Cupertino Matters

Ballots should start arriving in your mailbox in the next 10 days. Readers can get live ballot tracking on their phones or via email by signing up for Ballot Trax from Santa Clara County. You’ll receive updates as your ballot is returned and processed. Sign up at

There are quite a few ballot measures, but readers need to be aware of an important one at the bottom of the ballot. It is Measure M, which is the renewal of the $98 parcel tax to fund Fremont Union High School District’s budget. Renewal of this parcel tax is critical to balancing the budget, but it has gotten little attention from the community. It requires a ⅔ vote since it is a tax measure. More information at A measure like this, placed so far down the ballot, has to contend with ballot fatigue. If our schools and their funding matter to you, you might help combat that trend by spreading the word about this measure.

Ballot measures are expensive for school districts. The initial study for a ballot measure is about $25,000 to determine feasibility. A district has to pay to put the measure on the ballot, and that can cost from $100,000 in a regular election to $1,000,000 for a special election. Then a campaign committee has to raise a minimum of $100,000 in private donations to run the campaign, since public monies can’t be used.

Some candidates for city council and CUSD board (Steven Scharf, Kitty Moore and Sudha Kasamsetty) are touting, instead, a different “parcel” tax based on square footage in replacement of the current standard parcel tax as the silver bullet for CUSD’s budget woes. Their analysis has failed to account for these costs which may stem from their lack of familiarity with campaigning for a tax measure–it’s very hard to reach the ⅔ vote required under California law for such taxes and the money spent on the campaign cannot be recovered. Two very recent parcel tax measures both failed–Measure O, to support CUSD, and Measure H to support FHDA. Measure H received significant campaign support from Foothill-De Anza faculty and students, yet still narrowly missed the ⅔ voter approval requirement to pass. Both were new taxes. The frequent citation to Berkeley Unified School District’s per square foot parcel tax fails to note that its recent approval was a renewal, not a new imposition of a tax. There seems to be little public appetite for new taxes. There is likely less in the current economic climate.


RESCHEDULED Cupertino Chamber of Commerce Forum on Friday, October 9, 2020 at 3:00 – 4:30  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

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


The YouTube video for the Rotary/LWVCS League of Women Voters – Cupertino Sunnyvale forum on September 30, 2020 featuring candidates for the Cupertino Union School District (CUSD) Board is now available.

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

Of the four candidates, 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 with the mid-term departure of Liang Chao.

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

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL MEETING Tues., Oct. 6, 2020, 6:45 Regular Meeting; 5:00 Closed Session,  5:30 Study Session  – Teleconference

The meeting this week starts with yet another Closed Session to consider initiating new litigation. Whom does this council want to sue now? A Study Session on a 10-year franchisee agreement with Recology for waste removal then follows.

With minimal items on the agenda, there are two Ceremonial Matters and Presentations: (1) Proclamation declaring October 4th to 10th as Mental Illness Awareness Week and (2) Proclamation declaring the 2nd week in October as Code Enforcement Officer Appreciation Week.

Item 3: City Manager’s update on emergency response efforts. This now covers response to the wildfires, heat events, potential PG & E power outages as well as COVID-19 impacts. The good news is that more businesses are opening up. You can find county updates here.

Item #4: Councilmembers’ reports on Committee assignments should be minimal. Following this item, the consent calendar has only four items consisting of approval of the minutes and three construction contracts.

Item #9: Discussion to adopt a position on Proposition 16, Proposition 19, Proposition 21, Measure RR, and Measure S that are on the November 2020 General Election Ballot. Mayor Scharf represents Cupertino on the Cities Association of Santa Clara County, which is considering taking a position on the following ballot measures:

(1) Proposition 16, which ends the ban on affirmative action in the state, repealing Proposition 209 enacted in 1996. This is a STATE proposition, so why would the city take a position on a highly controversial item irrelevant to the city?

(2)  Proposition 19, which changes some rules for property transfers, allowing mobility in carrying Prop. 13 tax basis to other parts of California and limits the inheritability of Prop. 13 tax basis to principal residences. The proposition enjoys the broad support of the real estate industry, but it has gotten mixed reviews from policy advocates.

(3) Proposition 21 expands local government’s authority to enact rent control, replacing the Costa-Hawkins Housing Act. Generally, property owners oppose and renters favor this proposition.

(4) Measure RR is a Caltrain ⅛ Cent Sales Tax. The loss of ridership on Caltrain has been devastating for their finances. This measure would provide a dedicated revenue source to keep the commuter trains solvent until the economy rebounds.

(5) Measure S for the Santa Clara Valley Water District would make permanent an annual tax of $67.67 per home to ensure the safety of our drinking water supply.

Item #10: City Council to consider modification of Cupertino Municipal Code Section 2.18.030 to limit the use of City Attorney time by individual City Councilmembers. This appears to be a response to recent criticism of high legal expenses for the city. Even at a limit of 2 hours per week, this means that the city attorney could be spending 10 hours per month for 5 council members, which is 50 hours–more than a full week of billable hours. At $275 per hour, that translates into $13,750 a month or over $165,000 a year  just for councilmembers. The city attorney’s client is the city as an entity, not individual councilmembers. This needs monitoring for abuse.

Item #11 COVID-19 Response: Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act Framework and Funding Priorities. The city will be receiving $1,289,198 in CARES ACT relief funding. This item informs the council on allocation of costs to these monies.

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 a  pro forma  procedural requirement to approve the minutes of the meeting on Sept. 15, which authorized the city to refinance its debt.

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


Community briefs on page 5 are (1) COVID-19 testing at the Cupertino Senior Center on Oct. 7 and 21 and (2) Virtual NAMI talk on mental health. There is a legal notice on page 33 regarding municipal code amendments regulating Mobile Vending, which will be heard by the Planning Commission on Oct. 13, and city council tentatively on Nov. 17.

Hope you will be joining me in watching the vice-presidential debate as well as other forums.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor