Cupertino Matters

Fall is definitely here with cooler weather and predicted rain storms. Our Public Works Department did an outstanding job in completing the Stevens Creek sewer repair in two weeks, rather than 30 days, beating the rain and minimizing the impact on local businesses and traffic.

Campaigning for the March 5, 2024 primary has already begun and filing deadlines are just around the corner. Cupertino city council elections won’t happen until the general election on Nov. 5, 2024 and these filing deadlines don’t occur until the summer.  Readers may have received an email survey from an entity calling itself “Cupertino Voice”, and mistakenly thought it was from the City of Cupertino. Notice that there are no names and no legitimate organizations shown on the survey, and there is no indication of how the collected data will be used. In an age of rampant misinformation and data theft, it’s important to be mindful of sources.

After a long road, at the last council meeting, Cupertino finally adopted a comprehensive Code of Ethics and Conduct for Elected and Appointed Officials”which includes a mechanism for disciplinary action in response to the December 2022 Civil Grand Jury Report, “A House Divided: Cupertino City Council and Staff. At the council meeting, public comment speakers all favored adoption of the revised policy.  Councilmembers Kitty Moore and Liang Chao dredged up their objections to the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury’s  Report,  which identified the lack of an effective ethics policy as a concern. The final vote on adoption was Mayor Hung Wei, Vice-Mayor Sheila Mohan and Councilmember Fruen voting in favor, with Councilmembers Kitty Moore and Liang Chao voting against this much stronger ethics policy.

UPCOMING  – Planning Commission – Tues, Nov. 14,  2023, 6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting

Agenda and Presentations 

Item No. 2: Municipal Code Amendment to Chapter 19.76 and a Conditional Use Permit and Parking Exception for the use of a former public school site for a private K-8 educational facility. After Regnart Elementary School was closed, the site was leased by Tessellations, a  private K-8 school for students whose educational needs are not met in traditional classrooms. The school opened in August, 2023, after satisfying a number of requirements imposed by the Cupertino Union School District. The city, consistent with the practice of neighboring jurisdictions, requires a Conditional Use Permit to allow this use by a private school. The proposed Code Amendment will also allow leasing to private operators on other school sites in the city, recognizing that school enrollment continues to decline and the district needs to generate revenue.

The bigger issue is parking. At its peak, Regnart had 652 students and 41 full-time staff. In its final year of operation as a neighborhood public elementary school, it hosted 309 students and 31 full-time staff. Tessellations is proposing 300 students and 85 staff, including part-time. The site has 47 parking spaces, but city code requirements are for 148 spaces. To solve this problem, Tessellations is proposing a satellite parking lot at 20900 McClellan Road occupied by New Life Church. In addition, a new parking area would be added on an existing blacktop area. After review at the Planning Commission, this item will come to the city council agenda on Dec. 5.

Item No. 3: Conditional Use Permit Amendment and Architectural & Site Approval to consider a modification of the original Main Street Use Permit (U-2008-01) for the addition of a second floor within Shop 1 (TD Ameritrade). Main Street Cupertino is seeking to add a 5,585 sq. ft. second story to the building currently housing TD Ameritrade near the large office building in the east of the center. The change would result in no visible increase in height. There would be minor facade modifications. If approved, these permits would go into effect after 14 days.

Item No.4: Proposed amendments to Municipal Code Chapter 19.12, Chapter 19.28 and Chapter 19.112 regarding Two-Story Permit and Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) laws. (Application No. MCA-2023-002; Applicant: City of Cupertino; Location: City-wide)  ADUs have become more popular to house senior family members and adult children. Based on recent changes in state law, the city’s ADU ordinance is out of date in the wake of numerous state-level changes in regulations. As a result, Cupertino’s local rules are no longer enforceable and staff recommend changes to align the city’s rules with the state’s.

These updates would also streamline the city’s often cumbersome second-story permitting process. Of the 768 planning permit applications that have been received since November of 2021, the City has taken in 98 two‐story permit applications, with 39 two‐story permits received in 2023, the most of any codified permitting process. Folding this process into the rest of the city’s ordinary permit review process will reduce permitting time and help families produce their home projects more quickly. This item is expected to come to the city council agenda on Dec. 5.

