Cupertino Matters

Welcome to September! Campaign signs are sprouting up along streets, and election forums are being scheduled. Council and commission meetings are in full swing after the summer lull.

Cupertino residents interested in the future of the nine-hole Blackberry golf course owned by our city are invited to attend a joint commission meeting on Thursday, Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom. This meeting is the Feasibility Study Update which will review public outreach, a report outlining the survey feedback, and discuss the future use of the golf course site. More than 4,000 responses were received with thousands of comments. The commissions taking part in the meeting include Parks and Recreation, Bicycle-Pedestrian, and Sustainability. Of note, the other golf course in Cupertino is the privately owned eighteen-hole golf course for adults, whereas the city-owned nine-hole Blackberry Farm golf course is used heavily by seniors and youth. The city already has 18 acres of open space in the neighboring area at McClellan Ranch.

City Council spent two long 7-hour sessions on Aug. 29 and 30 reviewing the draft Housing Element site inventory for approval and for environmental evaluation. The site-by-site review included (1) nine pipeline projects which have been approved or are in the planning process but have not yet been issued building permits, and (2) sites in the rest of the city that are 0.5 to 10 acres in size, identified by staff and reviewed by the Planning and Housing Commissions. The council reviewed sixteen areas for housing.

Overall, it was a grueling process to identify sites for approximately 2,000 homes in addition to the pipeline homes. These sites were further divided into Tier 1, the primary sites, and Tier 2 sites, which are included in the environmental review and can be used as a buffer. The joint Planning/Housing Commissions had made recommendations, some of which were overruled by this council and may violate Housing and Community Development (HCD) guidelines. In a number of instances, council ignored property owner interest (or disinterest, as the case may be) and selected sites based on how many more should be allocated to the “westside” of Cupertino. Shouldn’t the council be listening to property owners who want to build housing? Some of the questionable selections:

  • Heart of the City sites on transit corridors were designated at 30 du/acre in density, rather than the recommended 50 du/acre. The United Furniture store site (Site 18a) was completely removed from both Tier 1 and Tier 2 inclusion, despite strong owner interest and Planning/Housing commission recommendation for Tier 1 status.
  • Bubb Road parcels between Stevens Creek and McCllellan were included as 30 du/acre Housing Element sites, despite being Apple-owned or Apple-leased, with zero interest by the property owners (Site 13). These parcels were not recommended by the Planning/Housing Commissions.
  • The Homestead/Stelling center (Site 20) was excluded as a “vibrant shopping center” (the run-down bowling alley), though well-suited to mixed use and located on a transit line.
  • The Crossroads center at De Anza and Stevens Creek included only a limited number of parcels (Site 15). The lot layout for Staples and the parking areas is odd, and affects the closed pizza restaurant and former Fontana’s site, but could have been studied as a whole as Tier 2 sites.

The Site Inventory for the Housing Element continues to rely heavily on approved “pipeline” projects.  While Vallco /The Rise project has applied for and is waiting for approval of building permits, no such permits have been pulled for The Hamptons, though entitled since 2016. So what is the likelihood of that project being built in the next 8 years?

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

The subject of the Closed Session is Conference with real property negotiators pursuant to Government Code section 54956.8 Property: 21801 Stevens Creek Boulevard, Cupertino Agency Negotiators: Matt Morley and Christopher D. Jensen Negotiating Parties: ETNB Holding Co. LLC Under Negotiation: Price and terms of payment. This is a continuation of the Aug. 25 last-minute closed meeting to consider acquisition of this property, either as an affordable housing site or city offices. The asking price is $6,950,000 and would  presumably be paid for out of the General Fund. It’s too small (0.43 acres) to be ideal for either purpose. By contrast, The Veranda on Stevens Creek is 0.56 acre, and required 11 funding sources to develop 18 units of below market-rate housing for a total cost of $11.9 million. The land purchase was $3.6 million. The City of Cupertino provided $5.2 million in funding, in addition to county funding from Measure A and other sources. Can Cupertino realistically build affordable housing on its own? What of the California constitution’s requirement of a referendum on publicly owned or funded low-income housing?

Ceremonial Matters and Presentations are (1) a Proclamation recognizing September as National Preparedness Month, and (2) a Proclamation recognizing September as National Suicide Prevention Month. Oral Communications then follow. Reports should be routine. There is an additional Department Update for Parks and Recreation. The Consent Calendar has 8  items and appears to be routine, though some items may be pulled for more discussion. Consent Item #14 is to consider accepting $1,000,000 in grant funding from the State of California for construction of the Jollyman All-Inclusive Playground project and Consent Item #15 is to consider accepting $5,000,000 in grant funding from the State of California for renovation of the McClellan Road Bridge over Stevens Creek.

Item #16: Conducting the second reading of an Ordinance related to regulation of single-use plastic foodware and single-use carryout bags. This would usually be a pro forma approval since the first reading was approved unanimously. However, the Restaurant Association has submitted a letter contesting provisions which may have undue impact on restaurant businesses in Cupertino. 

Item #17: Appointment of Council subcommittee to identify opportunities for housing development in the Bubb Road Special Area. Councilmember Jon Willey, Councilmember Kitty Moore and Vice-Mayor Chao are convinced that the Apple-occupied properties with long term leases on this two lane street, already congested with traffic from four schools and a major Apple campus, are potential housing sites for inclusion into the Housing Element. This is the only area of the city zoned light industrial to allow future development of future light manufacturing. Is this a realistic site? The property owners in question have expressed zero interest in redeveloping their properties for housing.

Item #18: Consider approving the FY 2022-23 Internal Audit Program (Continued on July 19, 2022). The city contracted with Moss Adams to do a risk assessment for the city. The work program is underway for 2021-2022. This item outlines the plans for FY 22-23 internal audit projects. The proposed projects focus on low risk projects. Shouldn’t the areas identified in the Risk Assessment as Moderate-to-High Risk be addressed: Governance, External Environment, Human Capital and Resources, Information Technology, and Planning and Strategy?

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 CupertinoMatters.org/express-your-opinion.

RECAP  – CITY COUNCIL – Mon., Aug. 29, 2022, 5:00 p.m. / Tues., Aug.30, 2022 Special Meeting   Agenda 

YouTube: Aug. 29, Part 1 – 3 hr. 21 min. Part 2 – 2 hr. 50 min

Aug. 30, Part 1 – 3 hr. 43 min.  Part 2 – 2 hr. 58 min. 

Item #1: Consider the appointment of two City of Cupertino representatives to the Santa Clara County Unhoused Task Force. Mayor Paul and Councilmember Kitty Moore were appointed to represent the city for the Sept. 16, 2022 meeting.

Item #2: Discuss Priority Housing Sites for the 2023-2031 Housing Element update (Continued from August 16, 2022). Two months after the joint Planning and Housing Commissions recommended the Site Inventory for the Housing Element, the city council approved a draft Site Inventory. The next step is submission for environmental review which will take approximately 9 months. The city will be late in submitting their Housing Element, which will force rezoning by January, 2024, instead of the 3-year period otherwise allowed under state law.

CUPERTINO COURIER, September 2, 2022

The front page photo and Community brief on page 5 is entitled Carbon footprint and sustainability: GreenBlocks seeks to make a difference with new program for community. There are no legal notices.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor