Council meets this week, then takes a month’s break to resume on August 18, so the upcoming agenda brings closure to a number of routine items, as well as those considered earlier.
With school starting in a month and the increase in COVID-19 cases, school districts are opting to start the year with distance education. While there are many resources to assist teachers with online teaching, it’s a sign of the times that De Anza College is offering a popular “Parent Survival Toolkit” class. The situation remains particularly difficult for parents unable to work from home due to the nature of their jobs. Schools are proactively posting developments on their website. The Cupertino Union School District (CUSD) posts their latest emails to the parents and the school community on their website, outlining a hybrid model of instruction. The Fremont Union High School District (FUHSD) is posting the status of their plans, which are still evolving along with county guidelines.
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., July 21, 2020, 5:30 Closed Session, Labor Negotiation for City Manager, 6:45 Regular Meeting – Teleconference
The closed session is a continuation of the performance review for City Manager Deb Feng. The regular meeting starts with a Ceremonial Presentation--a rarity in the age of COVID-19. This presentation will feature the city’s Poet Laureate, Jing Jing Yang, a ceremonial post under the auspices of the Cupertino Library and Library Commission.
The deadline to mount an appeal in the Vallco SB 35 litigation is about to expire. In the past, Better Cupertino has made a special showing of their intentions before initiating or continuing litigation by making comments during Oral Communications. If an appeal is going to be filed, you may see the same political theater on display. The city has incurred $437,264 in legal fees in just the months of April and May. How much more would Better Cupertino and Commissioner Catherine “Kitty” Moore’s lawsuits against the city cost us all?
Item #2: City Manager’s update on COVID-19 response efforts. Sudden state modifications to reopening rules have whiplashed local businesses. This item provides an up-to-date snapshot of the current situation, city actions to restore services, and to provide aid to the community. Guidelines continue to receive revision. You can find updates here.
Item #3: Councilmembers’ reports on Committee assignments should be minimal with the usual summer shutdowns. Following this item, the consent calendar appears routine. These include contracts for (1) design and engineering services for the Junipero Serra Project, (2) Phase 2 Project for McClellan Road separated bike lanes, and (3) Cupertino Sports Center Seismic Retrofit Project.
Item #16: Second Reading of the 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 Use in Agricultural and Residential Zones) and Chapter 19.120 (Home Occupations), of the Cupertino Municipal Code. This item received unanimous approval on July 7, 2020, so this second reading should be a routine approval.
Item #17: Second Reading of Municipal Code Amendment to Cupertino Municipal Code Chapter 2.88 Audit Committee §100 Duties-Powers-Responsibilities. This was approved unanimously on July 7, 2020, and so should be a routine approval.
Item #18: Second Reading of Ordinance adding Chapter 2.20.120 to the Cupertino Municipal Code requiring online or electronic filing of campaign statements. This was approved unanimously on July 7, 2020 so should be a routine approval.
Item #19: Hearing to approve lien assessment and collection of fees on private parcels resulting from abatement of public nuisance (weeds and/or brush) for the annual Weed and Brush Abatement Programs. Last cycle, this annual county program consumed an inordinate amount of council time. There are 120 names on the list, including Councilmember Liang Chao, who requested a personal exemption (denied by council). Two former mayors also appeared on the list–one for a property in the process of being donated to the city for a bike-ped trail. Neither requested exemptions. The typical assessment is $101. Will council be disciplined enough to limit time spent on this matter?
Item #20: Resolution supporting statewide measure Proposition 15, which increases funding for public schools, community colleges and local government services by changing tax assessment of commercial and industrial property through an initiative constitutional amendment on the November 3, 2020 ballot. This initiative qualified for the ballot through a statewide petition campaign titled “Schools and Communities First.” The objective is to address the commercial/residential inequity that has evolved with Proposition 13’s tax assessment scheme. Commercial and industrial properties are held for longer periods of time, and so do not pay their fair share of government costs. The intent is commendable, though the ballot measure is lengthy, and outlines various exceptions to avoid undesirable consequences. All residential land is exempt from its effect. The Staff Report is a readable summary.
Item #21: Authorization to Amend the Current Agreement with Lifetime Tennis Inc. DBA Lifetime Activities Inc. Due to the Impacts of COVID-19. The agreement with the city Parks and Recreation Department did not anticipate the drop in revenue for classes provided by Lifetime Tennis. This would authorize the city manager to amend the agreement to adjust required payments for the current economic realty.
Item #22: FY 2020-21 City Work Program- Consider adding a Housing Survey item and removing the Housing Program for De Anza College Students item. Staff resources are constrained, so implementation of the Housing Survey championed by Councilmember Jon Willey requires trading off an item of similar size, which is the Housing Program for De Anza College Students. The Housing Commission strongly supported the work program item on Housing for De Anza College Students. They were not consulted about this switch. The purpose of the proposed Housing Survey and use of the results is undefined. Should Work Program resources focus on documented needs or on sampling resident opinion? Is this a good tradeoff?
Item #23: Municipal Code Amendment Related to Prohibition of parking along McClellan Road between Stelling Road and De Anza Boulevard, and along Pacifica Drive between De Anza Boulevard and Torre Avenue for accommodation of Class IV bicycle lanes. Parking is already prohibited on segments of these two streets. This item would extend the prohibition to allow installation of separated bicycle lanes to connect the library to Monta Vista High School. So far only one property owner has responded to the two written notices.
Item #24: Consider a draft letter requesting that the CA Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) postpone the final Regional Housing Needs Determination (RHND) for the Bay Area; provide any input and/or authorize the letter to be sent on behalf of the City. Recommended Action That the City Council: 1. Review the letter drafted jointly by the Mayor and the Vice-Mayor requesting HCD to postpone determination of the final RHND (Attachment A) and provide input 2. Consider whether to authorize the Mayor to send the letter. The Mayor and Vice-Mayor have drafted a letter to the CA Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) requesting a postponement of the calculation of the final Regional Housing Needs Determination (RHND) due to COVID-19 considerations as well as arguments regarding jobs-housing balance. Cupertino has no credibility in Sacramento on housing-related issues because of our eye-poppingly bad jobs-housing fit ratio and the Better Cupertino organization’s multi-year fight against housing at Vallco and elsewhere. This action appears to attempt to delay the inevitability of state allocations of more housing to Cupertino. Indeed, state leaders already cite Cupertino as an example of why state housing legislation is necessary. Does this reaction help the discourse?
As usual, listen closely to full council reports at the end of the meeting.
RECAP – PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – Tues., July 14, 2020, Regular Meeting
YouTube: 3 hr. 50 min.
This was a lengthy meeting, with consideration wandering into legal arguments and the never ending maze exploring the interaction between state law and the Cupertino Municipal Code. The Commission ultimately recommended denying the permits by a 3-2 vote along partisan lines, with Chair Catherine “Kitty” Moore, Vice-Chair Ray Wang and Commissioner Vikram Saxena voting for denial, and Commissioners David Fung and Alan Takahashi dissenting.
During Oral Communications, three members of the Age Friendly Cupertino Task Force expressed the NEED for senior housing in Cupertino. The sole agenda item:
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. City municipal codes for residential housing units are clearly out-of-step with state and federal licensing requirements for a state licensed RCFE (Residential Care Facility for the Elderly) for assisted living and memory units which by definition include bundled care services. Since there has been no new senior housing built for decades, this situation is not surprising. The primary justification for denial was the perceived non-compliance with the BMR (Below Market Rate ) manual adopted for dispersion of units in market rate housing developments. However, this manual does not appear to extend to bundled services, and as Commissioner Takahashi pointed out, “affordable assisted living” is undefined.
Disappointingly, the staff report explicitly excluded financial considerations in evaluating the project. Both BMR and senior housing involve financing that is harder to obtain than the usual residential or commercial developments, a major reason for the shortage of this type of housing. Another major sticking point was the difference between requests for a waiver (supposedly physical) and a concession under the Density Bonus Law. Chair Moore asked for extensive economic evidence–a requirement that does not appear to exist under the Density Bonus Law. Furthermore, the Housing Accountability Act, may actually have required the Commission to find that concession was necessary–and since one was available–grant it in order to satisfy that law. The city’s position on this was not compelling. The Commission’s actions, if followed by council, will likely provoke yet another very costly lawsuit. The Commission could have readily approved this project for much needed housing. It chose not to.
CUPERTINO COURIER July 17, 2020
The front page photo featuring Cupertino restaurant, Pho Ha Noi, and article on page 5 are What are the Rules? State crackdown on outdoor dining leads to local confusion. Community briefs on page 8 include (1) Tenant emergency help available from Meriwest, (2) Filing period for two City Council Seats now open, and (3) Hackathon virtual for teenagers this year. Legal notices on page 21 provide public notice of the First Readings of the three ordinances approved at the July 7 council meeting.
Hope you will be “attending” city council this week. I’ll be there on Zoom, which works very well for allowing more voices to be heard.
Publisher and Editor