Cupertino Matters

This was a busy week for city council, with two nights of commission interviews, followed by Mayor Steven Scharf’s State of the City address. Unlike previous years, Mayor Scharf declined the traditional noon Rotary club presentation that drew the business and daytime community, so his speech was given only once. Despite the free food, attendance was approximately half the Rotary attendance in the same room. Most of the attendees were city staff, commissioners, and others with city ties. There was a good turnout of elected officials but they were not recognized. No questions were entertained.

Applicants for city commissions were notified by email about the results, but the city has not yet posted them to the website. Newly appointed commissioners will have to be sworn  in, and then attend their first commission meeting.

 UPCOMING  CITY COUNCIL MEETING – Tues., Feb. 4, 2020, 6:45  Regular Meeting – Community Hall, 10350 Torre Avenue

Ceremonial presentations include (1) Presentation by Cupertino High School seniors on “What the youth would like to see in Vallco.”, 2) Certificates of recognition for the 2019 STEM Winners from Cupertino who participated in the Santa Clara County 2019 Synopsys Championship, and (3) Proclamation to Human Resources Manager Maria Delgado-Jimenez upon her retirement and recognizing her thirty-five years of dedicated service to the City of Cupertino.

The consent calendar is routine, noting that Item #6 includes a contract for $7,470,710 for Inspection Services for the Vallco Town Center SB 35 project.  This would be administered by the city, then reimbursed by the developer. Agenda Item #8 is authorization for the City Manager to enter into a funding agreement with VTA for Measure B funds related to Bicycle & Pedestrian Education, action needed to obtain Cupertino’s fair share of Measure B dollars.

Item #9: Second reading of an Ordinance Repealing Ordinance No. 006 Regarding Adoption of Robert’s Rules of Order and Amending Chapter 2.08 of the Cupertino Municipal Code Accordingly. This is likely to receive routine approval since it was previously approved at the Jan. 21 council meeting.

Item: #10: Relative to Recology Cupertino’s Franchise Agreement with the City: 1) Termination of the residential on-call, curbside Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) program, termination of collection of the HHW fee, refund of fees collected since January 2019, and establishment of an annual assessment of costs against Recology Cupertino (Recology) in an annual, not to exceed amount of $93,535; and 2) Authorization of Recology’s request for a Special Maximum Rate Adjustment of an additional $2.24 per month for residential customers in single-family homes and a rate increase of 3.93% for all other categories of Service Recipients to cover the increased cost of mixed recycling processing as a result of disruption and volatility of overseas recycling commodity markets for the period of October 2018 through January 31, 2021 (Special Maximum Rate Adjustment effective beginning January 1, 2020); and 3) Authorization to execute Franchise Agreement amendment for same.  This is a lengthy description of the renegotiation of the agreement with Recology which involves rate adjustments for garbage collection.  The city HHW program has been discontinued by the vendor plus there have been major changes in the market for recyclables since China implemented much stricter standards. This is an essential city service that council has to review and discuss but relies on staff to analyze and make recommendations.

Item #11:  First reading of Municipal Code Amendments to the Cupertino Municipal Code, repealing and replacing Cupertino Municipal Code Chapter 5.50 of Title 5 (Business Licenses and Regulations), adopting new policies to regulate the sale of tobacco, such as prohibiting the sale or distribution of electronic cigarette products, extending the look-back period for permit suspensions from 24 months to 60 months, requiring a minimum age for individuals selling tobacco products, and amending the administrative appeal process for permit violations.  This ordinance was previously approved by the council, but Santa Clara County was in the process of modifying their ordinances.  If Cupertino’s ordinance conforms to County amendments, the county Dept.of Environmental Health will pick up the costs of administering the program – a significant savings to the city. This is the revised ordinance, and should be approved expeditiously.

Item #12 Municipal Code Amendment to
Cupertino Municipal Code Section 2.20.010 to remove the City Clerk’s duty to attend each closed session of the City Council and keep closed session minutes; designate the City Manager as the City employee/official to attend each closed session of the City Council and keep closed session minutes.
  This is cleanup of municipal code by formalizing the current practice of the City Manager keeping the closed session minutes, rather than the City Clerk.  It should be non-controversial.

Item #13: Hearing regarding abatement of public nuisance from weeds or other fire hazards pursuant to provisions of Cupertino Municipal Code Chapter 9.08 and Resolution No. 19-141; hearing for impacted property owners to contest the matter of proposed abatement (continued from January 21, 2020). This is the annual process to require property owners to remove weeds and combustible materials from their properties. At the last council meeting, this should have been a routine approval to allow the county inspector to proceed with the annual process required by law for fire protection. As readers will recall, Mayor Scharf allowed the property owner at 10408 Menhart to ramble for over 20 minutes, ignoring council policy of 3 minutes, requesting an exemption, claiming that his property was a “butterfly habitat,” despite obvious rubbish in the front yard as shown in the presentation. Councilmember Liang Chao (recused from the main discussion) requested a personal exemption claiming she had mitigated the fire hazard, and did not want to be included in the standard county three-year cycle to ensure properties remain cleared of fire hazards. A third person asked to be removed as well and brought documents to show the property’s state. When the county inspector at the hearing was asked about each of the subject properties, he noted that under the county’s standards both the Menhart property and Councilmember Chao’s should remain on the list. This council considered weed abatement during 5 council meetings during 2019, with this the second meeting on this matter in 2020, wasting not only city but county time making personal exemptions for routine enforcement of so-important fire hazards. With Councilmember Willey absent, and Councilmember Chao recused, council failed to reach consensus, so this item is back.  By the end of the previous meeting, Mayor Scharf and Vice-Mayor Paul appeared ready to extend  personal exemptions to these few individuals and confirm the rest of the list, noting that they were the ones who showed up. Is that how the county’s fire safety rules should work? Why is council making special rulings to suit one of their own? Is this good governance? If your property is on this list, readers can request a personal exemption by completing a blue speaker card and speaking when Item #13 is considered.  If you object to allowing personal exemptions for fire hazard properties, consider sending an email or speaking in person, which is more effective than the empty room when these exemptions were requested at last council meeting.

Oral Communications may be continued to after Item #13 depending on volume. As usual, listen closely to full council reports at the end of the meeting.

 RECAP  PLANNING COMMISSION – Tues., Jan. 28, 2020, 6:45 p.m. – Regular Meeting 

YouTube: 5 hr. 50 min

This was a marathon meeting lasting almost 6 hours, with almost 4 hours spent in defining and prioritizing the commission work plan for next year.  Commissioner Vikram Saxena excused himself after the ADU review, escaping the long, drawn out work plan discussion.

Item #1: Election of Chair, Vice Chair and Committee:  Following the city council’s example of unorthodox selection, Kitty Moore was elected Chair, despite being the lead plaintiff in the Vallco SB 35 lawsuit against the city. Readers may be interested in hearing the explanation of her position; she now  cites unconstitutionality of SB 35 as a justification.  R.”Ray” Wang was elected Vice-Chair despite harassment of his political critics, an action City Council has been unwilling to act upon.

Item #5:  Municipal Code Amendments to the Cupertino Municipal Code for Accessory Dwelling Units, for clarifications, and consistency with recently adopted State Bills. The City’s existing ADU ordinance conflicts with state laws that became effective on Jan.1, 2020. The recommendations for modification of city ordinances were reviewed by the commission, following an excellent staff report.  ADUs do count toward the city’s RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Allocation) numbers. Recommendations were approved unanimously to be sent to the council for approval.

Item #6: Planning Commission Work Program FY 2020-2021. The commission (minus Commissioner Saxena) thrashed for 4 hours working through a long laundry list of potential work plan projects to be considered by staff in developing an overall work plan for consideration by the council in a few months. Lack of experience was painfully obvious as the new members added projects that were out of scope for the commission, ignoring the nuts-and-bolts of setting policy and codes for the city. The guidance to identify no more than 10 proposed City Work Program items and to identify the top 3 proposals was ignored, so staff will be challenged to craft a coherent plan.

Item #7: Study Session on the General Plan Annual Review/Implementation Plan and consider General Plan Policies and Strategies that could benefit from clarification.  As Item #6 ended about midnight, this item was continued until the next meeting. Due to school spring vacations, there may not be a quorum for the next regularly scheduled meeting.

 CUPERTINO COURIER  January 31, 2020

The cover photo and community brief on page 5 is “Grand opening coming soon: Japanese soul food restaurant is set to open a Cupertino location Feb. 7. Legal notices on pages 7 are (1) Second reading of the Green Building Code and (2) First reading of repeal of Robert’s Rules of Order. Page 17 is the Public Notice of Unclaimed Funds held by the city, generally under $100 per person.

Hope to see you at the council meeting on Tuesday.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor