Cupertino Matters

Vallco has heated up again. The judge’s ruling on the Vallco SB 35 plan is due by March 19. In the meantime, as forewarned by many advocacy organizations, Sand Hill Property (SHP) has filed a claim against the city as a prelude to initiating a lawsuit over the downzoning of Vallco enacted by the majority city council on August 20, 2019. In a letter from Managing Director Reed Moulds, SHP explains its position and provides a link to the letter to the City of Cupertino which has not yet been posted to the city website. SHP had previously outlined their objections in a letter dated August 19. Demolition continues at Vallco, and council finally authorized agreements for consultants to perform long overdue plan reviews for submissions to the city in December, 2018. This is a city which had ZERO housing development applications submitted in 2019, yet this council claims they are “pro housing.”

Don’t forget to vote! Ballots have been mailed to all registered voters. Voters may use this site to check their status. Ballots can be returned by mail or dropped off at a convenient location; vote centers provide more extensive assistance: The League of Women Voters (LWV) website provides concise summaries of ballot measures (including the 3 local measures for our schools) as well as candidates, customized to your mailing address.

Your voice is important.  Information on expressing your opinion via emails and oral communications with the city can be found at

UPCOMING  CITY COUNCIL MEETING – Mon.,  Feb. 24, 2020, 5:30 Special Meeting – Community Hall, 10350 Torre Avenue

This is a Televised Special Meeting Study Session and represents the second strategic planning session. Rather than a single day, the planning process this year involves 4 separate sessions. The first was held on Feb. 10, involving review of progress on the FY2019-20 City Work Plan and development of Goals for FY2020-21. These goals were then approved by city council on Feb. 18: (1) public engagement and transparency, (2) sustainability, (3) affordable housing, (4) transportation, and (5) quality of life.

This is the second session with a single agenda item: Review Proposed FY 2020-21 City Work Program and provide inputProjects on this plan were compiled from staff and the commissions, as well as folding in multi-year projects from the 2019-2020 work plan. In addition, some projects were moved to the capital improvement projects (CIP) plan. Others were moved to operations not otherwise considered projects. Some have been cancelled or put on hold. The items on the proposed plan are organized around the goals adopted by council. These need to be reviewed carefully, with feedback to council on missing projects. This is a study session, so changes will be made before the final plan goes to council for approval. Almost certainly, some pet projects will be proposed, and these may or may not get included.

The section on affordable housing is notable for the absence of any commentary on zoning reform. It’s hard to see how more affordable housing—or any significant quantity of housing, for that matter—can be built if it is effectively illegal in many parts of the city.

Two additional sessions will be held: (1) March 3 – Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Session #1, which will probably include review of 2019-20 projects. There may be discussion of fiscal constraints, which this council doesn’t comprehend. (2) March 30 – Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Session #2: Expect a proposed 2020-21 project list that will be brought to council for approval later in the year.

UPCOMING  PLANNING COMMISSION – Tues., Feb. 25, 2020, 6:45 p.m. – Regular Meeting – Community, 10350 Torre Avenue

In addition to approving the minutes, there is only one review item on the agenda:

Item #2 Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Annual Housing Element Progress Report (APR) as specified by HCD (per Gov. Code § 65400(a)). This is a report required by the state Housing and Community Development (HCD) authority. The planning commission reviews the report for completeness, but does not formally approve it. Table B of the Report showing Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) Progress is particularly troubling. The only affordable units that have been permitted in 2019 were 24 ADUs which are considered Moderate Income, for grand total of 74 Total Units from 2015 to 2019. The 19 Very Low Income units are The Veranda; no other Very Low or Low Income units have been permitted or built in the city. This leaves a shortfall of 756 units needed for the RHNA period. The city did not receive any housing development applications in 2019 (staff report). The next RHNA cycle is expected to add thousand more units, yet this city council has failed to acknowledge the issue. See this letter from community advocacy group Cupertino for All and co-signed by numerous other local organizations and individuals, including three former Cupertino mayors, imploring the council to act with the urgency the housing crisis demands.

RECAP  CITY COUNCIL MEETING – Tues., Feb. 18, 2020, 6:45  Regular Meeting, Closed Session 5:30

Youtube: Part 1: 3 hr. 2 min;  Part 2: 2 hr. 47 min.

This was an unnecessarily long meeting ending at 12:40 a.m. with most speakers leaving before their items of interest were heard. Council continued the closed session item regarding the performance evaluation for the City Attorney to a later date. Items #1 – 12 on the consent calendar were approved unanimously. Mayor Steven Scharf pulled Item #13: Approval of Library Commission’s Recommendation of Jin Jing Yang for appointment as the new Cupertino Poet Laureate allowing the new poet laureate and the library commission to speak, and take pictures. A member of the public pulled Item #14: Award of Construction Inspection Services, Plan Review Services, and Public Works Inspection Services contracts for the Vallco Town Center SB 35 project. This was a continuation from the Feb. 4 meeting, so little discussion of this long-overdue agreement ultimately occurred.  This item was approved unanimously.

Item #15:  Second reading of Municipal Code Amendments to the Cupertino Municipal Code, adopting new policies to regulate the sale of tobacco was also approved unanimously.

Item #16: Second reading of Municipal Code Amendment to Cupertino Municipal Code Section 2.20.010 replacing the City Clerk with the City Manager as the designated staff official for attending and keeping minutes for closed sessions. Councilmember Liang Chao had second thoughts about her earlier vote, which led to a discussion of access to closed session minutes. This was sent back to the city attorney for clarification.

Item #17: Municipal Code Amendments to Chapter 19.112 – Accessory Dwelling Units; Chapter 19.20 – Permitted, Conditional and Excluded Uses in Agricultural and Residential Zones; and Chapter 19.08 – Definitions; for Clarifications, and Consistency with recently adopted State Bills. Not unexpectedly, council hashed over these changes extensively for an hour and a half, despite unanimous approval by the Planning Commission. Effective Jan 1, 2020, state laws mandate changes in the city’s existing ADU ordinances. The proposed changes are the minimum to meet the new state requirements. The discussion centered around restriction of ADU’s, rather than encouragement—an odd position given the General Plan’s stated vision of favoring the development of these naturally affordable homes. The 74 ADUs permitted since the beginning of the current Housing Element cycle constitute the entirety of the city’s moderate income housing production. Staff indicated most applications so far are for the purpose of housing aging parents and adult children. Ultimately, this item received unanimous approval.

Item #18: Adoption of a Mitigated Negative Declaration, mitigation measures, a mitigation monitoring and reporting program and adoption of the Cupertino Parks and Recreation System Master Plan. Council took an hour to approve this plan, which should have been a pro forma recognition of a job well done, and time to move on to implementation plans for specific areas. Council unanimously approved at 11 p.m.

Item #19: Receipt of the Jan. 28, 2020 Public Review Draft Report from the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), entitled “Special Study: Governance Options, Rancho Rinconada Recreation and Park District,” and provide direction to staff. This special district is the only special district in Santa Clara County, created in 1955 in unincorporated county land between Cupertino, San Jose, and Santa Clara, the same year Cupertino incorporated as a city. Santa Clara County encouraged annexation of islands of unincorporated parcels into adjacent cities in the 1990s to provide more coherent services. The Rancho Rinconada area was annexed to Cupertino in 1999; other similar islands followed in the years thereafter. The special recreation district, however, remained autonomous. There are 1266 parcels in the district with 2 homes in San Jose; the rest are in Cupertino. This small park and pool (less than $1M in revenue) is a legacy which has recently suffered various governance challenges, including maintaining a board quorum. The staff report outlined available options: (1) continue operations as is, (2) merge the district with the City of Cupertino, or (3) reorganize the district as a Subsidiary District to the City of Cupertino. The request to add this item to the 2019-2020 Parks and Recreation and the City Council work plans for evaluation of fiscal and staffing impacts was approved unanimously.

Item #20: Project update, report on bids, and contract award for the McClellan Ranch Preserve Community Garden Improvement Project (Project No. 2017-15). Due to the late hour, the five master gardeners who wanted to support this project went home. The contract for community gardens was nonetheless approved unanimously.

Item #21: Adoption of FY 2020-21 Council Goals. This item reflects formal adoption of goals from the Feb. 10 strategic planning session. The item was approved 4-0-1 with Sinks leaving the chamber at midnight due to an early morning meeting in San Francisco.

Item #22 Amendment to Council Committee assignments to appoint one primary member and one alternate member to the County of Santa Clara Housing and Community Development Advisory Committee. This is a new committee formed by merging two other county housing-related committees. Council appointed Mayor Steven Scharf as the primary representative, and Vice-Mayor Darcy Paul as the alternate on a 4-0-1 vote with Sinks absent.

 CUPERTINO COURIER  February 21, 2020

The cover photo and feature story on page 5 is Colorful twist on murder classic: ‘Edwin Drood’ is a Dickens of a show for Foothill, playing at our sister community college in Los Altos. Community briefs include (1) city commissioners named, (2) meal packers wanted to assist Cupertino Rotary in packing meals for hunger relief, and (3) clean water rebates for hardscape improvements. Page 8 is Foothill-De Anza, Cupertino Union ask voters to pass bond measure, parcel tax hikes, by Thy Vo previously published in the Mercury News, highlighting the need for community support to maintain the quality of our schools. Legal notices on pages 32 – 33 are the public hearing for the De Anza hotel (replacing Goodyear Tire) scheduled for March 3.

Won’t you join us at the planning session for the city Work Program tonight?

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor