August 2023 Newsletter: FUHSD to Transition to By-Trustee Area Elections & the Future of Housing in Cupertino

What’s in this issue:

  • FUHSD Begins Move from At-Large to By-Trustee Area Elections
  • The Future of Housing in Cupertino: Challenges and Opportunities

FUHSD Begins Move from At-Large to By-Trustee Area Elections

THE FACTS: The Fremont Union High School District (FUHSD) is transitioning to By-Trustee Area Elections. This means that starting in 2024, residents will be able to vote for only the board member(s) in their designated trustee area. In the past, voters were able to elect FUHSD Board Members for the entire district.

HOW IT WORKS: To transition, FUHSD must first draw the geographic boundaries for trustee areas. Per federal requirements, each district must have equal population. Gerrymandering to draw lines by race or ethnicity is prohibited. There are no rules about how lines are drawn around or through cities. The board may adopt a resolution to provide greater direction on how the lines are drawn.

PERSPECTIVES ON THE CHANGE: During the March 7th, 2023 board meeting in which By-Trustee Area Elections were discussed, numerous Sunnyvale residents expressed support for the move. During the public comments, they expressed the sentiment that their needs had historically been underrepresented by the board.

For Cupertino residents, the potential impact is dependent upon how the lines are drawn. If Cupertino is split into multiple trustee areas, it could become harder for candidates from Cupertino to be elected.

SHARE YOUR INPUT:

  • Learn more about the change to by-trustee area voting
  • Join the FUHSD board meeting on Tuesday, September 19th at 5:15 PM to share your feedback on how the boundary lines should be drawn. By law, boundary maps cannot be reviewed during these meetings, but feedback is welcome. Details here.
  • View the documentation for the public hearings on trustee areas during the August 22nd FUHSD Board Meeting (Agenda Item #8)
  • Listen to the August 22nd FUHSD Board Meeting (scroll to the bottom of the page)

The Future of Housing in Cupertino: Challenges and Opportunities

BACKGROUND: The Housing Element (HE) is a roadmap for housing development. On July 25, 2023, the Cupertino City Council received an update on the 6th Cycle Housing Element for 2023-2031:

Cupertino is required to identify 4,588 potential housing locations to accommodate its Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) assignment.

HCD recommends that each city allocate a “RHNA buffer” of an additional 25-30% of the total RHNA obligation, especially for homes for people with low or moderate incomes.
2017 SB 166 “No Net Loss” law mandates that jurisdictions must maintain adequate site inventory to accommodate remaining unmet RHNA by each income category (very low, low, moderate, market rate).
Cupertino, then, is expected to identify sites for the construction of 5,735 – 5,964 new homes (4,588 RHNA + 25-30% buffer).

THE CHALLENGE: Like many other communities in the region, Cupertino is challenged to identify so many housing sites, as most lots are already developed. What sites are vacant/available, close to transit (within 0.5 mile of a bus stop), and sized between 0.5 and 10 acres?

HCD’s comments during the 7/25/2023 Council meeting suggest allowing all eligible retail and commercial locations in Cupertino to become future housing sites. Candidate sites will most likely be found along the City’s current and dwindling retail and commercial corridors: Homestead Rd, Stevens Creek Blvd, De Anza Blvd, and to a lesser extent Foothill Blvd, Bubb Rd, Stelling Rd, and Bollinger Rd.

Current retail along Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino

Cupertino must add 2,635 homes for individuals and families with very low, low, and moderate incomes. However, the State and federal government have removed themselves as providers and administrators for most affordable housing. Since affordable housing is not lucrative, it is unclear how much of it the private sector will build and maintain. Private property owners might also accept a housing entitlement, but then decide not to build.

If current density bonus laws require developers set aside no more than 10-20% of new multi-family dwellings for people with incomes <50-120% of the area median, would Cupertino need to approve 13,175 – 26,350 new homes to assure the construction of 2,635 below market rate homes to fulfill HCD requirements?

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS: Cities are often frustrated when they rely on the private sector and non-profit organizations to build and maintain a public good. Some cities are turning to other solutions to meet the RHNA requirements to build the homes that people need today.

The National Housing Policy Guide describes these solutions for affordable housing:

  • Land Banks – Created by local jurisdictions, land banks hold “abandoned, vacant, and tax-delinquent properties for future development.”
  • Community Land Trusts (CLT) – “The CLT owns land which is leased to households who purchase the homes that sit on CLT land. Removing the cost of land from the cost of purchasing the home provides a significant subsidy to the households.”

Why rely solely on for-profit developers, property owners, and investors to decide what and when to build, when land banks and CLTs can help directly alleviate the need for affordable housing in our community?

Click below to find out what’s next for Cupertino’s Housing Element, revisions that might help it get approved, and how Cupertino’s RHNA numbers compare to those of neighboring cities.

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