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[whitespace] Council agrees to regulate designs of housing complexes

Cupertino--Here we go again.

Just weeks after the City Council approved the amendment to the regulate the designs of residential homes, council wants to begin evaluating guidelines for apartment complexes.

Masking the size and mass of high-density housing became an issue at the April 19 council meeting when council discussed the possibility of decreasing the residential density zoning for five properties scattered throughout the city.

Rather than decreasing the densities on those sites, Councilmember Don Burnett made a motion to maintain the densities on those properties and for city staff to investigate ways to make multiple housing units less intrusive and to ensure the privacy of residents. The motion passed 4-0. Councilmember Sandra James was absent.

"We need to look into the mass and size for multiple dwellings," Burnett said. "There are some apartments that are bigger than my house."

The Planning Department is expected to present a report with their initial findings and ideas of where Cupertino is going in a month.

The City Council chose to hold off on making a decision regarding decreasing the housing densities on the properties until city staff presents its report because the sites are very individual and Cupertino needs more housing units.

"We do need housing, and we need it badly," Burnett said. "We've protected the neighbors in the [single family residential ordinance]. We need to make an effort to protect these neighbors [in multiple dwellings.]"

Multiple unit sites do not have to comply with requirements regarding floor-area ratio, the ratio used to determine the maximum size of a house.

"I'm not sure design guidelines will work on this," said City Manager Don Brown. "There aren't many multiple family sites left. We've been handling it on a project-by-project basis."

Councilmember John Statton said, "I think it would help the developer to know what's acceptable and what's not at the beginning of the process before they get too deep into it."

Councilmembers said that examples of acceptable high-density multiple unit housing developments include Northpoint and Glenbrook Apartments.

Cupertino could be breaking new ground by investigating ways to mask and reduce the size of multiple units.

"I know other communities are dealing with [single family residences], but not necessarily on multiple housing," said Bob Cowan, director of community development.
Michelle Ku

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