Senator Wiener’s Statement on Submission of Signatures for Anti-Housing Ballot Measure and Second Lawsuit to Delay Construction of Housing in Cupertino

November 1, 2018

San Francisco—  Today, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) issued the following statement after opponents of the Vallco housing project in Cupertino submitted signatures to qualify a referendum to repeal local approval of the project, and filed a second lawsuit this morning to delay the demolition of the defunct Vallco Mall:

“This efforts to obstruct desperately needed housing - driven by people who want to freeze Cupertino in amber and who are unconcerned about whether anyone can actually afford to live in Cupertino - is exhibit one for why we need state-level standards to ensure cities are doing their part to address California’s 3.5 million home deficit. The dying Vallco shopping center is a superb place for housing, and I fully support the plan to build 2,400 units of housing there, 50% of which will be affordable to lower income people. That plan is fully permitted under the housing streamlining bill I authored, SB 35.

I commend the Cupertino City Council and the Vallco developer for continuing to work together on a potential alternative to the SB 35 plan. The Cupertino City Council courageously authorized an alternative plan, which also produces a large amount of housing. While the ballot measure cannot override the SB 35 streamlined project, it would repeal the City Council alternative and send a clear signal that local officials shouldn’t bother trying to work with developers. The opponents’ lawsuit is yet another effort to stop this needed housing from being built. They will employ every tactic to stall this housing.

This local fight in Cupertino, which has been going on for years, shows exactly why we need state interventions like SB 35. In California, so many desperately needed housing projects, ranging from market-rate housing, to low-income housing, get caught up in years and even decades of process, lawsuits, and ballot measures. We need strong state standards guiding housing policy, rather than expecting city council members and mayors to engage in these fights week in and week out and risk their own re-elections. Housing is a statewide issue, and as with public education and healthcare, we need state housing standards. Local control is important but not biblical. Pure local control of housing policy has not delivered good results in California. We need to implement a new balance between local control and state standards that ensures we are actually meeting our housing needs.

I will continue to work with a broad coalition of housing advocates, housing policy experts, housing creators, local and state elected officials, and labor unions to craft strong and balanced state policy to address California’s deep housing shortage - a shortage that profoundly threatens our state’s economy, environment, diversity, and quality of life.”