Cupertino Matters

Upcoming city meetings feature light agendas, with only two weeks to go until the election on Nov. 3., Cupertino has three locations to drop off ballots: outside city hall, Quinlan Center, and the De Anza College Student Center. In addition, voters may mail in their ballots.

Almost all of the candidate and proposition forums have been held, and they are available online for those who missed the live events. This webpage provides links for city council, school board and proposition Zoom events. The LWV Voter’s Edge website provides a personalized ballot for just your districts. Simply enter your address on the first page and see information about the races that affect you. It’s a combination of information provided by candidates themselves as well as endorsements and contributions.

As you consider candidates for city council, there is a lot of misinformation on social media and in campaign literature. The biggest area of misrepresentation regards housing. Cupertino, as well as other cities statewide, is legally required to plan for and permit more housing over the next 8 years of the RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Allocation) cycle. Cupertino’s allocation is currently slated to be 6,220 units. Vallco is 2402 units, so this number represents 2.5 Vallcos. What housing policies will need to be developed? Where will the upcoming Housing Elements sites be located? How can the city council and planning commission that failed to plan for one Vallco manage to deal with two-and-a-half?

All of the candidates claim to be in favor of housing of some sort. However, the record of the current council majority under the leadership of Mayor Steven Scharf with regard to housing is abysmal. The current council entitled two hotels, but only approved housing at Westport (Oaks redevelopment) under threat of legal action. The Hamptons (600 units) and Marina (188 units) were entitled by the previous council but have not pulled building permits to start construction. As a result, NO new developments have actually been built in Cupertino in the two years of this majority council. NO multi-family development applications were received in 2019. The Vallco SB35 project will go ahead under state law, not as a result of council action and without its input. Virtually all new housing production in the city consists of accessory dwelling units enabled by state law, not council action.

It’s time for new leadership on council.  We need leaders who can work with the state legislature and neighboring cities to navigate these new housing laws. Both J.R. Fruen and Hung Wei have been endorsed by our local legislative representatives.  Neither Steven Scharf nor Kitty Moore has received such backing. Indeed, their endorsement lists are noticeably thin and consist almost exclusively of figures associated with the Better Cupertino organization. Rather than figuring out how to approve housing that council can guide, Scharf and Moore are spending time and city resources to oppose housing laws. Former Mayor, Richard Lowenthal, concurs in his letter to the editor in the Mercury News on Oct. 14, 2020 and asks for Cupertino to support Fruen and Wei.

So how can you help elect new leaders? Personal recommendations, either by phone, email or social media help. There are other ways:

  • Lawn signs: do you have a house or friend with a good location to host one?
  • Volunteer to walk precincts to drop literature
  • Volunteer to do phone/text banking from home

Here are the candidate websites:

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL MEETING Tues., Oct. 20, 2020, 6:45 Regular Meeting; 6:00 Closed Session

NOTE: The next city council meeting will occur Monday, Nov. 2, rather than on Election Day, Tues. Nov. 3

The closed-door session regards Existing Litigation, Vallco Property Owner LLC v. City of Cupertino; Santa Clara County Superior Court, Case No. 19CV355457 (2019 Vallco General Plan and Zoning Amendments). At the risk of litigation, the current city council voted to downzone the Vallco property. Now that the Vallco SB 35 litigation is over there is less need for this lawsuit–the property owner has an approved project with which it can now proceed. Indeed, the state legislature made it easier for this project to move forward with the passage into law of AB 831.

The sole Ceremonial Presentation is a Proclamation recognizing Anika Palloapothu for being a finalist in the nation’s premier STEM competition for middle school students.

Item 3: City Manager’s update on emergency response efforts. Likely, there will be an update on the progress of looser restrictions now that the county has moved into the “orange zone.” The report covers response to all emergencies, including the wildfires, heat events, potential PG & E power outages as well as COVID-19 impacts. You can find county updates here. Though this is an important milestone, it is interesting to note that San Francisco, which is considerably denser than Santa Clara County, is already moving into the next tier–yellow–because its performance has been even better.

Item #4 Report on Committee assignments is usually brief. The consent calendar is routine, though note Item #6 Annual report of commission and committee members’ terms expiring in January, 2021, and application submittal deadline and candidate interview dates in January, 2021 and Item #9: FY 2020-21 Interim Budget and Key Projects Update are worth browsing.

Item #10: 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 item was considered by the Planning Commission which recommended against adopting this ordinance. Given the other challenges facing the city, isn’t this questionable use of city resources to even consider this item?

Item #11: Minor, cleanup amendments to the Cupertino Municipal Code Five changes are proposed.  None appear to be controversial, but who knows with this council?

Item #12 Update Cupertino’s annual minimum wage with an ordinance for a one-time adjustment to the City of Cupertino minimum wage to be consistent with the cities of Los Altos, Palo Alto, and Santa Clara such that the minimum wage will be consistent among those cities and the City of Cupertino in 2021 and in subsequent years to achieve a desired uniformity among the cities of Los Altos, Palo Alto, and Santa Clara. The city of Cupertino established a minimum wage of $15 an hour in 2016, with annual cost of living increases. It was $15.35 in 2020, but surrounding cities increased their minimum wage to $15.40, using a slightly different methodology. This proposal would make Cupertino’s minimum wage consistent with surrounding cities.

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

As with all matters, feel free to voice your opinions to individual councilmembers, the council as a whole, the city manager, and the city clerk to have your thoughts and views heard. Note that emails to city council as a whole are forwarded to the city manager, whereas emails to individual councilmembers are not. Clearly include in your subject line the topic or agenda item on which you are commenting:

City Manager Deb Feng:
City Clerk Kirsten Squarcia:
City Council:
Mayor Steven Scharf:
Vice-Mayor Darcy Paul: 
Councilmember Liang Chao:
Councilmember Rod Sinks:
Councilmember Jon Willey:


Check out the sticky for J.R. Fruen, candidate for city council, on the front page. The cover photo and article on page 5 is “Sharing diverse interests: Local teen author shares love of coding through books”, about Ria Doshi, a student at Monta Vista High School. Community briefs on 10 are (1) “SVCE launches eHub”, regarding Silicon Valley Clean Energy online resource to reduce carbon footprint and (2) Turkey Trot’s hometown heroes”. There is a legal notice on page 33 regarding municipal code amendments regarding Dark Sky and Bird Safe policies and guidelines which will be considered at the Planning Commission on Oct. 27, and tentatively scheduled for the Dec. 1, 2020 council meeting.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor