Cupertino Matters

June 15 is the last regular council meeting until July 20, with a number of  fiscal year-end actions required. This is also the last council meeting for City Manager Deb Feng. In the past, the mayor has scheduled an agenda item to recognize the outgoing city manager for contributions to the city. Mayor Paul has not done that this time. Readers may express their appreciation for her service, particularly in guiding the city and maintaining operations during COVID-19, as well as finding housing to replace the camps at Vallco.

The city has issued a survey ( available until June 30) to collect feedback from residents regarding housing. The questionnaire was designed by Vice Mayor Liang Chao and Councilmember Jon Willey, and two Housing Commissioners. The survey questions reflect their lack of experience with survey research. The biases in the questions are well expressed in this Twitter stream commentary. The response rate may further underscore resident bafflement: despite a costly postcard mailing, city emails, and postings on social media, there have been only 817 visitors, of which only 22% actually responded (181 responses). How valuable is this survey? 

There have been quite a few council catch-up sessions, including continued regular sessions and emergency closed sessions. Interviews for the Teen Commission consumed two nights, with a closed session, study session, and regular meeting sandwiched in between. The budget study session continued on through the following Friday (June 4) evening, followed by a full day closed session of interviews for city attorney and authorization for an interim city manager. The regular Planning Commission meeting, by contrast, was cancelled.

The shortcomings of this council became obvious during these meetings. The budget meetings should have been completed by early May to allow the staff sufficient time to prepare the final documents. Instead, these dragged on for several sessions to rehash minutiae and retread items already explained in detail. In addition to micromanaging individual line items in the budget, the lack of financial literacy is glaring. See the attachments on the June 4 agenda,which include staff budget documents plus  additional items for a council Sub-Committee Review of the Budget Format. Cupertino has an excellent finance department, but the council majority doesn’t have management experience to appreciate their expertise. Finance staff have to explain basic accounting practices to council members who don’t understand financial terminology and the business of managing department budgets, such as year-to-year variations due to reorganization of responsibilities.

UPDATE – CUSD Board meeting Thurs., June 3, 2021, 6:00, Regular meeting

Graduation ceremonies are underway, keeping staff and trustees busy. However, the district budget has to be submitted by June 30, so this regular meeting focused on the top line revenues less expenditures, providing different scenarios for the board to consider to manage the projected deficit. The packet also includes current enrollment numbers by school. This article from the Los Altos Town Crier summarizes the discussion: CUSD board confronts sobering budget numbers. The next board meetings will be June 17 and June 24. The state budget recently passed the Legislature and awaits Governor Newsom’s signature. With the state budget surplus, education overall will get large one-time infusions of cash because it is one of the few spending areas allowed to exceed the Gann limit. CUSD’s precise share is not yet known.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL – Tues, June 15, Regular meeting, 6:45 p.m; Study Session, 6:00

The study session is 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 (Continued from the April 6, 2021 meeting). Previously, the council spent an inordinate amount of time dissecting this application by a small local developer to rezone a large lot (0.46 acres awkwardly tucked along the edge of a Sunnyvale neighborhood south of Homestead Road) with a legacy Agricultural Residential zoning to allow single family homes with ADUs. This should have been a straight-forward “gateway” approval to allow the applicant to start working with the planning department to develop an actual General Plan Amendment and project for presentation to the Planning Commission and then approval by City Council. If council fails to approve this modest application, how will they make good decisions on much larger housing developments?

There should be a report out on closed sessions on litigation and interview processes for interim city manager, city manager, and city attorney. There is one Ceremonial Matter and Presentation: Presentation from Destination: Home’s Supportive Housing and Innovation Fund. Oral Communications should then occur, followed by Item #2,  councilmembers’ activities and brief announcements to allow councilmembers to respond to comments made in Oral Communications; Item #3 is the city manager’s update on emergency response efforts, and Item #4 is a report on committee assignments.

The Consent Calendar is lengthy, with last minute items added on Friday evening. Item #11 is rescission of the face coverings emergency order effective June 15 at 11:50 p.m. to conform to state guidelines. Three last minute items are likely to be pulled since no details have been publicly posted, though there was a closed session on Sunday night. These items include the following: Item #24, appointment of City Attorney and execution of employment agreement prior to the meeting; Item #25, authorization to execute an agreement with a recruiting firm for permanent City Manager for an amount not to exceed $25,000; and Item #26, appointment of Interim City Manager and execution of employment agreement. No names have thus far been disclosed.

Item #27: Public hearing to consider the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and the Recommended Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-22; consider Adoption of the Budget for FY 2021-22; consider Establishment of the Appropriation Limit, and related actions; or take other action to approve interim expenditures. This is a three-in-one-item: (1) Capital Improvement Program, (2) the operating budget, and the (3) appropriation limit.  The staff reports describe the changes made from previous study sessions. The major change is the reduction of the city manager contingency fund by $518,250, just because there weren’t any major unanticipated expenditures for FY 2020-21.

Item #28: Consider approving the FY 2021-22 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program Annual Action Plan. Administration of federal funds can be onerous, even for relatively small amounts, in this case $420,744. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires this hearing, which should be a proforma approval for expenditure of federal funds. West Valley Community Services projects receive a major part of the funding.

Item #29: Consider substantial amendments to the FY 2019-20 Annual Action Plan and FY 2015-20 Consolidated Plan to provide funding to assist unhoused members of the encampments located along Wolfe Road near Interstate 280 (Wolfe Road encampment) to mitigate safety hazards including COVID-19; and to provide funding for the Senior Meal Delivery Program, which are eligible Department of Housing And Urban Development (HUD) activities in response to COVID-19. In order to obtain funding for these COVID-19 expenses, the previous year’s plans must be amended to comply with HUD requirements. This item should not be controversial.

Item #30: Consideration of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020-21 and FY 2021-22 Fee Schedule Amendments to Schedule A – General Fees to add an Annual Lobbyist Registration fee pursuant to Cupertino Municipal Code Chapter 2.100 regarding the regulation of lobbying activities. Mayor Darcy Paul initiated the push for “lobbyist” registration passed earlier this year. This item establishes the registration fee.

Item # 31: Consider Designation of Residential Preferential Parking (RPP) Zone on Serra Street from Canyon Oak Way to the End. Visitor parking has become more problematic at Rancho San Antonio Park due to popularity during COVID-19  restrictions. Eleven homeowners are applying for permit parking restrictions on their street on weekends, similar to restrictions on adjacent streets. Council has granted similar permits for people impacted by school-time pick-ups and drop-offs. This should be non-controversial, but it is the last item on a lengthy agenda.

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 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. 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 – Fri. June 4, Special meeting, 6:15 p.m.

YouTube: Part 1 – 2 hr. 32 min; Part 2 – 1 hr. 59 min. Budget

This session went on much too long. The first item was Recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Commission to approve funds in the amount of $92,900 for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-22 Community Funding Grant Program; annual funding for the Cupertino Historical Society in the amount of $20,000; and approval of final funding amounts for the Community Funding Program, to be included in the Recommended Budget for FY 2021-22. (Continued from May 18 when the public waited 6 hours before continuing without consideration) This item was the study session on June 1, with public comment segued mid-way into the regular meeting, but final action deferred until this June 4 meeting. Council spent two and a half hours in discussion, finally approving the Parks and Recreation recommendations for community funding, as well as $20,000 for the Cupertino Historical Society (but not as a line item), appointing a subcommittee of Councilmembers Wei and Moore to investigate closer collaboration with the city.

Council proceeded to spend the remaining two hours on Study Session II on Fiscal Year (FY) 21-22 Proposed Budget – $149,360,485. Most of the discussion centered around contingency funds which the finance department had prudently improved over the past several years to reduce department contingency to 2.5%, with a pooled contingency city manager fund of $529,250. Councilmember Moore described this as a “slush fund” because only $743 was spent in 2020 rather than a contingency fund to cover large unexpected facility failures (none occurred in 2020), demanding that this amount be eliminated. The final resolution was a $75,000 city manager contingency fund, which was characterized as “challenging.” By contrast, Deb Feng in her previous job at NASA with a somewhat larger budget had a contingency fund of $1.5 million to cover an aging infrastructure comparable to Cupertino. Air conditioning and electrical panels fail and have to be addressed immediately, not delayed until a council meeting for authorization.

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Tues, June 1, Regular meeting, 6:45 p.m; Study Session, 6:00; Closed Session, 5:15 p.m.

YouTube: Part 1 – 2 hr.15 min through study session on community funding; Part 2 – 3 hr.23 min. 

The study session was Recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Commission to approve funds in the amount of $92,900 for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-22 Community Funding Grant Program; annual funding for the Cupertino Historical Society in the amount of $20,000; and approval of final funding amounts for the Community Funding Program, to be included in the Recommended Budget for FY 2021-22. (Continued from May 18). As promised, this was first on the agenda. However, the staff report and councilmembers cut short the time for public comment, so the item was again deferred until later in the agenda.

The Closed Session report out on existing and potential litigation was “no reportable action” from meetings on June 1 and May 24 (now initiating regular reports on litigation). The meeting order was then modified to have Item #4 (councilmember reports) and city manager report, Item #5, as well as completion of public input for the study session precede Oral Communications. Mayor Paul then belatedly acknowledged the “retirement” of City Manager Deb Feng, rather than her stated “resignation” with councilmembers making brief statements of appreciation.

Public comment on the study session on community funding earlier in the meeting was heard, but the decision was again deferred until Friday, June 4, at the budget session. Item #12: Consider Approval of Mayor’s requested changes to Council Agenda-Review schedule was pulled from the Consent Calendar, with council member  objections to the schedule proposed by Mayor Paul, citing insufficient time to study the packet before agenda review. Oral Communications finally closed at 8:23 followed by a break, over 3 hours into the meeting.

Item #15: Consider and act on Ordinance No. 21-2227: “An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Cupertino amending City Code Chapter 10.90 of Title 10 (Public Peace, Safety, and Morals) to prohibit smoking in multi-unit housing and certain outdoor areas,” with multi-unit housing/residence defined for the purposes of this Ordinance to include attached single family homes and other property containing two or more attached units. Approved unanimously.

Item #16: Consider Approval of the Renewal with no Increase of the 1992 Storm Drain Fee and the 2019 Clean Water and Storm Protection Fee and an Increase in the Allowable Rebate Amount for Installation of Pervious Pavement Projects at Single-Family Residences and Duplexes. Approved unanimously.

Item #17: Consider adopting a position on Senate Bill 612 (Portantino) Electrical Corporations and Other Load-Serving Entities: Allocation of Legacy Resources, Senate Bill 792 (Glazer) Sales and Use Tax: Retailers: Reporting, and Senate Bill 780 (Cortese) Local Finance: Public Investment Authorities. After discussion, council separated the vote to individual bills: (1) Support SB 612 on a 4-0-1 vote with Chao abstaining, (2) Oppose SB 792 on a 4-0-1 vote with Chao abstaining, and (3) Support SB 780 with a 5-0 vote.

Item #18 Consideration of (1) Authorization of Award of Construction Contract for Privacy Fencing; (2) Request to Increase Regnart Creek Trail Privacy Fencing Project Budget Allocation; (3) Request to Increase Budget Allocation for Regnart Creek Trail Project Contingency; (4) Request to Increase Budget Allocation for Regnart Creek Trail and Regnart Creek Fencing Design Services; and (5) Request to Execute a First Amendment to the Master Agreement Between the City and CSG Consultants, Incorporated to Increase Agreement Amount. This was a difficult discussion as council members explored alternatives. Given the promises made to residents, the choice was either (1) stop work on the project, or (2) approve the cost overrun of $1,389,883 to cover significant increases in fencing materials, particularly lumber. Finally, the increase was approved unanimously.


The front page photo and article on page 5 is “Hope and Solace”: De Anza public art project features Sunnyvale artist and poet. Also on page 5 is a belated announcement City Council launches search for new city manager. Community briefs include (1) Sweeping enforcement with resumption of street sweeping, (2) Cupertino housing survey, and (3) Homestead HIgh places 49th at quiz tournament. Legal notices include a Planning Commission item for June 22, regarding a Vesting Tentative Map and an appeal of a second story addition.


The front page photo and article on page 8 is Making for an easy RYDE: Webinar aims to teach seniors how to use ride share service. Community briefs on page 5 are (1) City manager resigns, and (2) WVCS back-to-school program seeks help. Pages 18-20 carry several legal notices regarding adoption of the FY 2021-22 budget and fee schedule, plus reconsideration of an application for a General Plan Amendment to rezone a parcel from agricultural to Low/Medium Density residential.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor