Cupertino Matters

Holiday season has begun with tree lighting ceremonies at Quinlan Community Center and Main Street Cupertino, as well as the traditional visits with Santa.

Cupertino is again in the news for housing, or rather lack of housing, particularly for our young professionals. Neil McClintick, chair of Cupertino for All, a community advocacy group, was featured on the front page of Dec. 5, 2021 print Mercury NewsCUPERTINO: City fights NIMBY label, faces housing mandate. The same article is online with a slightly different headline: Cupertino faces its housing reputation as cities get ready for SB 9: The city has earned a reputation for resisting state housing mandates. Rather than focusing on improving the council’s performance and record on housing issues, the council study session proposes hiring a public relations consultant–at a potential cost $75,000 to $150,000 to burnish the city’s image.

Readers will have their own opportunity to engage on housing issues in the city this week with two Housing Element Update virtual meetings on Thursday, December 9:

For more information on how to attend the meetings and participate, visit https://engagecupertino.org/housingelement. While there, subscribe for future notifications to stay up to date, participate, and review documents.

Redistricting due to the census is proceeding. The draft boundary maps for Foothill-DeAnza College District are now posted at www.fhda.edu/trustee-areas for review and comment by community members. Alternative draft maps have also been  proposed by members of the public using the DistrictR mapping tool.

These maps provide the basis for upcoming discussions establishing five trustee areas (instead of at-large) for the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees starting next year. There are multiple ways for people to comment on them in addition to attending public hearings on Dec. 13, 2021 and Jan. 10, 2022, with adoption on Feb. 14, 2022.

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

The study session at 5:15 includes two presentations:

Item #1: Discuss public engagement strategies. Council is being asked to consider hiring an “image consultant” for $75,000 to $150,000. Is this the best use of taxpayer money to compensate for council missteps picked up by the press?

Item #2: Information on Commissions and Committees in Cupertino and Other Cities. Cupertino has 17 commissions and committees, which consume significant staff time. This is high compared to other cities, and there is overlap. As expected, the Planning Commission (1100 hours) requires the most support, followed by Parks and Recreation (750). The third biggest staffing was the Legislative Review Committee, which didn’t exist several years ago, with 400 hours, in addition to a contract with a paid lobbyist.  Any new commissions would require inclusion into the City Work Plan.

The regular meeting is scheduled for 6:45. Ceremonial Matters and Presentations are (1) Recognition of Archana Panda for receiving the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the AmeriCorps and the office of the President of the United States, and (2)  Proclamation to Roger Lee upon his retirement and recognizing his dedicated service to the City of Cupertino as Public Works Director.

This is the annual meeting for the council to select the Mayor and Vice Mayor for the following year, 2022. Pre-pandemic, this was a festive occasion honoring the outgoing Mayor and welcoming the incoming Mayor, with a break for refreshments. On Zoom, the steps will be the same, but with more limited public engagement. The open question is whether Vice-Mayor Liang Chao will be selected as Mayor after two stints as Vice-Mayor. If she’s passed over again, who will take the spot? City tradition generally holds that this position rotate so that all councilmembers eventually get to serve as Mayor. If they don’t choose Vice-Mayor Chao in the wake of her comments on the Chinese Exclusion Act, will they choose Hung Wei–the highest ever vote getter in the history of the city? Or will council do something non-traditional and select Darcy Paul for another term for a fifth year of male domination of a majority female council?

Item #3: Councilmembers elect Mayor
Item #4: Councilmembers elect Vice Mayor
Item #5: Oath of Office for Mayor
Item #6:  Oath of Office for Vice Mayor
Item #7: Comments by Vice  Mayor
Item #8: Comments by Mayor
Item #9: Comments by Councilmembers
Item #10: Comments by the Public

Oral Communications then follow immediately. Reports should be routine. Item #13 City Manager Update is the last one for interim city manager, Greg Larson, who has contributed strongly to improving city governance with his broad expertise. The Consent Calendar appears to be routine.

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. This “code cleanup” was previously unanimously approved, so this should be a pro forma approval.

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). This project was approved August 18, 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. Since then, Atria, the new assisted living operator with more than 440 senior living communities, is requesting some minor changes for Building 1 (not the senior below market rate homes or townhouses). These changes  better meet community needs by adding more memory care and two-bedroom units, decreasing the number of studios. Due to the legal requirement, dining space originally intended for general public use must be restricted to the assisted living community. Additional outdoor dining and retail space has been added to compensate. The number of parking spaces has been reduced for the change from public to resident parking. There are no changes to the building footprint. Financing requires that this project be approved so construction can begin before the end of the year.

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). Readers will recall that the council  garnered the attention of the Mercury News regarding attempts to circumvent state housing laws: ‘Let’s go as strict as possible’: Cupertino looks to enact stringent standards for SB9 projects SB 9 is a modest infill housing law allowing homeowners to split most larger single-family lots and build duplexes if they choose.  This “emergency” ordinance is an attempt to impose new standards prior to Jan. 1, 2022 when the law becomes effective. The staff report is lengthy and technical, so expect an extended discussion.

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 3, 2021

The front page photo and article on page 5 are titled Gift of Hope: West Valley nonprofit seeking volunteers to adopt a family in need about WVCS Gift of Hope program. Community briefs on page 5 are (1) In-person appointments for city services and (2) Food bank fundraiser. Page 19 is Bay Area holiday events and shows. Legal notice on page A24 is a Development  and Site Approval application by Cupertino Storage, 10655 Mary Avenue, replacement of  an existing building, to be heard by the Planning Commission on Dec. 14.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor