Cupertino Matters

Local election campaigning is in full swing. The Mercury News endorsed candidates J.R. Fruen and Hung Wei in their Editorial: Wei, Fruen would help chart a new course for Cupertino: Fresh faces on the City Council would support housing while maintaining integrity of established neighborhoods . The editor also commented “For the better part of a decade, Cupertino has developed a well-deserved reputation for having one of the most dysfunctional city councils in the Bay Area.”  Ouch!  Fruen and Wei were also endorsed by the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce.

The YouTube recording of the first city council candidate forum Is available: Cupertino Rotary/LWVCS sponsored Cupertino City Council Candidate Forum  on September 16, 2020. A summary of the forum can be found on Cupertino council candidates share ideas on housing, schools at lengthy forum

Another news story in the Mercury News was  the council 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) by approving a rainbow crosswalk at Main Street and Stevens Creek, near Cupertino High School, though not as prominent as petitioners requested.. Cupertino City Council approves rainbow-colored crosswalk on Stevens Creek Blvd.Council chooses a subtle design that leaves advocates with mixed feelings


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.

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


News coverage this week extended to our schools.The financial woes of the Cupertino Union School District (CUSD) received attention on the front page of the Local News section of the Mercury News: Enrollment decline may lead to closures:  C.U.S.D. board president” We don’t have the luxury right now of not making decisions. Decisions on restructuring, consolidating, and closing schools will have to be made this year to meet a projected $5 to $7 million revenue shortfall–one that worsens in a few short years with the expiration of the Measure A parcel tax. The Board has instituted a Citizens’ Advisory Committee to draw up a menu of eventual options for the Board’s consideration. In times of financial turmoil, stability often features in the minds of voters. Of the four candidates running, two are incumbents: Phyllis Vogel, who has a depth of administrative experience and institutional knowledge from many years on the Board and from her prior service in the District’s administration; and Sylvia Leong, who has served on the Board since a vacancy was created there with the mid-term departure of Liang Chao.

Readers have the opportunity to hear all the candidates at the Rotary/ LWVCS League of Women Voters – Cupertino Sunnyvale forum on September 30, 2020 at 12 noon to meet candidates for the Cupertino Union School District (CUSD) Board. Registration is  here.

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

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

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., Sept. 22, 2020,  6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting – Teleconference

The agenda has only two items that are not time critical, in addition to approval of the minutes.

Item #2: Item Study Session and presentation on the transition from Level of Service (LOS) to Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) for determination of transportation impacts under CEQA, a change required by Senate Bill (SB) 743.  State law has changed the methodology for analyzing traffic impact for CEQA studies. Discussion will be technical, with no action by the commission, with the item going to city council later this fall.

Item #3: Municipal Code Amendment to Chapter 5.48, Mobile Vendor, to consider updates to definitions and regulation. This item is postponed.

Item #4: Consider Municipal Code Amendments to CMC Chapter 10.48 Community Noise Control to regulate leaf blowers to implement the Fiscal Year 2020/21 City Council Work Program items related to Ordinance updates on gas-powered leaf blowers. This is a run-of-the-mill council Work Plan item to ban gas powered leaf blowers.

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL MEETING – Tues., Sept. 15, 2020

Youtube: Part 1, 1hr. 34 min,Study session, Small Cell Facilities; Part 2, 2 hr, 26 min., thorough Item #8., Part 3, 2 hr. 35 min.

As readers know, making our voices known is important, so Tuesday night, at Oral Communications, I gave a Report Card on the current council, with some key metrics on their performance. Isn’t it time for a change?

Meetings lasting after midnight – limits resident engagement

  • 15 meetings in 2019  (22 regular meetings)
  •  6 meetings in 2020 through 8/22/2020

Council governs behind closed doors – NO resident engagement

  • 2020 through 8/12/2020:  13 regular and 13 closed sessions
  • 2019: 22 regular meetings and 27 closed meetings 

Self-inflicted lawsuits

    • $225,441  Mayor Steven Scharf Measure C appeals (lost)
    • $341,531  City attorney, Randy Hom  (payoff – wrong on SB35)
    • Vallco SB35 Planning Chair Kitty Moore, et. al lawsuit (lost)
      • $241,382  (2018, 2019, 2020  Attorney’s Fees)
      • $171,072  (2018, 2019 Wendel Rosen)
      • $ 70,310    (Shute Mihaly & Weinberger)
  • $$$ Unknown for city staff and staff city attorney

$2,036,404 budgeted for City Attorney in 2021 Adopted Budget

The council meeting ended at 12:16 a.m., another meeting lasting after midnight, though agenda items were mundane. The Study Session on Proposed Revisions to the Permitting Guidelines for Small Cell Facilities within the Public Right-of-Way ran late so the regular meeting started late. The number of applications has increased significantly with about 80 open applications which have to be processed on a timely basis. The city has little leeway, other than aesthetics, though councilmembers dithered about details.

Item #1: City Manager’s update on COVID-19 response efforts. The city manager’s report was moved before Oral Communications to allow a speaker from the county’s Department of Supportive Housing to speak on outreach to the homeless encampments along Wolfe Road and nearby. County guidelines here continue to be revised as the county has moved from the purple tier to the red.

Item #2: Councilmembers’ reports on Committee assignments. Councilmember Rod Sinks had the most extensive report with progress on Silicon Valley Clean Energy and the SR85 VTA Advisory Board meetings.

Item #6: Study session regarding policy options to reduce secondhand smoke exposure in Cupertino. No action was taken since this was a study session. The primary issue is reasonable restrictions in multi-family units.

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. Council approved unanimously.

Item #8: Consider amending the Fiscal Year 2020-21 Fee Schedule to establish a new fee for Short-Term Rental (STR) Registration. Council had to grapple with the impact of their previous decision to do moderate monitoring of STRs. Council policy has been full cost recovery for city services. Council then realized that $1,232 would be too high, particularly during COVID-19. Different fee structures were considered, including a tiered fee depending on the number of rental nights per year. In addition, the fee schedule comes up for modification annually, so adjustments can be made in the future. The item was referred back to staff.

Item #9  Consideration of installing a rainbow crosswalk or intersection on City streets and other alternatives. Council spent more than an hour on this simple request, finally settling on a conservative rainbow strip paralleling a planned crosswalk across Stevens Creek Blvd. near Main Street. Approved 4-1 with Councilmember Liang Chao voting no.

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. Refinancing $27 million of city debt service to take advantage of historically low interest rates will save the city approximately $415,000 annually in debt service. This item was approved unanimously.

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. After reviewing the different alternatives, council gave feedback that having both bike lanes separated from car traffic is the preferred design.

Item #12:  An Urgency Ordinance temporarily waiving permit fees for certain temporary commercial signs and banners. This waived the one-time permitting fees of $384 currently required for large banners advertising business operations and communicating with customers. The item appears to have been provoked by a desire from the Scharf and Moore council campaigns to use large campaign signs pursuant to a Supreme Court decision that requires commercial signs and political signs to be treated the same in terms of their size. As a candidate, Mayor Scharf recused and the item was approved 4-0-1.

Item #13 An Emergency Order authorizing the outdoor operations of qualifying establishments (retail uses, personal care services uses, and gym and fitness facilities) pursuant to a Special Temporary Outdoor Operations Permit. This item was likewise approved 4-0-1 with Mayor Steven Scharf recused..

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. This last time was also approved 4-0-1 with Mayor Steven Scharf recused.

The regular meeting was adjourned then reconvened to a SPECIAL MEETING OF THE CUPERTINO PUBLIC FACILITIES CORPORATION to satisfy legal requirements for Agenda Item #10, the refinancing. All items relevant to this matter received unanimous approval.


The cover photo and community brief on page 5 is Learning their craft virtually; Local teen tutors budding artists, about Nikta Krishnan,a medalist in the city’s young artists competition. Community briefs on page 5 are (1) Free wifi in library parking lot for Cupertino and other Santa Clara County libraries, and (2) Tour Uvas Canyon (county park) virtually. Page 10 is a previously published Mercury News article, Homeless sweep continuing despite moratorium guidelines: Activists fear displacing residents in pandemic will spread COVID-19, which includes the homeless encampments on Wolfe Road.

Hope you will join me at the various candidate forums!

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor