Cupertino Matters

January ended with little council action, other than routine matters. The closed session meetings on Jan. 27 included potential litigation Item #2: Conference with Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation. Significant exposure to litigation pursuant to Government Code § 54956.9(d) (one case). Ordinarily, the contents of such meetings are publicly unknown, but here, the meeting included outside counsel, Sunny Soltani, an attorney with Aleshire & Wynder, LLP, which was specially contracted to address Vallco-related matters. Thus far, the firm has billed approximately $400,000 to the city.  No progress has been reported in resolving the site cleanup permit from the county Department of Environmental Health.

On a happier note, our very competent Cupertino technical staff was recognized in a TechWire article titled From Embezzlement to an Open Book in Cupertino, CA: Watch how the City of Cupertino embraces modern technology like OpenGov to increase transparency throughout their community. Implementation of this software platform has significantly improved city financial operations.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL – Tues., Feb. 1, 2022, 6:45 p.m., Regular meeting, 5:30 Study Session; 5:00 Special Meeting

Due to the absence of Councilmember Jon Willey for the makeup round of commission interviews on Jan. 27, council will hold another special meeting at 5:00 to make final selections for commission vacancies. The initial interviews occurred on Jan. 24 for 7 openings, but there were only 20 applicants–7 of which did not attend, hence the make-up sessions. Historically, commission appointments have been popular with the public  In 2020, there were 51 applicants for 14 openings, and in 2021, there were 74 applicants for 12 openings. The 2021 round of appointments proved exceedingly partisan, which may explain the fall-off in applications. Readers may recall that this council reappointed Ray Wang to the Planning Commission despite his threats to critics jobs. This corresponds to a general lack of resident engagement with city government, evidenced by low attendance at city sponsored workshops.

Study session to discuss the awarded PDA Planning Grant funds from the Association of Bay Area Governments/Metropolitan Transportation Commission (ABAG/MTC) for the Heart of the City Specific Plan Update in conjunction with the Housing Element Update. Cupertino received $400,000 to defray city costs to amend the Specific Plan to accommodate the next cycle of the state-mandated Housing Element that would facilitate the addition of 4,588 new homes in the next 8 years. Staff is recommending that a contract be awarded to EMC Planning Group in conjunction with their current work on the Housing Element to avoid overlap of work, improve timing and and reduce costs. This work would be specific to the Heart of the City–the planning area that runs along Stevens Creek Boulevard from the San Jose/Santa Clara border to De Anza College.

Ceremonial Matters and Presentations are (1) Re-Issued Proclamation honoring Paul Haayer for his military service, and (2) Recognition of Fine Arts Commission Artists Award winners

Oral Communications then follow. Reports should be routine. City Manager Jim Throop will be responsible for Item #5 City Manager Update. The Consent Calendar appears to be routine.

Item #11: Consider second reading and enactment of an Ordinance approving the Rezoning of two parcels from Planned Development with General Commercial Uses (P(CG)) to Planned Development with General Commercial and Residential Uses (P(CG, Res))” to allow the Canyon Crossing development (Application No(s): EA-2018-06, Z-2018-02; Applicant(s): Dan Shaw (SCR Enterprises); Location 10625 South Foothill Boulevard; APN#s 342-16-087, -088). Since this item previously received unanimous approval, this action is likely to be a purely pro forma final approval.

Item #12: Consider second reading and enactment of an Ordinance approving the Rezoning of three parcels from Planned Development Zoning with General Commercial uses (P(CG)) to Planned Development Zoning with General Commercial and Residential uses (P(CG, Res))” to allow development of the Bateh Brothers site (Application No(s): EA-2020-001, Z-2020-001; Applicant(s): Alan Enterprise LLC; Location: 22690 Stevens Creek Boulevard; APN#s 341-14-066, 342-14-104 & 105). As with Item 11, this action is likely to be a purely pro forma final approval.

Item #13: Consider an amendment to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-22 Fee Schedule C – Planning Fees to add a Miscellaneous Ministerial Permit fee pursuant to Urgency Ordinance No. 21-2235 regarding the ministerial processing of up to two unit projects pursuant to Senate Bill 9. This would establish a new fee of $3,926 for SB 9 projects which would cover processing costs for the city. This cost is similar to the current fee of $4,477 for Two Story permits.

Item #14: Consider an extension of 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). On Dec. 21, 2021, the City Council approved an Interim Ordinance in advance of the Jan. 1, 2022 effective date of SB 9. However, this ordinance expires on Feb. 2, 2022, so this item is designed to extend the ordinance for another 10 months and 15 days. A regular ordinance to implement SB 9 is being prepared for presentation to the Planning Commission in Spring 2022 with council consideration planned for Summer 2022.

Item #15: Consideration of Notice of Intent to Vacate a Public Pedestrian Walkway Easement through Tract 9405 (Campo De Lozano.) The approval of the Regnart Creek Trail was contentious. As a result, the  Campo De Lozano Homeowners Association (HOA) has requested a rescission of the original pathway easement through the property to the Regnart Creek Trail. This  request requires a future public hearing for consideration.

Item #16: Consider adopting the proposed 2022 Legislative Platform. Vice-Mayor Chao and Councilmember Kitty Moore comprise the Legislative Review Committee (LRC), a relatively new function, assisted by a lobbyist under contract for $72,000 annually to provide information at LRC meetings and to draft letters supporting or opposing state legislative actions. Their actions have been generally ineffective as the Legislature and the Governor persistently enact legislation the city council opposes. 

YOU CAN EXPRESS YOUR OPINION: Readers are encouraged to speak at Cupertino public meetings, either on specific items on the agenda, or at Oral Communications on any topic not on the agenda. Speakers ordinarily have three minutes, and coaching is available! Readers are also encouraged to email individual council members, the council as a whole, the city manager, and the city clerk. Note that emails to 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 emails become part of the public record.

RECAP – PLANNING COMMISSION – Tues., Jan. 25, 2022, 6:45 p.m. Regular  session

YouTube: 2 hr. 55 min.   

Commissioner Vikram Saxena was absent for this important meeting kicking off the Housing Site Inventory. Overall, commissioners showed little understanding of the primary objective of the meeting, despite well-crafted staff presentations and feedback. The timeframe for the site inventory is tight, since the city will have to justify its selection of sites with evidence demonstrating a likelihood of development over the next eight years. CEQA evaluation will then follow prior to completion of a draft Housing Element for submission to the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Failure to receive timely certification of a new housing element will jeopardize Cupertino’s eligibility for certain infrastructure funding, result in dramatic loss of local land use authority, and lead to fines of up to $600,000 per month, among other penalties.

Item #2 Housing Element Update study session focusing on the establishment of a housing sites inventory, The staff explanation of the 5 maps included in the staff report using GIS (Geographic Information System) technology was helpful in understanding the different components of the housing inventory process. Public comment was not extensive, reflecting the limited reaction. The city’s consultant had been hoping for submission of hundreds of maps using their Balancing Act planning tool, but only 7 community interest maps had been submitted. Outreach to property owners has just begun. Commentary from the dais revealed a generalized lack of understanding of the legal framework or the timelines of the Housing Element. At one point, Chair Wang suggested five-floor basements as a housing option and pushing responsibility for new housing onto Caltrans by building freeway caps. The consultants explained why neither option would be acceptable for the Housing Element.

Item #3: Election of Planning Commission Chair and Vice Chair, and Committee representatives. The new Chair is Commissioner Steven Scharf, and the new Vice-Chair is Muni Madhdhipatla.

Item #4: 2022 Planning Commissioners Academy. Commissioner expenses will be paid for this training scheduled for March 16-18. Commissions were encouraged to attend.

CUPERTINO COURIER, January 28, 2022

The front page photo and community brief on page 5 are titled In a Holding Pattern:  Shipping delays slow Cupertino Library construction. Community briefs on page 5 include (1) Al fresco dining extended, (2) In-person appointments suspended at city hall and (3) CREST Nominations open. No legal notices appear.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor