Cupertino Matters

Memorial Day’s quietness gave way to a week that finished in anguished protests. Neighboring cities have seen protests of their own and both San Jose and Santa Clara declared curfews running from 8:30 pm to 5:00 am. A protest appears to be planned in Cupertino on June 6.

While these protests occur, the COVID-19 pandemic endures. The County has amended its Shelter-in-Place order which allows a number of businesses to reopen starting Friday. It also allows religious functions of 25 people or fewer to resume.

In the meanwhile, the business of the city continues. Councilmembers had a busy week, spending Tuesday and Wednesday interviewing applicants for the Teen Commission. Then on Friday, May 29, 2020, the council held another closed session with its legal counsel on pending litigation brought by Vallco Property Owner with regard to 2019 Vallco General Plan and Zoning Amendments. A number of Better Cupertino supporters made comments imploring the city to delay activity at Vallco and attacking the City Attorney. This follows a session on the same topic two weeks earlier on May 15. Readers may recall that on Aug. 20, 2019, council adopted amendments to downzone the Vallco site. It arbitrarily designated 13 acres for 389 units of housing, then ignored uses for the other 45 acres which are limited to retail only, despite vigorous protest by the property owner and housing advocates. Vallco then filed a lawsuit against the city on Sept. 20, 2019, and city council authorized City Attorney Heather Minner to defend this lawsuit. This lawsuit has been on hold pending the resolution of the SB 35 litigation brought by Friends of Better Cupertino. Councilmember Liang Chao recused herself from both closed sessions because her house is located within 1000 feet of Vallco.

Also this week, on Thursday, May 28, as part of Silicon Valley at Home’s Affordable Housing Month, local community advocacy group, Cupertino for All, hosted a very successful town hall meeting on the Cupertino housing and schools crisis entitled Living and Learning in Cupertino: How Housing can Save our Schools. This three-part panel discussion moderated by former Cupertino Mayor and FHDA Trustee, Dolly Sandoval together with Cupertino for All co-founder, J.R. Fruen and Cupertino for All Board Member Alysa Cisneros, covered a lot of ground. Supervisor Dave Cortese offered keynote comments that set the stage for the following panels. The first panel included voices from education included CUSD Board President Lori Cunningham, FUHSD Superintendent Polly Bove, and Foothill-De Anza Chancellor Judy Miner. The second featured current and recent students in Cupertino schools: Neil Park-McClintick, Genevieve Kolar and Justin Liu. The third panel allowed policymakers to weigh in including Assemblymember Evan Low, Cupertino Councilmember Rod Sinks, former Sunnyvale Mayor Otto Lee, and Director of Housing for Charities Housing Kathy Robinson. The full program and panelist list is available here. If you missed it, you can catch it on Facebook or on YouTube. Among all the luminaries and officials on this panel, the most memorable quote of the evening came from current CHS senior, Justin Li: “We are raising an entire generation with no hometown.”

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. June 2, 2020, 5:30 Study Session, 6:45 Regular Meeting – Teleconference

The 5:30 Study Session is on the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) reviews funded FY19-20 projects and those recommended to be deferred for one-year and projects proposed for FY20-21. The city budget has been heavily impacted by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 Shelter-In-Place order. Based on the financial picture, some FY19-20 CIP projects are recommended for a one year deferral and some low cost new projects proposed, primarily for city facilities. Notable is the delay of an All-Inclusive Playground at Jollyman Park due to the need for community fund-raising, and the recommendation to do a Blackberry Farm Golf Course Alternatives Analysis before doing the Master Plan for the Steven Creek Corridor Park Chain.

Item #1 is the postponement of the Development Proposal for The Oaks retail center (Westport) to a date uncertain. It will be re-noticed.

Item #2 consists of the City Manager’s update on COVID-19 response efforts. This item provides an up-to-date snapshot of the current situation, and city actions to restore services, and provide aid to the community. The county continues to revise guidelines. You can find updates here.

Item #3 allows councilmembers to report on Committee Assignments, which we should expect to be minimal due to COVID-19. Following this item most of the consent calendar appears routine. Items #12 and #13 reflect formal approval of a lengthy required plan for federally funded CDBG programs, which had received council review on May 19, 2020. Item#14 is a new lease agreement with the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, and Item #15 is a new lease agreement for Friends of Steven Creek Trail, both for space at McClellan Ranch House.

Item # 17: Update Fiscal Year 2020-21 City Work Program. Council adopted this program at its March 31 meeting, shortly after a Local Emergency proclamation was issued. At that time, council acknowledged that the program would need to be updated as more information became available on the impact of pandemic on the city. Now, the city has had time to evaluate administrative and financial impacts. Many of the original items can be deferred until the next fiscal year.  Other items for 2019-2020 will be delayed due to COVID-19. Major changes to balance the budget are (1) deferring the “Heart of the City Plan” at a cost of $1,000,000 to future years, and (2) removing the “Vallco Specific Plan” for a savings of $650,000. The need for this last item is functionally moot, given the court decision in favor of the SB35 project for Vallco. Given the magnitude of business disruption, the proposed changes appear minimal and consist primarily of extensions of timelines.

Item #18: Tax Measure Polling and Strategy for November 2020 ballot. Even prior to the economic effects of COVID-19, the city had been concerned with identifying additional revenue sources for the city to fund capital projects, while simultaneously funding maintenance and repair of the city’s aging buildings and infrastructure. With the sudden decline in revenue, tax measures evaluated in the past need to be reconsidered. Additional taxes may need to appear on the ballot; some may require a 2/3 majority vote to pass. Elections are held every 2 years with an Aug. 7 deadline to submit a ballot measure for 2020. The staff report outlines tax alternatives, but are recommending council just consider increasing the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) from the current 12% increase in 2012 to 14%. Two new hotels have been approved in this last year, so this revenue would increase after business travel resumes. The item on the agenda is to authorize $55,000 to hire an opinion research firm to determine voter support for a tax measure.

Item #19: Resolution rescinding City Manager designation as City employee/official to attend closed sessions of the City Council and keep closed session minutes and reaffirming the City Clerk as the designated closed session minute keeper; Municipal Code Amendment to Cupertino Municipal Code Section 2.20.010 (Recordkeeping Duties-Closed Sessions) of Chapter 2.20 (City Clerk) To Title 2 (Administration and Personnel) to clarify limited access to closed session minutes. Council had previously enacted this resolution, so is now undoing its previous action. This should be routine approval, but is an indicator of poor decision-making by the majority council.

Item #20: Consideration of a City Council summer recess and cancellation of meeting(s). Typically, the council has cancelled one or two meetings during the summer to allow for vacations, and a slower pace of city business. This is, however, not a normal summer.

Item #21: Establishment of the Complete Streets Commission. This is a proposal to expand the scope of the Bicycle Pedestrian Commission to include traffic calming and transit issues. The proposed ordinance would likewise expand the membership to match, taking the commission from 5 members to 7.

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


The front page photo and article on page 5 is “Faith comes through for cause: Local churches team up to distribute 2 million face masks” regarding 14 Bay Area Christian churches and organizations which distributed PPE to 500 organizations, including nursing homes, in seven counties. Sourcing from China was challenging for the two foundations involved in this effort: Prince of Peace and SHP Foundation. Community briefs on page 5 include (1) Cupertino student in playwrights’ fest, an achievement by Cupertino High School sophomore, Tiffany Liu, (2) Classes for older adults free online classes, and (3) COVID-19 testing sites.

June is the kickoff to the summer season and Pride month, yet it will be quite different this year with many cancelled events, and others reimagined in new forms. Time to get creative!

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor