements, it has been shown that far more people of all ages will use their bicycle for school, recreation, shopping, etc. Consequently this will reduce the number of cars on the road resulting in less traffic congestion. Nowhere will this be more felt that traffic around schools. If the streets can be made safe for students more will cycle to school thus reducing the number of cars that would otherwise be taking them to school.

There are far more benefits. For example if more kids and adults could bicycle safely to the library the parking lot behind the civic center would not be as full of cars. The same for other locations along safe bike routs. When I rides the streets of Cupertino I don’t run across many bicyclists. That is because few citizens of average riding skills ride our streets. Streets are simply not safe enough to take such risks. I guess that makes me a fool. In Northern Europe there are often more bicycles than cars. Consequently there are few traffic jams or serious accidents.

So investing millions of dollars on some Protected Bike Lanes may have huge paybacks. There are other benefits to riding a bike vs. driving a car: better for health if done safely (reduce obesity, diabetes, and coronary problems), cost nothing to run and maintain, uses no gasoline and produces no pollution or greenhouse gases, allows the rider to better enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, etc.

I suggest you turn down the Bicycle Pedestrian Commission’s plans and ask them for a far better plan and emphasize the willingness to invest far more money. I suggest that you impress on them that the City wants to get serious not to repeat the tragedy of the student last year who was killed by a truck. I feel that if the Bicycle Pedestrian Commission sensed that you are serious about bicycle safety as a solution to traffic they will put forth a plan equal to the challenge.

Currently Cupertino is famous for schools and Apple neither of which are under the City’s control. Wouldn’t it be nice if Cupertino was on the map as the Bicycle Capital of the nation? It is within you power to make it so if you as a Council had the political will. It would at the same time eliminate traffic congestion as the city grew. People around the country would visit our city to ride our bicycle safe and friendly streets and visit our bicycle friendly shops and stores or simply talk with our citizens as they wandered our streets. We are small enough to make this happen in the next 10 years, the time it took to send a man to the moon. We would at the same time be the lowest polluting city in the US and using the least amount of oil, a truly Green city. This might cost $100 million or more but the payback and benefits to all citizens would be huge and the press would be phenomenal, an inspiration for cities around the nation to copy. There is also plenty of funding to be found. Right now we admire neighboring cities for their shopping areas. Let them admire us for our bicycle routs (cycletracks) and walking and biking friendly shopping. This does not mean banning cars, but it does means making our street really safe and convenient to bike, a legacy to be proud of. Biking is growth sustainable and so much more.

Best Regards,
Frank G


Date: 7/15/2015
To: Valley Transit Authorities (VTA)
Subject: Bicycle Express Lane along Hwy 85

I know that the public comments period for this topic has passed but I thought I would offer this suggestion that recently occurred to me that poses the potential of an extremely low cost and sustainable long-term solution to traffic on Hwy 85.

Why not build a Bicycle Express Lane along the median of Hwy 85 to get around all the objection and law suits of communities. It can be billed as a project which would easily allow Light Rail to later be built if wanted since a bicycle lane would be easier to later remove though I think that in the long run people will gradually find it more essential over time.

My thought is to place two bicycle lanes in each direction in the middle median of the freeway so that people will have the option of riding their bikes along the freeway. Concrete or other barriers could separate car traffic from the bicycle lanes. Bicycle bridges over the freeway with bicycle elevators to carry bicycles and riders from the bike lane up to the bridges could be constructed every few of mile or so for convenient exit to local streets. These bridges could be expanded later as demand and convenience to bikers dictates. These bicycle bridges would strictly be used for bicycles and bring communities on both sides of the freeway closer together. The bike lanes themselves would be 2/3 the width of a car lane and made of much thinner asphalt with much less reinforcement that car lanes making them very inexpensive. The overall cost would be equal or less than VTA’s current toll/carpool lane proposal and many times lower than mass transit along 85. Long-term operating and maintenance expenses would be insignificant. This lane would encourage people to use bicycles to commute to and from work and elsewhere. This is one of the strategies VTA supports so this idea would enhance VTA’s mission to reduce the number of cars people use to commute.

This would be an ideal bicycle route for people who enjoy bicycle riding because it would be much safer than on streets and quite long (20 miles), uninterrupted, and free of cross traffic. It would start at the Light Rail station in south San Jose and run near Caltrain to the north as well as pass through the cities of San Jose, Los Gatos, Campbell, Saratoga, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, and Mountain View making all these communities accessible by a single safe bicycle lane. Bicycle lane bridge exits would be unobtrusive and could enter many nearby residential neighborhoods not possible with cars making it very convenient for cyclists. It could even connect to Stevens Creek Trail and other trails in various locations.

As drivers stuck in traffic see bicycles whiz by them at 10-20 mph during heavy commute hours some will be encouraged to take this very safe, fast, economical, no energy or pollution, no noise mode of travel to and from work. People may also find this a very nice and popular way of getting around the Bay Area on bicycle. I would expect that with time more and more people will use this bicycle lane to get around rather than drive their car removing more and more cars from Hwy 85 every year as communities grow (sustainable). More exits and bicycle bridges can be added later as biking becomes more popular in an area with some of the best weather in the world. At a leisurely pace of 10 mph one could bike from one end of the bicycle lane in the south near Light Rail to the north end near Caltrain in about 2 hours.

This will stimulate cities along this route to improve bicycle lane safety on their streets removing more and more cars off the local roads as growth continues throughout this corridor leading to far more sustainable and green growth. This actually is a long-term sustainable solution to traffic along Hwy 85 and adjoining cities. If this is successful then this can be expanded to other freeways.

This bicycle solution probably cost less than 20-50 time that of light rail to build and would take 5-10 times less time to accomplish with far less disruption to traffic on Hwy 85 during its briefer construction. And the cost of ongoing operation and maintenance expenses of a bicycle express lane to residents may be a million times cheaper than light rail. There are no charges to resident for biking the lane; there are few ongoing expenses except perhaps lights at night which would be run from solar cells; and resurfacing of the lane every 10 years or so. There is really no comparison in terms of costs between the two. It is also more sustainable than Toll/Express lanes with growth. There simply is no cheaper and low maintenance mode of commuting today than by bicycle and produces zero emissions. One can afford to buy the best bicycle available and save far more than buying the cheapest car. No gas, registration fees, smog checks, oil changes, huge tire costs, engine maintenance, and insurance. Even sidewalks are more expensive to make than asphalt bicycle lanes.

There are so many more reasons why riding bicycles is better than driving cars. It is good exercise, does not pollute the environment, costs almost nothing to do, occupies less than one tenth the space of a car, reduces traffic congestion, greatly reduces road maintenance costs, is far safer to others than driving a car, reduces parking space problems, get you to and from work faster than being stuck in car traffic, is very quiet, is the most affordable mode of transportation that exists, and is far more sustainable than anything VTA is doing today. And people always have the option to drive when they need.

So I hope you will give this some thought as an option. Thank you.

Best Regards,
Frank G


Date: 8/9/2015
To: Cupertino City Planning Engineer, Cupertino Traffic Engineer
CC: City Council members
Subject: Future Traffic in Cupertino

Dear Planners of our City,

I do not think our City Government has a firm grasp of the future traffic issues in Cupertino based upon the GPA. Let me summaries the Problem as I see it and pose possible Solutions. These solutions are only partial solutions as I think the problem far more severe than these solutions alone can mitigate. I am at a loss as to how to accommodate all this growth with current infrastructures or even considering minor modifications including these suggestions though these solutions are sustainable with a reasonable amount of growth.

THE PROBLEMS:-
The GPA allocates 3,500,000 sq.ft. of office space and 1,400 housing units as part of the Land Use. If we assume each employee will occupy 200 sq.ft. and each housing unit will have two drivers then 17,500 new jobs will be created and roughly that number of cars added by employees since they will mostly be from out of town and 2,800 residential cars will be added to our streets. Add to that an estimate of 8,000 additional cars from the new Apple 2 13,000 employee Campus 2 and other ongoing new business growth such as Main Street, an estimated 28,000 more cars will be added to our streets within the next 8 years of the GP.

By my best guess based upon census data and Future Cupertino Traffic Projections the rate of cars on our street has been close to a straight line growth rate of 722 cars/year. So in 8 year there should be 5,776 additional cars. This contrasts to 28,000 car that I estimate based on current business and the new GPA allocation of 3.5 million sq.ft. This is a 4.85 fold increase over the historic growth of motor vehicles in our city. Census data indicated we have about 60,000 motor vehicles on our streets today. So in 8 years we will have an increase by 47% more cars on our street. This is an explosion of cars we will have to deal with. This is equivalent to almost 40 years of traditional census growth crammed into 8 years.

Our street are starting to show signs that the current infrastructures of streets, freeways and freeway exits are having difficulty handling today’s traffic during peak hours. Streets around many of our schools have been having traffic congestion for years. The addition of 47% more cars on our streets in 8 years needs to be somehow mitigated or we are facing gridlock on many streets which is bad for residents, employees trying to go to drive, and people trying to shop at our new shopping establishments.

But there are other implications. Parking is going to become increasingly problematic. For example Sand Hill is planing 2,000,000 sq..ft. of office space and 800 housing units in Vallco adding 10,000+1,600=11,600 more cars competing with Apple’s 8,000 cars on the same freeway exit (HWY 280) and streets (Wolf Rd. and Stevens Creek). But Vallco employees will also be competing with shoppers at Vallco for parking spaces as well as traffic. This is the kiss of death for Vallco competing with other nearby shopping centers in San Jose. The same can be said for any new shopping development with a lot of shops such as Main Street. So any revitalization of shopping in Cupertino in order to support the explosion of office space and residential housing and consequently cars on our roads and parking spaces is unrealistic.

This explosion of commercial growth is simply unsustainable with current infrastructure. Providing wider freeway exits will have limited benefits when the streets the leading to it are gridlocked with cars. How can we make our street wider to handle the influx of cars without taking out sidewalks or medians? Drivers will try to take alternate routes causing congestion at those exist and along other arteries including Stevens Creek Blvd. There must be other practical options offered commuters for getting to work and around town other than driving.

THE SOLUTIONS:
Public transportation options are extremely limited to commuters and residents in Cupertino. It has been very difficult to get people other than students to take public transportation in our city. Perhaps it is a sign of affluence. Cars are so much more CONVENIENT and gas prices too low. We are alto the epitome of urban sprawl making it difficult to run buses conveniently close to residential homes making public transportation that much more inconvenient. There must be some kind of INCENTIVE to make people take public transportation. Would it be possible to make public transportation FREE for anyone taking public transportation within our city? Could we pay VTA like all DeAnza student do through their student body fee but in our case through a minor tax to offices that do not directly serve the general public (residents) based upon office space square footage? Shops would automatically be exempt because they directly serve the general public. It would be fair since they contribute to most of the additional traffic. This makes things very CONVENIENT as well because people simply need to get onto the bus within Cupertino’s city limit without having to worry about fares. People always like FREE and CONVENIENCE. This provides INCENTIVE for people to take buses wherever they are to get around town. As more people use public transit VTA will expand and improve services over time further reducing traffic. This will make commuting for workers half as expensive if that take a bus since their trip back home is paid for.

Bicycles are another option local resident as well as people in offices can use. The problem is the current bicycle infrastructure is UNSAFE to ride. Bicycle lane must be made to FEEL SAFE if it is the intent that significant numbers of residents, employees, and school aged children will ride their bikes instead of drive their cars. I know that the Bicycle Pedestrian Commission is working on putting in Class 4 protected bike lanes in some major streets some time in the future. What I am asking is to make the a Citywide priority in solving the traffic problem to be urgently funded and executed. Again it is important to INCENTIVIZE people to ride bicycles instead of drive their cars. Making street SAFE for people of all ages will help make this a far more ATRACTIVE alternative to driving. Many people have bicycles that are sitting in their garages that they occasionally use. And those that don’t can buy one for a couple of hundred dollars that last forever. So all the City has to do is make our city very SAFE to ride bikes, and people and even employees will start to ride their bikes. You can also make as a Community Benefit for new business that they buy fleets of cheap bicycles to give to the city. The city can provide these bikes FREE for use by the community and businesses. They can be painted pink or some other outlandish color with places all over the city for them to be parked and used by others.

Bicycle trails away from traffic could be much more extensive such as on the center of HWY 85 to help reduce highway traffic by presenting people with another alternative or the Stevens Creek Trail if extended from Cupertino to Sunnyvale, Los Altos, and Mountain View or the Union Pacific Trail along the railroad tracks. Presently Cupertino has two short segments of bicycle trails away from traffic. We need far more so citizens can enjoy long rides with their bicycles. Once people learn the joys of riding their bikes they will want to do it more. Bicycles are simply The Most Efficient Means of Transportation Devised by Man.

If the city is to grow according to this GP traffic must first be mitigated or chaos will ensue with traffic gridlock everywhere. Otherwise the office space allocation needs to be greatly modified in consideration to the current state of road infrastructure to keep step with growth.

Best Regards,
Frank G
Long time resident of Cupertino


Date: 11/15/2015
To: Planning@cupertino.org
Subject: The Hills at Vallco EIR Scoping Public Comment

Smart Growth Considerations

When reviewing to approve any major development for the city, at the very least the City must consider its impacts upon the community and its sustainable growth impacts.  The principles embodied in “Smart Growth” are an excellent guide that the City should apply.  This is a movement which many cities throughout the nation have adopted.  It has its roots in Europe.  Car traffic is universally the most adverse impacting factor upon growth due to its combined physical, financial, and social impacts: traffic congestion; the space occupied on roadways and parking spaces; its demand on energy and fossil fuels; its production of greenhouse gases and air pollution; the cost of infrastructures to support its use; and its toll on human lives, especially the young.  Thus in any city planning involving growth traffic must be the greatest consideration in mitigate its consequences in order for a development to have growth sustainable impact.

Traffic Mitigation

Not only is its immediate impact important but also its future impact on limiting growth elsewhere.  So even though the development being considered may not in itself saturate traffic flow the increase in traffic created by it may hinder further effective city developments.  Heavily trafficked roads as a result of a development may also hinder later mitigation measures making such measures far more costly, time consuming, and compromised.  If a development increases traffic to near saturation levels during peak hours, partial road closures for maintenance, accidents, and road improvements may cause great hardships to whose whom it serves and provides a living.  This may also be problematic when other developers want to use the same road and freeway infrastructures making further developments unfeasible.  Thus there must always be significant extra road capacity to mitigate these eventualities.  It is simply shortsighted to use the best case scenario to decide upon the feasibility of a development.

Apple’s Impact

Apple’s Campus II will house about 14,000 employees resulting in an estimated 8,000 additional cars to freeways and local streets.  The 280 freeway exit onto Wolf Road is being widened to accommodate Apple’s increased traffic burden in addition to their buses and van-pools.  This may provide some marginal amount of overcapacity assuming there is no further growth on that site, an unrealistic expectation due to Apple’s rapid growth.  Originally they had estimated 13,000 employees but in the intervening year that number has increased by 1,000 employees.

Sand Hill Proposal and potential Impact

The current plans for Vallco recently submitted to the City by Sand Hill Development for 2,000,000 square feet of office space, 800 units of varied housing, retail, and other amenities will add an estimated 10,000-12,000 cars on the same freeways, freeway exits, and roadways as Apple Campus II just one block away.  Then Main Street will soon open nearby with more offices, housing and retail adding more cars.  Apple alone requested the freeway exit widening now underway.  Did Caltran anticipate Vallco’s 10,000-12,000 additional cars and those from Main Street when planning the freeway exit widening more than one year earlier?  Is there adequate over capacity to handle partial road closures from accidents, maintenance, and improvements with upwards of 22,000 combined new and existing cars during peak hours?  Is there adequate roadway capacity for additional businesses in the near future such as at The Oaks, Target, Marina, Cupertino Village, etc.?

The Proposal

It is most prudent to develop Vallco in a growth sustainable manner that does not significantly impact traffic flow to allow for future growth elsewhere in the city, has a positive impact upon the quality of life of our residents, and is a profitable and acceptable development option for Sand Hill Development.  I do not view this situation as an all or nothing proposition.  I propose an alternative plan based largely upon sustainable Smart Growth principles for traffic mitigation that also promotes community development that I believe will benefit all parties.  Each component of this proposal serves to offset the adverse impact of other elements or complement those that don’t.  If done optimally to mitigate traffic it might actually reduce overall peak traffic loads below Apple’s projections alone while still accomplishing all the things just mentioned.

The Details

The percentages stated are only suggestions.  The proportions of each sub-element should be adjusted to what is most sustainable and makes greatest sense for this community to thrive within itself.  The overall size of Vallco is also up for discussions and can very from 2,000,000-3,000,000 square feet or so.  It is always better to avoid a problem rather than create one then attempt to mitigate it later.  It will cost far less in the long run with more optimal results.  I envision Vallco as a self-contained community within a community:

      1. Business (50%):-
        1. Retail;
        2. Entertainment, gaming and sports recreation centers;
        3. Quality Restaurants and lower-end food courts;
        4. Hotel;
        5. Offices – doctors, lawyers, realtors, tax preparation, escrow, loans, after-school tutors, etc. (no more than 20% of businesses).
      2. Housing (40):-
        1. Studio – target single Apple employees;
        2. Single Bedroom – target married Apple employees;
        3. Multiple Bedrooms – target Apple and other families with children;
        4. Senior Housing – far more than the 40 units Sand Hill suggested.  If they can build 40 units they can build far more.  It would be kept separate form the other housing within easy walking distance to the green garden roof and could also include assisted living.
      3. Child Care (10%):-
        1. On sight School K-9 for onsite residents;
        2. High School club/meeting area and media center;
        3. Playground for school and children on the green roof;
        4. On sight Library (also for adults);
        5. Daycare Center for Vallco residents and shoppers.
      4. Mobility Alternatives:-
        1. Shuttle Bus for Vallco residents to:
            1. Public Transportation hubs;
            2. Caltrain;
            3. To High Schools and DeAnza College for students;
            4. To other businesses throughout town for those employed elsewhere in the city.
      5. Bicycle Facilities:
        1. Protected Class IV bikeways down the length pf Stevens Creek Blvd. to Vallco to safely accommodate riders of all ages and abilities;
        2. Bicycle lanes and parking throughout Vallco;
        3. Bicycle loaners or bicycle shares at the parking lot entrance to Vallco shopping.
      6. Pedestrian Friendly:
        1. Nice pleasant easy to walk sidewalks between locations with separate paths marked for bicycles;
        2. Lockers at various locations to temporarily store things;
        3. Water fountains spread throughout the walking paths and inside large retailers;
        4. Benches and tables for people to rest, eat, or read between shipping.
      7. Long secured bicycle/pedestrian enclosed bridge leading directly from the studio and single bedroom housing to the Apple Campus II building (joint project between Apple and Sand Hill Dev.).

Everything will be conveniently withing walking distance for occupants and visitors at Vallco consistent with the principles of Smart Growth. There is plenty of diversity in land use elements to complement one another and provide for all the needs of this community within a community and for the profitability of the developer and the sure success of Vallco with minimal impact upon traffic loading in combination with Apple Campus II.  This could also serve as a sustainable best practice model that other cities may want to adopt as a major mixed use development that for a change mitigates traffic.

      1. Business is at the heart of this community within our city.  Retail, entertainment, sports, restaurants, and offices would have a captive community of housing occupants to serve as customers/clients in additional to other residents from Cupertino.  The hotel would serve guest of residents as well as Apple and other businesses in town with convenient shuttles to other businesses.  The emphasis should be to serve the needs of Cupertino residents.  Serving visitors from other communities is secondary as this creates more traffic especially during holidays.  What will attract Apple employees to buy housing here is a broad base of businesses tailored to the needs of Apple employees and young high tech adults as well as families and kids.   A vibrant retail is what residents want most complemented with a broad range of quality dining experiences and a mix of entertainment and sporting/recreational challenges and modest office services.
      2. Housing units to address the needs of Apple employees within walking distance of the new Apple Campus II and other local high tech companies range from studio to single bedroom housing.  It is important that retail, eateries, entertainment, and recreation be attractive to young Apple and high tech employees.  Multiple bedroom family housing would be available for families with children with child care amenities.  There would also be far more senior housing than suggested by Sand Hill to take care of a growing senior population separated form the other housing elements for quiet and privacy.  Seniors would have easy access to the green area on the roof to take walks and enjoy the out of doors.  This senior housing may also include assisted living.  Sand Hill could partner with a senior housing specialist.  All ages would be accommodated conveniently close to everyone’s daily need.  It may be possible for young adults, their parents, and grand parents to live in Vallco within walking distance of one another so they can all easily visit one another and keep an eye on their aging seniors while seniors visit or care for grandchildren.
      3. Child Care facilities such as a K-9 School, Library, Day Care Center, and a park and play area on the green roof would provide for a full range of child care needs for residents living in Vallco.  The Library and Day Care Center would also be available for shoppers and Cupertino residents.  The Library would have an added benefit of reducing the load on the Library at the Civic Center, the busiest in the County, and free up parking there.  Everything would be a short walk from everything else with safety and security for children.
      4. Mobility Alternatives to nearby work and public transportation will be readily available through shuttle buses and protected Class IV bicycle lanes.  Shuttle buses could be used for high school and DeAnza College students as well.  An agreement could be made with FUHSD that a lottery or other process would distribute high school students throughout the district or something similar.  This will avoid overcrowding a single school withing a single school zone.  Bicycles could be made available at the entrance of the shopping area so that they could be borrowed or rented through Bay Area Bike Share and ridden throughout Vallco or for simply carrying heavier loads.  Of course walking will always be an option to go everywhere withing Vallco as well as to the shuttle transit center.A long secured bicycle/pedestrian enclosed bridge leading directly from the studio and single bedroom housing units to the Apple campus (joint project between Apple and Sand Hill) serving as a perfect and sustainable path to bridge housing needs directly to Apple employees.  There would be a people mover like in airports also located on this bridge.  Exits leading below to convenient locations such as bus stops, bicycle lanes, and walking paths would descend through elevators in the support shaft structures of this bridge.

Win-Win Proposition

All of these interrelated elements could actually reduce traffic from the Apple employees living at Vallco, solve further overcrowding schools, provide residents and Vallco occupants with a vibrant shopping/dining/entertainment experience with legal, doctor, realtor, and other office services without overwhelming traffic, provide sufficient housing units to satisfy the city’s housing needs as well as ABAG housing requirements with a captive customers/clients for retail and offices, provide amenities for families, provide senior housing without impacting traffic our schools, provide family housing with children and supportive facilities, provide hotel lodgings for Apple visors, Vallco residents visitors, and other visitors with hotel taxes all going to the city, and providing a very profitable and successful investment for Sand Hill Development, a sustainable proposition for all.  Everyone gets most of what is most important to them.  And it is sustainable allowing for future growth in the city without overburdening traffic or anyone else, a win-win for all.

Office vs. Housing

As a side note if the city grants Sand Hill all the office space it requests for Vallco, most of it will likely go to Apple offices, Apple vendors, and Apple contractors due to its proximity to Apple Campus II.  This does nothing to help the city diversify its business revenue stream portfolio as it is still tied to Apple.  Housing however is probably more profitable to Sand Hill than offices and will always be in great demand with or without Apple and fulfill a critical shortage without negatively affecting ABAG’s future housing allocations as does office space.  Perhaps it will bring in a little less tax revenues for the City but it will otherwise be of greater benefit to the community without overburdening our local schools or traffic.  This proposal will have the greatest overall benefit to the community.  I hope this will have significant overriding consideration from the City even above the City’s desire for a more diversified revenue stream.

Best Regards,
Frank G
Cupertino Resident


Date: 01/21/2016
To: Cupertino City Council Members
Subject: A Building Moratorium between Major Developments to Control and Manage Growth

Dear Mayor Chang and City Council Members,

There is an Initiative that if passed would tie Council’s hands if they grant amendments of the General Plan for any development, and in the case of Vallco adds stipulations about restricting it as a single use shopping center of at least 1,200,000 sq. ft., or places the variance up to the voters to decide whether the exceptions should be upheld or stay within the bounds of the General Plans or the Initiative.  The fear that these Initiative supporters have, whether real or preceived, is that Council will grant whatever the developers ask for.  I do not necessarily share that view but there is questionable history about Sand Hill and City Council has giving into Sand Hill’s requests about replacing Senior Housing with Market Value Housing and granting far more Office space at Main Street, an opinion I also share.  Council has also accepted Sand Hill’s proposal of 2,000,000 sq. ft. of office space to be reviewed later this year.  But I feel the Initiative will solve little and may create more problems in the future.  Supporters say that the Initiative can be overturned if it is too problematic but I do not think it will be that easy as there may be citizens who like it.  I’d like to propose something different to be integrated into the General Plan which would alleviate many problems I have with the current Initiative.  There are some Initiative supporters who like this idea but feel time is too short and momentum to great to change the course of the Initiative.

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 proposal of 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 mostly from out of town.  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.

This proposal consist of placing a Building Moratorium (BM) of a certain length of time on proposed building permits on projects totalling a certain number of square feet of habitable space such office, retail, and housing 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 starting after the previous such development has been completed and 75% occupied before a 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 impacts of the previous development upon various infrastructures such as traffic on roadways after being more than for example 75% occupied to provide hard data to better predict the impacts 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 be better equipped to discuss and determine what is most appropriate for the developer to develop;
      4. It allows time for any infruststurcure improvements to be made as a consequence of the earlier construction and for the community to adapt to the development and to see the pitfalls of any future development;
      5. It is a very short, simple, and easy to understand proposal that could easily be integrated into the General Plan.

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 from 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.  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 make 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 period between major constructions 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.

I hope you will give this BM proposal serious consideration in implementing it into the General Plan 2040 Land Use element.  Thank You.

Best Regards,
Frank G
Cupertino Resident and Stakeholder

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