Where will all the cars and buses go? That was the big question at the first environmental impact report (EIR) public hearing about Apple Campus 2 at City Hall.
Nearly 100 people from in and outside of Cupertino met to speak out on their biggest concerns about the company’s newest campus. Overall the mood was positive; some residents said they were hard-pressed to come up with negative points.
With 13,000 employees expected to fill 3.1 million square feet of office and research and development space, a bus transit center, and enough parking for almost 9,000 cars on the Apple Campus 2 near Wolfe Road and Interstate 280, residents brought up the “T” word repeatedly.
“Traffic, traffic and traffic. I think this is going to be a common theme throughout here,” said Pat Robbins of Santa Clara. Robbins lives on Pruneridge Avenue, slated to close from North Tantau Avenue to Wolfe Road.
“(Interstate) 280 is a tragedy now at 8 o’clock in the morning, 5 o’clock at night. This can’t get any better,” said Cupertino resident Tom Dyer. He said the worry is not for just after the campus is built, but during construction, as well.
Cupertino staff organized the hearing by seating participants in table discussion groups. Residents sat at round tables in Cupertino Community Hall and were charged with identifying each group’s top three interests. They then reported back to the larger group.
Some groups’ reports reflected the makeup of the group. Donna Austin’s group put protection of the historic Glendenning Barn, which sits on the property, at the top of its list. Austin, a candidate in November’s City Council election, is a member of the Cupertino Historical Society.
Over in the group of Homer Tong, also a council candidate and a member of the Fremont Union High School District Board, the top concern was schools and how an influx of employees wanting to live near work might impact districts.
“Our schools may have to go to two stories, because we have limited room,” Tong said.
Another reoccurring issue was how hazardous waste would be handled during demotion of more than 20 Hewlett Packard buildings. Several groups wanted to see precautions to protect nearby homes from airborne toxins, and were concerned about how waste would be disposed.
Noise, both during construction and after the campus is in operation, was another hot topic. Other concerns included protection of Calabazas Creek and the mature street trees along Homestead and Wolfe roads.
Some residents said they wanted to see public access to the now famous donut-shaped main building, or “Mother Ship” as some have dubbed it.
Dyer said the unique building, “has become Cupertino’s Taj Mahal. We’ll have world visitors coming to see it, and I understand it’s a closed campus.” Dyer’s group suggested access to an Apple store on the campus for curious visitors.
Yet another resident suggested a working urban farm on the 98-acre site—Apple expects to triple the amount of green space on the campus—both as a way to promote a healthy environment and to provide local jobs.
The idea of providing local jobs came up more than once, with some saying they wanted a guarantee of construction jobs for area workers, and still others urging Apple to produce components, like the 700,000 square feet of photo voltaic cells the company says it will use, in the United States.
Thursday night’s hearing was an early step along the way to an expected approval of the project late next year. City staff said a draft EIR will be completed by next spring, with another chance for public comment. A final EIR is expected by next fall, with the project’s plans going before council late next year.
Apple’s project manager, Terry Reagan, told the crowd that the company wants to break ground toward the end of 2012, with completion in 2015.
There was some Internet buzz created this week when Mayor Gilbert Wong said in interviews to media outlets that Apple officials told him there will one day be an “Apple 3” campus. Wong confirmed his statement to Patch Thursday night. An Apple spokesperson declined any interviews after the meeting.
Wong said he was told that Apple will also keep its leases with numerous buildings around town, like those on Bubb Road and De Anza Boulevard.
Reagan began his presentation to the crowd reminding them of Steve Jobs’ words .
“The fact is we’re growing like a weed, (Jobs) said, so we need space; it’s a pretty simple mathematical calculation,” Reagan said.
The city is encouraging written public comments through Sept. 19. A compete set of plans, video of Thursday night’s meeting, and a link to where to comment is on the city’s website.