Cupertino Matters

The warmer weather and longer days are welcome, prompting more walkers and bikers to enjoy the outdoors. Significant progress can be seen on the community gardens at McClellan Ranch, as well as among trail projects. Reservations for outdoor dining are fully booked as the community enjoys getting out.

This year, Mayor Darcy Paul has been able to shorten city council meetings by limiting the number of agenda items, and controlling the length of council questions and deliberations. He has also established a new procedure for Oral Communications.  Speakers must raise their hand before the first speaker finishes, thus limiting the number of speakers.

Despite this promising beginning, Mayor Paul has reverted to old practices of governing behind closed doors. The last minute closed session on Feb. 9, resulted in the announcement that the city was terminating its contract agreement with Heather Minner of Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger to recruit an in-house attorney for the city, citing supposed cost savings. Will those cost savings result here? The previous city attorney had 5 full-time employee equivalents? The contract arrangement had built in billing accountability; the in-house arrangement lends itself to increased council influence.

This week, Tuesday, February 25, another closed session regarding litigation was scheduled with 24-hour notice. Council is slated to address four existing cases and two unnamed potential cases it is contemplating initiating. So which is the source of Cupertino’s $2 million annual legal bills–the organization of the office or this council’s legal adventures?

UPCOMING – CUSD Board Meeting – Thurs., Feb. 25, 2021; Closed session 5:30 p.m. Regular session 6 p.m.  

Item 11.2 is Reopening of school update with the full agenda available on BoardDocs. There has been significant parent pressure for a more concrete and aggressive schedule for returning to in-person instruction, despite the uncertainty of county, state and federal actions regarding schools. Whatever variant of “opening schools” is decided, it won’t be the old “normal” of school everyday, 8 to 3. COVID-19 restrictions mandate 6 feet social distancing so classrooms will be at approximately half capacity, likely necessitating block scheduling.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL MEETING Tues., Feb 23, 2021, 6:00 Closed Session

Another last minute closed session with an unusual number of legal actions, with both existing litigation and anticipated new litigation initiated by the city.

Item #1 Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation. Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(1), conference with Legal Counsel regarding existing litigation: a. Huang Family v. City of Cupertino, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 19CV347316. b. Carla Dearmitt v. City of Cupertino, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No.: 20CV367431 c. City of Arcata et al. v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., San Francisco County Superior Court Case No. CGC-20-585483 d. Peter Plotzker v. City of Cupertino, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No.: 19CV354371

Item #2: Conference with Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation. Initiation of litigation pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(4) (two potential cases)  

UPCOMING – PLANNING COMMISSION Tues., Feb 23, 2021, 6:45 Regular Meeting

Item #1 Presentation and training on Commissioner Handbook approved by City Council on January 19, 2021 (postponed from the February 9, 2021 meeting) All commissions are receiving training using the new commissioners handbook. Item #2 is approval of Draft Minutes of January 26, 2021 (postponed from the February 9, 2021 meeting). Item #3 is approval of Draft Minutes of February 9, 2021.

Item #4 Hillside Exception application to consider allowing the construction of a 1,400 square foot deck at an existing single family residence on a prominent ridgeline. Application No(s).: EXC-2020-004; Applicant(s): Glenn Katz (Kapadia residence); Location: 22245 Canyon View Cir. This is another minor hillside exception application. The original rotting deck was demolished in 2015, then the building permit for the replacement structure expired in March 2017. Therefore, the homeowner has to go through the reapplication process to build a 1,400 sq. ft. deck on a 3,976 sq. ft. house. Staff is recommending approval; no neighborhood complaints have been filed.

Item #5 Consider amendments to Cupertino Municipal Code Sections 19.56.030A (Table 19.56.030) and 19.56.030F (Density Bonus Ordinance) to incentivize the development of affordable housing by allowing for density bonuses of up to 40 percent City council approved this resolution at their Dec. 15, 2021 regular meeting, restricting development density bonuses to 40%, rather than the 50% for affordable housing allowed by state law AB 2345 effective Jan. 1, 2021. However, that action was a resolution, not an ordinance so has to go through the normal process of review by the planning commission. There was extensive public input pointing out that this action makes housing more difficult to build. Council was put on notice of potential litigation by  California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund (CaRLA), which won the Los Altos SB35 approval case.

