The Battle of Stevens Creek: Santa Clara and Cupertino vs San Jose (Opinion)

The Battle of Stevens Creek: Santa Clara and Cupertino vs San Jose

By Robert Haugh

The Mercury News printed a strong opinion piece on Monday that was signed by Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor, Cupertino Mayor Savita Vaidhyanathan, and Cupertino Councilman Rod Sinks.

It was a good smackdown in what appears to be the “Battle of Stevens Creek” in the San Jose Border Wars. It reminds us of when D-X invaded Nitro.

For some background on San Jose’s Border Wars, you can read last week’s column.

The major issue, in the opinion piece signers’ own words: “We think it would be irresponsible to approve the Stevens Creek Urban Village project without an effective traffic mitigation plan along the Stevens Creek/280 corridor.”

That idea might have been influenced by Santa Clara Councilwoman Teresa O’Neill who’s also a Valley Transportation Agency board member and mentioned in the opinion piece as supporting the push to get San Jose to do a lot more with transit and the collection of developer fees.

Amen, to that. Driving on Stevens Creek these days is gridlock.


But our sources in San Jose tell us that the council will be irresponsible and approve three urban village plans with no real transit plan.

San Jose officials probably won’t be dumb enough tell the others cities to pound sand as they did on June 27 when Mayor Sam Liccardo told residents to go home and complain to their city councils about the Apple Spaceship campus and the CityPlace development plan.

It’s likely that San Jose officials will be more cooperative this time. They will offer to meet with Santa Clara and Cupertino, but won’t make any real commitments.

What’s next? Look out for a possible lawsuit. Both Santa Clara and Cupertino have sent strongly worded letters to San Jose that have lots of legalese in them.

Also, look for increased grassroots opposition. United Communities for Sensible Development is comprised of active residents in Santa Clara, Cupertino, and West San Jose.

They’ve started a petition that has almost 900 signers as of press time.  There’s some talk of them starting an initiative and recruiting candidates to take on incumbents in the three cities.

We’ll continue to watch as the battles in San Jose’s Border Wars unfold.

NOTE: The San Jose city council was voting on this issue late Tuesday night, before our deadline. We’ll update in a future column.


  1. This issue will be discussed at the Tuesday, August 29th, Santa Clara City Council meeting.
    It’ll be a later agenda item 17A which notes a “written petition from Curtis Kent on behalf of United Communities for Sensible Development: Request to evaluate waived fees, protected inspections and take legal action”.

    As Robert anticipated here, citing the August 6th Mercury News opinion piece written by Mayor Gillmor along with the Mayor and a Councilmember of Cupertino, the San Jose City Council, at their Aug. 9th meeting, approved proposed plan for the Urban Villages Project submitted by the Stevens Creek Advisory Group (SCAG), of which Kirk Vartran (Kvartran) is a member.

    Three major issues surrounding this project are housing needs, building heights and traffic impact and management. Kirk highlights the need for housing. Neighbors are concerned about 7 story (160ft) buildings along Stevens Creek and height setbacks on Stevens Creek and particularly the proposed small homes behind them (which are San Jose neighborhoods). Mayor Gillmore’s opinion piece questioned the traffic impact, it’s post-development timing (vs. prior) and the funding issues, including San Jose’s apparent waiver off traffic impact fees on those developments.

  2. Sorry guys….it’s just not that simple. We are ALL losing right now. Please help me here. Can someone please help answer these questions:

    1. How would YOU propose we address/solve our housing affordability problem?

    2. What actions do you propose for addressing the challenges posed by a rapidly aging population – and workforce?

    3. What are likely to be the potential consequences for our city/community if we don’t adequately address our current problems and prepare for increased or additional challenges that are rapidly coming our way?

    4. What would happen to the social and economic well-being of our city/community if we adopted plans and policies that sought to freeze in place the status quo?

  3. I’m optimistic that Santa Clara and Cupertino will win. I certainly hope so. For all of us. So I like the title and graphic.

  4. I like your title and graphic. Captures the essence of the issues. Although as a resident it often seems like grasping defeat from the jaws of victory.

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