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Cupertino mayor says housing crisis ‘not dire’

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Gaffe during city address was actually part of a call to build more housing

An aerial photo of Cupertino, with blue sky and clouds on the horizon and the huge, ring-shaped Apple complex prominently featured below.
An aerial view of Cupertino.
Photo by Atosan/Shutterstock

During the annual State of the City Address in Cupertino last Wednesday, Mayor Darcy Paul remarked that “circumstances are not dire” in regards to housing in the Silicon Valley city and said that “it’s not at a point where anyone can justifiably say [...] drastic measures must be taken.”

Paul’s opinions triggered angry rejoinders from commentators like Assemblymember David Chiu of San Francisco, who issued an incredulous reply via Twitter on Tuesday:

“$2.2 million median home prices? New Apple campus for 12,000 workers w/ no new housing? Cupertino needs to step up, instead of exporting its housing problems to SF.”

YIMBY Action’s Joe Barrow replied by tweeting Paul’s phone number and email and encouraging followers to “tell him how dire our housing crisis really is, and tell him to build a lot more fucking housing.”

In fairness to Paul, the larger context of his January 31 speech reveals that his comments were, in fact, part of a call for more housing. Paul’s terms are more relaxed than his critics would like, but he’s confident the numbers back up his position.

Paul points out that, according to the figures in the 2010 census, Cupertino had roughly 1.29 jobs per unit of housing, well under the 1.5 threshhold recommended by the Association of Bay Area Governments.

“Cupertino has been historically quite responsible meeting our obligations to the larger community,” Paul added.

Of course, a lot has changed since 2010. Paul admits that current projections show that the ratio will rise to 1.66 within the next 22 years.

According to its housing element report covering the period of 2015-2040, Cupertino anticipates that its population (60,643 as of 2016, according to estimates by the U.S. Census) will reach 62,100 by 2020 and 71,200 by 2040.

The city also anticipates that between 2010 and 2040, it will see job growth of about 11,200 positions. For perspective, in 2013 Apple and its real estate advisors estimated that Apple Park alone will bring in some 7,400 jobs to the region (on top of the 16,000 people Apple already employed in Cupertino).

Antipex

“It seems to me we should be focused a bit more on housing,” Paul said before uttering the provocative “not dire” phrase, also adding, “The time to act would be at this point.”

Be that as it may, critics who think Paul is not showing quite enough urgency on this issue—and that perhaps ABAG’s estimates aren’t adequate given the current state of the Bay Area—have a lot to work with when it comes to the soaring price of a home in Silicon Valley.

According to Cupertino’s own housing estimate report, a median priced home in the city cost $933,000 in 2011. The Silicon Valley Association of Realtors tells Curbed SF that, in 2017, the figure had risen to $1.2 million for homes in general and $2.1 million for single family houses, based on MLS listings in the city.

Sources like Zillow estimate the tech city’s median home value as high as $2.15 million.