Cupertino Matters

Last week brought home the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic when it claimed the life of one of Cupertino’s own—former Monta Vista High School teacher, former Fremont High School principal, and long-time community volunteer, Harry Bettencourt. Though the rate of infection has dramatically slowed in California, newly expanded restrictions underscore that we should expect similar sad news in the weeks to come.

Santa Clara County’s shelter-in-place order, which was originally set to expire today, now extends to May 3, or about a month from now. Construction has been further limited. Playgrounds, tennis courts and any other social gathering place are now closed. The state has also ordered schools to remain closed for the rest of the academic year, forcing teachers, parents and students to adjust to the abrupt shift to distance learning and new technology tools. The streets are quiet, with little traffic noise. And there are a lot more walkers!

Job losses accelerated this last week, with 879,000 new unemployment claims in California, the largest number filed in half a century. According to Gov. Gavin Newsom, over 1.9 million Californians have applied for unemployment insurance since just March 12. The federal emergency relief bill for small businesses will take some time to process applications and the websites are overwhelmed. In the meantime, more businesses, particularly restaurants, are deciding that the loss of business during March and April, and potentially May means closing their business permanently. 2020 will be a survival year. In support of both those in need of food and local restaurants, the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce has launched a meal donation program allowing patrons to purchase meals for those in need through local restaurants. You can buy such meals through the Chamber’s website launched for this purpose.

The new restrictions have increased the number of residents seeking help from West Valley Community Services (WVCS) for rent assistance.  Applications for unemployment are swamped, and checks will take several weeks to process at best, with an immediate need to pay for April and May rent. Please consider making an emergency donation. Note that many companies have a policy of matching employee donations to charitable organizations. Often, this is dollar for dollar, but Apple is now matching two dollars for each dollar of personal donations. The city council is also considering authorizing a donation to WVCS (see below)—you can email them to express your support for such action as well.

Fortunately, Silicon Valley has technology resources to adapt to these uncertain times. It’s not just businesses and government bodies switching to video conferencing to ensure essential services are maintained. Church services are going online, as well as book clubs, discussion groups, and exercise classes. There has been a significant increase in the use of telemedicine with coronavirus distancing.  Some residents are organizing virtual happy hours and family get-togethers using services such as Zoom. As our community gains familiarity with these tools, this may permanently impact the way we interact with others, and offer new opportunities, particularly for our older population with limited transportation.

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., Apr. 7, 2020, 6:45 Regular Meeting; 5:30 – Study Session 

This meeting will be a teleconference meeting on Zoom, with options added to allow public participation. The 5:30 meeting is a joint study session with the City Council and Planning Commission on specific state housing laws: the Housing Accountability Act, SB 330, and the Density Bonus Law. Both the council and the Planning Commission expressed a desire to better understand these complex laws, and their impact on Cupertino. The attachment for the meeting consists only of excerpts from these laws.

For the regular meeting, there are no ceremonial matters. The city manager will provide an update on COVID-10 response efforts, followed by committee reports by council. The consent calendar is routine.

Item #9: De Anza Hotel project hearing items: There have been multiple delays in this project. It was originally scheduled for the Jan. 21 council meeting. Due to a late objection from a labor union, the project was rescheduled for the Mar. 3 meeting. That meeting became chaotic with many amendments offered back and forth. The General Plan Amendment and accompanying entitlements passed on a 4-1 vote with Councilmember Willey voting no. Council ultimately found itself unable to pass the Development Agreement—the final hurdle to the development’s full approval and continued consideration of the Development Agreement until a later date.

This meeting will address both the labor union’s petition to reconsider the entitlements that council passed on March 3, and the Development Agreement, which all parties may now view differently in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This is a good project that will see development over 10 years, and deserves to be approved given the dearth of hotel rooms in the area in normal economic times.

Item #10: Emergency Assistance Funds for Tenants at Risk of Eviction due to Impacts of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continued from March 17. At the previous meeting, council asked staff to explore additional options for providing funds to West Valley Community Services (WVCS). Vice-Mayor Darcy Paul expressed a desire for loans rather than grants, but this is not feasible. There was concern at the earlier meeting about securing food, but this has been mitigated. Now the primary need is assistance for tenants at risk of ultimate eviction due to COVID-19, since rent was due on April 1. Though both the Governor and the Board of Supervisors have enacted tenant protections from outright eviction during this period, the rents remain due and payable 180 days after the lifting of the county’s shelter-in-place order.  Apple has donated $100,000 in unrestricted funds to WVCS. The staff report recommends approving $50,000 from several city funding sources. City staff continues to seek additional sources of funding from the moving target of evolving county, state, and federal programs.

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

RECAP   CITY COUNCIL MEETING – Tues., Mar. 31, 2020, 6:45 Open session; 5:30 – Closed session – Special Televised Meeting 
YouTube: 3 hr. 5 min.

This meeting was held on Zoom, with council and staff “attending” from home. Our city’s Innovation and Technology Department deserves kudos for ensuring that essential city business continues in a virtual environment. By contrast, many jurisdictions have cancelled meetings, but Cupertino has successfully utilized technology to avoid disruption. The mayor reported out that council (1) approved joining a coalition of cities and counties anticipating litigation, but no details were provided as to what that litigation might be; and (2) provided guidance with regard to anticipated litigation with Clean Cut Landscaping. The consent calendar received unanimous approval, though item #9 for an additional $150,000 for pavement failure on Ricardo Road was questioned.

Item #12: Consider participation in and funding for the Santa Clara/Santa Cruz Counties Airport/Community Roundtable on Aircraft Noise in the South Bay. Mayor Steven Scharf has been attending these sessions due to mid-day scheduling, though Councilmember Liang Chao is the primary representative and Councilmember Jon Willey is the alternate. This is a regional body formed  by the Cities Association of Santa Clara County at the request of the Congressional delegation (Ro Khanna, Anna Eshoo and Jimmy Panetta) to communicate with the FAA regarding airport noise. The process has been very challenging, involving 2 airports, and 13 jurisdictions across 2 counties. Just establishing a mutually agreeable meeting time and venue has been problematic. Progress, however, has occurred in developing a strategic plan and a work plan. After discussion about the need to support this regional effort, council voted unanimously to continue support of approximately $18,000 for the next year.

Item #13: FY 2020-21 City Work Program. There was an overly long discussion on this item precipitated by the councilmembers. The experienced councilmembers supported the plan as presented, acknowledging that the budget and work plan may be significantly overhauled in the coming months due to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The city will lose sales tax and Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) from loss of business during shelter-in-place, but the full impact is unknown at this time. The experienced councilmembers recognized that the city manager needs to have flexibility to respond to the very fluid local, state and federal emergency situation, and expressed their appreciation for the staff response to community needs. Council ultimately approved the plan unanimously.


Community briefs on page 5 are (1) RYDE curtails rides for seniors restricting services to medical transportation and delivery of food from West Valley Community Services, and (2) Pet fosterers needed for Humane Society  Silicon Valley. Legal notices on page 25 are (1) Review of  Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Westport Mixed Use Project (the Oaks) on April 16, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. by the Environmental Review Committee (ERC), (2) Review of  Mitigated Negative Declaration  for the Regnart Creek Trail on April 16, 2020, at 9:30 a.m. by the ERC, (3) Review of an application for a use permit to convert two existing retail buildings at 10041 N. Blaney to a preschool and afterschool facility by the Planning Commission at the regular April 14 Planning Commission meeting, and (4) Notice of the 2020-21 Fee Schedule to be considered by council at the April 21 regular council meeting. All such meetings will be teleconferences.

Stay safe and healthy, in this new world of social distance and virtual operations.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor