Cupertino Matters

Overall, the city is in the summer doldrums with residents taking advantage of reduced COVID-19 restrictions to travel, especially deferred visits to family and friends before school starts in August. Have you had a chance to hike the new Linda Vista Trail opened this summer?  If not, join Cupertino For All for a picnic this Friday, July 30, 5:30, p.m. at Linda Vista Park then walk on the new trail extension to the historic McClellan Ranch Preserve. Everyone is welcome, though registration is appreciated!

The next regular city council meeting is scheduled for August 17, though last minute closed sessions continue to be scheduled, with deferred agenda items from regular meetings, litigation and city manager changes. Tonight’s closed session includes a sudden, last-minute addition of one litigation matter involving significant exposure to litigation. Has council attracted another lawsuit?

Fall will usher in expanded opening of city facilities, as well as transitions to hybrid city meetings utilizing both Zoom and physical spaces. The schedule, however, may be impacted by a possible increase in COVID-19 infections given the number of variants evolving and the slowing pace of vaccination.

UPCOMING – PLANNING COMMISSION Tues., July 27, 2021  6:45 p.m., Regular Session

The single substantial item on the agenda is a continuation from the June 22, 2021 meeting which barely had a quorum: Consider recommending approval of a Vesting Tentative Map to replace a previously approved Vesting Tentative Map (TM-2018-03) for the Westport Cupertino development project to create a separate parcel for the age restricted senior below market rate building. City approval would be a Vesting Tentative Map; (Application No(s): TM-2021-002; Applicant(s): KT Urban (Mark Tersini); Location: 21267 Stevens Creek Boulevard; APN #326-27-042, -043. Separate parcelization  for the senior BMR housing buildings is required for financing construction of these units. This minor modification of the original project site map has to be approved by the Planning Commission, though it does not change the project. In addition, a condition in the original approval relating to bike improvements on the south side (north side remains unchanged) of Stevens Creek Boulevard needs to be modified to clarify requirements (Caltrans has not approved these improvements). There is no basis to deny this pro-forma request so construction can begin.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL Special Meeting Tues, July 27,  2021  6:00 p.m. Open Session; 6:30 Closed Session

This last-minute amended meeting posted on Monday afternoon has one open session item and three closed session litigation items involving six cases. Do these explain why the city budget is approximately $2 million for legal expenses?

Item #1  Consider for approval suggested changes to the City Council Agenda review process and schedule. On June 1, 2021,  Mayor Paul initiated a new, convoluted agenda review process. Other councilmembers expressed little enthusiasm about the revised process, but nonetheless approved the measure. Upon review, potential Brown Act conflicts were identified by the interim city manager as well as the additional burdens on staff. This item is a revised, simplified process for the council to approve.

Item #2  Closed Session Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation. Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(1), conference with Legal Counsel regarding the following existing litigation: (a) City of Cupertino v. Jennifer Chang, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 21CV380291 (b) City of Arcata et al. v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., San Francisco County Superior Court Case No. CGC-20-585483

Item #3 Conference with Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation. Initiation of litigation pursuant to Government Code section 54956.9(d)(4) (three potential cases)

Item #4 Conference with Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation. Significant exposure to litigation pursuant to § 54956.9(d) (one case).

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Tues, July 20, 2021, Regular meeting, 6:45 p.m; Study Session, 5:30 p.m.

YouTube:  Part 1 – 1 hr. 23 min;   Part 2 – 2 hr.30 min;  Part 3 – 2 hr. 24 min. beginning Item #25.

This was the first council meeting for Interim City Manager Greg Larson and new City Attorney Chris Jensen, whose contract date had to be moved up to allow him to legally provide counsel for this meeting. (For this reason, council considered Item #24 out of order at the beginning.) The study session addressed Blackberry Farm Golf Course Feasibility Study Options (includes options for minimal repairs, a renovated golf course, and returning the golf course to natural habitat). After extensive discussion and public input, council authorized staff to update the study for options (1) minimal repairs, estimated at $1.1 million, and (3) returning the golf course to a natural habitat, estimated at $1.5 million, as recommended by the Parks and Recreation Commission. It will take 6-12 months to hire a consultant and provide updated costs.

Item #21 is Consider and Act on Ordinance No. 21-2228: “An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Cupertino Amending City Code Section 11.27.145, Designation of Preferential Parking Zones, to Add Serra Street (All Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.)”:  Passed unanimously.

Item #22 Hearing to approve lien assessment and collection of fees on private parcels resulting from abatement of public nuisance (weeds and/or brush) for the annual Weed and Brush Abatement Programs. Consideration was mercifully brief for this annual process for brush abatement/weed abatement. Approved 5-0.

Item #23 Consideration of the Lease, Sale or City Operation of the Cupertino Municipal Water System and Provide Direction on These Options. De facto, the city has to move ahead with the lease option for the city owned water system since the lease terminates in 2022. Council approved negotiation for a 10 year lease with renewal options to give the city alternatives, rather than the 20 year lease originally proposed. Mayor Paul added direction to further evaluate the possibility of city operation of the utility, though this option is not supported by the interim city manager. Does it make sense for the city to be in the regulated utility business for one-third of the residents? Sale of the $55 million asset, which doesn’t generate revenue for the city, was not considered.

Item #24 Consider Proposed Amendments to Appointed Employees Compensation Program to include City Attorney Classification and to Reflect Annual Salary Amount, and Consider Proposed First Amendment to Employment Agreement for the City Attorney Changing Appointment Date to July 20, 2021. The original start date for the city attorney was July 27, but due to vacations, this was moved up to July 20 to allow him to cover this meeting. Passed unanimously.

Item #25 Consider increasing the current 0.75 Full-time Equivalent (FTE) Community Relations Coordinator (Block Leader Program) by 0.25 to make 1.0 Full-time Position. This should have been a routine budget amendment to consolidate two part-time positions into one full-time position, which is more efficient and attractive to qualified applicants. Instead, at the instigation of Vice-Mayor Liang Chao, council spent over an hour and half wrangling over the function of the Block Leader program and the organization of the Office of Emergency Management. Finally, council voted unanimously to approve the personnel action, then put a second motion on the table for the city manager to bring back a plan to broaden community outreach. This motion passed 4 – 1 with Councilmember Moore voting nay, stating that the action was not necessary.

Item #26 Receive Internal Audit Enterprise Risk Assessment and Consider Approving Internal Audit Plan for FY 2021-22. With an eye on the clock, this item was given minimal consideration after the consultant gave his presentation. (The full 72-page Internal Audit Enterprise Risk Assessment with responses from city employees is well worth reviewing.) This had been reviewed by the Audit Committee, which included Councilmember Moore and Vice-Mayor Chao. Mayor Paul took credit for initiating the internal audit, though stated scepticism about the findings. Vice-Mayor Chao was overly concerned about establishing a hot line. Other than Councilmember Wei, council members did not mention the core deficiency identified in the audit, which is the lack of standard policies and procedures, particularly for procurement and contracting. Interim City Manager Larson spoke highly of the value of the internal audit. Approved unanimously.

Item #27 Receive 2021 Drought Condition Information and Update on the City’s Ongoing Water Conservation Measures for City Operations; Provide Input to Staff on Potential Further Water Conservation Measures. This item was deferred to the followup council session on Thursday, July 22 prior to the closed session.

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Thurs, July 22, 2021, Special  meeting, 6:15 p.m; Closed  Session, 7:00 p.m.

YouTube:  50 min.

Item #1 was Item #27 from the Tuesday meeting. This was a straight-forward report to council on measures being implemented by the city for water conservation.

Item #2 was Public Employee Performance Evaluation. (Government Code Section 54957(b)). Title: City Manager. This session, cryptically described, presumably focused on objectives for the interim city manager during his short-term tenure.

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 the 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


Photos on the front page and page 5 are Climate Change – Looking to the future: Local students’ films empower competition, highlighting winners in the Silicon Valley Clean Energy short films competition. Community briefs on page 5 are (1) Climate action workshop on July 29, (2)Conserving water at home, and (3) Urban forestry webinar. . 

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor