Cupertino Matters

City council reverts to old practices, with Tuesday night’s meeting ending at 2:20 a.m. It started with a budget study session at 5:30 p.m., which lasted two hours instead of the scheduled one hour. As a result, the regular meeting started late. Substantial topics got less attention than the Regnart Creek Trail’s mitigated negative declaration already vetted by the Environmental Review Committee, which should have been a routine approval.  Instead this item dragged on for two hours, with Council member Liang Chao arguing she didn’t understand what she was voting on when the council unanimously approved the Regnart Creek Trail on Sept. 17,  2019.  At 1:37 a.m., allocation of $229,017 of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money finally got 45 minutes of council attention. Can the judgment of this council be trusted?

This week, on Thursday, May 28, 6:30 p.m., as part of Silicon Valley at Home’s Affordable Housing Month, Cupertino for All will host a town hall meeting on the Cupertino housing and schools crisis entitled Living and Learning in Cupertino: How Housing can Save our Schools. County Supervisor Dave Cortese will provide opening remarks, before moving on to multiple panels moderated by former Cupertino Mayor and FHDA Trustee, Dolly Sandoval together with Cupertino for All co-founder, J.R. Fruen. Panelists include CUSD Board President Lori Cunningham, FUHSD Superintendent Polly Bove, Foothill-De Anza Chancellor Judy Miner. Assemblymember Evan Low, Cupertino Councilmember Rod Sinks, former Sunnyvale Mayor Otto Lee, Director of Housing for Charities Housing Kathy Robinson, Cupertino Planning Commissioner David Fung, and a group of recent students in Cupertino schools. The full program and panelist list is available here. Register in advance on Zoom. Won’t you join us for this timely conversation with key stakeholders? Your voice is important. Information on expressing your opinion via emails and oral communications with the city can be found at

UPCOMING  CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS – Tues. May 26, 2020 and Wed. May 27, 5:30 Special Meetings – Teleconference

Both meetings are Teen Commission Interviews, with 41 applicants for 3 openings and 2 alternate positions. We have driven youth in Cupertino!

CANCELED  PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – Tues., May 26, 5, 2020, 6:45 Regular Meeting

Lack of business – no development in Cupertino.

RECAP  CITY COUNCIL MEETING – Tues., May 19, 2020, 6:45 Regular Meeting; 5:30 Study Session 

YouTube:  Part 1: 1 hr. 56 min. Budget Study Session;  Part 2: 2 hr. 39 min. Regular Meeting;  Part 3: 3 hr. 21 min. Begin Item #23; Part 4: 47 min. Begin Item # 26 CDBG Funds 

The report out from the closed session on May 15,with legal counsel on pending litigation brought by Vallco Property Owner with regard to 2019 Vallco General Plan and Zoning Amendments was “no reportable action”, with Councilmember Liang Chao recused. The 5:30 Study Session regarded the Proposed Fiscal Year 2010-2021 Budget. The good news is that the financial impact of COVID-19 will be less than expected, thanks to an excellent Finance Department and the foresight of previous councils in establishing healthy financial reserves. The budget balancing will be achieved primarily by (1)  increasing vacant positions by 5 positions per year through attrition, (2) reducing expenses, and (3) deferring public works paving maintenance. The final budget will come back to the council after the city work plan is developed.

Item #1 is the City Manager update on COVID-19 response efforts. This is a moving target each week as the county and state issue new orders, with city staff adjusting their guidelines to comply. The city remains focused on aiding small businesses as restrictions are slowly lifted.

Item #2 consists of the Annual Pavement Report with COVID-19 Economic Impacts. This annual report was largely routine with the Director of Public Works explaining the minimal impact of deferral of $1.8 million of pavement maintenance for the next fiscal year.

Item #3 provided reports on Committee assignments. Councilmember Rod Sinks announced that Silicon Valley Clean Energy voted in April to provide $10 million in customer relief, then added an additional $2 million in May, plus $1.5 million for electrical contractors and workforce development. Five million has been allocated to fund city resilience projects, i.e. a higher capacity generator for city hall. A substantial number of Cupertino residents will benefit from this program. Vice-Mayor Darcy Paul reported on the dire fiscal projections for VTA.

Item #22 Study Session regarding Plan Bay Area 2050 and Regional Housing Needs Allocations (RHNA) (including impact of Jobs-Housing Balance and Jobs-Housing Fit to RHNA). As expected, this turned out to be a highly technical discussion of the process state and regional entities engage in to develop and assign housing production goals throughout the Bay Area. Their planning process centers not just on providing sufficient housing, but on reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the typical distances people travel to get to the places they routinely go. The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) determine the methodology for setting the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) for each city, which the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) must then approve. After that, state law requires each city to identify Housing Element sites for additional housing development. HCD must then certify each city’s plan as being likely to produce the homes planned and zoned for in the Housing Element. The staff report provided a good explanation of the sensitivity analysis of different methodologies that would produce an estimated RHNA from 5,591 to 6,414 net new homes. Other than the possibility of Bubb Road development for both housing and transportation, council discussion focused on getting “credit” for Vallco housing (housing they opposed), and resistance to the allocations. Why isn’t council focused on how to meet these targets? If Cupertino can’t obtain an HCD-certified Housing Element, then the city could be fined up to $600,000 per month and the more lenient version of SB 35 would apply to the city. If this council values local control, why aren’t they exercising it?

Item #23 Second reading of Ordinance No. 20-2203 adopting Municipal Code Amendments to Title 1: General Provisions, to improve process efficiency by adopting Best Practices, readability and internal consistency. This item received unanimous approval.

Item #24 Cupertino BMR Housing Program Update: Below Market Rate (BMR) Residential Housing and Commercial Linkage Fees Update and Recommendations; Discussion of Related Housing Solutions, Including Opportunities to Increase Housing Supply for Extremely Low-Income Households and Approaches to Encourage BMR Housing Production by Non-Residential Land Uses. This report by an outside consultant followed up on the Sept. 19, 2019, council study session. The primary increase is a 20% inclusionary requirement for for-purchase housing, which is more profitable than rental housing. This is higher than surrounding cities which may discourage development. The staff report also recommended increased fees for office, research and development, and industrial space from $24.60 to $30 per sq. ft. Fees for hotels would receive an increase from $12.30 to$15 per sq. ft. After discussion, council voted unanimously to adopt the staff recommendations.

Item #25 Adoption of a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND), mitigation measures, and a mitigation monitoring or reporting program for Regnart Creek Trail, and authorization to execute an associated Joint Use Agreement and a land exchange with Santa Clara Valley Water District. As described above, this item went on much too long with a retread of noise and safety concerns that have been raised ad nauseam in previous meetings. The status of library field was a side issue, with questions about the improvement of access on the south side. Staff addressed public comment questioning the equivalence of the land exchange—it’s the same number of square feet, so it’s fair to both parties, and a win-win for the city and Valley Water. Along with Councilmember Liang Chao’s statement that she failed to understand what she was voting on in September of last year, she also lost her temper while questioning the legality of the notice provided for that hearing. The city attorney squarely corrected Councilmember Chao’s misunderstanding of the law. Finally, at 1:40 a.m., council unanimously approved the MND.

Item #26 Allocation of $229,017 of Cupertino’s future Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds made available through the Federal stimulus Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Due to the lateness of the meeting, this item got cursory consideration. These are emergency relief funds made available through the federal CARES Act. The funds can be used for different purposes, but administration costs remain a major consideration. The initial staff recommendation is to assist small businesses by partnering with the Enterprise Foundation, a current partner, to provide $5,000 grants to Cupertino businesses. Council requested development of criteria for qualifying the businesses, as well an alternative use of funds to provide rent relief. The item was ultimately approved 4-0-1 with Sinks absent due to early morning meetings.


The front page photo and article on page 5 is “Running with purpose: ‘Teens COVID Run fundraiser benefits donors, too’: students focus on food insecurity'” regarding a fundraiser by Homestead High School teens to raise money for three local social service agencies, including West Valley Community Services. Community briefs on page 5 include (1) Magrini is new parks and rec director, (2) Independence Day celebration canceled, (3) Recology services resume, and (4) Virtual coffee talk. Page 6 is the City Manager’s Letter to the Community:  Cupertino faces budget impacts of COVID-19, previously distributed electronically. Legal notices on page 28-20 include (1) Notice of Public Hearing for redevelopment of the Oaks, and (2) Public Hearing for Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) Consolidated Plan, both for the June 2, regular council meeting. Hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend, even though most traditional celebrations were canceled. Warm regards, Jean Bedord Cupertino Matters Publisher and Editor