Cupertino Matters

Spring is officially here! Cupertino’s 13th Annual Earth Day Arbor Day Celebration will be held virtually on April 24 from 10 to 4. Speakers will air on Facebook Live and YouTube Live. Teachers and staff have welcomed CUSD and FUHSD students back to in-person instruction on school campuses. New COVID-19 protocols are in place for this partial reopening, with full in-person, on-campus instruction planned for the Fall.

Funding for our schools continues to be challenging. The League of Women Voters Cupertino-Sunnyvale is sponsoring a Forum on “The Dollars and Sense for Saving Cupertino Schools: Learn about Upcoming CUSD Measure A on April 21, 7-8:30 via Zoom. Register at this link. The forum will cover the financial challenges that CUSD faces and present a balanced discussion of the ballot Measure. The panel will include:

  • CUSD Superintendent Stacey Yao
  • CUSD Board members Lori Cunningham & Phyllis Vogel
  • FUHSD Superintendent Polly Bove
  • Cupertino City Councilmember Hung Wei
  • Former Cupertino Mayor Orrin Mahoney.

Canvassing for the vote for Measure A approval continues with ballots due by May 4.  Ballots can either be mailed or dropped in the ballot box at city hall. The current parcel tax expires in two years, so this replacement is critical to maintaining adequate funding for our schools.

Regional Housing Needs (RHNA) planning begins next week with a study session on April 27, at 6:15. Cupertino will be required to produce (not just entitle) over 4,500 new homes in the next 2023-2030 cycle. More information can be found on the city website:

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL Tues., April 20, 2021, 6:45 p.m., Regular Session; Study Session 5:30 p.m.

There will be a Study Session on the City of Cupertino’s Permitting Guidelines for Small Cell Facilities within the Public Right-of-Way. There has been some vocal opposition to installation of these facilities installed by wireless carriers to improve inadequate cellular service in the city as well as for future use by self-driving vehicles and other high-intensity wireless services. Federal Communications Commission regulations limit the city’s jurisdiction involving these cellular facilities. Increasing setback requirements from occupied structures would significantly decrease wireless coverage within the city, yet another impediment to the city’s technology infrastructure.

Initial items on the agenda have been reordered by Mayor Darcy Paul. The sole Ceremonial Matter is an Arbor Day Proclamation for  April 24, 2021. Immediately after Oral Communications, there is a new Item #2, which is council members activities and brief announcements to allow councilmembers to respond to comments made in Oral Communications; however, these responses can’t violate Brown Act requirements. Item #3 is the city manager’s update on emergency response efforts, and Item #4 is a report on committee assignments. The Consent Calendar appears to be routine.

Item #10: 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 (Application No: MCA-2021-002; Applicant: City of Cupertino; Location: Citywide. (Continued from April 6). Since the previous council meeting ran late, this item was continued. The background is that on Dec. 15, 2020, city council adopted a “housing program,” to escape the full effect of AB 2345, necessitating zoning code amendments to incorporate the changes into the City’s density bonus ordinance. Council approval was timed to circumvent the January 1 effective date of that law. After the fact,  proposed amendments to comply with this policy decision were approved by the Planning Commission on a 4-1 vote (Kapil voting nay), then sent to council for final approval. Among the documents justifying the change is an economic report noting no difference between the city’s program and the default state law in terms of generating subsidized affordable housing. The only ultimate difference is that overall permissible housing would be smaller under the city’s program. The City of Encinitas passed a very similar ordinance prior to the end of 2020. The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) sent Encinitas two letters (one on December 16, 2020, and another on March 25, 2021) explaining why their ordinance would violate state housing law and demanding its revocation (see linked documents above)–a prelude to legal action by the Attorney General’s office. Passing this ordinance would set Cupertino on a similar path toward being sued by the state. Such litigation could culminate in fines of up to $600,000 per month. Why is the council inviting more litigation?

Item #11: Consideration of Municipal Code Amendments to the Cupertino Municipal Code, Chapter 10.90, expanding existing policies to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, including in multi-unit housing, entryways, public events, service areas, and outdoor worksites. (Continued from April 6). This is another postponement from the previous council meeting which ran late. There is a note in the agenda that this may be postponed to May 4. The first reading of this ordinance was conducted on March 2, 2021, but was sent back to staff for additional consideration of restrictions for single-family homes with ADUs. While there is overall agreement on the benefit of reducing exposure to secondhand smoke, inclusion of single-family homes (SFRs) with ADUs (both the SFR and the unit) in this restriction is controversial. Does the ordinance infringe on property owner rights?  Does it unfairly target renters? Most ADUs are built for family members.  Is this discrimination against seniors who are more likely to be smokers? Has the community been sufficiently notified of this regulation of SFRs and future ADU projects? Will this discourage production of ADUs, violating the supposed city policy of encouraging such units?

Item #12: Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-22 Fee Schedule Update. This annual process typically includes an inflation factor, apparently 1.6% for this year, as well as the cost of labor at 5.7% increases. Fees are set based on recovery of costs, so the list of fees is lengthy, particularly for any type of construction. Many fees remain unchanged, however, there are substantive changes in Parks and Recreation fees. Typically, these fees are market driven with comparisons to neighboring cities. There is a new Community Garden User Fee structure, together with increases in athletic field fees, which have been heavily subsidized, detailed in Agenda Item #13.

Item #13  Consider approving the updated Athletic Field Use Policy. Likely, there will be extensive discussion on two issues (1) the proposed change from per player fees to an hourly fee structure in line with neighboring cities, that will increase costs to leagues and (2) more general Sunday reservation of fields for leagues. Traditionally, fields are allowed to “rest” and be open to recreational resident usage on Sunday, rather than league play. Another consideration is that Parks and Recreation has only been recovering 7% of their costs, whereas other cost recovery targets are at least 20%, with consideration given to 25% to 40% cost recovery. Estimated annual costs to the city for maintenance and operation is $1,874,539.There are 15 sites to manage – the same number as Palo Alto which recovers $550,000 a year vs. Cupertino’s estimated recovery of $140,000 per year.

As usual, listen closely to council reports and future agenda items at the end of the meeting.

EXPRESS YOUR OPINION: Readers are encouraged to speak at council meetings, 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 members of the council, the council as a whole, the city manager, and the city clerk. 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, April 16,  2021

Photos on the front page and page 5 are titled Back to Class – Students return with hybrid learning system for now: Cupertino Union students go back to class part time. The community brief on page 5 is Libraries reopen, providing access inside Santa County library buildings, a welcome step forward. There are some minor legal notices on page 24-25.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor