Potentially blockbuster Planning Commission hearing tonight in Cupertino

Local planning commission meetings aren’t usually a hot ticket in town, but Cupertino’s Tuesday night could be fiery if the agenda and local news media buzz are any indication.

Cupertino’s Planning Commission is set to hold a ‘special meeting’ tonight after abruptly cancelling its regularly scheduled meeting on July 23rd. The main item on the agenda is a ‘downzoning’ of the site currently occupied by the dormant Vallco mall.

That site is now owned by Sand Hill Property Company, which has approval – under a state regulatory law known as SB35 – to build Vallco Town Center with 2,402 units of housing, including 1,201 with below market rate rents, in addition to office and retail space.

Downzoning of the site would not immediately lead to any changes in Sand Hill’s plan for Vallco under its SB35 approval, which is outside of local control. But a local anti-growth group known as ‘Better Cupertino’ is suing the Vallco Town Center project. If that lawsuit is successful then the downzoning could have major impacts.

Under the proposed rezoning, no office development would be allowed at the Vallco site, residential height limits would be capped and only 389 units of housing would be permitted on the 58 acres. Of those 389 units, just 59 would be below market rate – significantly fewer than the 1,201 set to be constructed under the SB35-approved plan.

Sand Hill’s Managing Director Reed Moulds blasted the potential changes in an e-newsletter obtained by Cupertino Today calling it an “egregious action” and one that would “ensure that no viable project can ever be built on the Vallco site and that would eliminate thousands of units of desperately needed housing.”

Moulds also sent a letter to the Planning Commission opposing their actions, as was first reported by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

This all comes as the Chairman of Cupertino’s Planning Commission R “Ray” Wang faces new public scrutiny after the San Jose Spotlight reported on a sexual harassment lawsuit that Wang settled 15 years ago, where he pled ‘no contest’ to one criminal charge.

The story dropped less than two weeks after Cupertino Mayor Steven Scharf was asked about Wang’s recent behavior on the social media networks NextDoor and Twitter, where Wang allegedly ‘doxed’ a Sunnyvale resident, in relation to ongoing disagreements about development in Cupertino.

If the Planning Commission does take action Tuesday night, it could appear on a Cupertino City Council agenda for approval in coming weeks, where four of the five councilmembers have the support of Better Cupertino.

According to the Vallco Town Center redevelopment website, demolition at Vallco is expected to resume on Monday, August 5th.