Cupertino Matters

Last minute election shenanigans have popped up. Last week, the CUSD Citizens’ Advisory Committee reported six scenarios which included potential school closings. There were NO decisions made yet concerned parent groups have quickly formed to “Save Our Schools”, and inundated board members and the city council with emails and protests. There is a lot of misinformation being spread on NextDoor and social media; the district is responding by holding Town Halls to talk directly with parents.

Now city council candidates Kitty Moore and Steven Scharf are claiming that they can “Save Our Schools”, even though Cupertino is only one of six cities included in the CUSD attendance area. Many parents do not realize that the city has no jurisdiction over operation of school districts.

On the eve of the election, Mayor Scharf has added an agenda item to consider acquisition of the Finch district property from CUSD. The agenda item was then broadened to discuss other potential steps to assist CUSD in light of potential school closures in Cupertino, thus allowing council members to claim that they are “helping” CUSD.  Please consider joining the council meeting and voice your opinion on Agenda Item #22. Declining enrollment and the funding challenge created for CUSD has been known for years, yet only now, on the eve of the election does Mr. Scharf see fit to try to assist through the city. How is this not mere electioneering on the city staff’s time?

The CUSD budget situation is dire, but fiscal solutions are not within the scope of the city, with its own financial challenges.  The fundamental issue is the drop in student enrollment.  CUSD is guaranteed $8,537 per student, a combination of property tax and state backfill, under the LCCF funding formula established in 2013 to replace an older funding model. Current enrollment projections show a 25% decline in student enrollment, resulting in a cumulative loss of $31,819,521 from 2015-2016 through 2022-23, which can’t be sustained by the district.

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

In August, Cupertino Matters submitted a  PRA (Public Records Act) request to the city for all legal costs associated with the Friends of Better Cupertino 35 litigation (Case # 18CV330190) filed by Kitty Moore, Ignatius Ding and Peggy Griffin.  This turned out to be123 pages of records, but the information provided by the city attorney’s office was incomplete.

Buried in the SB35 agreement with the city was an Indemnification clause which required Sand Hill properties to reimburse the city for lawsuits brought by a third party. This was not provided with the PRA request.  Last week, copies of checks from Sand Hill Properties obtained by a separate PRA request were posted on NextDoor. The checks total is $221,113.90.  There is also a separate check for $4327 from Friends of Better Cupertino/Better Cupertino to SHP, probably for filing fees.

At this point, it’s hard to determine what the true cost of the Friends of Better Cupertino lawsuit. The PRA request shows $428,764 in expenses, plus an unknown amount of city attorney staff time prior to the contract with Shute Mihaly and Weinberger.  The city attorney expenses for 2018 were $495,436 and for 2019 the expenses were $168,128. In addition, non-quantifiable administrative time was involved in closed door meetings, developing reports and communications.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL MEETING Tues., Nov 2, 2020, 6:45 Regular Meeting; 5:30 Study Session

This meeting has a light agenda. The study session is a Presentation on the transition from Level of Service (LOS) to Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) for determination of transportation impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), as required by Senate Bill (SB) 743. This will be a technical discussion regarding traffic impacts, and changes required for planning staff in approving projects. The sole Ceremonial Presentation is Certificates of Appreciation to volunteers at the Silicon Valley Korean School (SVKS).

Item 3: City Manager’s update on emergency response efforts. Unfortunately, the number of COVI-19 cases is increasing in Cupertino, though the level is the lowest in the county. The report will cover election activities as well as responses to all emergencies. You can find county updates on COVID-19 here.

Item #4 Report on Committee assignments is usually brief. The consent calendar is routine.

Item #18 Second reading of Ordinance No. 20-2213 adopting 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. Previously approved, this should be a routine second reading.

Item #19: Second reading of Ordinance No. 20-2214 to adopt minor, cleanup amendments to the Cupertino Municipal Code: “An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Cupertino amending Cupertino Municipal Code Section 2.04.010 (concerning regular meetings of the City Council); Section 2.28.040 (concerning powers and duties of the City Manager); Section 8.01.090 (concerning animals in City buildings); Chapter 11.08 (concerning bicycle licensing and registration); and Section 13.04.190 (concerning activities prohibited in City parks). Previously approved, this should be a routine second reading.

Item #20 Second reading of Ordinance No. 20-2215 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. Previously approved, this should be a routine second reading.

Item #21 Discuss improvements to the Weed Abatement Program and approve a budget appropriation (BMN 2021-105) of $8,046 to supplement outreach for the Weed Abatement Program and to cover initial inspection fees for properties found to be in compliance. This council has spent much, too much time on this annual county program. This item proposes to spend another $8,046 to modify procedures to satisfy Councilmember Liang Chao personally. She was previously cited for non-compliance, requesting a personal exemption that was denied by council upon expression of outrage from the public. Why is this council spending money and time on a minor matter that previous councils authorized on the consent calendar?

Item #22 Consider investigating potential acquisition of Cupertino Union School District (CUSD) property located on Finch Avenue next to D. J. Sedgwick Elementary School and discuss other potential steps to assist CUSD in light of potential school closures in Cupertino; provide direction to staff on these issues. This is a last-minute electioneering move on the part of Mayor Steven Scharf in conjunction with Councilmember Liang Chao. CUSD is facing a financial crunch, and nominally, the item is to consider an offer to acquire a property owned by the district to “help” the budget crisis. The district has already stated a sale would be a one-time capital infusion of restricted funds, not badly needed operating income, and which doesn’t fit their fiscal needs. Plus there is no money in the city capital budget for additional acquisitions.

However, the item was amended to broaden the discussion, so expect grandstanding on potential relief measures that are illegal, unfeasible or not useful to the school district. The staff report is worth perusing since it quantifies $2,049,320 in programs that the city already provides to CUSD. Most of this is athletic field maintenance.

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


YouTube:  Part 1 3 hr. 28 min. Part 2 1 hr. 39 min.

This was an unusually long Planning Commission meeting, ending at midnight.

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). Commissioners were enthusiastic about installation of an alternative fuel site in Cupertino. Approved unanimously.

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 Cupertino Municipal Code has to be revised to meet SB 946 standards. The staff recommended going beyond the minimum revisions, but after discussion, the commission ultimately decided to adopt the minimum necessary to meet state standards. Approved 3-2, with Fung and Takahashi voting nay.

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. The speakers during public input urged adoption of these policies. The commission got bogged down in discussion of string lights in residential areas. The item finally passed 4-1, with Vice-Chair Ray Wang voting nay.


The cover photo and article on page 5 is “The Young Coders: Cupertino siblings make coding connection with Indian Village”. Community briefs on page 12 are (1) “More RYDEs Coming”, an expansion of rides for seniors and (2) “Valley Water Grants”. Legal notices on page 32 included a Notice about applying to serve on a city commission.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Edit