Item #6 Discussion about the aesthetics of small cell facilities (5G) There have been a number of complaints at city council regarding installation of these facilities which are allowed per state and federal mandates to improve cellular communication. City action is limited to consideration of aesthetics. The challenge is balancing neighborhood concerns with legal compliance.

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL MEETING Tues., Feb 16, 2021, 6:45 Regular Meeting; Study Session 5:30 

YouTube Part 1 –  1 hr. 10 min. Part 2 – 3hr. 27 min.

Study Session to compare standards for mixed-use developments and high density residential guidelines with other cities. This was a well-done study with a staff report which reviewed plans from surrounding cities to better understand their regulatory structure for mixed use developments. None of the jurisdictions have one-size-fits-all standards for mixed use projects, which are inherently complex and context-based. Instead, standards are incorporated into Specific Plans. This council still favors stringent citywide objective standards which restrict development.

The Closed Session report out  on Tues. Feb.9, 2021: Public Employee Structural Performance Evaluation (Gov’t Code Section 54957(b)). Title: City Attorney was a spin on the subcommittee (Mayor Paul and Councilmember Jon Willey) recommendation to revert to the in-house structure for city attorney services.

Item #4 Cupertino Union School District (CUSD) collaboration discussion update was brief. The district will consider lease of the Finch Avenue site, and the Montebello school site may be sold. Item #5 the FY 2020-21 Interim Budget and Key Projects Update, which will be considered in more depth at the March 2, 2021 meeting. The topic of the definition of objective standards remains a source of conflict with Vice-Mayor Liang Chao.

Item #14 Consider and act on Ordinance No. 21-2220 adopting Municipal Code Amendments to update existing Mobile Vending regulations, including conforming edits to Titles 5 and 13 in the Municipal Code, for new regulations of Sidewalk Vending in compliance with SB 946. Modifications were approved unanimously.

Item #15 Consider and act on Ordinance No. 21-2222: “An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Cupertino Adding Chapter 2.100 (“Regulation of Lobbying Activities”) to Title 2 (“Administration and Personnel”) of the Cupertino Municipal Code”. This was a second reading. Councilmember Hung Wei clarified the definition of “neighborhood association” with the city attorney. Council then approved unanimously.

Item #16 Consider and act on the proposed 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-2020-02; Applicant(s): Catherine Chen; Location: 20130 Stevens Creek Blvd. Council approved unanimously.

Item #17 Consideration of a Municipal Code Amendment as part of the transition from Level of Service (LOS) to Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), for determining transportation impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as required by Senate Bill (SB) 743. This was a lengthy technical item previously considered by the Planning Commission. Though VMT is now required by the state, the LOS language is embedded in the General Plan, and projects have to be consistent with the General Plan. Staff recommends deferring making changes, since these would trigger a complete CEQA analysis of the General Plan.

Item #18 Consider Resolution No. 21-016 approving correction to Building Fee Schedule D – Standard Commercial Foundation with Podium. This housekeeping item to add a fee for basement construction (rarely used in Cupertino, but discovered during the Vallco permitting process) was omitted in the 2016 revision of building construction fees. Council approved unanimously.

The meeting adjourned at 10:15 p.m.

EXPRESS YOUR OPINION: As with all matters, feel free to voice your opinions to individual councilmembers, the council as a whole, the city manager, and the city clerk to have your thoughts and views heard. Note that emails to city council as a whole are forwarded to the city manager, whereas emails to individual councilmembers are not. Clearly include in your subject line the topic or agenda item on which you are commenting These become part of the public record. Contacts at

CUPERTINO COURIER, February 19,  2021

The cover picture and feature story on page 5 is Giving a new lease on life:  Father-daughter team builds website for liver donors, recognizing Cupertino residents Simon and Cassie Ho. Community briefs on page 5 are (1) Vaccination information, and (2) Online diplomas for adults.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor