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Residents Chime In on Apple Campus' Impact to Streets, Environment, Schools

Positive meeting an early step toward possible groundbreaking in just a little over a year.

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.

Gary E. Jones September 28, 2011 at 05:15 PM
There are over 58,000 people in Cupertino as of the 2010 Census. We need to be very careful not to let the voices of a few soil this opportunity for the whole. Apple's new headquarter means employment and tax dollars. The approval of the project should be expedited.
Gary E. Jones February 16, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Many of these issues can be solved. The City needs to keep Apple in Cupertino; why, among other reasons the City treasury needs the tax revenues. I'm confident Apple has other alternatives. Our City is one of the few solvent government entities around. Let's not upset that balance. Apple has not stated a date of 2012 to begin construction without an alternative in mind. Texas?
Frank Geefay February 16, 2012 at 07:17 PM
There is no question that we need Apple to succeed in their business and expansion endeavors within the City of Cupertino. We gain valuable sale tax revenues from them. The real question is will Apple be a good citizen and accommodate the City in solving the many issues and concerns expressed such as traffic, schools, commuting, impact on local businesses, environment, housing, impact of the closure of Pruneridge Rd., etc. Most certainly, being about the most profitable company on the planet, they have the money and resources to solve all of these problems with little impact upon their bottom line. They know they have the upper hand and that the City will grant them just about anything they ask within the law. Will they care enough about our community, of which they are a part, to help solve the various concerns expressed by Cupertino citizens?
Gary E. Jones February 16, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Frank; my guess is maybe, if we ( the City & citizens) do not see this as an opportunity to ask for the moon. Maybe we can get some moon dust and then use the new tax revenues to reach for the stars. Cooler heads need to prevail here. The City cannot lose this opportunity. We need to be reasonable about our expectations.
Frank Geefay February 16, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Agreed.

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