Cupertino Matters

Local voters are receiving recall ballots this week, which are due by Sept. 14. This is a disconcerting process with questionable democratic value. The ballot has two questions: (1) Yes to recall Gavin Newsom or No to continue him in office until the next regular election cycle which starts in 2022, less than a year away; and (2) choose a replacement candidate from among several dozen with virtually no knowledge of candidate positions and proposed policies, just name recognition. There are 46 candidates, and whoever receives the most votes, even if this is less than 10% of voters, could replace Gov. Newsom. Is this any way to select the chief executive of the largest state in the country? It’s not only a waste of taxpayer money, but a serious corruption of the political process, regardless of your position on Gov. Newsom’s performance. California has an elected Lieutenant Governor, Eleni Kounalakis. Why don’t voters have the alternative for her to assume the governor’s office?

In strictly Cupertino news, this is a week of celebrations. The Annual India Flag Raising Ceremony was held on  Tues., Aug. 17 at 9:30 Civic Center Plaza. The City of Cupertino and Cupertino-Bhubaneswar Sister City Initiative presented the Flag Raising Ceremony for  the 75th India Independence Day. Last week, Cupertino-Toyokawa Sister Cities, Inc. (CTSC) hosted its second Bell Ringing for Peace Ceremony at Memorial Park in observance of the end of WWII in 1945. The ceremony on Aug. 6 kicked off Peace Week for Cupertino and its sister city of Toyokawa, Japan.

On Thurs., Aug. 19, the City of Cupertino is hosting two ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the Linda Vista extension of the Stevens Creek Trail and the Cupertino Community Garden. The first ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. at Linda Vista Park, 11111 Linda Vista Drive, near the meadow to celebrate the opening of the new trail. Speakers will include Mayor Darcy Paul, a representative from the Friends of Stevens Creek Trail, and the Lowenthal family who generously donated land for the project.

The second ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. at McClellan Ranch Preserve, 22221 McClellan Road, to celebrate the grand opening of the Community Garden.

Our local public schools commenced a new year with in-person instruction this week. COVID-19 uncertainties remain, especially given the unavailability of vaccines to those under 12 years old. School-related traffic returns now for the first time in over a year, so the public is asked to exercise additional caution in school zones.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL – Tues, Aug. 17, 2021, Regular meeting, 6:45 p.m.

The agenda is light though this council is not known for short meetings. Ceremonial matters and presentations are (1) Presentation from the Santa Clara Valley Urban Forestry Alliance on raising awareness to protect and expand the urban tree canopy for our region, (2) Presentation on online resources for the public to participate in the legislative process and (3)  Proclamation Acknowledging Drought Conditions Regarding Local Water Conservation Efforts. Item #4 is postponement of a Vesting Tentative Map for Westport/Oaks until Sept. 7.

Oral Communications should then occur, followed by Item #5, councilmembers’ activities and brief announcements to allow councilmembers to respond to comments made in Oral Communications. Item #6 is the city manager’s update on emergency response efforts by interim city manager Greg Larson, and Item #7 is a report on committee assignments.

The Consent Calendar appears routine, though Item #17 Consider approving Resolution No. 21-078 and Budget Modification #2122-159 increasing Compensated Absences Internal Service Fund appropriations (641-44-420) by $240,000 may get pulled for discussion. There have been an unusually high number of retirements (17) this year, vs. the typical four (4)  to nine (9), so a budget adjustment is necessary.  There is no fiscal impact–just an accounting procedure which this council may not understand. The bigger challenge is recruiting new employees, given this high turnover of experienced staff.

Item #19 Consideration of a Professional Services Agreement for Plan Check Services for the Westport Cupertino Project. Usually, this type of agreement is a consent item, but at an estimated $300,000  this exceeds the city manager authorization of $175,000 so comes to city council for approval. The developer, KT Urban, reimburses the city for this work, so there is no ultimate fiscal impact to the city. The open question is why this is just now coming to council.

Item #20 Consider modifications to the Procedures for Processing General Plan Amendment Applications to implement the Fiscal Year 2020/21 City Work Program items related to quality of life. (Application No. CP-2020-003; Applicant: City of Cupertino; Location: City-Wide). (Tabled on February 2, 2021). There was extensive discussion of this item at the earlier meeting, as council wordsmithed the current language and workflow. Considerable time was expended on the size of the noticing postcard and public noticing in general. The one recommended substantial change is a reduction for resubmittal from six (6) months to three (3) months. Regardless of council micromanagement, the big issue is lack of development applications, with only one small project requesting a reasonable zoning change. Will these changes encourage more applications or will the added process deter them?

Item #21:Consideration of an Urgency Ordinance of the Cupertino City Council extending authorization of outdoor operations of qualifying establishments (restaurants, wineries, breweries, and bars) pursuant to a Special Temporary Outdoor Dining Permit  Establishments serving food and drinks have been operating under shifting ordinances from the city, county and state. This ordinance provides options to  extend  the Special Temporary Outdoor Dining Permit. These operations have been crucial to the financial viability of restaurants in Cupertino.

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

RECAP – PLANNING COMMISSION Tues., August 10,  6:45 p.m., Regular Session

YouTube: 1 hr. 54 min

There was only one substantial item on the agenda to consider amendments to Cupertino Municipal Code Sections 19.56.030 (Table 19.56.030), 19.56.030F, 19.56.040, and Table 19.56.040A and the addition of Section 19.56.080 (Density Bonus Ordinance) to allow density bonuses and other incentives as provided by state law and also to add a subsection in Section 19.56.040 providing additional incentives for affordable housing and a new Section 19.56.080 providing that the Density Bonus Ordinance will be interpreted consistent with state density bonus law. The commission spent nearly two hours rambling about the size of below market rate units, how to enforce the city’s BMR Manual, and tangential issues related to the Vallco approvals,  without considering the substance of this item, which was a replacement of the city’s legally deficient Density Bonus Ordinance, which the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) had previously communicated to would violate AB 2345.

The city attorney carefully drafted an ordinance to also include codifying several existing city policies to provide a program to satisfy HCD and remove an existing threat of a lawsuit from third parties. He also sent a confidential memo to all commissioners on this item, but Commissioner Madhdhipatla did not read it prior to the meeting and Commissioner Kapil was absent. The final vote was deadlocked on recommending approval to council, with Vice-Chair Scharf and Commissioner Saxena voting aye (with modifications), and Chair Wang and Commissioner Madhdhipatla voting nay. Will the council exercise better judgement when this item is considered?

CUPERTINO COURIER, August 13, 2021

The front page photo and article on page 5 feature article is  Homestead High students are the champion Future Business Leaders:  Group takes No.1 ranking at National Leadership Conference. Our students are very talented! . Community briefs on page 5 are (1) Engage Cupertino, (2) Housing Workshop on BMR Housing,  and (3) Coalition gets gift. Legal notices on pages 17 include a second notice of  unclaimed funds from the Finance Department at the city. Does the city owe you money?

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor