September 1, 1999 Cupertino, California Since 1947 Cupertino Courier

City begins incremental annexation of Creston

Properties that redevelop will be part of Cupertino

By Michelle Ku

Five months after the successful annexation of Rancho Rinconada, the city is turning its attention toward the Creston neighborhood by annexing redeveloping properties one at a time. The 40-acre Creston neighborhood, which includes Ainsworth Drive, Baxter Avenue, Creston Drive and Starling Drive, is an unincorporated county pocket composed of approximately 150 homes.

The difference between Creston and the Garden Gate and Monta Vista areas--the other two unincorporated county pockets in Cupertino--is that they have Cupertino addresses while Creston does not. "[The Creston neighborhood] is unique because it actually has Los Altos addresses," said Bob Cowan, community development director. "It is a county island within the city's urban service area."

But when the county was establishing spheres of influence between cities in the early 1970s, Cupertino and Los Altos agreed that if the Creston area were to be redeveloped, it would eventually be annexed into Cupertino, Cowan said. When the city annexed Rancho, it was working with the county in a pilot project to ask neighbors in unincorporated areas to be annexed into the city. At the time, Rancho Rinconada, Monta Vista and Garden Gate were targeted for annexation because they have Cupertino addresses.

The Creston neighborhood was not marked as an annexation area because the level of redevelopment was low and there would be complications with annexing a county island with Los Altos addresses. But since then, redevelopment activity in Creston has increased and the county is asking if Cupertino is interested in annexing redeveloped Creston properties.

"We didn't anticipate [redevelopment] happening in this area," Cowan said. "This is a fairly affluent area and some of the pockets have been developed. There are large lots in there and folks want to tear the house down and rebuild." Cupertino is faced with three options in dealing with Creston. The city can choose not to annex any homes, annex the entire neighborhood at one time or to annex the area one home at a time as it is redeveloped. City staff has recommended that annexation be handled as it is in the Garden Gate and Monta Vista areas--one at a time as they are redeveloped. "Our suggestion is to proceed with the annexation through an incremental basis," Cowan said. "It's not the best situation, but eventually it will be. Thirty years ago the city and Los Altos said this area should be in Cupertino eventually."

The city decided not to annex Creston all at once because of the possible resistance from residents. "You won't likely have neighbors say yes to change from a Los Altos mailing address to a Cupertino address," Cowan said. The Creston neighborhood could be annexed without changing the area's Los Altos zip code. In Cupertino, the Gate of Heaven Cemetery has a Los Altos address, and the Centremark Apartment complex on Stevens Creek Boulevard is in San Jose although it has a Cupertino mailing address.

But such discrepancies between zip codes and address boundaries could create jurisdictional confusion as well as fire and police service disruptions. To avoid disruptions in service with the Sheriff's Office because of journalistic issues, the annexed Creston homes should have a Cupertino address.

The city doesn't have a choice in annexing Creston because that would be contrary to the county's general plan. According to the county's plan, a city is required to annex a home into if the residents remodel their homes through the removal of an existing building and the construction of a new one.