Cupertino Matters

City council has reverted to governing behind closed doors. Notice the closed session on recruiting an in-house city attorney. At the same time, apparently the city is hiring yet another legal firm to handle complex land use matters, including Vallco’s SB 35 project: Sunny Soltani of Aleshire & Wynder, LLP (, which may lead to even higher legal bills. Does this mean our current attorney, Heather Minner , of Shute, Mihaly and Weiberger is not giving this council the answers they prefer?

Rallies supporting the Asian-American Pacific Island (AAPI) community continue across the Bay Area. In Cupertino, join in on Saturday, April 10 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m for a “Stop Asian Hate” rally in front of Cupertino City Hall followed by a short Parade. This event is hosted by Asian American for Better Community, whose board members include Saratoga Mayor Yan Zhao and Cupertino-area residents. This rally will focus on north county cities, building on the messages from the March 27 rally in Saratoga.

CUSD schools opened for limited onsite hybrid classes this week, so expect more traffic around schools. District-wide, approximately half of the students remain in distance learning, rather than hybrid. Adapting to yet another teaching mode will be challenging for teachers–they had to suddenly change from an in-person model to distance education and now to concurrent in-class and remote teaching.

Canvassing for the vote for Measure A continues and more lawn signs have popped up all across the city. With the late addition of Councilmember Moore, all members of the Cupertino city council have now endorsed the measure. Mail-in ballots will arrive in early April, and are due no later than May 4. The current parcel tax expires in two years, so this replacement is critical to maintaining adequate funding for our schools.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL – Tues., April 6, 2021, 6:45 p.m., Regular Session; Closed Session 6:15 p.m.

There will be a closed session regarding the recruitment of a new city attorney. As noted above, this session is the first since the city announced the move back in-house counsel. As such, presumably this session would discuss at least the process of identifying and interviewing candidates.

Initial items on the agenda have been reordered by Mayor Darcy Paul. There are no Ceremonial Matters & Presentations. 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 #5 is yet another “corrected” minutes of the council workshop on Feb. 6, 2021, pulled by Mayor Darcy Paul in the previous council meeting. Item #14, consists of a consultant agreement for the Residential and Mixed-Use Residential Design Standards Work Program item for the fiscal year 2020-21 and associated budget modification, for a cost not to exceed $225,757, which may likewise get pulled for discussion.

Item #16: 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. This should be a pro forma second reading for ordinances previously approved by council.

Item #17: Consider whether to authorize the formal submission and processing of a General Plan Amendment Authorization for a change to the Land Use Designation from Low Density (1-5 DU/Ac.) to Low/ Medium Density (5-10 DU/Ac.), which would allow construction of four small lot single family homes where one single family home currently exists. Applicant(s): Homestead Homes; Application No(s).: GPAAuth-2020-001; Location: 19820 Homestead Road APN# 316-04-064. This application is a small “gateway” project, requesting permission to apply for a General Plan Amendment to change the zoning from Agricultural Residential to allow a large lot (.46 acre) to be subdivided for single-family homes, with two Accessory Dwelling Units, essentially adding 5 net homes overall. Post subdivision, the plots involved would be approximately 5000 square feet–the typical size of a plot in the neighborhoods of Fairgrove and parts of neighboring Rancho Rinconada. Note that approval of this item just authorizes the applicant to submit a formal application, yet another hurdle in developing housing in Cupertino. Note also the location–on the busy urbanized street environment of Homestead Road–which nonetheless continues to possess a very low density zoning designation (semi-agricultural). If approved, the applicant still needs to go through formal discretionary Planning Commission and City Council processes. With this amount of process in place for a small infill housing project, it’s no wonder that so little housing has been built in Cupertino.

Item #18 Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-22 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program and Below Market Rate (BMR) Affordable Housing Fund (AHF) funding allocations. CDBG funds are federal funds, and the Housing Commission reviews the applications for funding.This year, the recommended funding allocation is $83,363 for Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley – Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Program, and $174,850 for West Valley Community Services’ Vista Village Rehabilitation Project, both excellent programs. The BMR (AHF) fund is money collected from housing mitigation fees, currently approximately $6 million. There was one request from Pacfiic West Communities – Westport Project for $2 million in bridge financing. Staff recommended against this funding since it would not increase the number of housing units, though the Housing Commission recommended consideration of $1 million.

Item #19 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. On Dec. 15, 2020, city council had 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. The 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. With Cupertino having to meet a production goal of 4,588 new homes across all categories from 2023 to 2030, is reducing the potential for overall home production wise? Recall that the city was subject to SB 35 streamlining at Vallco because it had failed to meet its production obligations.

Item #20 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. 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 in this restriction is controversial.

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

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL, Tues., March 30, 2021, Special Meeting

YouTube: Part 1 – 1hr. 56 min. through public comment;   Part 2 – 3hr. 31 min.

This session lasted over 5 and a half hours without finishing, so Item #2 has been continued to April 12, further creating a crunch to develop the capital improvement budget (CIP) and financial budget, which must be finalized to meet June 30 deadlines.

Item #1:Consider adopting a resolution approving the purchase of property at 10455 Torre Avenue, Cupertino (APN 369-40-0. Council approved this item unanimously.

Item #2 Review Council goals and prioritize potential Fiscal Year 2021-2022 City Work Program items got bogged down in minutiae when Councilmember Kitty Moore and Vice-Mayor Liang Chao insisted on line-by-line review of the 15 page plan, despite Mayor Darcy Paul ‘s attempts to keep the meeting on track. There had been a study session on the Work Plan on March 9, providing ample time for councilmembers to review projects, instead of wasting hours hashing over descriptions. This means actual discussion of priorities–the job of councilmembers–has been deferred to the followup meeting on April 12.

Despite clear instructions, it’s obvious councilmembers are having difficulty prioritizing the 59 projects in this 15 page plan, an excessive number for staff to accomplish in fiscal year 2021-22. As a result council has to make choices by rating up to 5 items with a “high” priority, up to 27 items with a “medium” priority, and 27 items with “low” priority, as well as indicating items that should be dropped.


Photos on the front page and page 5 titled Making their voices heard: #StopAsianHate rally draws nearly 1,000 people across the South Bay featuring Mayor Paul. Community briefs on page 5 are (1) Rotary golf tournament on May 1 and (2) Emergency Prep on April 8. Legal notices on page 27 are (1) Teen Commission applications due May 7, 2021; and (2) Notice of public hearing on April 20 regarding the fiscal year 2020-21 fee schedule.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor