- TONIGHT Tues., Mar. 24, 2020, City Council, 6:00 Teleconference Special Meeting
- Postponed – Planning Commission, Tues, Mar. 24
- Recap – City Council Meeting, Mar. 17, 2020
Does the last week feel like a year? Last Monday afternoon, Santa Clara County and five other Bay Area counties were put under an order to shelter-in-place at their place of residence until April 7, unless extended. Non-essential public facing businesses were closed, and residents ordered to stay home unless required by necessity elsewhere. Then on Thursday, Governor Newsom issued a similar order for the entire state of California. The economic impact was felt immediately with extensive layoffs in the hospitality and service industries. The City of Cupertino has compiled a list of essential businesses that remain open. Grocery stores offer early morning hours for vulnerable residents. The restaurants that remain open offer takeout and/or delivery only. The Cupertino Chamber of Commerce has a similar list. CupertinoToday.com lists open restaurants in the surrounding area.
All city facilities are closed, including city playgrounds, though parks are still available for walkers. In-person meetings have been cancelled in favor of teleconferencing. City council will meet virtually. Commission meetings have been cancelled or postponed.
The economic engine of Silicon Valley has hit pause — passenger traffic at San Jose airport is down 90%, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, as international flights have been cancelled along with cutbacks in domestic flights. A Federal Medical Station is being established at the Santa Clara Convention Center to provide additional hospital beds. Nationally, the stock market continues to plunge, an indication of lack of confidence in the handling of the crisis and future prospects.
So how can you help the community through the next new few weeks, or even longer?
- Follow safety guidelines from public health
- Order takeout from local restaurants that are still open. They need to keep their businesses alive and their employees employed. Service-sector workers are often among those with the least means to weather a crisis such as this. Order gift cards even if you aren’t ordering food.
- Volunteer at West Valley Community Services (WVCS). Most of their regular volunteers are 65+, and they have been sent home. But WVCS still needs people to sort food to distribute to their food insecure clients. The need for services will sharply increase with job losses.
- Contribute money to WVCS for not just food, but also rent assistance for those with a sudden loss of income. We need to prevent homelessness for those who have reduced hours, partial or no unemployment compensation, and no sick leave.
- Reach out to your neighbors, and become aware of their needs, establishing community. Nextdoor has been valuable in linking up neighbors in need, despite its limitations in reaching across Cupertino neighborhoods and the numerous daily posts regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Consider donating (or crafting, if you’re a sewer!) face masks and other personal protective equipment to local medical establishments. These can help alleviate a lack of supply in some places and reduce the spread of the coronavirus, especially to doctors, nurses, and other medical staff.
Your voice is important. Information on expressing your opinion via emails and oral communications with the city can be found at https://cupertinomatters.org/express-your-opinion/
UPCOMING CITY COUNCIL MEETING –Tues., Mar. 24, 2020, 6:00 Special Televised Meeting
This agenda posted barely 24 hours in advance and includes a number of items per last week’s council direction aimed at alleviating the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic:
Item #1: Urgency Ordinance Imposing a Moratorium on Evictions for Nonpayment of Rent by Tenants Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. This emergency ordinance would prevent evictions for failure to pay rent for the next 45 days, and can be extended by council. This would cover April 1 and May 1 rent payments. This is an urgent need in our community to prevent families from falling into homelessness due to loss of income from the pandemic. This item deserves unanimous approval of the council.
Item #2: Emergency Assistance Funds for Tenants at Risk of Eviction due to Impacts of by the Novel Coronavirus (“Emergency Assistance Funds”) This item would authorize $50,000 in funds to assist tenants at risk of eviction due to the impacts of COVID-19. It authorizes the City Manager to negotiate an agreement with West Valley Community Services for implementation. This item tracks closely with a specific request from the Cupertino for All letter of March 17. This item also deserves unanimous approval of the council.
Item #3: Consideration of an Emergency Ordinance to provide tenant protection to commercial tenants. The current staff recommendation is to utilize federal, state and regional economic relief programs—resources largely not available to families. Some programs are detailed in the council packet, and more relief is likely to become available as a recession looms.
This meeting plus a Special Meeting scheduled for Mar. 31 will be teleconference meetings. The Apr. 7 regular meeting will also be a teleconference. The city is working to allow for videographic public comments.
POSTPONED PLANNING COMMISSION – Tues., Mar. 24, 2020, 6:45 p.m. – Regular Meeting
RECAP CITY COUNCIL MEETING – Tues., Mar. 17, 2020
YouTube: 1 hr. 23. min.
This meeting was held at Community Hall with a different arrangement to allow for social spacing. Mayor Steven Scharf participated remotely, with Vice-Mayor Darcy Paul actually conducting the meeting. It was a short meeting since the original agenda for the Regular Meeting was postponed until Apr.7, and is likely to change. These were the items on the agenda:
Item #1: Ratification of a proclamation of local emergency related to COVID-19. This proclamation of a local emergency authorized City Manager Deb Feng to request services from other jurisdictions and allows Cupertino to take addition measures it ordinarily could not. New members of the council sought information on the level of aid, which has yet to be determined at the state and national level. The item was approved unanimously.
Item #2: Actions Related to Income Loss and Evictions Due to Novel Coronavirus. Council took no decisive action regarding this emergency ordinance to prevent renter evictions due to loss of income. New members of council deliberated over the differences between business losses and individual renter protections. Vice-Mayor Paul, kept timely order of comments to keep the matter on track. Ultimately, council directed the city attorney to review other ordinances and return in a week with draft legislation. Each councilmember asked the city attorney to pay special attention to specific issues: Councilmember Rod Sinks asked that special attention be paid to the recommendations requested by equity advocacy group, Cupertino for All, and industry advocacy group, the California Apartment Association. Councilmember Liang Chao asked whether commercial tenants could receive similar anti-eviction protections. Vice Mayor Paul asked that whatever protections are offered be made retroactive to the date the local emergency was declared. Mayor Steven Scharf, a landlord, requested some kind of distinction between large corporate landlords and small landlords.
CUPERTINO COURIER March 20, 2020
The cover photo and feature story on page 5 is Coronavarius: Helping the most vulnerable, Food banks prepare to long term effects of pandemic, written by Anne Gelhaus. These include West Valley Community Services and Second Harvest. Page 8 has an article about closure of the senior centers in the area, including Cupertino and Live Oak Adult Day Services, Coronavirus: South Bay senior centers take a break during this pandemic. Isolation of seniors with the closure of senior centers and libraries is particularly problematic since they enjoy few other options. Community briefs on page 5 include (1) Library programs cancelled, (2) Homestead wins mock trials, and (3) Orchid Sale at Main Street, which has likewise been cancelled.
Take this time to walk in a local park (maintaining appropriate distancing of course!), go biking, phone a friend, catch up on reading or TV, learn some new technology, and work on taxes.
Publisher and Editor