Cupertino Matters

Spring is officially here. May we all enjoy the longer days!

Though Cupertino is famous for Apple, it’s also known for its three excellent school districts–collectively the second largest employer in the city. This week, one nationwide review found that Cupertino has the most highly educated population in the U.S.

Despite that, the Cupertino city council landed in the news for the unprecedented agenda item seeking council endorsement of an error-riddled letter written by Vice Mayor Chao requesting that CUSD reconsider closure of Regnart and Meyerholz schools. The matter even received national press attention. Council ultimately failed to act on the letter, but this item consumed over an hour and a half of valuable dais time. In the meantime, the clock continues to run out on pressing matters within the council’s jurisdiction, such as the Housing Element update.

Readers may remember that a mixed-use project on the Marina Foods site was approved in 2016, but was not built. That approval has since expired. Now, a revised mixed-use project is being submitted that includes more housing than the previous plans. The property owner for the Marina Plaza project is holding community outreach meetings on Saturday 4/2, from 9:30am to 11:30am, and on Wednesday 4/13, from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. Both meetings will be at the nearby Aloft Cupertino Hotel. Light refreshments will be provided. The community is invited to learn more about the project and to offer feedback.

UPCOMING – PLANNING COMMISSION: Tues., Mar. 22, 2022, 6:45 p.m. Regular  session

Item #2 Discussion of the Priority Development Area (PDA) Planning Grant funds awarded to the City by the Association of Bay Area Governments/Metropolitan Transportation Commission (ABAG/MTC) for the Heart of the City Specific Plan. Updates to this Specific Plan have been on the city work plan since 2019-2020. There is more urgency now that the city is expected to have to rezone and upzone large portions of Cupertino as part of the Sixth Cycle Housing Element Update. The Stevens Creek Boulevard corridor contains many sites suitable in size and location for this update. Planning staff applied for grant funding of $400,000 to offset city costs, which was granted, but has yet to be accepted by the council. Council considered this item in February, 2022, but sent the item to the Planning Commission for evaluation. In addition, staff is recommending revising the consulting agreement with EMC Planning Group to incorporate the Heart of the City Specific Plan Update into their existing contract scope of work for the Sixth Cycle Housing Element Update.

Item #3 Consider an appeal of the Director of Community Development’s approval of a Two-Story Permit to allow a new 2,271 square-foot two-story home with a 561 square-foot attached accessory dwelling. (Application No.: R-2021-056; Applicant: Jackson Lu; Property Owners: Chengzhu Liu and Cailin Huang; Appellants: Sharon Hall; Location: 18750 Barnhart Ave; APN # 375-27-042). The planning department approved this project, which conforms to city and state housing codes. A neighbor has complained, but there is no clear legal basis to approve the appeal.

Item #4 2021 General Plan Housing Element Annual Progress Report (APR) on forms required by HCD. Council accepted this state-required report on March 15, so this item is a pro forma review. Will commissioners pay attention to the city’s dismal record of producing homes? In 2020, a total of 20 homes were added to housing inventory–19 ADUs and 1 single-family residence. In 2021, a total of 90 homes units were produced–41 ADUs, 48 senior affordable housing units at Westport and 1 single-family residence, a development stalled over years and multiple prior iterations. One development application for 34 homes at the Coach House property was received.

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Tues., March 15, 2022, 6 :45 p.m.; Study session, 5:30 p.m.

YouTube: Part 1 – 3 hr.12 hr; Part 2 – 3 hr. 03 min.

The study session considered options for West Coast Farmers’ Market location at a city park. This Sunday farmers’ market presents a conundrum for the city. The Senior Center parking lot temporarily hosted it during the pandemic. Now, that location is needed to reconstruct the unsightly ponds at Memorial Park, to allow resumption of festivals and various other recreation activities. As a result, the market needs to relocate. The most feasible city park location is Monta Vista Park, but it presents other limitations. An additional question focuses on whether the city should subsidize this farmers’ market–a for-profit enterprise. Many non-profits pay substantial fees to use city facilities. This vendor could also negotiate with De Anza College for use of its parking lots across the street from the present location.

Ceremonial Matters and Presentations included recognizing the receipt of the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers (CSMFO) Innovation Award by the Finance Department for  the city’s Resident Tax Calculator and Budget Forecast Tool, an excellent resident outreach tool. The Finance Manager, who oversaw its development has since resigned, a major loss to the city.

Item #10:Progress on FY 2021-2022 Council Work Program item to develop ELI and BMR housing units for Developmentally Disabled individuals on City-owned property along Mary Avenue. After what appeared to be a lengthy and divided discussion, Council ultimately voted unanimously to authorize staff to move ahead with an RFP/RFQ for a 100% affordable housing project to improve funding eligibility.

Reordered Item #15: 2021 General Plan Annual Report and Housing Element Annual Progress Report (APR) on forms required by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). Council received this report. There was surprisingly little discussion of this state-required and formatted report documenting Cupertino’s dismal housing production figures.

Item #11: Review of Homeless Jobs Program, FY 2021-22 City Work Program item and consider adoption of Resolution No. 22-026 accepting accounts payable for the period ending January 10, 2022 The council funded this well-intentioned program for $200,00 with limited results. There were two people involved, but one has left the program.  Wouldn’t working with existing county services with similar programs be more cost-effective?  The action item was to approve the payment payable for WVCS. Approved unanimously.

Item #12: Consider issuing a request to the CUSD Board for reconsideration of the future closures of Regnart and Meyerholz Elementary Schools. City council spent over an hour and a half discussing Vice-Mayor Chao’s error-laden letter and hearing extensive public comment. Councilmember Hung Wei, who served as a school board trustee for 11 years, strongly opposed council endorsement of this out-of-jurisdiction action. Ultimately, the Vice-Mayor’s motion received no second, so no letter was authorized.   

Item #13: Consider report on Chamber of Commerce services and payment included in the Accounts Payable report ending December 20, 2021 and approval of Accounts Payable report. City partnerships are valuable. Many have generally operated under loose agreements or according to established custom. The lack of formality has become a source of contention for the present council. This accounts payable  item  for $16,000 was tabled until a later date.

Item #14: Receive presentation on the City’s drone program and consider accepting accounts payable electronic funds transfer 32909 dated October 29, 2021, for the procurement of a Skydio X2E Drone Starter Kit. Councilmember Moore, who had originally pulled this item for staff feedback and discussion, moved to return the item to the consent calendar, where it was unanimously approved.

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.


The front page photo and article on page 5 are Nonprofit adds dash of compassion: Chefs set to create dishes for 11th annual event, a fundraiser for West Valley Community Services. Community briefs on page 5 include (1) Battery collection event, (2) Second Harvest fundraiser, and (3) Voter center couriers needed. Page 8 is a previously published Mercury News article Single-use plastic ban weighed by City Council: Reusable food ware might be required at dine-in restaurants. There are no legal notices.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor