Cupertino Matters

Our skies and air quality are improving from the surreal orange skies, though the fires are still contributing to the smoky haze, which has put a damper on outdoor dining and services.

Cupertino has hit the news again, and not favorably. This week Marisa Kendall published an article on the homeless encampments on Wolfe Road.  The challenge is balancing a construction site with protecting a vulnerable population. Last week, there was a scathing article about Cupertino politics and the homeless in San Jose Insider, Cupertino Council Contenders Draw Fire for NIMBY Hot Takes  Wouldn’t Cupertino be better served by electing council members without such baggage? Neither J.R. Fruen nor Hung Wei have garnered such negative press.


The first city council candidate forum will be held this week – plan on attending to learn more about their positions. Should the status quo be continued or does council need new leadership?  Mark your calendars for the following forums to “meet” candidates for the two seats on the Cupertino city council. The questions will be different for all three events as well as the time of day.

Candidates: Joseph “J.R.” Fruen, Hung Wei, Catherine “Kitty” Moore, Steven Scharf, Charlene Shulien Lee

Cupertino Rotary/LWVCS sponsored Cupertino City Council Candidate Forum September 16, 2020 at 12 noon. Readers may register here.

Cupertino Chamber of Commerce Forum on October 7, 2020 from 6:00 – 7:30 pm. Readers may register here.

LWV Cupertino-Sunnyvale sponsored Cupertino City Council Candidate Forum October 12, 2020 at 7pm. Readers may register here.


Rotary/ LWVCS League of Women Voters – Cupertino Sunnyvale will host a forum on September 30, 2020 at 12 noon to meet candidates for the Cupertino Union School District (CUSD) Board. Readers can register here.

Candidates: Sylvia Leong, Phyllis Vogel, William Fluewelling, Sudha Kasamsetty

LWV is also hosting Forums for Sunnyvale candidates. See event calendar at

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL MEETING – Tues., Sept. 15, 2020, 6:45 Regular Meeting; 5:30 Study Session – Teleconference

Overall, the agenda is lengthy, but consists primarily of follow-up from previously considered items, plus actions to refinance city debt.  The petition for a rainbow walk at Stevens Creek and Finch Avenue initiated by Cupertino For All in tandem with the Cupertino Association of Youth LGBTQ+ Advocates (CAYLA) is on the agenda.  The alternatives for the Blackberry Farm entrance will also be presented.  Council continues to struggle with regulating Short Term Rentals such as Airbnb, and is considering a fee increase.

The subject of the study session is a Study Session on Proposed Revisions to the Permitting Guidelines for Small Cell Facilities within the Public Right-of-Way  As wireless companies install new small cell technology to meet demand, the city permitting process needs to be modified to regulate placement and aesthetic impacts, as well as clarify the Right-of-Way for public safety.  Federal law and regulations limit local control, which must be non-discriminatory.

Item #1: City Manager’s update on COVID-19 response efforts.  More businesses have been allowed to open up. 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 #2: Councilmembers’ reports on Committee assignments should be minimal with the late Labor Day weekend. Following this item, the consent calendar has only three items.  Of note, Item #5 is a 50% rent payment reduction for the Coffee Society at the library and Blue Pheasant restaurant due to COVID-19.

Item #6: Study session regarding policy options to reduce secondhand smoke exposure in Cupertino. The city received a $54,979 grant to support tobacco prevention policies that have been shown to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke.  The staff report identifies policies that could be adopted by the city.

Item #7: Second reading of Ordinance No. 20-2200 Municipal Code Amendments to regulate Short-Term Rental activity in the City and other minor clarification edits in Title 19. The first reading was approved on Aug. 18, 2020, so this may be a routine approval, though may be revisited in light of Item #8.

Item #8: Consider amending the Fiscal Year 2020-21 Fee Schedule to establish a new fee for Short-Term Rental Registration. (STRs) This is a separate action from regulation of STRs by the council. Short term rentals, i.e. Airbnb, are required to collect TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax).  This is an additional fee to recover permit processing and monitoring costs to the city. The minimum cost recovery fee would be $400 per year; full cost recovery fee would be $1,232.  This is a significant fee considering since a previous staff report indicated the average income for an Airbnb host is approximately $15,000 per year, pre COVID-19.  Increasing the annual fee during the pandemic should be questionable.

Item #9 Consideration of installing a rainbow crosswalk or intersection on City streets and other alternatives.  This item is a response to a petition with over 500 signatures gathered by a local advocacy group, Cupertino for All and Cupertino Association of Youth LGBTQ+ Advocates (CAYLA), requesting a rainbow crosswalk at Main Street and Stevens Creek, near Cupertino High School. Public works is suggesting alternatives.

Item #10:  Authorizing the sale and delivery of 2020A Certificates of Participation (“Certificates”) to refinance outstanding Certificates of Participation (2012 Refinancing Project) (“2012 Certificates” or “Refunded Certificates”) for debt service savings and authorizing related documents and actions. This agenda item involves refinancing $27 million of city debt service to take advantage of historically low interest rates. This would save the city approximately $415,000 annually in debt service.

Item #11: Presentation on the 2020 Blackberry Farm Entrance Road (Entrance Road) Improvements Feasibility Study Report and request that the City Council endorse an alternative to improve pedestrian and bicycle access to Blackberry Farm for environmental review. Access to Blackberry Farm, a major city park, requires cars, bikes and pedestrians to share a narrow roadway raising safety issues. The city purchased the property at 10301 Byrne Avenue with the express purpose of annexing some of the land to improve bike and pedestrian access to this major city asset.  The project is part of the Stevens Creek Corridor Master Plan as well as the 2016 Cupertino Bicycle Transportation Plan. The proposal has been reviewed by the Parks and Recreation Commission which favors Alternative B. The council packet includes a detailed study of the alternatives.

Item #12:  An Urgency Ordinance temporarily waiving permit fees for certain temporary commercial signs and banners. In light of the need for businesses to advertise during COVID-19, this ordinance waives the one-time permitting fees of $384 currently required for large banners advertising business operations and communicating with customers.  As worded, this applies to local businesses which should be non-controversial. But will it apply to political signs, though it does specify a City of Cupertino Business License?

Item #13 An Emergency Order authorizing the outdoor operations of qualifying establishments (retail uses, personal care services, and gym and fitness facilities) pursuant to a Special Temporary Outdoor Operations Permit. This authorizes expansion of local businesses into outdoor spaces during COVID-19 orders, a formal acknowledgement of current business survival tactics. This may allow more businesses to operate, given that Santa Clara County is now in the red tier.

Item #14 Resolution amending the City of Cupertino Conflict of Interest Code for officials and designated employees and requiring electronic filing of all Statements of Economic Interest (Form 700s); 2020 Local Agency Biennial Notice. State laws have changed, and this update this requirement adding additional positions required to disclose.  In addition, electronic filing is required, rather than allowing manual submissions, which improves staff efficiency and transparency to the public.

As usual, listen closely to full council reports at the end of the meeting.  The regular meeting will then adjourn to a SPECIAL MEETING OF THE CUPERTINO PUBLIC FACILITIES CORPORATION. This is procedural requirement to implement Agenda Item #10.

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


The cover photo and community brief on page 5 is Teen TED Talks:  Virtual event draws students ages 13-18, a joint project between the Cupertino Library Teen Advisory Board and city Teen Commission. On page 21, there are two legal notices regarding municipal codes to be considered at the Planning Commission on Sept. 22 for (1) Mobile Vendor permits and (2) Leaf Blowers.

Hope you will join me at the various candidate forums!

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor