Cupertino Matters

Don’t forget that this is a leap year, so enjoy an extra day in February this Thursday.

Election campaigns are coming down to the wire with only a week remaining to vote in the March 5th primary. Initial information is that the number of ballots returned thus far is relatively low, so your vote is especially important in our local elections. Ballots may be mailed in, deposited in a drop box (Cupertino City Hall) or turned in at a Vote Center (Cupertino Library). Details are listed in the paper County Voter Information Guide or located using the Registrar of Voters site. For more information on voting, the League of Women Voters website can be used to  check on registration, as well as personalized voter information. If you’ve misplaced or spoiled your ballot, you can go to the Registrar of Voters office to request a new one.

Local elections, more so than the national and statewide elections, affect our lives. Mercury News endorsements are available on their website. For most readers who live in Cupertino and immediately neighboring areas, the most relevant endorsements are Patrick Ahrens for Assembly District 26, Margaret Abe-Koga for County Supervisor District 5, and Jay Boyarsky for Superior Court judge. All would serve very capably. Local candidate forum recordings are available on the League of Women Voters Cupertino-Sunnyvale website.

UPCOMING – Planning Commission – Tues., Feb. 13, 2024, 6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting

Agenda and Presentations

Item No. 2: Hillside Exception to add a porch and roof deck, as well as landscape modifications at an existing hillside property on a prominent ridgeline and associated CEQA actions. (Application No(s).: EXC-2023-006; Applicant(s): Chris Pomodoro; Location: 22777 San Juan Rd. There are extensive restrictions for areas zoned Hillside Residential in the foothills of Cupertino. Improvements in these areas typically trigger a  requirement to obtain an exception allowing changes to the property. The RHS Ordinance, housed at Chapter 19.40 of the Cupertino Municipal Code, prohibits any additions to existing structures within the 15% site line of a prominent ridgeline unless an exception is granted. The property owner is applying for an exception to expand landscaping for a house developed in 1995. The proposed modifications minimize the amount of grading and tree removal; there is no impact on neighbors or access to the property.

Item No. 3: 2023 General Plan and Housing Element Annual Progress Reports (APR) Housing Element APR. Part of this report must be completed each year and submitted to the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) by April 1. The forms are provided by HCD. This is a progress report separate from the Housing Element revision process. The Planning Commission reviews and comments on the report, which will then go to the City Council in March. The staff report provides an overall summary, followed by extensive detail. Attachment 1 includes the Policies and Strategies that support the General Plan Goals. Most Strategies and Policies are implemented in an ongoing process through the Municipal Code and through development project review. Edits from the previous year have been made to reflect the work done by City staff. Attachment 2 is the address-by-address detail for the report.

This report reflects the heavy workload in the Planning Division, which had been hampered by earlier turmoil at city hall and consequent staff turnover, as well as multiple iterations of the Housing Element and related documents. Planning has to review all planning permits and building permits (as reflected in this report), but has also responded to over 1,300 public counter inquiries in person, over 150 virtual appointments inquiries and over 1,000 email inquiries from members of the public. The staff has also worked on City Work Plan items that include Municipal Code amendments in 2023, adopted by Council in February 2024, related to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and codifying the existing process to allow certain uses in the BA zoning district.

The staff report highlights two significant tables from the lengthy report – Table 1 and Table 2, which show that the city issued building permits for 177 housing units in 2023–the most of any year since 2015 (178) and a nearly 50-home improvement on 2022 (128 homes). Even so, in order to meet the city’s 4,588 RHNA required for the 2023-2031 Housing Element Cycle, approximately 400 more homes per year need to be built.

RECAP  – CITY COUNCIL – Tues, Feb. 21, 2024, 6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting; 5:30 Closed Session

YouTube: 3 hr. 34 min.   (Meeting adjourned at 10:25 p.m.)

Agenda and Presentations

Consent Calendar agenda Item No 6, ratifying Accounts Payable for the periods ending December 29, 2023; January 5, 2024; January 12, 2024; January 19, 2024; and January 26, 2024 was pulled and considered at the end of the action items. Line-item  payments from the BMR fund were questioned. Council approved 5-0.

Item No. 8: Potential November 2024 Revenue Tax Measure Opinion Research. The staff recommendation was against putting a measure on the ballot for this election, due to mixed community reaction and competing tax measures. Council discussion was limited, and the recommendation was approved unanimously.

Item No.9: Accept the City Manager’s Mid-Year Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2023-24. The staff report for the Mid-Year Financial Report, as of December 31, 2023, was straight-forward. No substantive questions were raised, though Councilmember Moore spent considerable time questioning minor details in the addenda to the report. Mayor Mohan reminded the council that there were no budget actions on the item, just acceptance of the report. Councilmember Wei made the initial motion to accept the staff report per the staff recommendation. Councilmember Kitty Moore made a substitute motion to have the report revised and brought back to council, even though the Fiscal Report will be revised as the Third Quarter Report and returned to council in May for the budget process. Vice Mayor Fruen offered an additional substitute motion to accept the staff report and provide time-limited individual feedback to councilmembers offline. The second substitute motion failed 2-3 with Wei, Moore and Mohan voting nay. The first substitute motion failed 2-3 with Wei, Mohan and Fruen voting nay. The original motion was ultimately approved 4-1 with Moore voting nay.

Item No 10: Amendments to the Cupertino Municipal Code Chapter 3.22 (Purchase of Supplies, Materials, Equipment and Services) and Chapter 3.23 (Public Works Contract and Bidding Procedures) of Title 3 (Revenue and Finance). Council reaction to this presentation was positive, recognizing the importance of improving the procurement process. Staff is fully on-board with the proposed processes. The recommendations were thoroughly vetted with Moss Adams as part of their internal audit function.  Council approved unanimously.

CUPERTINO COURIER: February 23, 2024

The front page photo and article on page 5 is entitled ‘Supporting our teachers’: Developer approved for affordable housing project in Cupertino. The site is the overflow parking lot between the old Macy’s and I-280 next to Vallco, known as the Simian property. Eden Housing was selected as the affordable housing developer for the site. Community Briefs on page 5 are (1) Earth Day help, (2) Free concerts and (3) Admissions panel for college applications. Legal notices on page 16 are (1) Appeal of a sign exception to allow two wall signs for a single tenant (Shane Company) to be heard at City Council on March 5, and (2) Public hearing to be considered by the Housing Commission on March 14 regarding the FY2024-25 Community Development Block Grant and Below Market Rate Housing Fund allocations.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor