Cupertino Matters

It’s not been a good week in Cupertino. Despite a vigorous outreach program, Measure A for extending the parcel tax to fund Cupertino Union School District (CUSD) schools failed to get the required ⅔ supermajority for approval. The measure received 59% of the vote, similar to the results a year ago on Measure O. The minority of voters continue to rule and our K-8 schools will continue to be underfunded.

In addition, the city council majority continues to make changes to the City Work Plan, the Capital Improvement Program and the Budget for FY 2021-22 instead of making decisions that would enable city staff to do their jobs. The most egregious incident happened during the May 5 study session when Mayor Paul proposed an additional $500,000 for an expansion of a Mayor’s Cup Challenge, a drone show for July 4 and an additional $100,000 for a store/visitor center.  This occurred AFTER public comment closed, and had not been vetted by city staff nor prioritized by council as a whole, so the work plan will go back for yet another revision. Are vanity projects like the Mayor’s Cup Challenge the best use of money while our small businesses remain in distress? How would you use these funds?

The Cupertino City Council made headlines this week by approving a housing density ordinance that violates state housing laws, despite warnings from local attorney J.R. Fruen and other housing advocates. Council had previously approved this ordinance on a 4-1 vote, so the May 4 agenda item was the second reading. Councilmembers engaged in lengthy and strained defenses of Cupertino’s record on housing and of the intent of this ordinance, in particular. The second reading reached a critical point when Mayor Paul pressured Councilmember Hung Wei to change her vote to get unanimous approval, despite her concerns about the legality of the ordinance. Indeed, the state Housing and Community Development (HCD) found the ordinance would not comply and issued a warning letter to Cupertino the day before the hearing, unbeknownst to council. HCD may now follow up with an official Notice of Violation and referral to the Attorney General’s office to pursue legal recourse. Wonder why the city’s legal bills are so high?  Even more importantly, will city manager Deb Feng be able to function effectively in this environment?  Readers may recall that the previous city manager, David Brandt, abruptly “retired” during Mayor Darcy Paul’s first term as mayor.

TONIGHT – CITY COUNCIL Tues., May 11, 2021, City Council,  5:15 p.m., Closed Session

This meeting with the subject Public Employee Performance Evaluation. (Government Code Section 54957(b)). Title: City Manager was posted last week immediately after the San Jose Inside article went live on Thursday afternoon. The city manager posted an apology for the oversight on the city website. The oversight can be easily remedied by repealing the ordinance.

TONIGHT – Tues. May 11, 2021, 6:15 p.m. Special joint study session meeting with City Council, Planning Commission, and Housing Commission on the Housing Element update

This is the second session to Kick-off the Housing Element process, incorporating feedback from the first session and introducing best practices for the required sites inventory and Housing Element policies to encourage production of housing, including rezoning and the relaxation of other artificial constraints on development, actions resisted by the majority council.

Cupertino will be required to plan to produce over 4,500 new homes in the next 2023-2030 cycle. Based on guidance from the HCD, the city must plan for the realistic likelihood of development under AB 1397 (2017) and distribute that housing in such a way that it affirmatively furthers fair housing under AB 686 (2018). As a result, Cupertino will have to zone for considerably more housing than the 4,588 homes in its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). More information can be found on the city website. Presentation materials are available for download at

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Wed., May 5, 2021, Study Session 6:30 p.m.

YouTube: 2 hr. 9 min.

This two hour special session to Consider proposed Fiscal Year 2021-2022 City Work Program Items started off well, with a list of 53 projects listed in priority number as ranked by the city council members, with load balancing across departments and staffing. The work items are the staffing for the upcoming fiscal year and dovetail with the Capital Improvement Projects considered the previous night, May 4. The top priority is RHNA-related General Plan updates and rezoning, required by law.

The session then deteriorated in exchanges between Mayor Paul and Councilmember Moore regarding the process, followed by public input. Council deliberations, then delved into word-smithing individual work items. Mayor Paul then proposed adding a  store/visitor center with a budget of $100K, followed by a Cupertino Commissions/Council Program) with a $500K budget which had not been previously discussed with the entire council or city staff. Council failed to approve the work plan, even as amended, so it will go back to staff. City Manager Feng reminded the council that the work plan has to be approved by the end of May to be incorporated into the budget and that only one more regular meeting remains in the month.

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL Tues., May 4, 2021, City Council, 6:45 p.m., Regular Session; Study Session 5:30 p.m.

YouTube:  Part 1 – 2 hr. 37 min starting study session; Part 2 – 1 hr. 39 min starting Item #14, Athletic field use policy.

This meeting ended at the reasonable hour of 9:50 p.m. It started with a Study Session on the Capital Improvement Programs (CIP): Review of Projects Proposed for Fiscal Year (FY) 21/22. There was minimal substantive clarification of the 16 new projects proposed for FY21-22, including $3 million to remove/repurpose the ponds at Memorial Park and $1.15 million to make the amphitheatre and restrooms there ADA compliant. The traffic garden feasibility project for $75,000 garnered the most comments out of the $14.2 project budget.

No action was reported out on the Closed Session on April 29, regarding two cases of existing litigation and two cases of potential litigation. Staff and committee reports were routine. Item #14 on Athletic Field Use was moved ahead of Item #13, the FY2021-22 fee schedule.

Item #11: Consider and act on Ordinance No. 21-2226, An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Cupertino to adopt changes to Chapter 19.56, Density Bonus, of the Cupertino Municipal Code to allow increased density bonuses for projects providing higher percentages of affordable units in a housing development project. This was the second reading of an ordinance approved April 20 on a 4-1 vote with Wei voting no.  Unusual for second reading, councilmembers weighed in on their opposition to state housing laws in Sacramento and as mentioned earlier, Mayor Paul pressured Councimember Wei to change her vote. Once again, council ignored input from housing advocates pointing out the risk at the April 20 first reading, including this detailed letter at page 198 of the PDF of written communications. The council approved the ordinance on a 4-1 vote, with Wei voting nay, due to well-placed concerns about potential actions by HCD against the city.

Item #12 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. (Postponed from April 20). 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. Councilmember Kitty Moore led the charge to include single family homes with junior ADUs in this ordinance, but Vice Mayor Chao and Councilmember Wei strongly opposed this restriction on single family homes, citing infringement on private property rights and difficulty with enforcement.  The ordinance passed on a 3-2 vote with Chao and Wei opposing. With the passage of this ordinance, smoking will now be illegal in a smoker’s own home if that homeowner has or adds an accessory dwelling unit, even if that unit is occupied by a relative.

Item #13: Consideration of proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-22 Fee Schedule Update. (Postponed from April 20). After approving Item #14, there was minimal discussion except for clarification of the athletic field use fees. Approved 4-1 with Moore voting nay.

Item #14: Consider approving the updated Athletic Field Use Policy. (Continued from April 20. The public comment has been closed and remains closed). This item generated extensive discussion with several minor amendments to expand Sunday use, as well as a two-year phased-in fee increase. Passed 4 – 1 with Moore voting nay.

Item #15: Consideration of a City Council summer recess and cancellation of meeting(s). Traditionally, the council has cancelled one or two meetings during the summer. This year, July 6 and August 3 were recommended. Adopted on a 4-1 vote with Moore voting nay.

EXPRESS YOUR OPINION: Readers are 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


The front page photo and story on 5 is Westport gets approval: Cupertino developer plans senior housing, which will replace the nearly vacant Oaks shopping center. The community briefs on page 5 are (1) Nation Merit scholars, and (2) Springtime workshops on local wildlife.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor