- Election and CUSD update
- TONIGHT Nov.10, 2020, 6:45 p.m. Planning Commission
- Recap City Council, Nov. 2, 2020
Local election returns are trickling in with ballots still being counted. The apparent winners of the city council race are Hung Wei and Kitty Moore. J.R. Fruen was a strong contender and has maintained a vote lead over incumbent two-time mayor, Steven Scharf, since Election Day. The final candidate Charlene Lee, with her many signs around town, surprisingly received over 3,000 votes. The election of Kitty Moore may prove especially problematic because of her past commentary on housing impacts in Cupertino and her lawsuit against the city over the Vallco SB 35 project. There is also a FPPC investigation into her campaign currently underway.
Voter turnout is high for this election. As of now, Hung Wei has garnered 10,847 votes, more than Darcy Paul in 2018 (9,518 votes),previously the highest vote-getter in the history of Cupertino. With 87% of the ballots counted, the totals will go higher. J.R. Fruen has more votes (8,998) than current council members Liang Chao (8,529) and Jon Willey (7,400).
Cupertino has garnered positive press on the national level, with an article in Forbes, highlighting the contribution of Bill Mitchell, the city’s Chief Technology Officer, in ensuring that city operations remained functional with shelter-in-place and everyone working from home. He prepared for an earthquake, but got a pandemic instead. The same strategy worked for both, enabling the city to continue operations with little to no disruption. Well done!
Another step forward is the formal announcement of city funded housing programs for DeAnza students. The Housing Assistance Grants Program will be administered by West Valley Community Service and the House Sharing Program will be a partnership between Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and the Cupertino Senior Center.
Cupertino Union School District (CUSD ) Updates
Incumbent board members Sylvia Leong and Phyllis Vogel have apparently retained their board seats, fending off a challenge from Fine Arts Commissioner Sudha Kasamsettty.
November will be a contentious month. The regular board meeting on Nov. 5 included two key agenda items: (1) Plan for reopening schools, which is quite complex, and (2) Consideration of a parcel tax and long term fiscal stability. The meeting ran until 1 a.m. with public comment from parents concerned about potential school closures. Potential closures were covered in the Mercury News, then reprinted in this week’s Cupertino Courier. The Los Altos Town Crier posted an article “Financially strapped CUSD considers shuttering schools.”
Tuesday, Nov 10, 6 p.m. is a special board meeting for in depth consideration of a parcel tax and long term fiscal stability. CUSD is in a time bind, since the deadline to file a parcel tax ballot measure is in January or February, yet the parameters have yet to be decided. The school district budget has to be finalized by June 30, 2021, and it must show a budget in the black for the ensuing three years in order to avoid intervention from the state Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The school community is up in arms about potential school closures. A petition to keep all CUSD schools open is being circulated. A car rally occurred on Sat. Nov. 7. Oddly, many continue to deny the decline in school enrollment, and the need to reduce fixed costs to stay fiscally solvent.
A major issue is that the impact of declining enrollment is not obvious at the individual school level. A district wide decline of 500 students (equivalent of an elementary school) is an average of 20 students per school for 25 schools. That’s less than 3 students per grade level, which could be interpreted as normal fluctuation. The decline is more apparent among the schools in the southern part of the district, but enrollment in the northern part has remained more stable. So using 12 schools, that’s 42 students per school or 5 per grade. If there are 3 classes per grade, this means only a 1-2 student loss in each classroom.
This signal was observed in 2014 when housing prices started to escalate, and has continued since then, with an even larger decline this year. Now, the district faces the cumulative effect, and the parent community is having difficulty with the message that changes in school configuration are required to maintain fiscal solvency absent sizable new funding sources. The current enrollment projections show a 25% decline in student enrollment district-wide, resulting in a cumulative loss of $31,819,521 from 2015-2016 through 2022-23.
UPCOMING – PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – Tues., Nov. 10, 2020, 6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting – Teleconference
The agenda has only two items in addition to approval of the minutes.
Item #2:Review of ABAG’s “Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) Proposed Methodology Report: San Francisco Bay Area, 2023 – 2031” Recent housing bills mandate that city councils approve much more housing than they have allowed in the past. California as a whole has failed to build adequate housing, so the state legislature has taken action with recent housing bills. Local city councils have strongly opposed the higher levels. Discussion at the Planning Commission is likely to center on the methodology and calculations and the comment period for the draft allocations.
The bottom line for Cupertino is that the city must plan to build an additional 6,222 units of housing. That’s 2.6 Vallcos. How will the next council deal with this reality, given its majority opposition to development?
Item #3 General Plan Annual Report for the year 2020. This is a continuation of an unnecessarily detailed review of the General Plan initiated on Oct. 17. There is a 2 hour time limit.
RECAP – CITY COUNCIL MEETING – Tues., Nov, 2, 2020
The meeting ended at 10:00 p.m., reflecting a light agenda on election eve.
Item 3: City Manager’s update on emergency response efforts. Deb Feng reported that Parks and Recreation classes and recreational facilities are going well, and adjusting to the time change. COVID-10 testing continues to be available at the senior center. The city has awarded $5,000 awards to 37 local businesses.
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. This item was unanimously approved.
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). This item was unanimously approved.
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. This item was unanimously approved.
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. Councilmember Liang Chao recused herself from deliberation and voting, but spoke as a private individual during public input on this item. After brief discussion, council approved $8,886 to modify procedures to satisfy her complaints–approved 4-0 with Chao recused.
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. Council spent an hour and a half on thinly disguised electioneering. Neither the city nor CUSD is considering actual purchase of the Finch Property. There were 17 speakers in public comment, covering a gamut of outright election campaigning to very confused parents asking the city to prevent any school closures, clearly out of scope for the city. CUSD Acting Superintendent, Stacy McAfee-Yao and Board President Lori Cunningham gave brief presentations explaining that CUSD covers 6 cities, not just Cupertino which comprises 43% of the district enrollment. They clearly explained that the district has its own governance, board meetings and processes, and welcomes collaboration when appropriate. It is notable, also, that purchase of district land would result in restricted dollars for CUSD. I.e. such money would have to go to one-time expenses as opposed to entering the General Fund and giving the district flexibility in addressing its budget issues.
Your voice is important. Information on expressing your opinion via emails and oral communications with the city can be found at https://cupertinomatters.org/express-your-opinion/
CUPERTINO COURIER, November 6, 2020
The cover photo and article on page 5 is “Taking a stand for schools: Parents rankled by proposed school closures”, regarding the need to consolidate schools due to declining school enrollment. On page 10, “Campbell’s Pizzeria opening a new Italian Restaurant in Cupertino” discusses a new pizzeria replacing Doppio Zero, which closed this summer. Community briefs on page 6 are (1) “Wildlife Video Games”, replacing the annual Audubon Wildlife and Harvest Day, and (2) “Health education lectures” sponsored by Bay Area Older Adults. Legal notices on page 20 include (1) Solicitation of funding proposals for capital housing projects, and (2) Public hearing regarding nexus study and update of transportation impact fee.
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