Cupertino Matters

I hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Vote counting continues three weeks after the election on Nov. 8, though the Registrar of Voters is now down to the last 1% of ballots, so the results will remain firm for Cupertino city council seats. The three seats on city council will be held by newcomers Sheila Mohan  and JR Fruen, along with incumbent Liang Chao. Swearing in ceremonies and the election of next year’s Mayor and Vice-Mayor will be held on December 9, Friday, at  6 p.m., at Community Hall. This is the day after the official certification of election results. It’s a festive occasion and food will be served so RSVPs are appreciated, though not required. The event will also be televised.

Despite the impending change-over in council, the lame-duck council is squeezing in two additional meetings (Nov. 29 and Dec. 6) with agenda items better considered by the new council.

A Housing Element draft has been released for public comment ending Dec. 23, just prior to the Christmas shutdown. Comments on this 492 page document may be sent to the Community Development Department, Attn: Luke Connolly, Acting Community Development Director, 10300 Torre Avenue, Cupertino, CA 95014  or, clearly identifying Housing Element in the subject line.

Staff will incorporate public feedback into a document for submission to the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). Realistically, this first submission is intended to give direction to city planning on major improvements for the next submission, as certification of this incomplete draft is not expected. Council opted for this approach rather than engaging a new consultant to clean up the draft which would have delayed the initial submission for two to three months. In the meantime, as highlighted on the front page of the Nov. 27, 2022 Sunday Mercury News, Cupertino will be subject to The ‘fix’ almost nobody wants:The ‘builder’s remedy could OK projects in cities behind on their state-mandated housing plans, since the city will not have a legally compliant Housing Element by Jan. 31, 2023. (Note that the online title differs from the print.)

City staff continues to be stretched very thin. Matt Morley, Director of Public Works in April, 2022, now fills the role of Assistant City Manager, in addition to his Public Works role.

The Oct. 18, 2022, City Manager’s Office Update highlighted the high turnover in city staff. Three assistant/deputy city manager positions are vacant, as well as two analyst positions and two assistant positions. These vacancies strongly impact the functions of the city, as well as an overwhelming workload for our brand-new city manager. In addition, the Planning Department has vacancies in over half of its positions. Lack of staffing means delays in getting approval for ordinary projects–things like home renovations–not needing Planning Commission or City Council attention.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL – Tues., Nov. 29, 2022, 6:00 p.m., Economic Development Committee Interviews; 5:30 Closed Session

The closed session regards Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation Pursuant to Government Code § 54956.9: Nadav Samet v. Cupertino Union School District et al., Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 22CV403285. It’s a lawsuit alleging baseballs from Hyde Middle School interfere with use of a residents back yard.

The 6:00 session is Economic Development Committee interviews. This is a new committee, conceived by this lame-duck council with nine (9) members appointed by the City Council to overlapping four-year terms, comprised of five industry sector representatives, two City Council members, one Sustainability Commission representative, and one Technology, Information, and Communications Commission representative. Qualifications and business experience are undefined.

Meeting quarterly, in theory, the Committee works to market the City in a positive light to attract and retain businesses, foster public and private partnerships through new and existing business and community relationships, collaborate with local businesses to identify and eliminate barriers to retention or growth, and advise City Council on economic development goals that maintain the quality of life in Cupertino. The open question is whether yet another committee justifies using scarce city resources when neither the Chamber of Commerce nor the major economic players in the city are represented. Furthermore, shouldn’t the new council decide whether the committee is needed and who the members should be? Regular commission appointments occur in January and the application period for them is already open. Why the rush to appoint these positions now?

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Tues., Nov. 15, 2022, 6:45 p.m. Regular; 5:30 Study Session

YouTube:  Part 1 –  1 hr. 34 min.; Part 2 – 3 hr. 46 min.

The Study Session is Status update on the 6th Cycle Housing Element update. After extensive discussion of the pros and cons of the two options: (1) accelerate the current process by publishing the existing draft Housing Element immediately to solicit public feedback for the required 30-day period, allowing 10 days to incorporate responses, then submit to HCD (Housing and Community Development) by mid-January, 2023; or (2) hire a new consultant to revise the administrative draft Housing Element, council unanimously directed staff to accelerate the process.

The published Consent Calendar was approved unanimously. Councilmember Kitty Moore had moved Item #24 on the city hall recommendation to the Consent Calendar to avoid public comment, but it was pulled by the public anyway..

Item #22: City Council hearing to conduct second reading of amendments to implement state legislation (Senate Bill 9), that provides for ministerial approval of up to two units and/or a lot split in a residential single-family zone. Council approved unanimously.

Item #23: Consider the First Quarter Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2022-23. This is a routine report to the council reflecting minor adjustments. This routine discussion was prolonged by Councilmember Kitty Moore’s inquiries regarding year-to-year variances in replacement costs for vehicles for public works. Council approved unanimously.

Item #24: Consider City Hall Renovation Project update. Subcommittee members, Councilmembers Kitty Moore and Jon Willey, supported renovation of City Hall at a cost of $25.6 million for no additional space or parking. Badly needed library parking would have to be addressed separately. By contrast, a new building, Risk Category IV, with 100 spaces of underground parking would cost $53.6 million. The committee also found that 37 parking places could be added short-term, insufficient for long term needs.  Council voted 4-1, with Wei voting nay, to include this item in the Capital Improvement Program budget for 2023.

CUPERTINO COURIER: November 25, 2022

The front page photo and article on page 5 is entitled Enjoying the holidays again:  Several events return after a hiatus due to virus. Community briefs on page 5 is the sole item, Lehigh Cement plant plans to shut down. Legal notice on pages 24-25 include a notice of Development Proposal (10145 N. DeAnza Blvd, 10118 Bandley) scheduled for the City Council meeting on Dec. 6. This is the Marina Plaza project.

CUPERTINO COURIER: November 18, 2022

The front page photo and article on page 5 is entitled Mohan, Fruen, Bono lead race:  Development issue splits contenders in the race for city council. Community briefs on page 5 include (1) Cupertino Online Store, (2) City commission vacancies, (3) ‘Nature Soak’ at Pichetti, and (4) Water use falls. Page 12 is Fire-ravaged Holder’s Country Inn opens in nearby location (now officially a Cupertino restaurant, rather than San Jose on the  Cupertino border). The legal notice on page 24 is a Request for Bids for Wilson Park Basketball Court.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor