Cupertino Matters

The Vallco saga continues. A special thanks to readers who spoke on the three hour agenda item, as well your emails – your voices were certainly heard. Interim City Manager Greg Larson gave a thirty minute presentation reiterating the staff report, stating that the property owner had not yet submitted a formal request for the one year extension beyond the Sept. 21, 2021 original expiration. The property owner maintains that per state guidelines, the current entitlements do not yet expire. In the meantime, both houses of the legislature (with no opposition) unanimously passed AB 1174 to modify SB 35. This bill is sitting on the governor’s desk and extends the deadline to at least 2023, pausing the shot-clock for litigation. The criteria for ongoing entitlement will also change from “vertical construction” to “construction activity” under the bill. This bill is clearly aimed at Cupertino and the Vallco project with this commentary in the bill analysis:

“But local governments are a crafty bunch, and Cupertino will likely find additional ways to hold up Vallco even with the changes in AB 1174. Furthermore, SB 35 already prohibits a local government’s review and issuance of subsequent permits from “inhibiting, chilling, or in any way precluding the development.” Cupertino’s actions seem clearly intended to delay this project. Litigation may be the only way to ensure that Vallco is successfully constructed.” Will this council provoke expensive litigation? The city already has a $2 million legal budget and is spending considerable time behind closed doors discussing potential litigation. Moreover, how is it that the Legislative Review Committee, composed of Vice-Mayor Liang Chao and Councilmember Kitty Moore, completely missed this piece of legislation until it was in Gov. Newsom’s hands?

Enrollment numbers for CUSD schools were presented at the Sept. 9, 2021 school board meeting. The district has 14,004  enrolled students, a decline of over 1,000 students from the previous year, the equivalent of two elementary schools. There are 5 schools with fewer than 300 students. Each campus needs to have 500 to 600 students for efficient staffing since costs per student are approximately 50% higher in small schools. Recommendations for school consolidations will be presented at the Sept. 23 board meeting and will be based on the weighted criteria established by the board.

UPCOMING – PLANNING COMMISSION – Tues, Sept. 14, 2021, Regular meeting, 6:45 p.m

Other than approving minutes from previous meetings delayed by numerous commissioner absences, there is a single major agenda item: 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. This modifies a local density bonus regime initiated by city council in Dec. 2020  and deemed non-compliant with AB 2345 by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) agency. The ordinance has consumed excessive planning and legal staff time, as well as multiple council and planning commission meetings. Faced with a lawsuit by YIMBY Law as well as potential legal action by the Attorney General, the Planning Commission deadlocked on recommending approval at their Aug. 10 meeting. Now there is a time crunch to get this approved by the Planning Commission so it can be sent to council, and avoid a lawsuit.

At their Aug. 10 meeting, the Planning Commission rambled off-topic, and requested a comparison of the application of density bonus law concessions/incentives/waivers from neighboring jurisdictions.

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Tues, Sept. 7, 2021, Regular meeting, 6:45 p.m.

YouTube:  Part 1 – 2 hr. 14 min. Part 2 Item #12 Vallco Update – 2 hr. 56 min. 

Even though there were only two major items on the agenda, the meeting dragged on until midnight, until Mayor Darcy Paul finally cut short council tirades against the state and the Vallco project.

Item #11 Consider approving 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. After a prolonged hour and a half discussion of this previously approved project, the requested parcel split was approved unanimously.

Item #12 Status Report on the Vallco Town Center SB 35 Development Project. Interim City Manager Greg Larson gave a thirty-minute staff presentation on the topic. The major excuse for this council to delay or prevent the Vallco project centers around the supposed degree of site contamination. However, as one public speaker pointed out,  the city is “using routine soil remediation–the kind of remediation done all the time–as an excuse not to issue permits.” The majority of speakers expressed dismay at obstructionism on this project. Councilmembers expressed varying degrees of defensiveness and appeared frustrated that the state was taking action to change the law.

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

CUPERTINO COURIER, September. 10, 2021

The front page photo and article on page 5 feature the article Water-wise thinking: Cupertino’s Climate Victory Gardens help fight drought, a pilot program by the city. . Community briefs on page 5 include (1) Shuttle survey to relaunch Via-Cupertino and, (2) Hearings on trustee areas for Foothill-DeAnza Community College District on Sept. 13 and Oct. 4. There are no legal notices.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor