Community gathers to discuss what to do with Vallco
By Khalida Sarwari
For the second time this year, the Cupertino community and other interested stakeholders got a chance to help shape the future of Vallco.
A March 13 presentation at Cupertino Community Hall led by Dan Parolek of Berkeley-based architecture and urban design firm Opticos included live polling as well as breakout sessions where people were invited to write down their ideas on colorful Post-it notes. By the end of the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, the walls were filled with ideas such as “prioritize nature, not just public art,” “we need civic gathering places,” and “at least 50 percent should be retail.”
The audience of about 100 did not go easy on Parolek, with several people interrupting his presentation to criticize his comments. One person accused him of deliberately biasing the audience with his anecdotes.
Parolek’s presentation touched upon the design of and vision for the future site, implementation of a new plan, what to do with existing amenities, transportation solutions, integrating community values, housing, office space and ideas for activities for all ages. Attendees were polled on each of those topics, many of which were derived from the kickoff meeting last month.
Debate about Vallco’s future was re-energized last fall when the shopping center’s owner, Sand Hill Property Co., submitted a formal request to restart the process for redeveloping the 58-acre site. That request came one year after voters shot down a measure that supported the company’s The Hills at Vallco plan, as well as counter-Measure C, a ballot initiative that sought to restrict the mall property to commercial use. In late fall, the council authorized the preparation of a plan proposing a “vibrant mixed-use town center,” paving the way for the first community meeting on Feb. 5.
The process is an ongoing one and residents will continue to have additional chances to give their feedback. The next such opportunity occurs the week of April 9-13 when Opticos economists and engineers will be stationed at Community Hall all day long to help residents understand the trade-off of different ideas, said Bill Lennertz, founder and president of Collaborative Design + Innovation, which is working in collaboration with Opticos. The weeklong event will be followed by an open house three weeks later.
For those who missed it, the March 13 meeting is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1NtOd4WKHI&feature=youtu.be.
Updates about Vallco can be found at envisionvallco.org.