Cupertino Matters

Summer break is here! The Parks and Recreation Department has a full slate of concerts at Memorial Park, movies at Creekside Park, a 4th of July Celebration featuring the return of fireworks, Shakespeare in the Park, as well as camps and classes for all ages. Blackberry Farm pool and golf course offer additional options.

Vallco / The Rise SB 35 took another step forward with the city manager’s approval of the review of project modifications following a 3-hour council meeting with only four attendees from the public in the chamber.

The turnover rate among city employees is becoming an increasing concern. There were 43 separations in FY21 vs. 20 separations in FY20. This translates into a percentage turnover rate for FY 2020-2021 of 16%, which was 87% above the median of surrounding cities. This means that nearly 1 in 5 positions turned over in the previous fiscal year. (Page 148, Attachment K, Item no. 37, CC 06-07-2022.) This is before the departure of senior staff during the current FY 2021-2022 fiscal year, which includes the Deputy City Manager, Director of Parks and Recreation, Director of Public Works, Finance Manager, Chief Communications Officer and senior planners. The so-called “Great Resignation” can’t explain why Cupertino’s turnover diverges so radically from nearby jurisdictions, especially given that Cupertino is ordinarily a place staff seek out for superior pay and benefits. The only plausible remaining explanation is that these departures indicate an increasingly unpleasant–if not hostile–work environment.

Finalizing the budget in time for the June 30 deadline will be a major challenge. The short-staffed Finance Department had to rework the budget package due to significant last-minute changes by city council.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL – Tues., June 7, 2022, 6 :45 p.m. Regular; 5:30 p.m. Study Session (in-person/Zoom)

The subject of the Study session is Recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Commission to approve funds in the amount of $96,460.46 for the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 Community Funding Grant Program and approval of final funding amounts for the Community Funding Program, to be included in the Recommended Budget for Fiscal Year 2022-2023 (Continued from May 19, 2022). Each year, council provides limited funding to community groups for specific projects or events. Applications receive review from the Parks Parks and Recreation Commission, which forwards their recommendations to council for approval. The Commission recommended funding of $96,460.46 this year. Some of the recommendations for funding are unusual: $20,000 to the Cupertino Union School District, but not to the Cupertino Educational Endowment Foundation, which is a 501(c) organization designed for fund-raising in support of the school district. The Commission recommended funding to the Fremont Union High School Foundation in the amount of $20,000. City partnership organizations were not funded through this vehicle, despite their deep reach into the community.

There are two postponements. Ceremonial Matters and Presentations include (1) a proclamation recognizing June as Immigrant Heritage Month to celebrate the history and achievements of immigrant communities across the United States; and (2) a  proclamation recognizing June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Pride Month to honor the achievements of the LGBTQI+ community and to celebrate diversity

Oral Communications then follow. Reports should be routine. Note that the city manager will provide a report examining whether City Council meetings should be hybrid or fully remote.

The Consent Calendar is long with 27 items, including 14 Accounts Payable reports previously delayed by Councilmember Kitty Moore Item #36, is approval of a construction contract to Memorial Park Ponds Repurposing Project which would remove the unsightly ponds in the city’s most visible park.

Item #37: Study Session and Consideration of Design Professional Services Agreement between the City of Cupertino and Dialog Design LLP for the City Hall Annex at 10455 Torre Ave. The city purchased this property across the street from Library Field. This item would authorize the city manager to spend $443,480 for design services to evaluate future uses for this property, given the inadequacies of the current city hall. The study materials documenting the current condition are extensive as the building is in a generally poor and outdated condition.

Item #38: Public hearing to consider the Capital Improvement Program (CIP); Consider supplemental information for the Capital Improvements Program; Consider the Recommended Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-23, adoption of the Budget for FY 2022-23, establishment of the Appropriation Limit, and related actions. Due to loss of staff and last-minute changes by Vice-Mayor Chao in particular, staff has been stretched to revise the May 1, 2022 budget package to meet the June 30 deadline for budget approval. The total budget is $138.6 million. Twelve new positions are requested including a Purchasing Manager (recommended by internal auditor Moss Adams), a Budget Manager, and Community Outreach Specialists. Two additional positions were added by the majority council over the objections of Councilmember Wei at the May 19 council meeting: (1) an Assistant City Manager for $386,988 to oversee legislative issues and advocacy, outreach to communities, and engage with affordable housing developers, and (2) a Legislative Aide for $183,365 for a total over $570,000. Adding FTEs has a significant long-term impact on the city budget. These are undefined roles ordinarily served in small cities by councilmembers themselves. The current Legislative Review Committee and associated staffing has already failed to achieve its major objectives because of the reputation of Cupertino under the present council. Why would spending more money writing letters help?

The requested Capital Improvement Project (CIP) budget for new projects is smaller for FY 2022-23 since there are about 40 CIP projects in progress which need to be completed. Overall, the city budget is solid, though there are economic risks in the sales tax revenue and PERS funding areas. A small operating deficit is projected in FY 2023.

Item #39: Consider approval to renew (with no increase) the 1992 Storm Drain Fee and the 2019 Clean Water and Storm Protection Fee. This should be a routine approval since there are no changes to the fees.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL – Thurs. June 9, 2022, 6:30 Closed session 

The subject is Conference with Labor Negotiators pursuant to Government Code § 54957.6 (Kristina Alfaro and Christopher Boucher). The Cupertino Employees Association (CEA) agreement (MOU) ends June 30, 2022. This item must be completed for the final budget.

YOU CAN EXPRESS YOUR OPINION: Readers may speak at council meetings, either at Oral Communications on any topic, or on specific agenda items. Speakers have three minutes, and coaching is available! 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

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

YouTube: 3 hr. 4 min.

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).

Council spent 3 hours grilling the city manager and city attorney, trying to find loopholes in the 2018 approval of this project, and complaining about past grievances. The plan modifications are sufficiently minor that they fit within the scope of the approved project under existing state law. Council can’t impose standards that have been enacted subsequently, such as the bird-safe and dark sky ordinances. Parkland is the one area that remains open to negotiation. The council majority takes the position that all parkland should be on the ground, and therefore refuses to allow parkland fee credit to the SB35 project for rooftop parks. For the public, this means that access to the parkland is at the discretion of the developer. As a result, council may be throwing away public access to this key project amenity.

Subsequently, City Manager Jim Throop approved the modification. Readers may examine the city manager’s review documents on the city’s Vallco information site under the headline “The Rise – Modification Application.”


The front page photo and article on page 5 is entitled Early accolades: Cupertino trail wins award before it opens to the public highlighting the Regnart Creek Trail.  Community briefs are (1) Symphonic band concert, and (2) Summer reading program Legal notices on page 20 are three items for the June 14 Planning Commission meeting: (1) Renewal of approval of a mono-pine communications facility, (2) Renewal of a mono-eucalyptus communication facility, and (3) Appeal of an approved two-story single family residence and ADU at 6522 Clifford Drive.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor