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Downtown Specific Plan Amendment

The Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) is generally bounded by El Camino Real to the Caltrain tracks and Charles Street to Sunnyvale Avenue. The DSP is comprised of multiple blocks with varying uses to make a vibrant downtown. The City Council approved amendments to the DSP in August of 2020 and several of the approved projects are underway.

The City is currently considering a new amendment to the DSP for Block 20, see the Details tab.

Learn more about Downtown Development

Contact

Shaunn Mendrin, Principal Planner, 408-730-7431

Progress

Community Outreach Meeting #1 - Held July 14 (Zoom)

Thirty people attended the first community meeting. We addressed these concerns: proposed building height, density, traffic and need for bike lanes.

Proposed Amendment

The consultant (Ascent Environmental, Inc.) will work with stakeholders to develop proposed amendments for consideration through the public review process. Steps in the development of the amendments include:

  • Community Meeting #1 July 14 – Applicant presentation and gather community input.
  • Develop Draft DSP Amendments
  • Community Meeting #2 – City presentation and gather community input.
  • Planning Commission Study Session
  • Refine Draft DSP Amendments and Environmental Review
  • Planning Commission Public Hearing
  • City Council Public Hearing

Details

2021 DSP Amendment - Block 20

The City is currently considering a new amendment to the DSP for Block 20, which is generally bound by El Camino Real and W. Olive Avenue and S. Mathilda Avenue and S. Taaffe Street. On May 8, 2018, the City Council considered a General Plan Initiation (GPI) request by the property owners of 562 and 568 S. Mathilda Avenue (Shawn Karimi) and 510-568 S. Mathilda Avenue (formerly Silicon Sage) to allow additional units and commercial/office area on Block 20. The Council approved the GPI subject to the following:

  • Amend the Downtown Specific Plan, Block 20 use designation from High Density Residential and Office to Downtown Mixed Use.
  • Increase the maximum number of residential units for the block from 51 to 103, not to exceed the General Plan maximum allowed density for the Downtown of 65 units per acre.
  • Increase the maximum allowed office/commercial area from 16,400 to 36,500 square feet.
  • Maintain the existing allowed height limit.
  • Update the DSP standards to address design on Block 20.
  • Improve the overall streetscape on the Mathilda Avenue Block 20 frontage.

In July 2018, the applicants filed for a General Plan Amendment (2018-7585) to study the items the City Council authorized and to begin the amendment process. At the time, the City was working on an amendment to the Downtown Specific Plan. The required environmental review and associated studies were also underway. The applicant's requested amendment had to wait until the most recent amendment was completed and adopted by the City Council. This occurred in Aug. 2020. The applicant may now move forward with the requested changes to Block 20.

2020 DSP Amendment

The public hearing process for the Downtown Specific Plan Amendment began in July 2020 and ended in Aug. 2020. The City Council approved the DSP amendments, Municipal Code changes, Environmental Review and two Development Agreements on Aug. 11, 2020. For 2020 DSP Amendments reports see Documents and Background tabs.

Documents

2021 Downtown Specific Plan Amendment Documents

See Progress tab

2020 Downtown Specific Plan Amendment Documents

City Council adopted the following in Aug. 2020:

Staff Reports

City Council - Aug. 11

Planning Commission - July 27

Heritage Preservation Commission - July 22

Sustainability Commission - July 20

Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission - July 16

Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) Documents

DSP FEIR (9 MB PDF)

DSP Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program (MMRP)

Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) Documents

DSP DEIR (11 MB PDF)

DSP DEIR Notice of Availability

DSP DEIR Appendix A Notice of Preparation and Reponses

DSP DEIR Appendix C Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Assessment (10 MB PDF)

DSP DEIR Appendix D Arborist Reports

DSP DEIR Appendix E Historic Resource Evaluation

DSP DEIR Appendix F Geotechnical Feasibility Study

DSP DEIR Appendix G Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (36 MB PDF)

DSP DEIR Appendix H1 Noise and Vibration Assessment

DSP DEIR Appendix H2 Land Use Update Memo

DSP DEIR Appendix I Transportation Impact Analysis (21 MB PDF)

DSP DEIR Appendix J1 Utility Impact Study

DSP DEIR Appendix J2 Water Supply Assessment

Background

The Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) was adopted in 2003 to guide future development in the heart of Sunnyvale. The goal of the DSP is to create an enhanced downtown that continues to be the heart of the community, providing a variety of destinations in a pedestrian-friendly environment. Since the DSP's adoption in 2003, the area changed from a downtown shopping mall to a vibrant mixed-use environment with places for people to live, work and visit.

In 2015, three property owners approached the City with requests to allow for more development on several sites within the downtown area. The City Council considered the request and allowed the property owners to submit applications to amend the DSP. The City hired a consulting firm (Ascent Environmental, Inc) to assist with the update process.

Summary of 2020 DSP Update

The 2020 DSP update kept the Vision for Downtown (adopted in 2003) as "An enhanced traditional downtown serving the community with a variety of destinations in a pedestrian-friendly environment." It also did the following:

  • Acknowledged the changing retail environment
  • Included flexibility for increased density through incentive programs or Community Benefits
  • Strengthened the design guidelines
  • Included additional guidance to enhance the pedestrian experience and wayfinding (such as signs, gateways and other icons)

The City Council also approved Municipal Code text changes and a Zoning Map change to align with the DSP amendments. In addition, the City Council approved two Development Agreements (for two of the three developments). Lastly, the City Council adopted the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) prepared for the proposed changes and development agreements. The DSP Amendment, Development Agreements and EIR were all adopted and approved by the City Council in Aug. of 2020.

Downtown Parking District Study

The City Council also considered study findings and recommendations on the Downtown Parking District (2016 Council Study Issue - CDD 11-02 - PDF Download - Downtown Development Policies for Parking). Study results showed there is currently an overall surplus of parking that will continue in the foreseeable future. It recommended a series of near-term, mid-term and long-term actions to improve management of the parking district and support a successful and vibrant Downtown. Staff will return to the City Council with short-term recommendations.

Development Agreements

The City Council approved two separate Development Agreements for two sites within the DSP, STC Venture and Kasik. A Development Agreement is a tool used by cities to guarantee development approvals to the landowner and to provide additional benefits to both the City and a developer that are otherwise not available. The approved DSP amendments enable additional housing units, additional square footage of offices uses, and greater building height based on development incentive programs or a Development Agreement.

STC Venture (also known as CityLine) - The first site is most of the area commonly known as CityLine which are the Downtown blocks bound by Iowa, Washington, Sunnyvale and Mathilda avenues.

The Development Agreement includes these benefits to the City:

  • Contribution of $10.6M to the Community Benefit Fund
  • Housing affordable to Very Low, Low, Moderate and above Moderate income households
  • All-electric appliances in the residential units
  • Publicly accessible (and privately built and maintained) park space
  • Public parking for downtown visitors

Benefits for STC Venture include the right to:

  • Additional housing (up to 793 residential units)
  • Additional office (up to 653,000 square feet)
  • Taller buildings (5 to 7 stories for office and 6 to twelve stories for residential buildings)
  • Freeze of 30 months on impact fee amounts

Kasik (developer is Minkoff Group) - The second site is located on Altair Way between Taaffe Street and Aries Way. The site includes the former post office.

The Development Agreement includes these benefits to the City:

  • Contribution of $3M to the Community Benefit Fund
  • Off-site street improvements between the project site and Plaza del Sol
  • All-electric building

Benefits for Kasik/Minkoff Group include:

  • Additional office (up to 141,333 square feet)
  • Additional height (7 stories, up to 125 feet)
Last Updated: Jul 23, 2021
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