Cupertino Matters

Welcome to 2024 and a New Year, with a new mayor and vice-mayor, with fiscal challenges ahead. This is an election year for two council seats, as Councilmembers Hung Wei and Kitty Moore will be up for reelection. It’s important to have an informed electorate, so please consider forwarding your issue of Cupertino Matters to friends, and recommending that they subscribe at CupertinoMatters.org

Housing continues to make headlines in Cupertino. The latest is on the front page of the Mercury News Local section on Wed., Jan. 17, entitled Cupertino settles YIMBY housing lawsuit, agrees to ‘builder’s remedy’ penalty:City is expected to approve 4,588 new homes by 2031. Cupertino’s first draft of the Housing Element submitted early 2023 was developed under the prior council. This woefully inadequate and incomplete draft was rejected by the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). This lawsuit was filed as a result of that failure to get approval for the Housing Element. A second, complete and substantive draft was submitted on Oct. 7 and revised on Nov. 30, 2023. However, HCD again returned a short comment letter with limited required changes on Dec.15, 2023. The Planning Division will be meeting with state officials to determine revisions which will then be resubmitted.

Lawn signs are starting to pop up around the city as candidates have a short window  until the primary election on March 5, 2024, with ballots mailed the first week of February. Notable local races include the following. The first race is for the  Congressional seat being vacated with long-serving Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s retirement. There are eleven candidates but only two will advance  to the general election. Though California Congressional District 16 borders Cupertino, the race impacts the city in multiple ways. The leading contenders are Evan Low, our current representative in the state Assembly, Joe Simiitian, currently representing Cupertino in District 5 on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, and Sam Liccardo, the former mayor of San Jose. (Note that Cupertino is not included in this district.) The second race is to fill Joe Simitian’s seat as County Supervisor, with leading candidates Margaret Abe-Koga and Sally Lieber, as well as  Barry Chang (formerly on Cupertino city council), and Peter Fung. The third race is for the state Assembly seat being vacated by Evan Low. There are six candidates, with only two advancing. Leading candidates include Patrick Ahrens, currently president of the Foothill-DeAnza Community College District Board, Tara Sreekrishnan, currently on the Santa Clara County Board of Education, and Omar Din, currently a Sunnyvale council member. Also running are Ashish Garg, Sophie Yan Song, and Bob Goodwyn.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL – Tues, Jan. 17, 2024, 6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting; 5:00 Study Session

Agenda and Presentations 

Study Session: Provide input to staff on potential service-level reductions for the FY 2024-25 Proposed and Final Budgets. The city faces a $30 million ongoing reduction in sales tax due to a state audit of a large Cupertino sales taxpayer. Three approaches will be used in addressing this shortfall:

  1. Revenue generating opportunities, meaning tax measures,  which were initially explored in the Dec. 5, 2023 study session;
  2. Service-level reductions, which are the topic of this study session; and
  3. Fee increases which will occur at a future study session.

The reality is that a combination of these actions will be necessary to balance the budget for FY 2024-25. Council has already approved measures to address approximately $15 million. However, additional actions will be necessary to cover the rest of the $15 million structural deficit. Readers are urged to review the 3-page Appendix outlining potential service level reductions. Public outreach is planned to explore tradeoffs.

Regular Meeting:

A Closed Session Report, which will likely announce the recent settlement with YIMBY Law and their lawsuit regarding the Cupertino Housing Element. There are no Ceremonial Items.

The Consent Calendar contains eight routine items. Agenda Item No. 4 establishes the council meeting scheduled for 2024, and Item No. 5 is 2024 Council Committee Assignments. 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: Public hearing on the abatement of public nuisance from weeds or other fire hazards pursuant to provisions of Cupertino Municipal Code Chapter 9.08 and Resolution No. 23-117. This should be a pro forma approval of a routine annual hearing required by the county for weed abatement.

Item No.11: Application for a seven-unit townhome development and associated environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act. (Application No(s): DP-2023-001, ASA-2023-002, TM-2023-001 & TR-2023-008; Applicant(s): Leon Hu of Top Mission Realty & Investment, Inc.; Location: 10046 Bianchi Way, APN: 359-07-021.) This project is a small infill development on a 14,753 square foot lot, just off Stevens Creek Boulevard next to Union Church, on the VTA bus line (the 523 rapid and the 23), within walking distance of De Anza College, and retail establishments, including Whole Foods. Homes will be approximately 2000 square feet, with 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms and two car garages. One home will be deed-restricted affordable housing offered at below market rate (BMR). Several waivers are requested pursuant to state law which are reasonable with respect to the size and location of the proposed development.

This  project was recommended for approval by the Planning Commission on Dec. 12, 2023. Parking and density were the primary concerns. However, the project meets the requirements of various state laws (SB 330, the Housing Accountability Act, and the Density Bonus Law) that limit the discretion of the city to reject the project.

Item No. 12: 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)  Applications for ADUs have increased significantly in the last few years, primarily to accommodate aging family members and dependent adult children and in the wake of various streamlining laws passed by the state Legislature to facilitate these modestly sized, more affordable homes. This amendment would streamline the permit approval process, reducing staff costs and resident time to obtain approval. It also updates the code to conform with revised state requirements.

At its Nov. 14, 2023 meeting, the Planning Commission considered the amendment, adding these modifications to go beyond minimum state law requirements: (1) Maximum or 3 ADU’s per single-family lot in any combination of allowed types, (2) Heights of 18 feet for a detached ADU or 25 feet if attached to a principal residence, and (3) Allowance for a second story on attached or detached ADUs regardless of proximity to transit and to treat all property owners equally. This was unanimously approved by all five commissioners. The Commission also discussed the possibility of additional flexibility and left such decisions to the council.

Item No. 13: Council Reports (now submitted in written form) are provided by Mayor Mohan, Vice-Mayor Fruen, and Councilmembers Wei and Moore. There is no report from Councilmember Chao.

Informational Items include (1)  2023 Legislative Activity and Priorities update, (2) Receive the Monthly Treasurer’s Investment Report for November 2023, (3) Receive the Monthly Treasurer’s Report for November 2023, (4) Receive the Monthly Treasurer’s Investment Report for December  2023, (5) Receive the Monthly Treasurer’s Report for December 2023.The meeting will adjourn in memory of former Cupertino Mayor William Reed Sparks.

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Friday, Jan 12, 2024, Non-televised Special meeting

Agenda and Presentations

The sole agenda item was Council training on city procedures and Rosenberg’s Rules of Order. The city clerk’s presentation was enlightening, with the deadlines for submitting reports for inclusion in council packets. Under Mayor Hung Wei, there was a meaningful return toward regular order with a reduction in the number of meetings (33) compared to her predecessor, Darcy Paul (64). The number of Public Records Act requests (PRAs) has declined to 221 in 2023 (Wei, mayor), compared to 264 in 2022 (Paul, mayor). Historically, this is still high compared to 78 in 2017. Both meetings and PRAs represent a significant use of staff time and public resources.

CUPERTINO COURIER: January 12, 2024

The front page photo and on page 4 is entitled Bike along Cristo Rey Drive: MidPen helps improve access to Rancho San Antonio Preserve.Cupertino completes better access to Rancho San Antonio – Partnership with Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. Community briefs are (1) Collecting organics, (2) Preschool open houses, and (3) Cupertino Spelling Bee. Previously published in the Mercury News, an article on page 8 is entitled Hopefuls line up to take Evan Low’s seat: Two of the candidates already have experience working in the state legislature as staffers. Legal notices include (1) Modification of Developer Agreement for the Cupertino Village Boutique Hotel, 10801 N. Wolfe Road and (2) Modification of Developer Agreement for De Anza Hotel, 10931 N. De Anza Blvd, to be heard at the Jan. 23 Planning Commission meeting.

CUPERTINO COURIER: January 5, 2024

The front page photo and on page 3 is entitled ‘A Greener Tomorrow’: Community reading program tackles environmental sustainability. Silicon Valley reads opts to explore environmental sustainability topics: Community reading program begins Jan. 31 at De Anza College. Community briefs are (1) Via West gets grant, and (2) CERT registration. Page 6 is a piece written by county supervisor Joe Simitian entitled It’s important not to overlook our rapidly aging population, highlighting programs for seniorsLegal notices include (1) Development Proposal for 10046 Bianchi Way and (2 ) Municipal Code Amendments for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) public hearings on January 17, 2023 city council meeting.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor