- Questionable Hiring
- TONIGHT – Housing Element – Joint Planning/Housing Commissions, June 28, 6:45 p.m;
- RECAP- City Council, June 21
The Fourth of July weekend is coming and the city is putting on 4th of July celebrations, including the return of fireworks, for our residents and neighbors after a two year hiatus. A very happy Independence Day to you all!
As readers recall, City Manager Jim Throop abruptly resigned minutes after the close of the Tuesday, June 21, council meeting chaired from beginning-to-end for the first time by Vice-Mayor Liang Chao. Throop came on board on January 3, 2022. His resignation–styled as a “retirement” from government service–comes less than six months later and is effective July 22. There was no immediate comment from the city However, local community advocacy group Cupertino for All issued this FULL STATEMENT ON SUDDEN RESIGNATION OF CITY MANAGER JIM THROOP AFTER JUST 5 MONTHS which aptly describes the deteriorating situation at city hall, as staff members continue to depart the city.
Then Friday afternoon, Mayor Paul issued a press release stating, “The City Council has extended an offer to the other top candidate for City Manager from Council’s recent recruitment to begin on Monday, July 25. The offer has been accepted, subject to the conclusion of negotiations on salary and benefits. In addition, City Council has retained former Interim City Manager Greg Larson as a consultant to assist with the transition starting on Tuesday, July 5.”
This is a highly irregular hiring practice. It has been a year since the previous city manager, Deb Feng, abruptly resigned. New and more qualified candidates may have become available. Why is the city council rushing to appoint its second choice rather than casting its net for the best candidate? What is the city’s reputation at this point?
The next city council meeting is July 7, rescheduled from the regularly scheduled July 5 to allow sufficient staff preparation time.
UPCOMING – Planning Commission / Housing Commission – Tues., June 28, 2022, 6 :45 p.m. Regular
This is a joint session between the two commissions. The primary agenda item is The fifth meeting on the Housing Element update focusing on the establishment of a housing sites selection inventory. The previous four meetings were solely with the Planning Commission. This is a review of the revised site inventory to plan for building 4,588 new housing units in the next 8 years. The original list of nearly 400 sites which fit the state criteria of 0.5 to 10 acres in size was whittled down to 98 parcels. There are 16 Pipeline Project parcels (previously entitled), 58 Tier 1 parcels (the default), and 23 Tier 2 parcels. This meeting is an opportunity for the community to provide input on individual sites.
After input from the joint commissions, the list will be submitted to the city council for approval to start the six month environmental review and draft to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
The Planning Commission had concerns about the impact on schools of adding this many housing units to our city. The packet includes a presentation from Silicon Valley at Home entitled Housing Affordability and Declining School Enrollment which shows a 29% decline in elementary school enrollment in Cupertino in the last 7 years as part of an overall trend. This decline translates into the loss of 1,516 students or 3 schools. The loss is accelerating with the lack of housing,
RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Tues., June 21, 2022, 6:45 p.m. Regular; 5:30 p.m. Study Session (in-person/Zoom)
YouTube: Part 1 – 2 hr. 30 min.; Part 2 – 3 hr 50 min. Beginning Item #18
Mayor Darcy Paul was absent, so Vice-Mayor Liang Chao chaired the meeting, and did not complete the regular agenda which didn’t start until 9:45, after a protracted consent calendar.
The subject of the Study session is Public Review Draft Climate Action Plan 2.0 Study Session. The formal presentation consumed most of the time, with little input from the public. Councilmembers stressed the need for education and funding support. Councilmember Wei suggested that the city lead the way with improvements to city-owned properties.
Items #10-14 consisting of several Accounts Payable in May were pulled by Councilmember Moore to be reviewed by the Audit Committee, another example of micromanagement by this council.
Item #15: Consider authorizing the City Manager to execute a services agreement with Carahsoft to renew Accela Permitting, Licensing and Land-use Management System subscription service for the total cost of $1,261,851.26 over five years.This item was likewise pulled by Councilmember Moore to request clarification of the software which has greatly increased the productivity of the city operations, allowing it to function during the pandemic when many jurisdictions were not sufficiently prepared.
Item #17: Consider authorizing the City Manager to execute a Funding Agreement between the City of Cupertino and the City of San Jose for a budget allocation of $154,079 to participate in the Stevens Creek Boulevard Vision Study, which includes a 10% contingency. Council approved 4-0-1 with Mayor Paul absent.
Item #18: Brush Abatement Program hearing to consider objections to proposed removal of brush and order abatement of the public nuisance; and consideration of a resolution ordering abatement of potential fire hazard pursuant to Cupertino Municipal Code (Section 16.40.200) regarding Defensible Space (brush) and Resolution No. 22-055. Council approved 4-0-1 with Mayor Paul absent.
Item #19: Consider accepting Accounts Payable for the period ending December 20, 2021 (Several continuations with the last one from June 7, 2022). Staff produced a report of all payments to the chamber from 2015, including development of the I Love Cupertino project and activities during the pandemic. The total over 7 years is a total of $218,198 including the major expense being a reasonable amount for an e-commerce website. The council majority then spent the ensuing hour-and-a-half chastising the Chamber and implying fraud without basis. Frustrated, council finally approved the Accounts Payable item except for the one $8,000 item disputed by Councilmember Moore on a 3-1-1 vote with Wei voting nay and Paul absent.
Item #20: Update on the Status of the Research from the City Council Subcommittee Meetings for the Cupertino Historical Society. For several years, the city has provided $20,000 to the Historical Society for their ongoing work with city archives, programming, and the Museum at the Quinlan Center. Parks and Recreation recommended converting this funding to an ongoing line item with more spending flexibility than the Community Funding Grants previously used. Historical Society members gave illustrative presentations on the work of the Society and its value to the community, yet council–in particular Vice-Mayor Chao–continued to suggest additional restrictions on this 501(c)(3) charitable organization in order to access funding. The city provides approximately $400,000 to the library for additional services, so why the micromanagement of $20,000 for a worthy organization?
Item #21: Consider conducting a first reading of an ordinance for amendments to Cupertino Municipal Code Chapter 2.80 and Sections 19.102.040, 19.148.030, 19.148.050, 19.148.060, and 19.148.090 to Adopt a Name Change for the Fine Arts Commission to the Arts and Culture Commission. At council’s direction, staff did a survey and extensive outreach on the name change but only generated 36 responses. Staff estimates that approximately 40 hours were required for this work. Since a majority favored the name change, the item was quickly approved 4-01 with Paul absent.
Item #22: Consider conducting a first reading of an ordinance amending Municipal Code Chapter 2.84: Environmental Review Committee (ERC). Due to the late hour, this matte was continued to the next council meeting.
YOU CAN EXPRESS YOUR OPINION: Readers may 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 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 CupertinoMatters.org/express-your-opinion.
CUPERTINO COURIER, June 24, 2022
The front page photo and community brief on page 5 is entitled ‘Much Ado’ at Memorial Park: Free program celebrates the 40th anniversary. Community briefs are (1) CARES Field Day, and (2) Works of art sought. The legal notice on A33 concerns the Notice of Election for 3 city council members on Nov. 8, 2022. The nomination papers for filing to run for council are available July 10, and must be submitted by August 12, at 6:00 p.m.
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