Cupertino Matters

This has been a week for brownouts and intermittent internet outages due to the high heat, reminding us that the power grid has finite capacity to deal with unusual thunderstorms and fires. This is only August, so we need to be prepared.


Countywide, the candidate filings for the Nov. 3 ballot have closed and a 36-page county wide unofficial list has been posted by the Registrar of Voters (ROV). This article from San Jose Inside summarizes the state and city races. However, information on school board races are available only at the ROV site.

For the Fremont Union High School district, incumbents Roy Rocklin and Jeff Moe are unopposed. There are two seats open at the Cupertino Union School District, with incumbents Phyllis Vogel, and Sylvia Leong (appointed when Liang Chao resigned her seat) facing William Fluewelling and Sudha Kasamsetty. Three seats are open for the Foothill-DeAnza Community College District with incumbents Gilbert Wong, Laura Casas, and Peter Landsberger challenged by Govind Tatachari.

For our Cupertino City Council, two seats are available in this cycle. Five candidates will appear on the ballot in November; their bios, photos, and candidate statements appear on the city’s elections information website: local attorney and community advocate, Joseph “J.R.” Fruen; former Fremont Union High School District Trustee, Hung Wei; incumbent Mayor Steven Scharf; Planning Commission Chair Catherine “Kitty” Moore; and resident Charlene Lee. Complete campaign filings are available, though the complete list includes inactive campaigns.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL MEETING – Tues., Aug. 18, 2020, 6:45 Regular Meeting – Teleconference

The regular meeting starts with a Ceremonial Presentation – Proclamation recognizing the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote and commending the League of Women Voters’ (LWV) efforts to fight for voters’ rights. Their work is particularly noteworthy in this critical election year. Roberta Holliman, a long time LWV advocate, has also been recognized with the 2020 Lifetime Achievement award. The letters of nomination for this honor outlining her contributions to the community are remarkable.

Item #3: City Manager’s update on COVID-19 response efforts. School reopenings from preschool through university are the major issue at this time, though outside the city purview. Restaurants continue to struggle. This item provides an up-to-date snapshot of the current situation, city actions to restore services, and to provide aid to the community. The guidelines continue to receive revision. You can find county updates here.

Item #4: Councilmembers’ reports on Committee assignments should be minimal with the usual summer shutdowns. Following this item, the consent calendar appears routine. Item #9 is a Contract for Stevens Creek Boulevard Bike Lane Improvements – Phase 1 project, and Item #10 is the Award of a Design-Build contract for the Cupertino Library Expansion Project.

Item #11: Second Reading of  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. This was previously approved by council on July 21, and so should result in routine approval.

Item #12: Petition for Reconsideration of the City Council decision on April 21, 2020 to deny an appeal and uphold the approval of a Minor Residential Permit to allow a second-story balcony. (Application: RM-2017-39; Applicant: Francis Kun (Tsai residence); Project Location: 21865 San Fernando Avenue. This permit was approved by the Planning Department, then appealed to the Planning Commission (which denied the appeal). It was subsequently appealed to the council which denied the appeal with conditions. This request that council reconsider its decision is likely to be denied as well, but who knows with this council?

Item #13: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/Townhouses, 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. This application has finally reached the city council for a hearing. Redevelopment of the Oaks has been an ongoing saga. The proposal unanimously approved by the Planning Commission after a lengthy hearing on May 12, 2020, was 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.

A revised plan was brought back to the Planning Commission on July 14, with alternative staff recommendations for approval or denial based on strained readings of the Density Bonus Law, the city’s own BMR Manual, and the Housing Accountability Act. The Planning Commission ultimately voted against recommendation on a 2-3 vote with Fung and Takahashi voting aye, and  Moore, Wang, and Saxena nay. The Planning Commission, however, is not the final decision-maker, so the proposal is now up for a vote before council. After lengthy exchanges between land use lawyers, KT Urban made changes and the Planning Department changed positions, so now the staff report recommends approval. At the Planning Commission meeting, commissioners could have found that the project required a concession under the Density Bonus Law and granted it. They did not. The project applicant is now explicitly asking for it. Failure to grant it and approve the project would now be very likely to generate legal action.

The proposal before council has all BMR (deed restricted, below-market rate affordable housing) units located in Building #2 (not dispersed), 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. Separating the two facilities opens up additional financing options. As this project is submitted as one that conforms to local regulations pursuant to state law, it leaves little to no room for negotiation of additional benefits.

Item #14: Municipal Code Amendments to regulate Short-Term Rental activity in the City. The First Reading of this Amendment was unanimously approved by council on July 7, 2020, with a change in the effective date. Staff revised the legislation, possibly as a result of a situation on Sunrise Drive, which surfaced at the July 7 council meeting.  The council will be asked to decide on the level of enforcement: (1) proactive at a cost of $409,689, (2) semi-proactive at $283,889 or (2) reactive at $159,089. There have only been 19 enforcement cases between Sept 2014 and July 2020–approximately 3 per year. Given the impact of COVID-19 on travel and the city budget, do the more expensive options make sense?

Item #15: Approve the Second Amendment to Employment Agreement for City Manager, related budget modifications, and revised Appointed Employees’ Compensation Program. This item reflects formal approval of a well-deserved negotiated salary increase for the city manager, Deb Feng, as she completes her first year. Who knew she would have the challenges of emergency operations during a pandemic?

Item #16: Designate a voting delegate and up to two alternates to vote at the Annual Business Meeting (General Assembly) during the League of California Cities Virtual Annual Conference, October 7-9. Councilmembers will decide which of them will represent the city at this conference, which will occur virtually this year.

Item #17:  Authorization to Amend the Current Agreement with Lifetime Tennis Inc., DBA Lifetime Activities Inc. to Adjust Compensation Accepted by the City Due to the Impacts of COVID-19 and Sports Center Retrofit. The current agreement with this professional services provider did not provide for the drop in revenue for classes due to COVID-19.  In addition, the sports center will close for a seismic retrofit project. This agreement modifies the flat fee for a percentage of actual fees for FY 20-21 which allows for economic uncertainty.

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

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

RECAP – PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – Tues., Aug. 11, 2020, Regular Meeting

YouTube: 2 hr. 58 min.

The sole action item on the agenda was Municipal Code Amendments to adopt glazing and lighting regulations to implement the Fiscal Year 2019/20 City Council Work Program items related to Dark Sky and Bird-Safe Design. The first regulates building glass to reduce hazards for birds, since bird strikes (collisions into buildings) are a major cause of bird death. The second relates to regulation of nighttime lighting to prevent light pollution, while maintaining safety and security. Public input and commissioners were generally supportive, but there were issues regarding differentiating commercial vs. residential regulation. Safety was a concern as well as economic costs. Should regulations apply to just new construction or remodels? Should the city have no lights on, even in commercial areas, after 11 in the evening? The commission spent nearly 3 hours discussing these two amendments, ultimately deciding to send them back to staff to work on the details.

CUPERTINO COURIER, August 14, 2020

The cover photo and article on page 5 is High school seniors helping seniors: Teens launch network to connect with isolated seniors – Nursing homes, centers get needed link to community, about five seniors at Cupertino High School who launched COVID Networks. Chateau Cupertino is one of their partners in this opportunity for both teens and seniors to deal with the boredom and social isolation of Shelter-in-Place. Community briefs on page 6 include (1) Skip a Lunch, Give a Lunch donations by the Rotary Club, and (2) Friendship Line California for crisis intervention. Legal notices on page 25 include (1) Notice of public hearing before the Planning Commission on  August 25 for a hillside exemption at 11640 Regnart Canyon Drive, and (2) Bid for 2020 Reconstruction of Curbs, Gutters and Sidewalks.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor