Cupertino Settlement with Housing Advocates Opens Door for 4,588 New – Hoodline

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In a landmark decision, Cupertino has agreed to a settlement with pro-housing nonprofits, mandating the city to conform to what’s commonly known as a “builder’s remedy” — paving the way for more affordable housing. YIMBY Law and the California Housing Defense Fund hailed this as a significant step forward after taking the city to court for not meeting the required housing element update deadline, a stipulation mandated by state law.

According to a Mercuty News report, Cupertino’s failure to update their housing plan by January 31, 2023, resulted in a lawsuit filed by the housing advocates, the city now must approve 4,588 new homes by 2031 — including 1,880 units earmarked for low-income households. YIMBY Law’s Executive Director Sonja Trauss stated, “Cupertino recognizes it must plan for housing. The city missed its legal deadline, and that has consequences. Fortunately, the consequences of today’s settlement will be more housing.”

A news release from YIMBY Law further reinforced this by specifying that the city is now bound to reviewing its housing strategies to ensure compliance with the state law, an endeavor that should ideally benefit lower-income families in need of affordable housing. Dylan Casey, Executive Director of the California Housing Defense Fund expressed confidence, “We’re confident that Cupertino can bring its housing element into compliance. The builder’s remedy should help create some affordable housing in the short term while the City works to come up with a viable long-term plan.”

While city officials appear optimistic about the settlement’s capability to streamline the process for housing developments, not all members of the council mirror this enthusiasm. Councilmember Kitty Moore criticized the settlement, citing a “complete and horrifying bypass of CEQA,” a state environmental review law. She attributed this to an alleged failure by the city’s consultants to produce the necessary documents timely, as told to the Mercury News. Cupertino’s Deputy City Manager Tina Kapoor indicated the city’s intention to fast-track the adoption of the updated laws, stating, “The settlement will speed the adoption of a compliant housing element by the City Council, and the provisions included underscore the city’s commitment to promoting responsible development within our community.”

As the city moves forward with the settlement and the housing element revisions, Vice Mayor J.R. Fruen emphasized the city’s new direction. “This will allow us to be able to proceed in an expedited and streamlined fashion to achieve a certified housing element that we should all be proud of, and that we can put into action quickly,” Fruen said in his statement to the Mercury News, indicating that the city is closing in on an approval for the updated housing plan. However, the tension within the council over the settlement points to differing opinions on the path forward for housing in Cupertino.

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