Cupertino Matters

Rain has finally returned, though the “atmospheric river” turned out to be just a good soaking rain, with the usual minor outages due to flooding.

Unlike previous years, council leadership didn’t change, so expect more of the same behavior this next year: Cupertino: Darcy Paul, Liang Chao re-elected as mayor, vice mayor Cupertino Today provides a more comprehensive summary: Embattled Cupertino Seeks Image Consultant, Re-elects Leaders to Stay the Course.

An unusual special city council meeting was scheduled at the last possible minute for Saturday, December 11, at 11:00 in-person at Community Hall. All councilmembers plus city staff were there, along with a handful of members of the public. The sole noticed purpose to record a panel discussion on the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, a topic thrust into the spotlight by Vice-Mayor Liang Chao’s ahistorical commentary on the matter, as covered in November in the Patch and elsewhere. Indeed, introductory remarks by Mayor Darcy Paul noted Chao’s prior commentary, but described it as “characterized both on social media and in the press as being hostile to the notion that the Chinese Exclusion Act was racist legislation, instead focusing on the purported labor-related aspects of the legislation” and downplayed the public character of her remarks by describing them as having occurred “in a closed email discussion groups with other parents of our local public school districts”. The comments more closely resemble those of a political campaign rather than subject-matter ordinarily relevant to a city council meeting. Given that character, was this an appropriate expenditure of the public purse?

In Foothill-De Anza College District news, Patrick Ahrens was named President of the Board of Trustees at the December13 meeting. Patrick, is an alum of De Anza College, and works in Assemblymember Evan Low’s office. He is also the first former student trustee to go on to hold an elected position as trustee since Dolly Sandoval. Congratulations to Trustee Ahrens!

Amid the election of a new board president, the district took up its examination of three redistricting maps. Map A followed city boundaries, Map B combined city and school district boundaries, and Map C followed school district boundaries. The board voted 4-1 to advance Maps A and C for consistency with existing election boundaries.

School board members have always had a difficult job, balancing parent demands and the need for fiscal responsibility. Trustees are volunteers who want to serve their communities, but personal attacks have intensified. The three CUSD trustees who voted to close two schools and consolidate others out of a sense of fiscal responsibility, are now being subjected to a renewed recall effort.

UPCOMING – PLANNING COMMISSION – Tues, Dec. 14, 2021, 6:45 p.m. Regular  session

Item #2 Consider Development and Architectural and Site Approval permits that would allow the replacement of seven (7) storage buildings, with three (3) new buildings between one (1) and three (3) stories in height to allow for a 166,845 sq. ft. storage facility; Consider a Fence Exception request to allow electronic vehicular gates and a Tree Removal Permit request to allow the removal and replacement of eight (8) protected trees. (Application No(s): DP-2019-05, ASA-2019-05, EXC-2019-04, TR-2019-048; Applicant(s): Emilia Samudio (Jordan Architects); Location: 10655 Mary Ave.; APN: 326-06-050). The project proposes replacing an existing 59,546 facility with a 166,845 square foot facility. It’s located next to the sound wall on SR-85. Given the increase in state mandated housing units in the next 8 years, the market for storage units will increase. It includes a 20 foot easement adjacent to the Mary Avenue Bridge and pathway for multi-use trail access to a future I-280 trail as a community benefit.  This item should be non-controversial.

Item #3 Discuss potential City Work Program proposals for Fiscal Year 2022-2023. This item begins the annual cycle of developing the work plan by reexamining the current work plan. Two items in the current plan are required by law: (1) RHNA related General Plan Update and rezoning, and (2) Sign ordinance update. The next priority is to consider options to develop ELI and BMR housing units for developmentally disabled individuals, an important initiative, though there has been minimal progress so far.

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Tues, Dec. 7, 2021, 6:45 – Regular  session, 5:15, Study session

YouTube:  Part 1- hr. 26 min. Study Session; Part 2 – 2 hr. 9 min Election of Mayor and Vice-Mayor;   Part 3 – 3 hr. 17 min Public Hearings

The study session at 5:15 included two presentations, with limited time considering Item #2, the Commissions, due to time constraints.

Item #1: Discuss public engagement strategies. Staff presented an extensive report on current outreach to the community, and strategy to intensify, but Mayor Paul continues to be critical of their efforts, asking for an undefined “press plan” to improve the city image. As part of its deliberations, the council entertained the notion of hiring an “image consultant” to improve public relations.

Item #2: Information on Commissions and Committees in Cupertino and Other Cities. The interim city manager, Greg Larson, in his final action, recommended that the city not add any additional commissions, since it already has 17 commissions and committees, which consume significant staff time. He emphasized that commissions report to the city council, not staff. The priority, according to Mr. Larson, is to define the charters for the Economic Development Committee and the Fiscal Strategy Committee, and review the Environmental Review Committee.

The selection of the Mayor and Vice Mayor for 2022 produced stasis. Vice-Mayor Liang Chao nominated Mayor Darcy Paul for another term as Mayor, citing her willingness to cede the mayorship and continue as Vice-Mayor, despite the practice of rotating  ceremonial leadership. Election approved 4-0-1 with Councilmember Wei abstaining in preference for Vice-Mayor Chao, who will now be Vice-Mayor for the third time and who has never been selected by her colleagues as mayor. The nomination of Vice-Mayor Liang Chao was approved unanimously. Following the election and council self-congratulations,  the lack of public enthusiasm was obvious.

Item #21 on the Consent Calendar was pulled: Consider authorization to execute a Design Professional Services Agreement between the City of Cupertino and MIG, Inc., for the All-Inclusive Playground at Jollyman Park with questions to staff regarding their selection process for choosing the professional firm. The item ultimately passed unanimously.

Item #29: Consider conducting a second 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. Approved 5-0

Item #30: Consider modifications to the approved Westport Development project which include adjusting unit mix in the assisted living facility (Building 1) to 123 assisted living units and 35 memory care rooms, reclassification of approximately 8,000 square feet of public dining area to private dining, reducing the underground parking to reflect adjustments in uses, and reduction of massing on the top floor to accommodate a sixth floor aqua therapy pool; (Application No(s): M-2021-002, ASA-2021-007, EXC-2021-003; Applicant(s): Related California (Cascade Zak); Location: 21267 Stevens Creek Boulevard; APN #326-27-043). The senior community spoke loud and clear about the need to get this assisted living housing approved, but was ignored by the council. The council spent over 2 hours fixating on parking and retail space, and relitigating the use of the Density Bonus Law, rather than actual senior needs. Many of the residents won’t have cars, and have little interest in “shopping” for goods. The requested modifications were minimal, and the rationale, including licensing requirements from Atria, a highly experienced senior community operator, were clearly explained. Time ran out at midnight, so the item was continued until Dec. 21.

Item #31: Consider an Interim Ordinance to implement new state legislation (Senate Bill 9), that provides for ministerial approval of up to two units and/or a lot split in a residential single-family zone (Application No.: MCA-2021-005; Applicant: City of Cupertino; Location: Citywide in all residential single family zones). This item was postponed due to the council meeting running late on the Westport Agenda Item #30.

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.

CUPERTINO COURIER, December 10, 2021

The front page photo and article on page 5 are titled Election Boundaries: Foothill-DeAnza district sets hearings on trustee area maps. Community briefs on page 5 are (1) Commissioners sought, (2) Cupertino is streetwise recognizing the best street network in the Bay area,  (3) Holiday band concert for Cupertino Symphonic Band, and (4) Coca-Cola Scholar, Shiva Oswal.  Legal notices on page A25 are (1) Public Hearing for 22690 Stevens Creek Boulevard (Bateh Brothers Site) and (1) 10625 South Foothill Boulevard (Foothill Market) scheduled for council meeting on Dec. 21.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor