- Planning Commissioner Removed
- RECAP – City Council, Tues., March 7, 2023, Regular 6:45 p.m.; Special Meeting, 5:00
Wet weather continues in our area with another atmospheric river predicted for this week. Keep your umbrellas and raincoats handy, and avoid areas prone to flooding.
As expected, the council meeting last Tuesday night was contentious, with Agenda #11 to remove R “Ray” Wang from the Planning Commission. Hundreds of emails were sent to the council in advance of the meeting, both for removal and against removal. Consideration of the item lasted for almost two and a half hours, with over 40 speakers for removal of Commissioner Wang and roughly 20 speakers opposing removal. The final vote was 3-2 with Councilmembers Moore and Chao opposing removal.
As quoted in San Jose Spotlight, March 8, 2023, Silicon Valley city tosses out controversial official, Vice Mayor Sheila Mohan succinctly stated the overriding consideration for her vote to remove R Wang: “The action we are considering today has little to do with his knowledge of the planning process or his knowledge of housing issues, but it has everything to do with his conduct,” Mohan said. “There have been numerous incidents where R Wang crossed the line, repeatedly demeaned staff and made unsubstantiated allegations against them, and where his conduct had the potential to place the city at risk in terms of employment practices liability.”
Mayor Wei, as quoted in the Mercury News on March 7, 2023, echoed those sentiments in Cupertino City Council removes planning commissioner following accusations of harassment R ‘Ray’ Wang was appointed to the planning commission in 2019: “I believe in Cupertino and its future for democracy and for ethical leadership,” Wei said of her decision. “We need to honor the intelligence and character of our good residents who deserve good governance.” The first alternate selected during the commission interview process in January, Tejesh Mistry, has been appointed into the vacancy. He will take office at the Planning Commission’s next regular meeting at the end of March.
In housing news, teacher housing has been proposed on Apple-owned Cupertino site: the project could allow up to 100 teachers to live closer to their schools, according to an article in the Mercury News, March 9, 2023. The proposal is to swap the vacant Outback Steakhouse site–presently owned by the county–for a larger parcel adjacent to the Vallco site on I-280.
Provided the weather cooperates, readers can celebrate the Regnart Creek Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Saturday, March 18 at 10 a.m. at Wilson Park,10294 S. Portal Avenue, near the new pedestrian bridge. (Note the change from previous announcements.) Walk-Bike Cupertino will be there, handing out pastries and hosting a casual bike ride and walk on the new trail.
<CANCELED – PLANNING COMMISSION – Tues. March 14, 2023, 6:45 p.m. Regular Meeting
Agenda and Presentations (Note the new order for the agenda)
The 5:00 Special Meeting had two items: (1) Consideration of a resolution amending the established City Council meeting calendar through January 2, 2024. Changes to accommodate holidays and a sister city trip were approved unanimously. Item 2 to consider the Mid-Year Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2022-23, amending the Unrepresented Employees’ Compensation Program, and approving a new job classification was approved 4-0-1 (Moore abstaining) after a brief discussion.
On the Consent Calendar, five items were approved with Chao pulling one item and Moore pulling four. Three of the pulled items were considered immediately, since approval was time sensitive.
- Item No. 4: Consider amending the Cupertino Municipal Code to repeal Chapters 2.84 (Environmental Review Committee), 2.90 (Design Review Committee), and 2.96 (Economic Development Committee); to adopt Chapter 17.02 (California Environmental Quality Act), regarding local environmental review procedures; and to amend Chapters 2.32, 2.88, 9.20, 19.08, 19.12, 19.28, 19.104, and 19.124, regarding the duties of the Planning Commission, Audit Committee, and Local Assessment Committee. This was a second reading which passed 3-2 with Chao and Moore voting nay.
- Item No. 9: Consider a four-year contract with Nomad Transit LLC (Via) for the Transit & Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) funded Via expansion into the City of Santa Clara, with two sites in Mountain View, deployment of an electric vehicle (EV) fleet, construction of necessary charging stations, and a resolution authorizing execution of a Master Agreement with Caltrans, which is a funding pre-requiste of the TIRCP grant program. After discussion, council approved unanimously.
- Item No. 10: Consider a contract with Placeworks for the remainder of Housing Element. After a discussion, council approved unanimously. Cupertino previously had a difficult time attracting a consultant to perform this work. Two years ago, when the city put out its initial request for proposals and performed outreach to 90 firms, the city received zero bids owing to its prior political reputation for being anti-housing. Upon conducting additional follow-up, the city secured interest from EMC Planning, which the city parted ways with in October 2022. Pursuant to the City Manager’s efforts, Cupertino was able to secure an agreement with Placeworks to fashion the city’s required Housing Element update. Placeworks has done extensive Housing Element work elsewhere in the state, including for cities that have now received certification from the state.
Item No. 11: Removal of Planning Commissioner R Wang. As noted above, this was contentious. Readers may want to listen to the deliberation of the five councilmembers prior to their vote to remove R “Ray” Wang on a 3-2 vote. The council selected two alternates for vacancies on the Planning Commission during interviews in January. The first alternate, Tejesh Mistry, will fill the vacancy.
Item No. 12: Consider the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023-24 five-year plan for Capital Improvement Program (CIP). At about 11 p.m, staff began this presentation for council feedback on the Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) for next year, which will be incorporated into the budget to be presented in April. Overall, the emphasis is to complete projects that are already underway. Lack of staff is a major hindrance, so four additional project managers will be requested in the next budget. Council requested that staff consider options that could accelerate construction of four projects: Carmen Road Bridge, the three shade structures at Blackberry Farm Bocce Courts, Portal Park Picnic area, and the Linda Vista Park Picnic area.
Consent Item No. 3, to consider approval of the February 21 City Council minutes, was the last item considered before adjournment. Minor changes in the format were requested which will be considered by the city clerk. Approved 4-1 with Moore voting nay.
CUPERTINO COURIER: March 10, 2023
The front page photo and article on page 3 is entitled Chefs of Compassion: Cooking competition returns to in-person format. Community briefs on page 3 are (1) Intergenerational mixer, (2) Bikeway study meeting and (3) Trail opening update. There are no legal notices.
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