Cupertino Matters

This week’s city council ended at the (relatively!) reasonable hour of midnight. There will be a council meeting on July 21, before a month’s break to resume on August 18.

Schools will be opening in August, with many decisions that need to be made this month regarding distance versus on-site instruction. The overall direction is to ease into in-person instruction. Cupertino Union School District (CUSD) has posted their latest emails to the parents and the school community on their website, outlining a hybrid model of instruction. Fremont Union HIgh School District (FUHSD) is posting status of their plans, which are still evolving with county guidelines. De Anza College classes will remain mainly online. The start of school is always stressful, but will be more so this year. Plans are subject to change, so everyone needs to be flexible.

Your voice is important. Information on expressing your opinion via emails and oral communications with the city can be found at

UPCOMING – PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – Tues., July 14, 2020,  6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting – Teleconference

Other than approval of minutes of the previous meeting, the only agenda item involves Westport/The Oaks: Consider approving a development proposal to demolish a 71,250 square foot retail center (The Oaks), remove and replace 74 protected trees, and construct a mixed-used development consisting of 267 housing units (88 Rowhouse/Townhomes, 179 senior apartments of which 131 are senior licensed assisted living units and 48 are affordable or below market rate (“BMR”) senior independent living units), 27 memory care licensed assisted living residences (“memory care residences”), and 20,000 square feet of commercial space. There are 24 attachments to sort through, starting with the 29-page staff report. The application  was originally unanimously approved on May 12, 2020, based on pre-COVID plans, minimal consideration of the state and federal requirements for a senior living facility, and under the specter of legal action under the Housing Accountability Act. Since that approval, further discussion with the proposed operator for the memory units and assisted living, Atria Senior Living, indicated that the original plan was not operationally feasible, particularly in a post-COVID world. There were two major alterations: 

(1) Relocate the 9 BMR (deed restricted, below-market rate affordable housing) units originally planned for Building #1 to Building #2, thus allowing Building #1 to operate as a state licensed RCFE (Residential Care Facility for the Elderly) with assisted living and memory units and Building #2 to operate as an age-restricted BMR Senior Independent Living facility. There would be different operators for each building. A state-licensed, RCFE  (Bldg. #1) has additional regulated requirements beyond a Senior Independent Living facility (Bldg. #2). RCFE service offerings, operating costs and logistics have  additional facility requirements and financing aspects that require this population to be separated, and therefore consolidated into a single building. In addition, COVID-19 restrictions and similar considerations would likely preclude mingling of these two populations.

(2) Modify the unit mix to provide additional space for terraces at the top floor of both buildings.Two-bedroom units have been added in addition to studios and one-bedroom units in the BMR Building #2.  

Staff has prepared two different resolutions for the Commission’s consideration: one to approve and the other to deny. Staff’s alternative denial recommendation relies on a legally questionable view of the Housing Accountability Act and the city’s BMR Manual. The denial would rely on standards that would ordinarily apply to traditional BMR housing for its requirement “BMR units shall be dispersed throughout the residential project.” This requirement would apply to the townhouse/rowhouse housing. The BMR manual, however,  does not address senior care services, nor does it  address developmentally disabled care services, which also require adjacency of units. As proposed, Building #1 would operate as a RCFE, with extensive state and federal requirements.  Building #2 would operate as a BMR Senior Independent Living Facility with a different set of state and federal requirements. In addition, separating these two types of facilities makes each building eligible for different financing, which may be critical in ensuring the project actually gets built.

This project clearly addresses the NEED for senior housing in the City of Cupertino.  Given that one-third of our households have at least one resident over the age of 60, why isn’t the city encouraging projects of this type, instead of actively discouraging it by narrow (possibly unlawful) interpretation of housing policy? There are ZERO memory units and ZERO assisted living facilities outside the CCRCs which require buy-in. Yet there are 6,585 residents potentially competing for 585 senior housing units. What’s wrong with this picture?

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL MEETING – Tues., July 7, 2020, 5:30 Study Session,  6:45 Regular Meeting

The 5:30 Study Session regards the General Plan Amendment Authorization Procedure adopted by the City Council in September 2015 by Resolution No. 15-078. This session ran overtime delaying the regular meeting. Vice-Mayor Paul and Councilmember Sinks felt the process has been generally effective in improving the quality of development projects requesting General Plan Amendments, and providing more negotiating power to the council. There are pros and cons of the current process, with staff directed to modify procedures to improve the process. 

Oral communications was unexpectedly contentious and long, due to a problematic short-term-rental property on Sunrise Drive. Residents outlined their complaints about out-of-control parties and an absentee landlord, which Code Enforcement and the sheriff’s department has tried to resolve for well over a year. The situation has now escalated to the city manager, and code modifications to authorize actions to shutdown the activity. 

On another topic, an ADU developer addressed the difficulty of building in Cupertino.  There are too many fees, and additional requirements, beyond other jurisdictions..  Many ADU companies will not operate in Cupertino which is problematic for families trying to add units for aging parents or adult children.

Item #1: City Manager’s update on COVID-19 response effort. Deb Feng provided an overview of the new county order effective July 13 which will allow hair and nail salons to open, along with limited gym facilities. (NB: Gov. Newsom’s July 13 order closes such indoor activities; you can review the county’s new guidance here) Cupertino has the lowest rate of COVID-19 infection in the county, even though the number of cases has increased. 

Item #2: Presentation on Civic Center Parking Analysis and Recommendations. This was a report to council on possible short-term measures that could be implemented to improve parking post-COVID, whatever this looks like. Public comment highlighted the need for bike lockers for library patrons, since the study addressed only employee bikes–a small percentage of potential bikers. The library supports adding a second book drop on Torre Avenue.  

Item #3: Councilmembers’ reports on Committee assignments included legislative bills that the Legislative Review Committee is following. Following this item, the consent calendar was approved unanimously.

Item #8: Municipal Code Amendments to regulate Short-Term Rental activity in the City. A new Chapter 5.08 (Short Term Rental Activity) is proposed and amendments are proposed to Chapter 3.12 (Transient Occupancy Tax), Chapter 19.08 (Definitions), Chapter 19.12 (Administration), Chapter 19.20 (Permitted, Conditional and Excluded Uses in Agricultural and Residential Zones) and Chapter 19.120 (Home Occupations), of the Cupertino Municipal Code. This was a lengthy item that went on for two hours, and proved particularly relevant given the complaint on Sunrise Drive during oral communications. The key alteration recommended by staff is to change STRs from a permitted use, subject to regulations, to STRs as a prohibited unless registered and compliant with regulations. This would provide code and law enforcement more leverage to deal with problem landlords. The impact post-COVID is unknown. Prior to the Shelter-in-Place order, there were approximately 400 STRs operating in Cupertino; now there are about 242 STRs. There was no clear consensus on direction, so ultimately council voted unanimously to accept staff recommendations, with the caveat that changes may need to be made in the future once travel resumes.

Item #9: Approve renewal of the following fees: 1. Continue to charge existing (1992) Storm Drainage Service Charge, to be collected on the property tax bills for each parcel, at the following rates which include no increase in rates for FY 2020-2021: $12/single family parcel, $144/acre for commercial/apartments/industrial parcels, $36/acre for unimproved parcels; and 2. Continue to charge the 2019 Clean Water and Storm Protection Fee calculated for each parcel and collected on property tax bills or billed directly for any parcels that cannot be collected on County tax bills, for FY 2020-2021 at the rates shown in the table with no increase in rates. Council approved unanimously since there was no increase in rates.

Item #10: Approving an Internal Audit Charter. All three of the more experienced councilmembers have served on the audit committee and recommended approval. Council approved unanimously.

Item #11: Adopt a resolution approving the purchase of the Lawrence-Mitty property, located along the westerly right-of-way of Lawrence Expressway between Calvert Drive and Bollinger Road (APNs 375-21-001 and 375-22-001), from the County of Santa Clara, in the amount of $2,690,000, and authorizing the City Manager to execute all necessary documents and take all necessary steps to complete the acquisition of the property. Former Mayor Dolly Sandoval commended the council on finally closing this acquisition, an exceedingly torturous process which started 20 years ago during her tenure on council. Council approved unanimously.

Item #12: Ordinance adding Chapter 2.20.120 to the Cupertino Municipal Code requiring online or electronic filing of campaign statements; Update on City website tool for publishing campaign finance data. Council approved unanimously.


Community briefs on page 5 include (1) Making mask connections,, a website developed by two teens to distribute masks to the local community and (2) Painting the town online, a virtual event benefiting Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley. Legal notices on pages 28-29 include (1) the General Municipal Election on Nov. 3 for two members of city council, and (2) Hearing to consider the FY20-21 City Work Program – Housing Survey on July 21.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor