Cupertino Matters

The city council meeting this past week set a new record for early morning meetings, adjourning at 4:25 am after finally  approving the Westport / Oaks project.  The city council meeting on Sept. 1 is cancelled, with the next council meeting scheduled for Sept. 15.

The city is filled with smoke from fires in the region, reminding us of the power of mother nature. Many friends and family have had to evacuate from the mountain areas, with some losing their homes. The city of Cupertino has opened Quinlan Center as a temporary evacuation center.


Campaign signs are starting to appear around the city. Cupertino elections tend to be contentious, and all indications are this year will be no different. Mayor Steven Scharf, facing a strong challenge from candidate J.R. Fruen–the first openly LGBTQ candidate for city council in Cupertino’s history–continues his history of controversial actions with responses regarding his rainbow signs that raised eyebrows among LGBTQ advocates in a piece for San Jose Inside.This weekend, a popup political campaign appeared at Cali Plaza, generating questions about Mayor Scharf and Planning Chair Kitty Moore’s potential violations of municipal sign codes.

Due to COVID-19, campaigning will be different without traditional door-to-door campaigning.  Social media will be more prominent.  Watch for announcements of candidate forums which will be virtual. Expect lots of candidate activity in September!

Ballots will be mailed to all registered voters in early October for the Nov. 3, 2020 election, so voters are expected to vote early. Ballots can either be returned by mail or at a dropbox, which is usually at Civic Center plaza between city hall and the library.  There may be an in-person Vote Center at Quinlan Center this year.  Over 70% of Cupertino voters voted by mail/dropoff in previous elections, so the percentage is likely to be even higher in this COVID-19 era.  Santa Clara County  already tested this process in the Mar., 2020 election, so the Nov. election should run relatively smoothly, though with a higher volume.

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., Aug. 25, 2020,  6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting – Teleconference

The agenda has only 2 items. (1) Approval of minutes of previous meeting, (2) Hillside Exception to allow the construction of a new swimming pool, spa, adjacent patio, and related retaining walls and grading within the 15% site line of a prominent ridge line and on slopes greater than 30%. Application No(s).: EXC-2020-001; Applicant(s): Janet DeCarli; Location: 11640 Regnart Canyon Dr APN #366-33-00  Planning staff recommends approval of this project so this should be a routine review.

RECAP -CITY COUNCIL MEETING – Tues., Aug. 18, 2020, 6:45 Regular Meeting

YouTube:  Part 1: 3 hr. 57 min through Item 17, with Items 14-17 reordered before Item #13. Part 2: 2 hr. 43 min. Item #13 through Public Comment; Part 3: 2 hr. 31 min starting with council deliberation.

Item #3: City Manager’s update on COVID-19 response efforts. Deb Feng provided an update on a number of city activities.  The Board of Supervisors is considering enforcement of mask requirements which would allow the city to fine for non-compliance, particularly large groups.  The city continues to explore solutions for the homeless encampments which will be unsafe when Vallco construction starts. You can find county updates here.

The consent calendar was unanimously approved, except Item #9 for a Contract for Stevens Creek Boulevard Bike Lane Improvements – Phase 1 project which was pulled for public comment and council comment, then unanimously approved.

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. Though previously approved with only 2 comments from residents, there were unexpected late objections by residents living on this short stretch.  The contract for construction has already been signed so any delays would be costly to the city.  Council member Rod Sinks recommended generous exceptions for residents to modify driveways if desired to accommodate the bike lanes. Approved unanimously.

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.  It took the council much too long, 45 minutes, to finally deny this petition.

The agenda was reordered at 10:00 p.m, given the slow pace of the earlier agenda items.

Item #14: Municipal Code Amendments to regulate Short-Term Rental activity in the City.    Unanimously approved, at the mid-level of enforcement which is semi-proactive at $283,889. This can be revisited post COVID-19.

Item #15: Approve the Second Amendment to Employment Agreement for City Manager, related budget modifications, and revised Appointed Employees’ Compensation Program. Approved unanimously.

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.  Mayor Steven Scharf nominated himself, with council member Liang Chao volunteering as alternate.

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  Approved unanimously.

At 10:53 p.m., council finally began consideration of the major item on the agenda:

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.  The process of getting a 5-0 approval after a late vote by council member Jon Willey took nearly 6 hours.  The staff report went for over an hour, and noted that the project is considered a housing project so governed by state Housing Accountability Act (HAA) and Bonus Density laws, which severely limit council authority to reject projects.  Staff did add conditions of approval for the development permit to ensure senior BMR housing would be built as well as the market rate townhomes/rowhouses.

Following clarifying questions, the applicant was allowed 10 minutes to make their presentation, Public comment followed with presentations by four members of the Age Friendly Cupertino Task Force describing the need for senior housing and services, given the “Missing Middle” and city demographics, then Roma Ankolekar, a Monta Vista High Student speaking about the impact of dementia. Most other speakers were supportive.

Council then moved into responses by the applicant, who reiterated that any changes in the housing program meant that the project would not be built.  The attorney emphasized requirements  of HAA.  Finally at 2:15 a.m. council started deliberation, arguing over waivers and concessions, and questioning the impact of the Density Bonus laws. Council member Rod Sinks requested development of an improved bike park/ transit corridor, which was accepted. Vice Mayor Paul presented a face-saving chart showing evolution of the project from mixed use with office and hotel as well as retail and housing to a housing project, with minimal retail. Supposedly, this demonstrated negotiations by the city over the years, which was contested by council member Rod Sinks, who expressed concern that failure of the council to negotiate in good faith has led to loss of local control in land use decisions.

Overall, this is a good project, though limited by council recalcitrance to consider broader exceptions that could have allowed more community benefits, fit with the DeAnza community and transit options.  Approved unanimously at 4:25 a.m.

CUPERTINO COURIER, August 21, 2020

The cover photo and article on page 5 is Recognizing extra effort:  Cupertino honors its own with CREST Awards, featuring Roberta Holliman for her Lifetime Achievement recognition In a photo with former mayor Savita Vaidhyanathan. Other awards are listed with details at  The community brief on page 29 is COVID-19 testing. Legal notice on page 29 is Unclaimed Funds.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor