Cupertino residents question closed City Council session regarding future of Vallco

Despite allegations of back-door city planning that have outraged residents and prompted a terse Twitter response from state Senator Scott Wiener, the City of Cupertino and its Council have planned several urgent sessions — including a closed City Council session at 4 p.m. today — to discuss the potential impact of the state’s new housing legislation that goes into effect on January 1, 2018 and an attempt to amend the City’s General Plan before the end of this year in order to stifle redevelopment plans for Vallco Mall.

On the agenda of today’s closed-door meeting is a decision that would have sweeping citywide impacts. It has led some to question whether this is a violation of the Brown Act, which requires public notice and access for every meeting barring a few exceptions.

After our several emails inquiring about the need for closed sessions went unreturned last week, the City released a statement Monday night that fell short of answering the question.

“Let me assure you that the City Council cannot make decisions in a closed session or without public input or recommendations from the Planning Commission on matters regarding the Vallco project or the General Plan,” Mayor Savita Vaidhyanathan said in the city statement. “Upcoming meetings regarding decisions about the Vallco project will be noticed and open to the public as required by State law and by the City Council.”

Meanwhile, the allegations of back-door politics have drawn outrage from residents and groups working to solve the Bay Area’s housing crisis. Senator Wiener responded to the allegations on Twitter Thursday. “Cupertino, where Apple has its ever-expanding HQ, is considering down-zoning in order to scale back a large mixed-income housing development & avoid application of my housing streamlining bill, SB 35,” Wiener said. “I hope Cupertino doesn’t take this anti-housing step.”

A rally is being planned at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Cupertino City Hall to “fight a flagrant attempt to evade state law and keep a decrepit mall from becoming housing.”