Cupertino Matters

I hope everyone enjoyed a pleasant Memorial Day weekend. Graduations will shortly mark the end of the school year, and change of pace to summer activities.

City staff will provide a report today on the revised “The Rise” SB 35 project at Vallco. Interested readers can attend tonight’s special session of the city council to receive this report either in-person or on Zoom.  This project was originally deemed conforming under state law in 2018, but experienced a two-year delay due to litigation launched by Friends of Better Cupertino and now-Councilmember Kitty Moore. COVID-19 struck as that litigation came to a conclusion, further delaying the project and increasing construction costs. The pandemic and other factors forced some rethinking of the design, so Sand Hill Properties has submitted a modified design, again, pursuant to state law. As such, the city’s professional staff (not the council) is required to determine whether the modifications conform to legal standards. The 60-day review period expires this Friday, June 3, 2022.

City staff continue to seek employment elsewhere. The latest departure is the Deputy City Manager, Katy Nomura, who has worked for the city for 10 years and who retains deep institutional knowledge of the community and city operations. The previous week, the Director of Parks and Recreation announced her resignation to move to the city of San Mateo.

The city received another award when the Regnart Creek Trail Project was recently named Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association’s Silicon Valley chapter. The award recognizes outstanding public works projects and professionals: Cupertino trail wins award before it opens to public. Congratulations to staff and the advocacy of Walk-Bike Cupertino and those involved in bringing this project to fruition.

The future of the Blackberry Farm golf course has been debated for several years.  The current golf course has irrigation deficiencies and operates at a loss, though this improved with increased use during the pandemic. A consultant was engaged to do a feasibility study. Council selected two alternatives to move forward: (1) Improve the existing golf course, making some modifications to correct deficiencies or (2) Turn the area into a natural habitat. Either option will cost approximately $2 million to implement. The city has created a survey to express public opinion. There will also be a Blackberry Farm Golf Course Virtual Community Meeting on June 6 at 6:30 p.m. to solicit community input. In addition, there will be two open houses on June 11 and July 11 to tour the course.

Moving into the summer, progress on the state-required Housing Element remains unclear. A community outreach meeting  was held on Monday, May 23, at 6:30 p.m. This was a hybrid meeting with approximately 10 residents in-person and approximately 55 on Zoom.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL – Vallco SB35 update, Tues., May 31, 2022, 6:00 Special session (In-person/Zoom)

Item #1: City Manager Report regarding the Rise (Vallco) development – request for modification of approved SB 35 project pursuant to Government Code section 65913.4(g). The 41 page staff report and Sand Hill Properties Project description  outline changes in the project. More information, including approved plans can be found on the city website. There are small changes in the scope of the project, including (1)  increasing residential square footage from 4.96 million sq. ft to 5.12  million sq. ft., (2) decreasing office square footage from 1.98 million sq. ft to 1.97 sq. ft. and (3) reducing the retail space from 486,000 sq, ft, to 429,000 sq, ft.

The number of below market rate homes remains the same – 1201 (out of 2402 total), but the number of 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom homes has been increased, while the number of studios and one-bedrooms has been reduced in order to better accommodate a greater range of family sizes. The office space is being optimized for research and development and for life sciences companies, which have lower parking requirements. The presence of such companies could diversify Cupertino’s local economy. Emphasis on biking amenities has also increased. Overall, the design incorporates more access to the outdoors, including wider sidewalks to encourage activities such as outdoor dining. Credit for parkland space associated with the rooftop park remains a source of conflict between the city and the property owner.

City council’s only stated action relevant to this matter is to receive the report.

RECAP – PLANNING COMMISSION: Tues., May 24, 2022, 6:45 p.m. Regular  session

YouTube: 2 hr. 5 min.

There was no progress on furthering the Housing Element in this session. The first hour was spent complaining about the lack of progress, with Commissioner Wang particularly vocal, overriding Chair Scharf and the city attorney. Commissioners were also upset  that  the minutes of the previous meeting were not available with diversion of consultant and staff resources to the council-led Strategic Advisory Committee for the previous day’s (May 23) Community Meeting on Cupertino Housing Element. However,  the YouTube recording of the April 26 meeting was available on the City of Cupertino channel. This provides a transcript with much better detail than the summary minutes so the four absent / unengaged commissioners had ample time to review public input in advance of this meeting. There was no indication that the Planning Commissioners actually visited potential housing sites.

Item #1: The fourth study session on the Housing Element Update focusing on the establishment of a housing sites selection inventory and strategies to promote the development of new housing. The materials are the same as the April 26 meeting when some commissioners were either absent or unengaged. Chair Scharf made the decision to bring this matter back for consideration despite the known lack of new or updated materials. What was the purpose of this meeting?

Item #2: Consider the Reality of Current and Future Mass Transit in Silicon Valley, GHG, Equity, and Fairness for Families of All Income Levels. Questioned by Commissioner Madhdhipatla, this opinion presentation was allowed, though the city logo had to be removed since it was not developed by staff. This hour-long presentation by Chair Scharf and subsequent discussion focused on justifying car-centric solutions in the Housing Element, contrary to state guidelines and accepted climate science.

YOU CAN EXPRESS YOUR OPINION: Readers can voice their views via email to 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 council members 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. Contacts at


The front page photo is entitled Homeless plan drafted: Community Development Department still seeks more public input. This references the community brief on  page 5: Homelessness plan drafted. The second community brief is Night Market help wanted for July 23. There is an article on page 7 entitled Gala honors De Anza College’s wine connection. Legal notices on pages 28-29 are (1) Final budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-23 and (2) Renewal of Storm Drain Fees and Clean Water and Storm Protection fees, with no increases.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor