Cupertino Matters

Was it only a month ago–March 16–when the first stay-at-home order was issued? It seems much longer given the breadth of disruption to our daily lives. Schools remain closed through the end of the term, so parents are homeschooling, yet many also have jobs. For those who no longer do, feeding food-insecure students takes on heightened importance. Evictions are suspended but rents are still due and mortgages still need to be paid. Layoffs continue, as organizations and businesses pivot to new ways of delivering services and products, and California’s unemployment insurance system is overwhelmed.

Our community has responded to deliver PPE (personal protective equipment) to our medical facilities, though local senior facilities remain short or dangerously low. Our healthcare providers, grocery store workers, delivery services and first responders have done an incredible job, meanwhile, juggling their own family needs. As protective measures to “bend the curve” reduce the rate of infection, our medical facilities have avoided being overrun. While researchers focus on developing a better understanding of the epidemiology of the COVID-19 virus and work toward a vaccine and treatments, business will not return to “normal” levels of activity, whatever those are, in the short term. The hospitality and travel industries won’t revive for many months. On the other hand, video conferencing has become the norm, as church services, club meetings, and family celebrations move to virtual platforms. Organizations such as the library and senior center have to find new ways to provide services, while in-person Parks and Recreation classes remain on indefinite hold.

Our small businesses sit very much at risk, since many do not have cash reserves to weather an unexpected and drastic downturn such as this. The Chamber of Commerce and the city have provided assistance in applying for federal and state funding. So how can you help keep your favorite businesses alive? Sand Hill Properties is matching meals bought at Main Street restaurants to provide meals to our local school district students. The Chamber has a meal donation program to allow patrons to purchase meals to pay for meals from local restaurants to be donated to those in need. You can buy meals through this page on the Chamber’s websiteFast Company describes another way to help our local businesses by splitting your shopping to include specialty retailers, instead of using “one-stop” stores for all your needs. In an opinion letter in the March 17, 2020 issue of the Mercury News,  local resident (and reader), Connie Cunningham suggests paying your hairstylist/barber, personal services, housecleaners and yard workers even if they aren’t able to provide services. They, too, need an income while sheltering-in-place with their families. If you or someone you know is in need or is having difficulty navigating safety-net resources like unemployment insurance, disability insurance, etc., the county’s COVID-19 Assistance Navigation program can help or connect you with those who can. Their number is 408-809-2124.

Lost in the pandemic,  the official Census on April 1 still continues, though knocking on doors has been suspended. Field operations will resume June 1, with the dates for responses extended into fall. To date, there has been an approximately 50% response rate to this crucial count, which determines funds at both the state and federal levels. Spread the word about the importance of getting counted,  particularly the hard-to-count population–seniors, children and minority populations—share these videos:

Last week, the Fair Political Practices Commission formally fined two Better Cupertino election committees that supported Measure C in 2016 for $6,500 on three counts.  You can read the complaint by local resident J.R. Fruen here. Despite the complaint and ongoing investigation at the time, now vindicated by the FPPC’s fine, the current Better Cupertino-dominated council appointed  Xiangchen “Minna” Xu to the Parks and Recreation Commission in 2019.

Also last week, the Legislative Review Committee met on last-minute notice at the urging of Mayor Scharf, primarily to discuss sending a letter criticizing the League of Cities’ housing production ”blueprint. ‘Was this meeting really necessary, especially on such short notice? Surely councilmembers have more urgent business to attend to in support of the city, its residents, its students, and its businesses than expending time and resources on trying to influence the housing policy positions of a lobbying organization. Are these your priorities? A draft of the letter will come to city council. It is not presently on the agenda for this evening’s council meeting, though a notice for a full council meeting on April 22 (tomorrow) appeared just today. At the time of this writing, no agenda was yet available for that meeting.

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., Apr. 21, 2020, 6:45 Regular Meeting; 6:15 – Closed Session – Teleconference

The 5:15 Closed Session is Anticipated litigation: Possible initiation of Litigation, expected to be a continuation of an item on March 31, involving a coalition of cities and counties. Whom does council plan to sue? No details are provided.

Item #2 is the City Manager update on COVID-19 response efforts. Listen closely for economic impacts and status of rental assistance. You may want to join the virtual coffee hour on Zoom with City Manager Deb Feng and Councilmember Liang Chao on  Fri, Apr. 24, 8:30 – 9:30. to ask questions.

Item #3 is Report on Homeless. There are several homeless camps in Cupertino, which require city attention.

Item #4 is Report on Committee assignments, expected to be minimal. Following this item, the consent calendar is routine.

Item #8: Second reading of a Development Agreement for a new 155-room 7-story hotel (24-hour operations) with underground parking by demolishing a commercial building with an area of 8,323 sq. ft. (Application No: DA-2018-01; Applicant(s): John Vidovich (De Anza Properties); Location: 10931 N De Anza Blvd.; This should be a routine approval since this agreement was previously approved  on April 7 on a 4-1 vote with Councilmember Jon Willey voting nay.

Item #9 Consider an appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of a Minor Residential Permit to allow a second-story balcony. (Application: RM-2017-39). Occasionally, neighbors will contest remodeling plans, even when compliant with city code. This project was initiated in Oct., 2017, and subsequently modified twice to address neighbor concerns. The Planning Department determined that the project was consistent with all aspects of the R-1 Ordinance. Neighbors then appealed the decision to the Planning Commission in Nov., 2019–an appeal that was unanimously denied because the project was compliant. The last level of appeal is to the city council which is required to deny the appeal unless there are legal grounds to allow the appeal. This is an unfortunate case, since the property owners are adding the second story to provide a living unit for an aging parent on the first floor—one of many types of housing desperately needed in Cupertino.

Item #10 Fiscal Year (FY) 2020-21 Fee Schedule Update. Fees for city services are updated annually. There is a lengthy list of fees ranging from planning and engineering to fees for meeting rooms. There are some new fees, e.g., Tobacco Retailer. The list of fees is best reviewed by scanning the redline versions to note new and increased fees, generally for inflation.

Item #11 Authorization to execute a Fourth Amendment to Franchise Agreement including provisions to pursue sole negotiations for a new Franchise Agreement for solid waste collection services with Recology Cupertino. The current agreement with Recology for waste management expires on Feb. 1, 2021. This authorizes the city to negotiate for a new 10-year agreement to continue service with a highly regarded service provider.

As usual, listen closely to full council reports at the end of the meeting.

RECAP  PLANNING COMMISSION – Tues., Apr. 14, 2020, Regular meeting

Item #2. Use Permit and Architectural and Site Approval to allow the conversion of two existing retail buildings to a preschool and after school program, with associated site modifications to provide for required outdoor play facilities. (Postponed from March 24, 2020 meeting.) This small project will convert two vacant buildings behind the Arbor Center at North Blaney Avenue near Stevens Creek Boulevard currently set up as a retail convenience store to a preschool/afterschool facility. After rancorous commentary between the project applicant and the neighboring office center, the Commission unanimously approved. Commissioner comments broadly supported new development activity during these suddenly hard economic times.

 CUPERTINO COURIER  April 17, 2020

Photos on the front page and page 5 are Facing the Pandemic: Cupertino, Sunnyvale Makes create face shields for Valley Med, by Anne Gelhaus, an effort which includes De Anza college students. Community briefs on page 8 are (1) Teen Commission openings, (2) Online fitness classes, and (3) Virtual lectures for older adults. Legal notices on page 24 are (1) Notice of First Reading for the De Anza Hotel approved by city council on April 7, 2020, and (2) Notice of vacancies on the Teen Commission.

Take the opportunity to walk (with social distance)  and enjoy the gorgeous clear weather.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor