- UPCOMING County Board of Education Vacancy – Interviews, Aug. 4, 2021, 5:00
- UPCOMING – Planning for housing, Aug. 9, 2021, 6 p.m.
- RECAP – Planning Commission, July 27, 2021
- RECAP – City Council, Special Meeting –Tues, July 27, 2021
Just when we thought life was returning to the “new normal”, the county is requiring use of masks indoors due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, particularly among the unvaccinated. Overall, the county is doing well with 83% of those 12 and older having received at least one shot, and 77% fully vaccinated. In addition, large companies, such as Apple, are delaying their return to in-office work, which impacts the hospitality industry, particularly local restaurants and hotels. Schools, however, are generally returning to in-person instruction.
Housing (or lack thereof) will be the hot topic for the next year, as the city has to develop a plan–a new Housing Element as part of its General Plan–to meet its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) requirements of 4,588 new homes. On Monday, Aug. 9, 6 p.m. to 7:30, the Santa Clara County residents of Cupertino, Los Altos, Saratoga and Monte Sereno are invited to a meeting “Let’s Talk Housing with Santa Clara County’s Planning Collaborative.” This team effort among the planning staff of different cities allows each to pool resources, share expertise, and broaden their outreach efforts. This meeting will provide an opportunity for residents to learn about the Housing Element update process and contribute to solutions. Register for the meeting and join the conversation!
On a related note, on Aug. 2, the Housing Survey Subcommittee reviewed the results of the citywide housing survey, finding that the structure of the survey raised more questions than provided answers. So now, this subcommittee is examining the potential for another survey. Despite this focus on surveying public opinion, the city still hasn’t hired a qualified consultant to do the grinding work of constructing a draft Housing Element. Many other cities are far ahead of Cupertino on this score.
How many readers realize that in addition to our local school districts, there is a County Board of Education, which has a budget of over $300 million? (This compares to a budget of roughly $148 million for the City of Cupertino and roughly $200 million for CUSD.) Per its mission statement, the Santa Clara County Office of Education is a regional service agency that provides instructional, business, and technology services to the 31 school districts of Santa Clara County and works collaboratively with school and community partners to those ends. The SCCOE directly serves students through special education programs, alternative schools, Head Start and State Preschool programs, migrant education, and Opportunity Youth Academy. The SCCOE also provides academic and fiscal oversight and monitoring to districts in addition to the 22 Santa Clara County Board of Education authorized charter schools.
The SCCOE is governed by a 7-person regional board divided up into geographic districts loosely tracking with local school district boundary lines. The trustee for District 2 (which includes most of CUSD), Kathleen King, resigned in June to avoid a conflict of interest with her day job. As a result, the board will select a replacement for this seat. Candidates will be interviewed at the next board meeting on Wed., Aug. 4. There are five applicants with varying experience in governance, public education, programs, and funding: (1) Anjali Kauser, (2) Tara Sreekrishnan, (3) Sudha Kasamsetty, (4) Mingi Bodine, and (5) Kevin Koch. All express enthusiasm for education and showcase diverse credentials, though only Anjali Kauser, as a former trustee of the Cupertino Union School District, has public school board experience in a large school system (25 schools in CUSD).
Readers should feel free to voice their opinions during the public input portion of the board meeting this Wed., Aug. 4, at 5:00 on Zoom. This comment period will precede the actual 30 minute interview. Readers can find details and the full candidate packet here. Which candidate do you think is best qualified to make decisions on spending taxpayer money for public school services? Which candidates best reflect your policy priorities? Won’t you join me? Contact me if you need help with access instructions.
The Cupertino Library got good news this week with the announcement by member of Congress, Rep. Ro Khanna that federal funding for $1 million has been appropriated for the Library Expansion Project. This will help defray the overall $8 million cost of this badly needed community improvement. It’s still on track to be completed Dec. 2021.
City hall is taking a breather with the next regular city council meeting scheduled for August 17, though last minute closed sessions continue to be scheduled. The city continues to expand reopening of city facilities, and is experimenting with transitioning to hybrid city meetings utilizing both Zoom and physical spaces. The new requirement for masks indoors in city facilities may slow this process, since masks interfere with audio, which was obvious in the last special city council meeting.
RECAP – PLANNING COMMISSION – Tues., July 27, 2021 6:45 p.m., Regular Session
YouTube: 1 hr.6 min.
Chair Ray Wang was absent for this meeting, so Vice-Chair Steven Scharf presided. The single substantive agenda item was to 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. Immediately prior to the meeting, commissioners received a confidential letter from the city attorney. After the proforma staff report and public comment, the item was approved 4-0-1 with Wang absent. It now goes to city council on Aug. 17 to be approved to finalize financing to begin demolition and construction. The city moves slowly, despite the great need for more housing, particularly senior housing. This is a $37 million project with the average cost of these senior below market rate units sitting at $771,000 per unit, a major barrier to developing affordable housing.
RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Special Meeting –Tues, July 27, 2021, 6:00 p.m. Open Session; 6:30 Closed Session
YouTube: 30 min.
This was the first attempt at a hybrid meeting for city council. It was held in Conference Room C, rather than Community Hall, so the visual and audio were less than satisfactory, particularly with masks. The short open session contained a single item: Consider for approval suggested changes to the City Council Agenda review process and schedule. Interim City Manager Greg Larson explained his reasoning for revisiting the agenda review process. The item was unanimously approved for immediate adoption.
There won’t be a report out from the closed session involving six cases of actual or anticipated litigation until Aug.17. However, there was a legal notice in the July 30 Cupertino Courier noticing changes to the Municipal Code’s Density Bonus Chapter to be heard at the Planning Commission on Aug. 10, and City Council on Sept. 7. Presumably, this occurs in response to public comments supported by the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s technical assistance memo advising Cupertino that its Density Bonus Ordinance would violate state law under AB 2345. Readers will likewise recall that passage of this ordinance provoked a threat of litigation from an organization called “Californians for Homeowneship.”
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 CupertinoMatters.org/express-your-opinion
CUPERTINO COURIER, July 30, 2021
Photos on the front page and page 5 are Drive-Thru Backpack Day: Local nonprofits get school supplies to low-income kids, an annual project provided by West Valley Community Services and Sunnyvale Community Services. The Community brief on page 5 is Mental health assistance program, a pilot at Fremont Union High School District. Legal notices on pages 16-17 include the previously mentioned Changes to the Municipal Code’s Density Bonus Chapter.
Publisher and Editor