Cupertino Matters

Many readers have asked “what’s happening at Vallco?”. The city administratively approved the SB35 project at Vallco on Sept. 21, 2018, in accordance with state law. The law at the time required that the developer “go vertical” within three years, that is by Sept. 21, 2021, later this month. State law also provides for allowing a one year extension until Sept. 21, 2022 based on evidence of sufficient progress. This is likely to be approved by the acting city manager, based on the report provided to the council for this Tues., Sept. 7 council meeting.

While three years might have seemed reasonable to start construction, readers will recall that the project found itself mired in litigation brought by now-Councilmember Kitty Moore, Ignatius Ding and Peggy Griffin. The city did not start any advanced preparation until the case was resolved on May 22, 2020. A major point of dispute between the Vallco property owner and the city is whether the three year clock was reset to May 22, 2020 due to the lawsuit per AB 831–an amendment to SB35. Per the staff report, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD)–which has the legal authority to interpret SB35–sent Cupertino a technical assistance memo stating that the clock does not run out on the Vallco approval until three years after the conclusion of the lawsuit that challenged the approval–meaning summer of 2025. Staff appear to disagree with the state’s interpretation of its own law, meaning that the city could find itself yet again in court over Vallco, incurring additional legal expenses for the city which already has a $2 million legal budget. Vallco is the largest affordable housing project in the state, so HCD’s interest in the project should be obvious.

The city has been a major obstacle in making progress. The staff report is a litany of open issues and limited progress, inflected by limited staff, COVID-19 and council waste of staff time on low priority city work plan projects. The city has been slow to process permits, with some pending since 2018. Both the staff report and the detailed status report provide good insight into the challenges in getting this development actually constructed. Your voice can help ensure that progress occurs at Vallco, that the city avoids more needless, wasteful litigation, and that Cupertino side-steps yet another damaging blow to its reputation. You can lend your thoughts by speaking Tuesday evening or sending emails using the contacts provided below.

The Chamber of Commerce Star Awards 2021 recognized some outstanding community members (and readers). Connie Cunningham was recognized as a Citizen of the Year for advocacy on behalf of the Audubon Society and affordable housing on the City Housing Commission. Richard Adler was also recognized as a Citizen of the Year for establishing the Age-Friendly-Cupertino Task Force, which is part of the WHO network of “age friendly cities”, as well as digital inclusion. Our own Walk-Bike Cupertino was recognized as the non-profit of the year for their advocacy of walking/biking policy and projects, all achieved with volunteers.

September 14 is the final day to vote in the 2021 California Gubernatorial Recall Election. The League of Women Voters of Cupertino Sunnyvale (LWVCS) has prepared a Q & A and a brief video that presents the questions before voters, campaign finance information, and information about how to submit your ballot. In addition, the LWV of Southwest Santa Clara Valley and Santa Clara County Leagues have sponsored this hour long plus video with experts Shannon Bushey, Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters and Ann Ravel, of DeCode Democracy/Maplight and formerly Commissioner of the Federal Election Commission:

The 2022 election process has already begun, with the redistricting currently underway to realign political boundaries according to the 2020 census. The objective is to ensure that voters are equitably represented. Cupertino’s council seats are all elected at-large and therefore does not undergo a redistricting process, but neighboring cities, Santa Clara County, the state Assembly and Senate districts, as well as federal congressional districts are required to appoint nonpartisan commissions and hold public hearings to redraw boundaries.

Close to home, the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees will transition from at-large elections to district elections. Five trustee areas of roughly equal population size will be created so that voters in each area can elect a trustee who lives in that area to serve on the board. The first two public hearings will take place on Monday, Sept. 13, and Monday, Oct. 4, at 7:00 p.m. to gather information about “communities of interest” in the district. Communities of interest are geographically contiguous populations with common social and economic interests, and include ethnic and language minorities.

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

The agenda is short, with the most contentious item, an update on Vallco as the last item. The meeting starts with one Ceremonial Matter – a proclamation recognizing September as National Preparedness Month (NPM). 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 appears routine, though Item #10 Consideration of a Professional Services Agreement for Plan Check Services for the Westport Cupertino Project (Continued from August 17, 2021), a routine approval delayed by the majority council that may be pulled for discussion.

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. This was approved by the Planning Commission on July 27, and originally scheduled for the Aug. 17 council meeting, then postponed. Separate parcelization for the senior housing is required for securing financing. There is no basis to deny this application, so this should be a pro forma approval, backed by legal counsel. The city moves very slowly, despite the critical need for senior housing.  Why so many delays and extra work for staff?

Item #12 Status Report on the Vallco Town Center SB 35 Development Project. Finally, the city is providing progress on their work on this project, which leaves many questions unanswered. Staff is to be commended for identifying issues that need to be resolved for the city to issue building permits. Both the staff report and the detailed status report provide good insight into the challenges in getting this development actually constructed, though they repeat many of the political talking points of city council majority, which has long opposed the project.

EXPRESS YOUR OPINION: Readers are encouraged to speak at council meetings, either at Oral Communications on any topic, or on specific agenda items. Speakers have three minutes, and coaching is available!  You should introduce yourself and have a clear statement of your position. Readers are also 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 24,  6:45 p.m., Regular Session

YouTube: 1 hr. 4 min.

This was a short meeting with a single agenda item: Study Session to provide an update on the Pre-Approved Accessory Dwelling Unit Program and Accessory Dwelling Unit implementation. Chair Ray Wang was absent, so Vice-Chair Steven Scharf chaired the meeting. The presentation provided a well-thought-out overview of the streamlined approval process to encourage more ADUs. Discussion followed, with comments wandering off topic. This item is part of the city work plan, and needed no action by the commission..


The front page photo and article on page 5 feature the article Working for a green world: Volunteers help affordable complex go solar, a joint project by the Rotary Climate Action Committee and West Valley Community Services. Community briefs on page 5 include (1) Eagle donates bikes, (2) Cupertino Fun Fest  on Sept.11 and (3) Citywide garage sale on Sept. 18-19. Legal notices include(1) Changes to Municipal Code’s Environmental Regulations scheduled for the Planning Commission on Sept. 14 and (2) Changes to the Municipal Code’s Density Bonus Chapter, also on Sept, 14.

CUPERTINO COURIER, August 27, 2021

The front page photo and article on page 5 feature the article Full speed ahead: Race blazes a virtual trail for local nonprofit, a fundraising event by the Friends of the Stevens Creek Trail. Community briefs on page 5 are (1) Rotary’s Global Elegance fundraiser and (2) Middle school plastics challenge. There is a legal notice on page  21 for a Tentative Map Application for the Westport project scheduled for the regular council meeting on September 7.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor