Cupertino Matters

Holiday celebrations continue this month with the Lunar New Year. This is the Year of the Rabbit for Chinese and Year of the Cat for Vietnamese communities.

Housing continues to be a major topic for Cupertino. The Planning Department updated the city council on the progress of the state-required Housing Element plan. Cupertino will be one of the last Bay Area cities to submit an initial draft. Staff presently expect that it will take another nine months to a year to have an approved and legally compliant plan. The Mercury News summarized the situation in an article on the print front page of Local News: ‘Nine months to a year’: Cupertino lags behind on housing plans for coming years Cupertino Today also highlighted the Housing Element update: Cupertino struggles to meet Housing Element deadline

Discussion ran long at the study session on Jan. 17 on the proposed Governance Reform Package so the items were continued to a special meeting on Wed. Jan. 25.  Approval of this formalization of current practices will be a major step toward responding to the grand jury report issued Dec. 19, 2022, and toward reducing Cupertino’s notoriously overlong council meetings. Some steps are already underway, with the Jan. 17 meeting chaired by Mayor Hung Wei ending at 10:45 p.m.– a substantial improvement over the midnight meetings under the previous council.

For those concerned about traffic, the city is experimenting with different ways of easing school traffic. The Bubb/McClellan intersection now features a “pedestrian scramble” in addition to modified “No Right Turn” on red signs during school hours. The function is described in a Mercury News article on the print front page of Local News: A ‘pedestrian scramble’ is coming to a Cupertino intersection. How does it work? Also note the bike lane bollards at Kennedy Middle School.

UPCOMING: Commission Interviews – CITY COUNCIL – Mon, Jan.  30, 5:30 and Tues, Jan. 31, 5:30,  Community Hall (not teleconference)

Members of the public may attend the interviews as well as  submit comments and recommendations.

Jan. 30 interviews: Interview applicants for commission terms expiring on the Housing Commission, Bicycle Pedestrian Commission, Arts and Culture Commission and Technology, Information and Communications Commission

Jan 31 Interviews: Interview applicants for commission terms expiring on the Library Commission, Planning Commission, and Parks and Recreation Commission.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL – Weds., Jan. 25, 2023, 4  p.m. Special Meeting

Agenda and presentations 

Council spent an hour and a half on the first item of the Jan. 17 Study Session, without reaching full consensus on the first item. The two agenda items were then continued to this Special Meeting.

Item #1: Consider adopting Cupertino City Council Procedures Manual, including a new Ceremonial Correspondence Policy (Continued from January 17, 2023). The city lacks a formal procedures manual, particularly crucial for incoming council members, but also essential in ensuring that city council operates efficiently. The intent is to reduce the length and number of meetings (last year saw 60 special and regular meetings!) to less than 30 per year. It also formalizes the process for public input to the council. Many of the items reflect current practice and reduce them to written procedures. Others borrow best practices from neighboring jurisdictions. Public comments indicated significant confusion in the public’s understanding of the council’s powers.

Item #2: Study Session to consider modifying Municipal Code Title 2 regarding compositions and responsibilities of existing Commissions and Committees (Continued from January 17, 2023). The city has a very high number of commissions and committees all of which require significant staff time to support. Consolidation of council committees will free up staff to do their day-to-day jobs of serving residents, rather than city council members.

RECAP – Planning Commission – Tues. Jan 24, 2023, 6:45 p.m. Regular

Other than approval of minutes, the sole agenda item was to consider an appeal of Condition of Approval no. 16: Grading and Construction Hours and Noise Limits of the Director of Community Development’s approval of two, Two-Story Permits to allow two new two-story residences on adjacent properties. (Application Nos.: R-2022-015 and R-2022-016; Applicant: Mike Chen; Property Owner: Tracy Hsu; Appellants: James Quinn; Location: 11226 Bubb Road; APN# 362-06-036). A neighbor is seeking to modify the standard conditions of approval for this project, which allow construction to occur  between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, as set forth in Cupertino Municipal Code Chapter 10.48. Petitioner seeks a modification to 8 a.m. the commission denied the appeal voting 4-1 with Chair Scharf voting no.

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Tues., Jan. 17, 2023, 6:45 p.m. Regular, 5:00 Study Session

YouTube: Part 1 Study Session 1 hr. 43 min. Part 2: Regular 3 hr. 48 min.

Item #1: Consider adopting Cupertino City Council Procedures Manual. After lengthy discussion, the item was continued to the Special Meeting, referenced above.

Item #2 Study Session to consider modifying Municipal Code Title 2 regarding compositions and responsibilities of existing Commissions and Committees. Due to lack of time, this item was continued to the Special Meeting, referenced above.

The agenda was reordered to consider the public hearing and action item before Oral Communications and the lengthy Consent Calendar.

Item #27: Abatement of public nuisance from weeds or other fire hazards pursuant to provisions of Cupertino Municipal Code Chapter 9.08 and Resolution No. 22-138; hearing for impacted property owners to contest the matter of proposed abatement. Two property owners appeared at this routine hearing. Both issues were resolved at the hearing. A modified recommended action was approved 4-0-1, with Councilmember Chao recused.

Item #28: Consider approving amendments to Elected Officials’ Compensation Program. Amendments included (1) Elimination of the Health In-Lieu Payments as an option for councilmembers, and (2) Replacement of the $4,000 technology allowance with standard technology issued and maintained by the Innovation and Technology Department. Council approved unanimously.

Council approved all 21 Consent Calendar items. Items of note were pulled for discussion:

  • Item #18: Councilmember Kitty Moore declined assignment as primary to the Historical Society Advisory Council, and recommended Councilmember Fruen instead because he was already a board member of the Society. Council approved the appointment, together with Councilmember Chao as alternate, pending the resignation of Councilmember Fruen from the board of the Historical Society, on a 4-0-1 vote with Moore abstaining.
  • Item #20: Status update on the 6th Cycle Housing Element. Councilmember Fruen pulled this item for the benefit of the public’s understanding of Cupertino’s position in the Housing Element update process and the path remaining ahead. Planning is set to submit a draft Housing Element to the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) by Jan. 31. HCD will then take up to 90 days to complete the initial review and feedback. Staff estimate that it will take 9 to 12 months for the revisions and Environmental Impact Review to be completed to have a compliant plan. In response to Councilmember Fruen’s questions, staff clarified that Cupertino cannot timely adopt a Housing Element to avoid the legal penalties for failure to timely adopt.
  • Item #23 authorizing rejection of bids for Blackberry Farm Pool Improvements originally scheduled to be completed prior to  the Summer 2023 season, due to higher costs than expected. The pool will be open for summer 2023, with improvements scheduled after the season ends.

CUPERTINO COURIER: January 20, 2023

The front page photo and article on page 5 is entitled Twenty-year journey: Silicon Valley Reads celebrates 20th anniversary with kick-off events. Events at Cupertino Library include film screening and book discussion. Community briefs on page 5 are (1) Cupertino schools are distinguished, and (2) Job search webinar. The sole legal notice is a public hearing for lot split at 7752 Orion Lane to be heard at the Administrative Hearing Meeting on Jan. 26.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor