The major news is that the board of CUSD (Cupertino Union School District), our local elementary school district, voted on Oct. 14, to close two elementary school campuses (Regnart and Meyerholz) and consolidate three schools. These actions will be effective at the beginning of the next academic year 2022-23, allowing time for the transition for staff, students and parents. The meeting ran until 1:33 a.m., with over 120 public comments and 600 participants over Zoom. The final vote on this decision was split with Vogel, Cunningham and Leong voting for closure and Liu and Madhathil voting against closure. This culminates over two years of community meetings to consider all possible alternatives for managing declining enrollment in our schools. This was a tough decision, but essential to keeping our school district fiscally sound.
The penalties for city obstruction of state housing laws just escalated with the loss by the city of San Mateo in court regarding a dispute over a rejection of a 10 unit condo development. This was an HAA-protected (Housing Accountability Act) project and the lawsuit was filed by the California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund (CaRLA). The city is required to pay $450,000 to CaRLA for their legal costs and fees. Presumably, the city itself incurred similar or higher expenses defending the suit so the city’s full legal expenses for this case exceed $1 million – over $100,000 for each unit — taxpayer money wasted by the city council.
CaRLA has repeatedly warned the Cupertino City Council and Planning Commission about potential litigation, with the most recent being the housing Density Bonus ordinance that will finally be compliant with AB2345 after 10 months and 10 council/ planning meetings. Barbara Kautz, attorney from Goldfarb Lipman, who provided the legal advice on which Cupertino relied in drafting its defective Density Bonus ordinance, also represented the City of San Mateo in this loss.
UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL – Tues, Oct. 19, 2021, Regular session, 6:45 p.m.
The report out from the first closed session on the city manager search was “no reportable action”. Listen for an update on the most recent closed session.
The regular meeting agenda is very short, so the session may end early. There are two Ceremonial Matters and Presentations: (1) Proclamation recognizing October 19 as Boris Stanley Day in Cupertino and (2) Presentation of 2021 Helen Putnam Award for Excellence by the League of California Cities for Engaging Youth in City Government for “Pizza and Politics” program. Oral Communications follow immediately. Reports should be routine. The Consent Calendar is routine. Note that Item #8 is the Annual report of commission and committee members’ terms expiring in January, 2022, and application submittal deadline and candidate interview dates in January, 2022. Fine Arts, Housing, Parks and Recreation, Public Safety, and the Sustainability Commissions will have openings.
Item #15: Consider the second reading of Ordinance No. 21-2230 amending 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 a new Section 19.56.080 providing that the Density Bonus Ordinance will be interpreted consistent with state density bonus law. (Application No: MCA-2021-003; Applicant: City of Cupertino; Location: Citywide.) This should be a pro forma approval of an ordinance to comply with AB2345 previously approved unanimously on Oct. 5.
Item #16: Consider the second reading of Ordinance No. 21-2231: “An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Cupertino Amending City Code to Repeal Section 6.24.037, Adopt a New Section 6.24.037, Adopt a New Section 6.24.038, and Amend Sections 6.24.010, 6.24.020, 6.24.060, 6.24.240, and 9.16.030, to Mandate Organic Waste Disposal Reduction” This should likewise be a pro forma approval of an ordinance previously approved unanimously on Oct. 5.
Item #17: Consider adopting amendments to the Cupertino General Plan to add clarity to existing language in Chapter 3 (Land Use) in Figure LU-2, Policy LU-1.1 and Goal LU-13, and to add emphasis to existing language in Chapter 6 (Environmental Resources and Sustainability) (Strategy ES-6.1.1), and Cupertino Municipal Code Title 17, Environmental Regulations, to add a new Chapter, Chapter 17.04, to adopt standard environmental protection requirements for construction, development and other similar or related activities. (Application No(s): GPA-2021-001, MCA-2021-004; Applicant(s): City of Cupertino; Location: citywide). This item regards minor modifications to the General Plan regarding environmental protections for construction and development.
These amendments are part of a larger program to clarify objective standards, in light of state housing laws which limit discretionary decision-making and council direction. The current item is limited to objective standards for environmental protection..
The discussion will be technical, and some councilmembers have an agenda that may not conform to the nuances of state laws and city ordinances. Note that these new requirements will apply to ALL residential developments of four or more units – will they have a chilling effect on the property owners who wish to build affordable housing by imposing even more reports and inspections? A weekly report on birds and bats on small projects? A vibration study? A traffic study for a 4-plex? What additional costs would be incurred for small residential and commercial properties, given the perceived onerous fees already imposed?
The Planning Commission review of these amendments on Sept. 28, 2021 lacked substantive discussion. Instead the commission (Vice-Chair Scharf absent) used the dais to advocate for applying General Plan changes retroactively, though advised by the city attorney that such actions would be illegal.
YOU CAN 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, October 15, 2021
The front page photo and article on page 5 are titled On the Chopping Block? Cupertino district pursues school closures – Cupertino district might close two schools. Community briefs on page 5 are (1) Via Shuttle Returns this month and (2) Cancer Society Award. Legal notices on page 33 are notices for two ordinances passed at the Oct. 5 council meeting, which will have second and final readings at the Oct. 19 council meeting.
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