Cupertino Matters

Upcoming city meetings feature light agendas now that only a week until the election on Nov. 3 remains. Note: the next city council meeting will occur on Monday, Nov. 2, rather than on Election Day, Tues. Nov. 3.

Ballots may be dropped off in Cupertino outside city hall (two boxes) and Quinlan Community Center. In addition, voters may mail in their ballots. There will be three vote centers for in-person voting, the Quinlan Community Center, the FUHSD Adult school and Rancho Rinconada Recreation building.

Still doing your research? The candidate and proposition forums are available online with links to 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 the candidates themselves as well as endorsements and contributions.

Also review recommendations for both candidates and propositions. Cupertino Matters recommends J.R. Fruen and Hung Wei for city council as articulated in our Oct. 11,2020 Editorial. They have both been endorsed by the Mercury News, which provides readable analyses on their editorial pages, whether or not readers may agree with their positions on propositions.

It’s time for new leadership on the Cupertino city council. We need council members who can provide sensible leadership for the challenges ahead, not dredging up past mistakes. Both candidates have been endorsed by an extensive list of previous mayors, who certainly understand the qualifications to be effective governing elected officials. Here are the candidate websites:

As you consider candidates, note also what they’ve failed to disclose. Mayor Scharf calls himself an “embedded systems engineer” associated with a company called “Nordic Group.” Yet, there is no such company currently listed as legally operating in California. Similarly, county records reveal no fictitious business name for such an entity, and city records do not appear to show any business license tax paid. Mayor Scharf appears to be running a fake business and to have fraudulently described himself on the ballot. Indeed, it is not clear when Mayor Scharf last worked as an embedded systems engineer. The only person to vouch for him in his ballot designation paperwork is his wife.

Similarly, a review of Chair Kitty Moore’s work history on LinkedIn reveals sparse employment history and her license as a civil engineer previously lapsed.

Are these candidates being honest with us about their backgrounds and accomplishments? It doesn’t look that way.

UPDATE: Cupertino Union School District (CUSD) Oct. 22, 2020  meeting

Elections for two seats on the Board coincide with even more dire financial forecasts for the district. CUSD has been financially strapped for years, but the increased costs due to COVID-19 have stretched resources even thinner. The funding picture remains cloudy with potential state funding cuts, but won’t improve. The board can’t wait for the pandemic to subside before taking action.

Previous boards failed to take significant action to “rightsize” the district by closing some school sites. Earlier this year, a Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) was convened to explore recommendations to consolidate schools. On Thursday, Oct. 22, their findings were presented to the board. Six different scenarios were presented, with different combinations of school closures that are raising community protests.

The fundamental issue is that school enrollment is dropping due to basic demographics – aging boomers and fewer kids per household, exacerbated by the lack of new housing in Cupertino. Enrollment numbers from the board packet show a projected drop of 25% in student enrollment in the next 5 years:

  • 2015/16   18,910
  • 2019/20   16,712
  • 2024/25   14,264

A business which loses 25% of its customers would “rightsize” the organization. CUSD has 25 schools, so that means roughly 6 schools need to be closed. The picture for the future is even bleaker.

The key planning demographic is the number of kindergartners – only 1584 for 2019.  This is the cohort that moves through the school system in the next 8 years, then 4 years of high school – a 12 year planning cycle. At 30 students per class, that’s 53 classrooms. Schools need 3 – 6 kindergarten classes to be viable. That translates into a maximum of 18 schools at 3 kinder classes per school. Some schools are going to have more because they are in the northern part of CUSD, so the real number of needed schools is somewhere between 9 and 18, but CUSD currently has 25.

CUSD therefore has to plan for gradually reducing the number of schools in the district, regardless of resolving funding sources. Parts of the school community continue to deny the drop in enrollment and are reacting with a Save Our Cupertino Schools campaign. Board members were clear that they have no desire to take the very difficult step of closing schools. However, upcoming deadlines for budget actions necessitate action (or at least a backup plan). Failure to show a balanced 3-year budget in June, 2021, could lead to a state takeover of CUSD. Few members of the public seem to be aware of this stark reality.

Changes in schools always generate turmoil, but these consolidations will occur on a larger scale than typical. Consider voting for the incumbents with experience,  Phyllis  Vogel and Sylvia  Leong – “new thinking” won’t change reality.

UPCOMING – PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – Tues., Oct. 27, 2020,  6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting – Teleconference

The agenda has only three items in addition to approval of the minutes.

Item #2: Modification to Use Permit (U-2011-09) and an Architectural and Site approval to allow for the installation of two (2) hydrogen refueling dispensers and accessory utility structures, site improvements and landscaping to an existing gasoline station (BSP Union). This should be a straightforward approval that doesn’t go to council.

Item #3: Consider Municipal Code Amendments to update existing Mobile Vending regulations, including, but not limited to, regulations in Chapter 5.48, and potential conforming edits to other chapters in the Municipal Code, including in Titles 5, 11, 13 and 19, and adopting new policies and definitions regulating Mobile Vendors. The council Work Plan includes updating the municipal code to clarify these types of businesses, but outreach has generated little interest from the public or local vendors.

Item #4: 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. Another Work Program item that is a continuation from the Aug. 11, 2020, meeting.

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

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

YouTube:  2 hr. 33 min.

This meeting adjourned at 9:15 p.m., the shortest meeting ever chaired by Mayor Steven Scharf during his two years. The closed door session regarding 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) ran late delaying the start of the regular meeting. No action was reported. Councilmember Liang Chao was recused due to the proximity of her residence to Vallco.

Item 3: City Manager’s update on emergency response efforts. The report covered an update on COVID-19, parks and recreation programs, Halloween, and the homeless encampments. Ballot boxes are now in place at Quinlan, city hall, and De Anza College.  Cupertino will have two vote centers for in person voting at the Quinlan Community Center and the FUHSD Adult School. You can find county updates here.

Item #4 Report on Committee assignments was brief. Councilmember Liang Chao pulled  Item #9: FY 2020-21 Interim Budget and Key Projects Update. Sales tax is up 105% due to work-from-home; transient occupancy tax from hotels is down 86%.  No substantial changes appear in the overall budget.

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 modified to set a level of noise, rather than specifying the type of leaf blower. The item was then approved unanimously.

Item #11: Minor, cleanup amendments to the Cupertino Municipal Code. Five changes were proposed. Minimal discussion ensued. The amendments received unanimous approval.

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. Council engaged in minimal discussion before agreeing that Cupertino’s minimum wage should be consistent with surrounding cities. Council unanimously approved.

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 article on page 5 is “Delivering for the elderly: The Basin makes Great Plates for vulnerable seniors”, a program for restaurants to provide meals to seniors in Cupertino, Saratoga, and Sunnyvale. Community briefs on 5 are (1) “Second Harvest needs volunteers” and (2) “Support for eating disorders”. 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