Cupertino Matters

Classes at Cupertino Union School District and Fremont Union High School District schools are starting up again so expect increased traffic, and exercise more caution in school zones.

The revolving door of Cupertino City Managers continues. Acting City Manager, Assistant City Manager Dianne Thompson, has decided to retire, leaving no experienced city managers on staff. In approximately two weeks, the city’s newly appointed City Manager–Pamela Wu–will begin her charge. She joins Cupertino with significant experience in community and economic development, though this is her first foray as the chief executive of a city. She will be the seventh city manager in four years; the three permanent city managers departed abruptly, despite being styled in city press releases as “retirements”. The following is a brief chronology to refresh readers’ memory:

  • David Brandt – Permanent – Retired in June, 2018  (Mayor Darcy Paul)
  • Amy Chan – Interim City Manager for 6 months (Mayor Paul)
  • Timm Borden – Interim City Manager due to failed search (Mayor Steven Scharf)
  • Deb Feng – Permanent – Hired June, 2019; resigned May, 2021, after two years (Mayor Paul)
  • Greg Larson – Interim city manager for 6 months (Mayor Paul)
  • Jim Throop – Permanent – Hired, Jan. 2022, retired July, 2022 (Mayor Paul),
  • Dianne Thompson – Acting City Manager, July, 2022, announced retirement, Aug. 2022 (Mayor Paul)
  • Pamela Wu, hired July 19 to start Aug. 29, 2022 with council elections on the immediate horizon (Mayor Paul)

Isn’t it time for a completely new city council? The filing deadline for city council occurs this week. The first deadline passed on Friday, Aug. 12 at 5:00. However, Councilmember Jon Willey did not file nomination papers, so the deadline is now extended to Wed., Aug. 17 at 5:00. Darcy Paul is not eligible for reelection, so there will be two open seats on the council.

The draft Housing Element site inventory is finally on the city council agenda for review and approval. The state is requiring the city to plan for 4,588 new homes in the next 8 years. Agenda Item 24 on the Aug. 16, City Council meeting on the city website has all the documents. There is a staff report, which provides an extensive overview of the process thus far, as well as state guidelines. The site inventory is provided in four different formats.

Note that the sites are presented in two categories: (1) nine pipeline projects which have been approved or are in the planning process, and (2) sites in the rest of the city that are 0.5 to 10 acres in size, that were identified by staff and reviewed by the Planning and Housing Commissions. These sites are subject to discretion, so readers should carefully review sites in their neighborhoods, particularly for allowable density. To date, the site inventory has relied heavily on pipeline projects in an effort to avoid rezoning and upzoning elsewhere in the city. The state’s rejection of San Francisco’s draft Housing Element for similar reliance calls this strategy into serious question. Continued over-reliance on pipeline projects may jeopardize Cupertino’s ability to achieve compliance and thereby retain local land use authority. 

Community engagement is another aspect of the Housing Element, with three planned virtual community meetings. The recording for the second Community Meeting for the Housing Element on Wednesday, July 20, is now posted on the city website. Josh Selo of West Valley Community Services (WVCS) moderated a panel group featuring speakers from the Foothill-De Anza Community College District and senior clients from WVCS. Despite citywide publicity, public turnout was mediocre, reflecting a lack of engagement with the Housing Element process.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL – Tues., Aug. 16, 2022, 6:45 p.m. Regular; 5:30 p.m. Special Meeting (in-person/Zoom)

The subject of the Special Meeting is Consider conducting the first reading of an Ordinance related to regulation of single-use plastic foodware and single-use carryout bags (Continued from May 17, 2022). This item was originally scheduled for the May 3 council meeting, but has been postponed several times The ordinance is a follow-up to the March 1 study session on state law to reduce single-use plastic food serviceware, and non-durable expanded polystyrene foam coolers. The ordinance would impact sourcing for restaurants and other food service establishments. Availability of alternative containers posed issues addressed in the staff report. For example, the 14 boba tea shops in Cupertino do not have a ready alternative to their sealed plastic cups so these businesses are allowed an exemption until suitable technology is developed. Technical assistance is expected to cost $100,000, and has been budgeted as the Mayor’s Cup Challenge, to cover support both before and after the implementation of the most significant changes.

Ceremonial Matters and Presentations feature a presentation from Safer From Wildfires on achievable and effective wildfire recovery and readiness measures for homes and businesses. Oral Communications then follow. Reports should be routine. There is an additional Department Update for Information Technology. The Consent Calendar has 13 items, and appears to be routine, though some items may be pulled for more discussion. Consent Item #12 is Consider adopting the Climate Action Plan 2.0 (CAP 2.0) and GHG Emissions Thresholds.

Item #20: Consider conducting a second reading of an Ordinance amending Municipal Code Section 2.88.100 (Audit Committee – Duties-Powers-Responsibilities). This should be a pro forma approval since the first reading was approved unanimously.

Item #21: Approve the July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2025 Memorandum of Understanding setting the salary and terms and conditions of employment for the Operating Engineers Local No. 3 Union, AFL-CIO (OE3). This is a negotiated 3-year labor agreement with cost of living (COLA) adjustments, plus a one-time lump sum of $3,800 in recognition of employees contributions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Item #22: Approve and update the salary and terms, conditions of employment, and new job classification for the Unrepresented (Management and Confidential) Employees and Appointed Employees. This is a similar negotiated labor agreement for non-union city employees. It also includes realignment of several job classifications.

Item #23: Approve the July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2025 Memorandum of Understanding setting the salary and terms and conditions of employment for the Cupertino City Employees’ Association (CEA)/IFPTE Local 21. This is basically the same negotiated labor agreement for the second union representing staff.

Item #24: Discuss Priority Housing Sites for the 2023-2031 Housing Element update This is the major project for this city council, but the process has lagged. The original time frame was submission of a draft to the state Housing and Community Development  (HCD) department during June to allow sufficient feedback to meet the 2023 deadline.  The site inventory has to be approved to start environmental review, now expected to take nine months, instead of the original six months. Southern California jurisdictions–which are ahead of Northern California in their planning process timeline–have averaged approximately four revisions with HCD before the state certifies a city’s Housing Element. Each revision is a multi-month project.

Once council approves the draft Housing Element, it is sent to the state for review. Given the experience of Southern California jurisdictions and San Francisco, it’s very likely that this draft will be rejected by HCD. The proposed site inventory relies on the “pipeline” projects for 77% of all new housing, which includes 600 units at the Hamptons site, which has not pulled building permits in the six years since the project was approved. 2402 homes come from the Vallco SB 35 project, which continues to languish in environmental review. San Francisco’s Housing Element has just been rejected for unrealistic projections based on over-reliance on pipeline projects. Cupertino relies even more heavily than San Francisco on its pipeline projects.

YOU CAN EXPRESS YOUR OPINION: Readers may speak at council meetings, either at Oral Communications on any topic, or on specific agenda items. Speakers typically 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 councilmembers 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 are available at


The front page photo and article on page 5 is entitled Holder’s Country Inn – Restaurant fire: Owner vows to rebuild popular eatery. Community briefs on page 5 are (1) Monday is India Independence Day, (2) Trailblazer race with Friends of Stevens Creek Trail .and (3) Caregivers conference. There are no legal notices.


The front page photo and community brief on page 5 is entitled Back to school: West Valley Community Services needs volunteers to help kids shop for new clothes. Community briefs on page 5 are (1) August movie nights, (2) Help kids shop and (3) Midpen board seats. There were no legal notices.


The front page photo and community brief on page 5 is entitled Down to business:  Homestead students win national content for business acumen. Community briefs on page 5 are (1) Teen commissioners needed in Cupertino, (2) Council seats open and (3) Surveying the economy. Page 10 is the previously published article League of Women Voters fights Cupertino ordinance: It claims law requiring paid lobbyists to register with city and pay annual fee is unconstitutional. There were no legal notices.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor