Cupertino Matters

Christmas tree lighting ceremonies highlight the start of December – enjoy this Cupertino tree lighting ceremony video.

San Jose Spotlight is partnering with the City of Cupertino for a discussion about housing and commercial development and its impact on the future of the city for a panel entiteld Cupertino’s Future: A dialogue on development on Thursday, Dec. 7, 5 – 6 Cupertino Community Hall. The event will also be live streamed on city channel 26.

December is a changing of the guard for city council. A new mayor and vice-mayor will be chosen and sworn in on Dec. 14. This is a celebratory event, and the public is invited to join the City of Cupertino for the City Council Swearing-In Ceremony at 5 p.m. on Thursday, December 14 at Community Hall. Refreshments will be served so help the City estimate attendance by RSVPing by Thursday, December 7.

The Revised Second Draft of the Cupertino Housing Element is available for public comment, which is also due by December 7. This second draft substantially revised the first draft that was developed over 2022, which was deemed non-compliant. While HCD could potentially approve this draft, staff is expecting feedback for minor revisions.

In the meantime, as reported in  the Mercury News, “Cupertino sees its first ‘builder’s remedy’ project.” The project is located at 20015 Stevens Creek Boulevard, at the corner of Blaney, and is currently occupied by a restaurant and preschool. The city maintains a development project website that shows the current plans, which show the project stepping down to the single-family home neighborhood abutting the property to the north. The site has also been included in the Housing Element revision through negotiation with staff at a slightly lower density and shorter permissible height. The project applicant would be allowed to pursue either path, though the Builder’s Remedy project application would eventually expire if the owner doesn’t act on it soon enough.

Trustee Area Community Workshops to provide the opportunity for the community to learn about the transition to elections by By-Trustee Areas, review the preliminary election map scenarios, provide feedback and input, and learn how to use the mapping software to design their own maps. Dinner will be provided. Individuals may bring a laptop or tablet if they want to have hands-on experience with the mapping software during the workshop, but this is not required. Register here .

  • Thursday, December 7, 2023, 6:30-8:00 PM, Fremont Union High School District – Board Room, 589 W. Fremont Ave., Sunnyvale
  • Saturday, December 9, 2023, 9:30-11:00 AM, Columbia Middle School – Library. 739 Morse Ave., Sunnyvale
  • Thursday, December 14, 2023, 6:30-8:00 PM, Quinlan Community Center.10185 N. Stelling Rd., Cupertino

The Preliminary Maps and the mapping tool can be found on this webpage:

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL – Tues, Dec. 5, 2023, 6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting; Study Session, 5:00 p.m. 

Agenda and Presentations 

Study Session: Receive presentation regarding revenue tax measure options for the City’s General Fund and provide direction to staff on which revenue tax measure(s), if any, to explore for feasibility through opinion research for the November 2024 election. The city of Cupertino will be losing about $30 million in annual sales tax revenue due to a state audit. This means the city needs to (1) reduce expenditures and (2) increase revenues. A tax measure would bring in revenue to partially offset the $30 million revenue loss and mitigate severe service reductions.

The city engaged Urban Futures, an opinion research firm, to explore feasibility of a revenue tax measure to be put on the Nov. 2024 ballot. Measures and potential revenue were identified as follows::

  • Transaction and Use Tax (TUT) – a quarter of a percent increase in sales tax from 9.125% to 9.375%, estimated to generate $5.4 million. This tax is paid by visitors/daytime workforce as well as residents. Staff recommends this measure because it generates the highest revenue, only requires a majority vote, and shares the tax burden across different populations.
  • Transient Occupancy Tax – (TOT) – this “hotel tax” could be increased from 12% to 15%, to generate an estimated $1.9 million. This option represents the smallest amount of revenue.
  • Parcel Tax – This would require a supermajority to pass and has to be for a specific purpose, not General Fund. At $250 per parcel, it would generate $3.7 million. This tax measure would be unlikely to pass, given the failure of the CUSD parcel taxes of the last few years.
  • Business Operations Tax – Also known as “headcount tax” paid by local businesses. Cupertino lacks business diversity, so this tax would fall on a few major taxpayers. Even at a high rate of $75 per employee, it would generate $4.1 million, which is less than the TUT.

Ballot measures require time and money, so the prudent approach is to maximize the amount of revenue that could be raised, i.e. the TUT. It’s also a preemptive move. State law caps total local sales taxes. Santa Clara County is expected to offer a competing ballot measure that would utilize the quarter of a percent sales tax increase on through its own countywide measure to meet county budget needs. That measure would would deprive Cupertino of that potential money if Cupertino’s own usage isn’t in place first.

The Ceremonial Items are (1) Certificates of appreciation to volunteers at the Silicon Valley Korean School (SVKS), (2)  Recognition of Manny Barragan as the City of Cupertino’s longest serving employee, and (3) Recognition of Cupertino Sister City relationships.

The Consent Calendar contains six routine items. Agenda Item No. 6, a Recology agreement to add additional organic processing (unanimously approved in May) for an increase of $2.01 per month may be pulled. Note Item No. 9 is Cancellation of the December 19, 2023, council meeting due to preparation for holiday shutdown between Christmas and New Year’s. Members of the public may speak on any or all consent calendar items when the mayor asks for public comment on the Consent Calendar. If a member of the council pulls an item from the Consent Calendar, it will be addressed after all action items. Members of the public may comment on that item when it is considered.

Item No.10: Municipal Code Amendment to Chapter 19.76 and a Conditional Use Permit and Parking Exception for the use of a former public school site by a pre-kindergarten through 9th grade private educational facility and associated Categorical Exemption under CEQA. (Application No.: MCA-2023-003; U-2023-002; EXC-2023-009 Applicant: City of Cupertino; Grace Stanat on behalf of Tessellations; Location: BA-zoned (Public Building) properties in Cupertino; 1170 Yorkshire Drive;  

The Planning Commission approved this item on November 14, but council also has to approve the use of the closed Regnart Elementary school campus by a private school (Tessellations) focused on alternative learners, whose needs are not met by either public or most private schools. Public input was extensive, centered around parking and student drop off. Street parking by staff was a major issue during the first weeks of school’s opening, but was quickly addressed with a staff vanpool from a satellite parking lot at New LIfe Church on McClellan. In addition, parents were directed to use Rainbow Drive rather than Bubb Road to drop off students. Commissioners and council members have visited the site, and observed well controlled parking.

The Recommended Action is complicated since there are four different components:

  1. Find the proposed actions exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and CEQA Guidelines. The Commission approved this recommendation 5-0.
  1. Conduct the first reading of Ordinance No. XX-XXX: “An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Cupertino amending Cupertino Municipal Code Chapter 19.76 (Table 19.76.030) to allow privately operated educational uses and privately operated public serving uses in the BA zoning district.” Publicly owned school sites have been zoned for public use. This code amendment would allow a private school (same type of use) to operate on publicly owned property. This change formalizes the private use of school property in Cupertino to permit leasing of school sites more easily. The Commission approved this recommendation 5-0.
  1. Approve the Conditional Use Permit (U-2023-002). Usually, this permit would have been obtained prior to the opening of the school, but the process had not been formalized so approval occurs now after-the-fact. The Commission approved this recommendation 4-1 with Scharf voting nay.
  1. Approve the Parking Exception (EXC-2023-009). Tessellations has added additional parking spaces out of the neighborhood, but the question of whether the city requires excessive parking spaces remains. Requiring 148 spaces for 85 staff members, many part-time, may be excessive, since students will be dropped off. The Planning Commission approved this recommendation 4-1 with Scharf voting nay.

Item #11:  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)

(This item is expected to be continued to allow for re-noticing.) The process for approving Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) can be convoluted and time consuming. The city code has to be modified to comply with state law. In addition, the planning staff is recommending streamlining approvals by eliminating the extra discretionary review of the Two-Story Permit. Planning Commission discussion on this item was robust with the commission favoring less restrictive ordinances. The commission recommended  (1) screening of rooftop HVAC equipment, particularly in the Eichler neighborhoods, (2) removal of references to adjacency to a transit corridor, which doesn’t really exist in Cupertino, and (3) increases in allowable height from 16 to 18 feet. These recommendations were unanimously approved by the Planning Commission.

Item No. 12: Council Reports (now submitted in written form) are provided by Mayor Wei, Vice-Mayor Mohan, and Councilmembers Fruen and Moore. There is no report from Councilmember Chao.

Informational Items include (1)  Update regarding Vallco’s SB 35 project approval, with a revised application expected to be submitted on Dec. 4, 2023. and (2)  Update on Main Street, allowing an additional 16,500 sq. ft.of the vacant 21,800 sq. ft. Target building for potential use as restaurant space.

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Tues, Nov. 21, 2023, 6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting

YouTube: 2 hr. 8 min. (adjourned at 8:55 p.m.)

Agenda and Presentations.

Item No.11: Accept the City Manager’s First Quarter Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2023-24. There were minimal variances and councilmembers received 1-on-1 briefings prior to the meeting. The discussion centered around the three items that needed action prior to the start of 2024. After multiple motions, these service levels for FY 2024-24 were approved:

  1. The evening fireworks for the 4th of July event was defunded, with funding of $7,000 retained to continue daytime events for the 4th;
  2. Community Grant Funding Program in FY 2024-25 was capped at $32,500; and
  3. Weed Abatement subsidy of $8,600 annually.was defunded.

Item No. 12: 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: December 1, 2023

The front page photo and on page 5 is entitled Act like kids:  Fresh faces bring their talents to TheatreWorks for ‘Spelling Bee’. Community briefs are (1) Holiday coat drive, (2) Holiday assembly and (3) Second Harvest campaign. Page 5 is the previously published Mercury News article entitled Developer invokes builders remedy project in Cupertino. Legal notices include (1) Application for a sign exception for Shane Company, 19900 Stevens Creek Blvd., (2) Application for a seven unit townhouse development at 10046 Bianchi Way, and (3) Notice of second reading of municipal code amendments.

CUPERTINO COURIER: November 24, 2023

The front page photo and on page 5 is entitled Over-the-air legacy:  Cupertino TV Productions celebrates 40 years of public-access content, which is produced by 50+ volunteers from the Cupertino Senior Center. Community briefs are (1) Holiday happenings, and (2) Commission openings. Page 10 is the previously published Mercury News article entitled South Bay school district considers a plan to salvage Japanese programs, regarding the decline in enrollment in FUHSD language program. The sole legal notice is an invitation to bid on Blackberry Farm Accessibility Improvements Project.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor