Cupertino Matters

Be sure to vote Tuesday in the Primary election!  In addition to mailing your ballot, there are two drop-off boxes in front of city hall across from the library. All vote centers with more assistance are open: 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 – Tues., Mar. 3, 2020, 6:45 Regular Meeting, Closed Session 5:30 – Community Hall, 10350 Torre Avenue

The closed session is a continuation of the performance evaluation for the City Attorney from the Feb. 18 meeting. Ceremonial matters include (1) Recognition of Fine Arts Commission Young Artists Award winners, (2) Proclamation to Santa Clara County Librarian Nancy Howe upon her retirement and recognizing her dedicated service to the community, (3) Proclamation recognizing March as “Red Cross Month.”, and (4) Proclamation to Carl Valdez for being awarded Superintendent of the Year by the Maintenance Superintendents Association (MSA) of the San
Francisco Bay Area. The consent calendar is routine.

Item #10:  Second reading for Municipal Code Amendments to Chapter 19.112 – Accessory Dwelling Units; The first reading was approved unanimously after an hour and a half of discussion so this should be a routine approval of state required changes to the municipal code. Given that only 74 ADU units were built five years into the current RHNA cycle (averaging a whopping 15 units a year), shouldn’t council be considering additional measures to incentivize housing production, instead of opposing state bills, as Legislative Review Committee did last year? Most units are built for aging parents and adult children.

Item #11: Consider approving a new 155-room seven-story hotel (24-hour operations) with underground parking, event meeting rooms, a ground floor restaurant with separate bar, and a rooftop lounge with separate bar by demolishing a commercial building with an area of 8,323 sq. ft. City Actions would include General Plan Amendments. (Continued from January 21, 2020)  This is the latest iteration of the De Anza Hotel planned for the Goodyear Tire Store site adjacent to the Cupertino Hotel. This application was delayed from a previous council meeting at the last minute by the Laborers International Union of North America which filed a nearly 300 page objection to delay the project. The city then responded with a 50 page document with responses to the objections, none of which were material. This project is now completing the full approval cycle after passing the council gateway process in January, 2019, over ten years after the initial proposal to redevelop the site. The design has improved, and the project includes community benefits. The project would contribute approximately $1 M in Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) to the city General Fund, as well as one-time impact fees. The Planning Commission approved this item on December 10 on a 4-0-1 vote. This is a good project, but previous council actions on this and similar projects have provoked lengthy questions from councilmembers, so approval isn’t certain.

Item #12:  Approve the Mid-Year Financial Report and budget adjustments for Fiscal Year 2019-20.  The staff report deserves scrutiny for a better understanding of city financials.  The Transient Occupancy Tax is $1.1M, up 35% over last year as a result of the opening of the Hyatt House. Opening of the Cupertino Hotel and approval of the DeAnza Hotel are estimated to generate an additional $2.2M. On page 12, note that the cost of developing a new Specific Plan for Vallco as requested by the council as a result of their actions to downsize Vallco is estimated to be $1,069,000. Previously on May 7, 2019, council repealed the Specific Plan developed by the previous council with significant community benefits The report does not reflect the additional legal costs involved in the lawsuit against the city by Sand Hill Properties for the downzoning of the Vallco property on Aug. 20, 2019. Is this responsible fiscal management by this council? The Performance Measures on streamlining information processing for compliance with State requirements and facilitate independent and transparent access to public information may generate discussion, depending on the lateness of the meeting.

Item #13: General Plan Annual Report and suggestions to further clarify General Plan Policies and Strategies. The city is required to generate this annual report.  Absent meaningful development activity in the city, the Planning Commission spent 5 meetings restructuring the reporting format and reviewing the 69 page document, line by line.  The commission also made suggestions to further clarify the report. The action is to accept the report.

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

 RECAP CITY COUNCIL MEETING – Mon., Feb. 24, 2020, 5:30 Strategic Planning Session
YouTube: Part 1: 1hr. 14 min.; Part 2: 1 hr. 56 min.

This second strategic planning session on the proposed 2020-21 City Work Plan extended well beyond the scheduled 7:30 end time, with council member Darcy Paul leaving at 7:45.  City Manager, Deb Feng, gave an overview of the plan and organization. She emphasized that adding new projects throughout the year affects the ability of staff to complete the program approved by council. The work plan as presented is doable with current staff. The ground rules for modifications was that any item added to the plan required removing another item — a concept that new council members had trouble accepting.

The proposed plan was organized by council goals (1) public engagement and transparency, (2) sustainability, (3) affordable housing, (4) transportation, and (5) quality of life. Projects on this plan were compiled from staff and the commissions, as well as folding in multi-year projects from the 2019-2020 work plan. Later in the session, these projects were then listed by city departments. During public comment, a letter from Cupertino for All  regarding the total lack of multifamily housing applications in 2019 was brought to the attention of council, followed by other speakers with regard to housing. Resident Neil McClintock spoke very passionately about providing a voice for the younger generation.

Two additional sessions will be scheduled later to consider Capital Improvement Projects (CIP).

 RECAP PLANNING COMMISSION – Tues., Feb. 25, 2020, 6:45 p.m. – Regular Meeting 
YouTube:  1hr. 24 min.

This was a short meeting, with a single item on the agenda, a report mandated by the state Housing and Community Development (HCD) and auto populated by the city housing manager:  Annual Housing Element Progress Report (APR) as specified by HCD (per Gov. Code § 65400(a)) The discussion was dominated by new commissioners complaining about the assignment of RHNA numbers, implying unfairness in the process.

Nonetheless, Table B of the Report showing Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) Progress clearly documents the lack of housing production, with only 74 Total ADU units from 2015 to 2019 and the Veranda with 19 units of very low income senior housing. NO units of low income housing were produced. The staff report was amended to state that while no new applications for multi-family units were submitted in 2019, the Oaks application was submitted in 2018, but not deemed completed until 2019, which doesn’t change the situation. A side note is that there have been NO applications for the $6 M housing fund impact fees collected by the city. Responding to public comment and a letter from Cupertino for All, at the end of the meeting Chair Kitty Moore changed her position to request a study session on housing element sites and transportation in advance of the release of RHNA numbers for Cupertino.

 CUPERTINO COURIER February 28, 2020

The cover photo and feature story on page 5 is “Going Native: Local business has smart approach to sprucing up Community Services”, regarding a landscape project for West Valley Community Services, written by Anne Gelhaus. Page 8 is “Defunct Vallco Mall: Developer files claim against Cupertino over ‘downzoning’ vote”, by Thy Vo, previously published in the Mercury News. On page 9 Tim Shively president of the Foothill-DeAnza Faculty Association makes the case to vote for Measures G and H in his commentary “Bond, tax measures would benefit community colleges. Legal notices on pages 17 are miscellaneous notices regarding RFPs for public work projects and action on ordinances at the Feb.18 council meeting, plus the upcoming hearing on upcoming grants before the Housing Commission on March 12.

Have a great week, and hope to see you at council meeting on Tuesday night!

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor