Dan Whisenhunt was visibly moved when speaking of his former employer Steve Jobs in front of the Cupertino City Council.
“A little more than two years ago, Steve shared his excitement about this project,” said Whisenhunt, Apple’s director of real estate and facilities, his voice breaking slightly. “It’s a campus to inspire innovation and collaboration between some of the finest engineers in the world.”
Just 10 days after the anniversary of the co-founder’s death, the giant “spaceship” campus is closer to landing in the city of Cupertino, which has a population of just over 60,000.
Whisenhunt’s speech enlivened a meeting that dragged on over four-and-a-half-hours–much longer than usual, Mayor Orrin Mahoney said–where locals fretted over the minutia of every intersection that might tangle the already clogged Silicon Valley commute. In the end, the council unanimously voted to OK the project. It still has one more hurdle to clear before Apple can break ground.
The Cupertino City Council met Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. local time, ostensibly to adopt a resolution to approve the certification of an environmental impact report and adopt a statement of overriding considerations of the Apple-proposed new circular office and events building.
Several city planners and other experts weighed in with their prepared statements, including analysis of environmental impacts of the current proposal presented by Adam Weinstein of LSA Associates, who covered potential project impacts in fine-grained detail.
Weinstein was followed by Jane Bierstedt of civil engineering firm, Fehr & Peers, who began a somewhat meandering discussion of the traffic impacts inherent with a project of this size. Several council members asked questions of Bierstedt, especially council member Mark Santoro, who wanted to know whether the analysis model took human nature into consideration.
Once the official reports were in, and associate planner Piu Ghosh reported Apple’s intent to go forward with the project under a joint development agreement Apple was proposing to the city of Cupertino, Whisenhunt took about 10 minutes–longer than most public testimony–to express Apple’s hope that the city council would go forward with the proposed plan.
Whisenhunt began with a new video about the proposed spaceship, which we’re including below. Apologies for the pixellated video; it’s the only screen capture available at publication time.
The video starts with the voice of Steve Jobs extolling how great this office building will be, quickly followed by venerable architect Sir Norman Foster, who designed the futuristic campus building.
Whisenhunt followed up the emotional video with some facts. The new Apple Campus 2 will bring $3 billion to the Cupertino economy, including $115 million in one time revenues. Whisenhunt claimed that the project will bring the local city 9,000 jobs initially, with another 8,000 Apple-related jobs long-term.
Whisenhunt then asked the members of the audience to stand if they supported the Apple project and development agreement. A majority of the group stood, each holding signs printed with “Support Apple Campus 2.”
The meeting took a much-needed break followed by a surprisingly heartfelt folksy public comment that continued for another two hours. Almost everyone who stood to give a public comment felt that Apple had put the town, founded in 1952, on the map.
The overwhelming support for Apple was touching, and included testimony from homeowners, former Apple employees, people who had fond memories of picking plums on the proposed site and retired teachers.
“My mom had a saying,” said one woman, who has lived in the town for 53 years “and that was: ‘Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.'”