UPCOMING  – City Council – Tues, Nov. 14, 2023,  6:00 p.m., Special Meeting

City Council Governance Workshop – non-televised. Full participation is required for Councilmembers Moore and Chao to be considered for committee assignments.

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Tues, Nov. 7, 6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting; Special meeting 5:30 p.m. 

YouTube: 3 hr. 59 min Ended 10:30

Agenda and Presentations 

Special Meeting

Item No. 1: Approve the Tentative Agreement revising the salary and benefits terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Cupertino City Employees’ Association (CEA)/IFPTE Local 21 for the term of July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2025. Council approved unanimously. 

Item No. 2: Approve the Tentative Agreement revising salary and benefits terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Operating Engineers Local No. 3 Union, AFL-CIO (OE3) for the term of July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2025. Council approved unanimously.

Item No. 3: Approve and update the health benefits for Elected Officials’ Compensation Program. Council approved unanimously.

Regular Meeting

Three items from the Consent Calendar were pulled by Moore and Chao and one postponed. Consent Item No. 6, to approve and update the salary and benefits for the Unrepresented (Management and Confidential) Employees and Appointed Employees was considered immediately, then approved unanimously after Counclmember Chao’s question was answered. The other two items were considered after the other regularly scheduled action items.

Item No.12: Minor Amendments to Cupertino Municipal Code Chapter 1.18 (Claims Against the City), Chapter 9.15 (Prohibition of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Foam Food Service Ware), 9.18 (Stormwater Pollution Prevention and Watershed Protection), Chapter 15.04 (Waterworks System-Rates and Charges), and Chapter 16.72 (Recycling and Diversion of Construction and Demolition Waste). Council approved unanimously.

Item No. 13: Adoption of Code of Ethics and Conduct for Elected and Appointed Officials. Public comments were strongly in favor of adopting this modified Ethics Policy which included revisions to (1) Covered Officials, (2) FPPC Reporting, (3) Conflicts of Interest, (4) Enforcement, and (5) Consistency with the adopted City Council Procedures Manual and First Amendment rights. Councilmembers Moore and Chao objected to sections of the policy, though Vice-Mayor Mohan pointed out that the council can revise the policy in the future. There were a series of substitute motions and friendly amendments until the motion by Fruen to approve the original staff recommendation passed 3-2 with Moore and Chao voting nay.  

Item No. 14: To Be Determined list (“TBD List”) of agenda items requested by City Councilmembers. Most of these items are scheduled as spring 2024 agenda items.  Staff recommended removing expansion of noticing from 300 to 500 feet be removed due to staff constraints. After much discussion and numerous attempts principally from Councilmember Moore to add multiple hefty items to the future calendar, Council approved the staff recommendations with one reversal: the addition of an item to reconsider the discontinuation of hybrid Zoom functionality for commission meetings.

Consent No. 8: Law Enforcement Contract Extension with the County of Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office. Councilmember Moore pulled this item to object to the accounting description of “Donation” for reimbursement by Apple for sheriff’s services during special events. This discussion consumed over  30 minutes before the item was unanimously approved.

Consent Item No. 10: Hungry Jacks Corporation (Blue Pheasant) lease agreement, 22100 Stevens Creek Boulevard, Cupertino, CA 95014, was pulled by Councilmember Moore. This was a two year lease with three one year lease extension options for this restaurant at the edge of the Blackberry Farm Golf Course which has been on a month-to-month lease until the fate of the golf course was decided. Commentary from Councilmembers Moore and Chao demonstrated a general lack of understanding of the business reality of operating a restaurant.  The Blue Pheasant, like other eating establishments post-COVD, is struggling. Councilmember Moore objected to the industry standard agreement which includes a revenue split on food and liquor (shared risk). After a failed motion on Councilmember Moore’s part that would have required renegotiation of the lease, council ultimately approved the lease agreement as written.

Item No. 15 Council Reports, now submitted in written form, were provided by Mayor Wei, Vice-Mayor Mohan, and Councilmembers Fruen and Moore. There was no report from Councilmember Chao.

CUPERTINO COURIER: November 10, 2023

The front page photo and article on page 5 is entitled Healthy career options: New programs teach nursing, electric vehicle repair to high school students. Community briefs are (1) Rebuilding Day and (2) Banding together. The legal notice on page 19 is recruitment for City Commissions with applications due Jan. 5.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor