Cupertino Matters

Schools continue to be in the news as school districts in the Bay area struggle with declining enrollment, financial challenges and the need to close or consolidate schools. According to the Mercury News, statewide,  California public school student enrollment drops to lowest in two decades: Fewer kids are going to urban, charter schools but kindergarteners are coming back

Parent unhappiness with the pace of reopening the public schools during the pandemic has highlighted a much-hyped move to expensive private schools, which excludes most public school families. According to the district superintendent, Cupertino Union School District (CUSD) only had 78 transfers to private school in FY 2021-22, with 169 transfers in 2020-21, the height of the pandemic. The district  has provided a well-regarded homeschooling alternative program for years, but even with an uptick with the pandemic, relatively few families chose this option. Currently, there are only 157 homeschooled students out of a total of 14,101 students. This number is expected to drop to roughly 50 students post-pandemic. CUSD also offers 4  alternative schools, which all have waiting lists and lottery enrollment.

Misunderstanding of the impact of soaring housing costs and demographic trends on school enrollment led to an attempt to recall the three trustees who cast the difficult vote to close schools to ensure the district’s fiscal health. That recall effort would have cost the cash-strapped district approximately $1,000,000 for a special election. That effort has failed so far according to the Los Altos Town Crier: CUSD recall effort fails to meet signature goal.

The second meeting to plan the community engagement process for the state-required Housing Element update was held on Thursday, April 7, 2022 from 11 am – 1 pm. Councilmember Kitty Moore was elected chair and Housing Commission Chair Tessa Parish was elected Vice-Chair. Due to the mid-day scheduling, there were few public comments. Organizations that have been contacted were part of the packet, however, there was little progress on scheduling actual community outreach. Meeting recordings have not been posted, and the project website has not been updated.  Failure to develop a plan that can be approved by the California Department Housing and Community Development has serious financial and legal consequences. After the state rejected L.A.’s plan for new housing, it is not clear that cities in Northern California will get state approval either. Billions of dollars are at stake. Cupertino faces the prospect of dramatic loss of local land-use authority and grant money, and would be subject to millions of dollars in fines.

UPCOMING – PLANNING COMMISSION: Tues., Apr. 12, 2022, 6:45 p.m. Regular  session

Item #2 Review of the annual Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-2023 report for consistency with the City of Cupertino’s General Plan. Each year staff recommends capital projects for the following fiscal year. The Planning Commission is tasked with reviewing these projects for conformance with the city’s General Plan, but does not approve the projects themselves. New projects for FY 2022 – 2023 are as follows:

    1. Blackberry Farms Pools Splash Pad – $500,000
    2. City Hall Improvements – City Hall and Library Parking: Design and Construction – $4,000,000 for initial phase
    3. City Lighting LED improvements – $1,000,000
    4. De Anza Boulevard Buffered Bike Lanes – $525,000
    5. Jollyman All-Inclusive Play Area: Adult-Assistive Bathroom Facility –  $850,000
    6. Major Recreation Facilities: Use and Market Analysis – $350,000
    7. Stocklmeir, Bryne and Blesch city-owned houses: Inspection Reports and Analysis – $50,000

After review, the projects then go to the city council for approval. Readers will note that the highest cost item–for city hall improvements and related parking at $4,000,000–comes from taxpayer-funded sources. The 2018 Vallco Specific Plan would have provided millions more for these facilities. The city council voted away those benefits.

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Tues., Apr. 5, 2022, 6 :45 p.m.

YouTube: Part 1 1hr. 49 min.; Part 2: 3 hr. 46 min., #12, Work Program

The City Manager introduced Matt Morley as the new Public Works Director, replacing Roger Lee, who retired at the end of 2021

Item #12:Consider Council Goals and Prioritize Potential Fiscal Year 2022-2023 City Work Program Items. Starting about 7:40 p.m, the council went until nearly midnight rehashing the city work program. This was supposed to be a finalized prioritization, but councilmembers proposed adding additional projects to an already lengthy project. The commentary from the council became increasingly hostile both toward staff and among councilmembers. Most notable were Mayor Paul’s repeated questioning of the Deputy City Manager’s reasoning for her analysis of each project; and Vice-Mayor Chao’s speaking over other councilmembers and past her allotted time, leading Mayor Paul to mute her. Council was unable to make a final set of decisions by midnight. As a result, this item was continued and will be reconsidered at the April 19 meeting.

Item #13: Consideration of corrections to the current Teen Commission staggered term groups to return the Commission back to the term cycle that is specified by Cupertino Municipal Code, Chapter 2.95 Teen Commission. This item was continued to the April 19 council meeting due to time.

Item #14: Consideration of Municipal Code amendments to the Cupertino Municipal Code related to regulation of single-use plastic foodware and single-use carryout bags.     This item was likewise continued to the April 19 council meeting due to time.

Item #15: Consideration of Municipal Code amendments to the Cupertino Municipal Code, Title 2 to add Chapter 2.96 and codify the Economic Development Committee   This is a followup to the study. This item was also continued to the April 19 council meeting due to time.

YOU CAN EXPRESS YOUR OPINION: Readers are encouraged to email individual councilmembers, 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 4 are Birdathon is underway: Audubon Society counts feathered friends in fundraiser. Community briefs on page 4 include (1) Compost site reopens, (2) Pedaling influence, and (3) Fire museum tour. There is an invitation to bid on a traffic signal modification on De Anza Boulevard in legal notices on page 21.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor