Sunnyvale neighbors call Apple’s spaceship campus a ‘constant hell’

“At the end of Nightingale Avenue, a tall yellow brick facade now blocks the view of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the south. Residents call it the ‘prison wall,'” Seung Lee reports for The Mercury News. “For Apple, the facade is part of the 100,000-square-foot wellness center at its brand-new ‘spaceship’ campus. But for some of the Nightingale residents, the prison wall — nicknamed for its drab color — symbolizes four years of pent-up frustration living next door to Apple’s huge construction project.”

“As Apple puts the finishing touches on its $5 billion campus set on 175 acres, Sunnyvale’s Birdland neighborhood has become a microcosm of the tensions that can erupt as tech expands and residents deal with clogged streets, fewer parking spaces and higher housing costs. ‘We feel neglected,’ said Bonnie Lieberman, who is raising two children in the neighborhood. “’I feel like because we’re on the fringe of the city, we don’t get as much concern,'” Lee reports. “Residents complain of drivers cutting through the neighborhood to avoid heavy traffic; constant construction noise, sometimes lasting past midnight; a halo of light above Apple Park at night; dirt and dust pollution, which occasionally cakes their cars; and sharp objects on Homestead and nearby streets puncturing car tires. Apple says it has been quick to respond to complaints, even providing coupons for car washes.”

“‘My life has been a constant hell since October 2013,’ said IrisAnn Nelson, who has lived on Nightingale Avenue since 1996. “’We get treated like we don’t matter. Cupertino doesn’t care because we’re not in Cupertino. Sunnyvale doesn’t seem to care either,'” Lee reports. “Housing values in the neighborhood have doubled since 2011, according to Art Maryon of Intero Real Estate Services. And in the first six months of 2017, 24 houses in Birdland sold on average at $1,690,350, according to Maryon. The increase in property values mirrors what has happened in the rest of Sunnyvale, and across the Bay Area, but Birdland’s proximity to Apple Park makes it even more desirable.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If it’s too much for you, sell your house and move.

Only in the land of fruits and nuts would they piss and moan about some dust, noise, and free car washes as their property values rocket from $800K to $1.69 million in 72 months.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “David G.” for the heads up.]

32 Comments

        1. Yes, but if they bought at $400K and sell at $1,600K and buy a new place for even a low $800K, they will need to pay properly tax on $800K and not $400K every year gong forward. Maybe leasing their home is the way to go.

          1. I’m not sure anyone will feel sorry for them if they have to pay additional prop tax after a cap gain of $1.2M on their old home. What’s the mill rate in Sunnyvale? Okay, on the net it says 7.51 per mill, which is below the national avg of 11.8.

            If they were to pay 7.51 on an incremental $400k prop, that would be an additional $3000 a year. Honestly, not too many people would feel that bad for them.

    1. Increase property values are nice for many people, but are only one part of the equation. Living next to a major construction zone for five years has to be frustrating and irritating.

      And some people value their neighborhood as it was over the changes that may lead to increased property values. You see this quite often in rural areas that are overtaken by urban and suburban sprawl and development. Their way of life changes and they tend to get pushed out.

      I have sympathy for the people who feel angry and inconvenienced by the Apple Campus. But you cannot always control or avoid land development issues. Sometimes you have to choose between moving or living with it.

      1. On the other hand, they weren’t living next to unspoiled wilderness. This was an HP Office Park before Apple built the spaceship. Sorry — but this is like people who move near an airport and then complain about the noise.

        1. Not quite. Maybe more like living next to a small local airport (that only serves small private aircraft) that is converted to a major international hub serving jumbo jets.

  1. With a profit like that, I would sell even if it didn’t bother me. Move to the Midwest where you can get better schools and a 4 bed, 3 bath house for under $300,000.

  2. The problem isn’t property values. It’s the resulting property tax burden for long-time residents. You say take the money and run. But it is their home.

    Do you want to move just because a new rich neighbor arrives?

    1. Exactly. So strange to see all these people whose advice is “if you don’t like something, just leave!”
      I’ll bet they also say to themselves: “Nobody better ever try to kick me out of my house!”
      The cognitive dissonance must be uncomfortable. Then again, perhaps they just lack the empathy to see themselves in the place of the person they are dismissing.

      1. In California, property taxes can only increase by a small amount every year, even if property values skyrocket. It’s only reset to market value upon a sale.

        Of course, Prop 13 has a hidden benefit for companies: the average homeowner in California moves every seven years. The average business in California moves every 30 years. (These are AVERAGES, mind you). So while Prop 13 was sold as a way to protect grandma and grandpa from having to sell their homes to pay the property tax, the REAL beneficiaries are businesses who often pay laughably low property tax.

        There has been a movement to exempt businesses from Prop 13 protection, but that movement has never progressed very far.

  3. I have been to Cupertino and I would move there instantly. You can come live in my neck of the woods, we have dust mixed with snow in the winter. We even throw rocks on our roads to keep cars from flying off the freeway. Those who sell and install windshields make quite a living here. I will swap my Calgary home for yours in Cupertino in a heart beat!

  4. Seriously! What are they complaining about? They’ve been heavily compensated by the value of their homes doubling. Time to move on. And if they don’t own and they’re just renting, they have no right to bitch about it because they have an opportunity to move someplace else every year.

  5. I definitely think I would have a bit of a problem if my property tax doubled. I could afford to pay the tax but it wouldn’t be easy. I likely consider selling my house if I could quickly get double the money for it. I would definitely come out ahead so I’d have no reason to complain.

  6. I’ve been living with constant construction in my neighborhood for over 10 years and yes it’s annoying. The constant noise, increased traffic, contruction waste have tested my patience. Contruction is not even completed with another 3-4 years left of building on the horizon. When I moved to the hood we had less than 10 houses in a 6 block radius, we now have over 200 houses in the same space. I used to be surrounded by a natural forest of trees, now it’s only houses. What Apple has done to Sunnyvale is a vast improvement from what the neighborhood used to be and property values have gone up to reflect that. In another year property values will increase even further making it much easier for the complainers to leave.

  7. Yes, leaving your home can be very tough, but there are a lot of places you could instantly retire with $1.6 million in your pocket. Where I live, you could by a stunning house/property for $1,000,000.

  8. Construction noise is one thing, it’s another to be bothered by noise after the site has moved into its operation phase.

    If it’s construction noise, you can always rent the house out for a few years while the site is completed. It’s a different matter altogether if it’s noisy from operation.

    Where I’m from, there was a spate of live music venues (think similar to Nashville) forced to close because of gentrification: new neighbours complaining about noise, venues couldn’t afford the soundproofing.

    Faced with the potential decimation of the creative economy, the government passed a new law: if you move into a noisy area, put up with it. On the other hand, if a noisy neighbour moves in, it’s their responsibility to keep the noise down.

    If Apple’s campus makes noise after it’s constructed, they really should be shouldering the burden rather than residents who have lived there for decades. This is simple fairness, and small change for a company that is worth more than the GDP of many, many countries.

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