Are Cupertino’s Single Family Homes At Risk of Becoming Apartments?

As in many other cities across California, Cupertino is trying to complete its Housing Element (HE), a document that describes how the city will meet its housing obligation for the period 2023-2031.  Cupertino is required to supply a minimum of 4,588 housing units, with 41% of these units being low to very low income (affordable) plus extra just in case some sites do not develop as expected.

This long process involves identifying the properties, developing “Goals, Policies and Strategies” to guide the City in all its development then re-zoning the properties to match the densities and goals, policies and strategies selected.  All this has to be approved by the California Department of Housing & Community Development (HCD).

On November 30, 2023 Cupertino submitted its “Second Draft” (3rd submittal) of its Housing Element (HE) to HCD for approval.  There has been no public discussion of goals, policies and strategies at any Housing Commission, Planning Commission or City Council meeting where people would have the opportunity to ask questions, discuss or provide input.

We encourage the public to read the Housing Element Goals, Policies and Strategies section because it specifies what development will be allowed in various neighborhoods.

Strategies to Turn Cupertino Home Sites into Apartment Buildings

Two strategies that impact homes across Cupertino are buried within two bulleted items under HE-1.3.6:

  • “Allowing corner lots in R1 zoning districts to develop as multi-family rental housing using R3 zoning regulations to encourage missing middle developments.” This means that every Single-Family Home located on a corner lot can turn into an apartment.
  • “Allowing lots zoned for single family residential uses that abut (either shares a property line or is directly across the street from) property that fronts an arterial or major collector, and is zoned and used for commercial or mixed-use development, to develop with multi-family housing using R3 zoning regulations to encourage missing middle housing.” This means that every Single-Family Home located behind or around a shopping center on specific roads can turn into an apartment building.  Note that “arterials” are Homestead Rd, Stevens Creek Blvd, De Anza Blvd, Wolfe Rd and “major collectors” are N. Tantau, Miller Ave, N. Stelling, Bubb Rd, N. Foothill Expressway.

These two strategies not only impact the homes specified but their neighbors, the look and feel of their neighborhoods and create uncertainty for current and prospective homeowners. Furthermore, if a developer uses Density Bonus, the height, setback and parking requirements can and will be removed (waived) without the ability to stop it. 

Next Steps

The City has identified and is prepared to rezone far more Housing Element sites than is required to meet its obligation to the State. The additional sites identified (buffer) do not include the ADU units expected to be built across the city during this same 8-year cycle.  These future ADUs will generate even more housing units without the need for these two strategies.

If these strategies are included in this 8-year cycle, what will the city give away next time? Sometime in January-February 2024, there will be a joint session of the Housing and Planning Commissions to discuss the HE Goals, Policies and Strategies followed by a City Council meeting sometime in April to approve the final Housing Element document.

Is your home impacted? Here is a list of streets potentially subject to this new change.

Reach out to your representatives now to provide your input.  The City Council has the final say.  Here is their contact information:

Individual City Council member emails can be found here.


Single Family Homes – on corner lots that may be impacted

The current Cupertino Zoning Map shows R1 (single family homes) in CREAM COLOR.  Any R1-x home on a corner lot all across Cupertino can be redeveloped as an apartment (R3) and can invoke the Density Bonus Law to remove the height, setback and parking restrictions.


Single Family Homes sharing a property line with a commercial or multi-use property on any of the roads below can be redeveloped as an apartment (R3) and can invoke the Density Bonus Law to remove the height, setback and parking restrictions.

NOTE:  Arterials and collectors are specific roads.

  • Arterials are Homestead Rd, Stevens Creek Blvd, De Anza Blvd, Wolfe Rd
  • Major collectors are N. Tantau, Miller Ave, N. Stelling, Bubb Rd, N. Foothill Expressway

Homes on these streets can be impacted.  This list may not be complete:

  • Near Homestead
    • Shady Oak Ln
    • Firethorn Dr
    • Northpoint area-(possibly)
  • Near Stevens Creek Blvd
    • Norwich Ave-all of east side
    • Amherst Dr-east end
    • Denison Ave-south end
    • Wheaton Dr-all of south side
    • Stern Ave-north end
    • Bret Ave-north end
    • Judy Ave-north end
    • S Tantau Ave-north end
    • E. Estates Dr-north end
    • Richwood Dr-north end
    • Bixby Dr-all of north side
    • Brenda Ct-north and east end
    • Mello Place-north end
    • Deeprose Pl-north end (possibly)
    • Randy Lane-south end close to Stevens Creek Blvd
    • Miner Place-north end, south end
    • Partlett Place-north end, south end and by Donut Wheel
    • Scofield Dr – all of it
    • Alves Dr-between Sachi Way and Stelling
    • Peninsula Ave-south end
    • Santa Clara Ave-south end
    • Adrian Ave-south end
    • Eaton Place-east end
    • Ramona Ct-north end
    • Northeast side of Stevens Creek Blvd near N. Foothill Expressway
    • Cupertino Rd-west end
  • De Anza Blvd
    • Sunrise Dr-east end (possibly)
    • Rodrigues Ave-behind XLB Kitchen shopping center
    • Terry Way-east side
    • Paradise Dr-east side
    • McClellan Rd-northeast and southeast end
    • Felton Way-east side
    • Blossom Ln-east end
    • Kirwin Ln-east end 
    • Westlynn Way- east side (possibly)
    • Jamestown Dr-east side
    • Clifden Way – west end
    • Clay St – west end
    • Silverado Ave – west end
    • Larry Way – west side
    • Virginia Swan Place – north end
  • Wolfe Rd
    • None
  • Miller Ave
    • None
  • N Tantau
    • None
  • Bollinger
    • Clifden Way-west side
    • La Roda Dr-south end
    • S Blaney Ave-southwest end
  • N. Stelling
    • None
  • Bubb Rd
    • None
  • N. Foothill Expressway
    • None


Current Cupertino Zoning Map:

Current Heart of the City Zoning Map

PDF Page 8 of 32 has the HOC Zoning Map:

Current Cupertino Land Use Map:

Current Cupertino General Plan, Chapter 5 Mobility, PDF Page 11 of 26 shows Arterials (Boulevards) and Collectors (Avenues):

2023-2031 Housing Element – Revised November 2023
PDF Pages 13-63 Goals, Policies, and Strategies:

2023-2031 Housing Element Appendices:

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