Cupertino Matters  

This is a short week with the Thanksgiving holiday, with many people taking additional days off. The big news is that Cupertino has hired a new city manager, Jim Throop, currently  city manager of Lompoc, California, starting Jan. 3, 2022. Interim City Manager Greg Larson’s last day is in mid-December, so there will be a gap, though the city does shut down between Christmas and New Year’s. Give a big welcome to Jim when he arrives!

At the most recent council meeting and elsewhere, Vice-Mayor Liang Chao failed to apologize for her comments regarding the Chinese Exclusion Act. In a statement from the dais, rather than take responsibility for her own words, she blamed the media and her opponents for the controversy, without acknowledging the role of news organizations in holding elected officials accountable.

After a lengthy gap, Cupertino finally has some development projects coming up for hearings. For the first time in over a year, the Planning Commission is reviewing two small projects which include housing.The Oaks shopping center has now been demolished for development of both senior housing and townhouse/rowhouse homes. These are small steps forward, but Cupertino will need to have a much better performance in the coming decade to meet the Regional Housing Need Allocation of 4,588 new homes. The Mercury News recently published a Report Card  that graded housing for cities in  San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Cupertino was rated a C-, with NO low income housing permits issued for this cycle.

UPCOMING – PLANNING COMMISSION – Tues, Nov. 23, 2021, 6:45 p.m. Regular  session

Item #2 Consider a development proposal to demolish an existing commercial building, and construct a new nine (9) unit single-family home development with one (1) home containing an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). (Application No(s): EA-2020-001, Z-2020-001, DP-2020-001, TM-2020-001, ASA-2020-003, and U-2020-001; Applicant(s): Alan Enterprise LLC; Location: 22690 Stevens Creek Boulevard; APN#s 341-14-066, 342-14-104 & 105). This is the site of the old Bateh Brothers Liquor store at Stevens Creek and Foothill Boulevard, an eyesore at a main entrance to the city. The proposed project for this 3/4 acre site fits the “missing middle” housing generally absent in Cupertino. Since it is a housing project and conforms to the General Plan, it should be approved, though there may be some objection that it does not include retail space. Significant empty retail spaces exist throughout the city as businesses continue to reel from the effects of the pandemic.

Item #3 Consider a development proposal to demolish an existing commercial building and residential unit, remove and replace four (4) protected trees, and construct a mixed-use development consistent of 18 units (five apartments, five single-family homes, and eight townhomes), and 4,500 square feet of commercial space. (Application No(s): EA-2018-06, Z-2018-02, DP-2018-07, TM-2018-04, U-2018-04, ASA-2018-09, TR-2018-39; Applicant(s): Dan Shaw (SCR Enterprises); Location 10625 South Foothill Boulevard; APN#s 342-16-087, -088). This is the site of the now-vacant Foothill Market and Cupertino Bike Shop. It’s 1.5 acres and a mixed-use project with both housing and retail, which has taken 2.5 years to reach the approval stage. It’s another primarily housing project and conforms to the General Plan, and should therefore be approved.

CLOSED Session – City Council, Thurs, Nov. 18, 2021, 6:30 p.m.

Agenda included (1) Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation (Gov. Code § 54956.9): People v. Jennifer Chang, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. C1899743 and (2)  Conference with Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation: Initiation of litigation pursuant to Gov. Code § 54956.9(c) (one case)

RECAP –  CITY COUNCIL – Tues, Nov. 16, 2021, 6:45 – Regular  session, 5:15, Study session

YouTube:  Part 1 – 1 hr. 27 min.Study Session;  Part 2 – 1 Hr. 39 min.; Part 3: 1 hr. 23 mi starting Item 16.

The study session included two presentations: (1) Housing Element Update: Sites inventory and upcoming community engagement. This workshop elaborated on the schedule for upcoming meetings and sought to answer a number of council questions. A public workshop is scheduled for the Housing Commission on Dec. 9, which will include a “Balancing Act” mapping exercise for the public to suggest appropriate housing sites. In addition, staff is compiling a list of property owners potentially eligible to be considered for housing to determine their level of interest for this cycle of the Housing Element due by January 2023. The second study session, (2) Consider Climate Action Plan Update draft measures, remains a work in progress. Public comment was positive, with council expressing concern about the tree canopy.

The regular council agenda was reordered, with Item #14: Consider appointment of the selected candidate as City Manager, approval of the employment agreement, and amending the Appointed Employee’s Compensation Program. Jim Throop was approved on a 5-0 vote as the new city manager. He will start on Jan. 3, 2022.

Oral Communications centered around Vice-Mayor Chao’s inflammatory statements regarding the Chinese Exclusion Act. Mayor Paul allocated 30 minutes to the public then deferred additional comments to the end of the meeting. There were 15 speakers at the beginning with an additional 8 speakers at the end of the regular agenda.

The Consent Calendar was approved, with the exception of item #13 acceptance of community donations of $80,000 from fund-raising by  the Cupertino Library Foundation to offset costs for the Library Expansion Project. This matter faced an unexpected twist. Mayor Paul, Councilmember Moore, and Councilmember Wei had all contributed so a question arose as to whether they needed to recuse themselves on this approval–a recusal of all three would have implications for achieving a quorum or any potential voting majority.

Item #15: City Manager’s First Quarter Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2021-22. FY 2021-21 expenditures for the city were $22.9 million lower than budgeted due to position vacancies and reduction of part-time staff, as well as project savings primarily in Parks and Recreation and Public Works. This was a lengthy discussion with questions on individual line items, requiring explanation of standard accounting practices and flow of funds between accounts. Council approved 4-1 with Moore voting nay without explanation.

Item #16: Consider approval of a Final Map, the Subdivision Improvement Agreement, and the Affordable Housing Regulatory Agreement and Declaration of Restrictive Covenants (the BMR Agreement) for Westport Cupertino Development Project; Tract No. 10579; Applicant: 190 West St. James, LLC (KT Urban); Location: 21267 Stevens Creek Boulevard; APN #326-27-042 & 043. Public comment centered around relocation of the bus stop from the Senior Center to the south side of Westport. VTA requested this change. The Planning Department and KT Urban accepted it. The underlying project was long-since approved. Council comments were minimal, and this item was approved 5-0.

Item #17: Consider conducting a first reading of an ordinance that prohibits parking along the west side of Vista Drive between Forest Avenue and Merritt Drive, and along the south side of Merritt Drive between Vista Drive and the western end, to accommodate the construction of a Class IV bicycle lanes. This matter was postponed and referred to the current Bicycle Pedestrian Commission, which has had significant turnover from the initial project consideration. Council has to approve parking changes.

Item #18: Consider conducting a first reading of an ordinance to make minor and technical corrections to the Cupertino Municipal Code as follows: (1) enacting new Sections 2.36.085 and 2.74.075 and new Chapter 2.110; (2) amending Sections 1.12.010, 2.48.020, 2.60.050, 2.68.050, 2.74.040, 2.80.090, 2.86.070, 2.92.090, 3.23.060, 8.06.030, 14.04.125, 14.18.090, 16.52.043, 16.52.053, 18.04.020, 19.102.030, and 19.104.220 and Table 19.124.040; and (3) repealing Section 11.08.020   Council approved this “code cleanup” ordinance 5-0.

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.  Information on expressing your opinion via emails and oral communications with the city can be found at https://cupertinomatters.org/express-your-opinion/

CUPERTINO COURIER, November 19, 2021

The front page photo and article on page 5 are titled Rotary Club is stepping up: Local volunteers serve Daily Bread: Thanksgiving meals to homeless.  Community briefs on page 5 are (1) Senior resources survey and (2) More RYDE’s available.

Page 10 is an article previously published in the Mercury News by Grace Hase, entitled Cupertino vice mayor asked to apologize:  She says comments on the Chinese Exclusion Act were taken out of context.  Page 12 is the previously published article Schools Close as school ranks in California fall, regarding closure of CUSD schools. No legal notices.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor