Cupertino Matters

Where did January go? The rain this week is welcome, but more is needed to prevent drought conditions. The major topic in the city was random availability of COVID-19 vaccinations. Hopefully, the new national administration will be able to significantly improve distribution of the vaccines.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL MEETING Tues., Feb 2, 2021, 6:45 Regular Meeting

With only three substantive items on the agenda, this may be a relatively short meeting.

The sole Ceremonial Matters and Presentations is Item #1 Recognition of Fine Arts Commission Artists Award winners. Item #2 is the City Manager update on emergency response efforts and Item #3 is Report on Committee assignments by council members. The Consent Calendar appears to be routine. Item #5 is Award of a construction contract for the Bubb Road Separated Bikeway Improvements Project (Project 2020-06) for the construction of the separation of bike lanes on Bubb Road, between McClellan Road and Stevens Creek Boulevard, which may get pulled for discussion. The bid came in below estimates at $663,247 submitted by Graniterock. This project is funded by Apple.

Item #14 Second reading of Ordinance No. 21-2220 adopting Municipal Code Amendments to update existing Mobile Vending regulations. This should be a routine approval since the first reading was approved unanimously on Jan. 19, 2021,

Item #15 Consider modifications to the Procedures for Processing General Plan Amendment Applications to implement the Fiscal Year 2020/21 City Work Program items related to quality of life. Expect to hear extensive debate on this process. The Planning Commission voted 3-2 to maintain the twice a year schedule for the “gateway” process, but allowing resubmission within 6 months, rather than the current 30 days.  Another change is the review by the Planning Commission before going to council. Questionable modifications to the evaluation are (1) Traffic Impacts when the project has yet to be approved and (2) Expected Student Generation, which is not available from the schools. Is the amount of data unreasonable for a preliminary assessment?

Item #16 Consider Municipal Code Amendments adding Chapter 2.100 (“Regulation of Lobbying Activities”) to Title 2 (“Administration and Personnel”) of the Cupertino Municipal Code to create lobbying registration and reporting requirements, Mayor Darcy Paul initiated this item. Staff evaluated 3 entities for their lobbyist registration process: City of Santa Clara, City of San Jose, and Santa Clara County. Cupertino is most comparable to the city of Santa Clara, which is twice as big and has a city owned convention center and joint management of Levi Stadium: City of Santa Clara Lobbyist Information. The list of registered lobbyists is primarily developers, the 49ers, and a handful of consultants, all well-known to the city. Evidently, their registration has been unenforceable since the few local lobbyists aren’t limited to city boundaries. Other west valley cities (Sunnyvale, Saratoga, Mountain View and Los Altos) haven’t felt the need to create additional work for their staff. In practice, consultants working on behalf of a developer clearly identify themselves when interacting with council. So, what’s the problem?  Why waste scarce city resources to develop a fee schedule and enforcement regimen for no benefit to the public?

Item #17 Consider adopting the 2021 Legislative Platform. Originally intended as a way to allow council to respond to bills in Sacramento during the summertime when council was not in session, the Legislative Review Committee under Vice-Mayor Chao has co-opted city resources to lobby year-round to oppose a broad range of legislation. The city has engaged Townsend Public Affairs as a lobbyist for the city. While the addition of language regarding the homeless is welcome, is it reasonable to have 8 pages of issues to lobby? As long as statements fall within the board scope of the platform, the activity of this committee is not visible to the public. As a small city, Cupertino has limited influence and has developed a poor reputation among state legislators, particularly with regard to housing. Wouldn’t resources be better spent collaborating with other west valley cities on common goals?

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

EXPRESS YOUR OPINION: Readers are encouraged to speak at council meeting, either at Oral Communications on any topic, or on specific agenda items. Speakers have three minutes, and coaching is available!  Readers are also encouraged to email individual council members, the council as a whole, the city manager, and the city clerk.  These become part of the public record. Contacts at

RECAP – PLANNING COMMISSION, Tues. Jan. 26, 6:45 p.m. Part 1: 2 hr 15 min.; Part 2: 1 hr. 45 min. Starting Item #4

This was the last meeting for commissioners Alan Takahashi and David Fung, who have been such strong contributors.  Their expertise will be greatly missed as new planning commissioners have to deal with new state laws and RHNA housing allocations.  Commissioner Vikram Saxena was absent.

The major news is that the draft RHNA housing allocations for Cupertino have been reduced from 6,222 units to 4,588, which is a somewhat more realistic target, but still means adding the equivalent of another Vallco to our housing stock.

Item #2: Study Session to compare standards for mixed-use developments and high-density residential guidelines with other cities. The staff report for this meeting is well worth reviewing, as well as the commission discussion. Looking at surrounding cities similar to Cupertino, staff researched seven municipal codes, four General Plans and 17 Specific Plans. Mixed use developments by their nature differ widely. The staff presentation provided the ranges for (1) setbacks, (2) setbacks adjacent to residential development, (3) height, (4) ground level design, (5) maximum FAR and residential density, (6) open space and (7) parking requirements. Cupertino’s requirements generally fit within the range of variation.

Item #3: Consider the modification to an existing Use Permit (U-2004-01) to amend the conditions of approval to allow 100% non-retail commercial uses where only 50% are allowed. Application No(s).: M-2020-002; Applicant(s): Catherine Chen; Location: 20130 Stevens Creek Blvd. The business environment has changed substantially from the time of the 2009 use permit. This 1200 sq. ft. space has been vacant for 5 years, due to limited parking and its mid-block location. Approved 4-0-1 with Commissioner Saxena absent.

Item #4: Consider a Municipal Code Amendment as part of the transition from Level of Service (LOS) to Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) for determination of transportation impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which is a change required by Senate Bill (SB) 743. This had been previously considered, so the staff report was an update from the previous meeting. approved 4-0-1 with Commissioner Saxena absent.

Item #5: General Plan Annual Review (continued from the January 12, 2021 meeting). This was a continuation from previous meetings as the commission continued sloughing through line-by-line.

CUPERTINO COURIER, January 29, 2021

The cover picture and feature story on page 5 is A Calming Influence:  Rumba is dogged in supporting young clients at Cupertino clinic, highlighting a therapy dog. Community briefs on page 5 are (1) Taste of History at the Euphrat Museum of Art at DeAnza College and (2) Student Leaders sought. Page 20 has several minor legal notices.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor