Cupertino Matters

The ballots from the March 5 primary election are still being counted. A week later, there are still roughly 52,000 ballots to be processed, so close races are still not settled.

Recently, the city has been receiving positive publicity. Our own mayor, Sheila Mohan , headlined a panel of five local mayors during the Silicon Valley Central Chamber of Commerce’s annual Mayors’ Breakfast event in Milpitas on Thursday, March 7, 2024, as reported in San Jose Spotlight in an article entitled Silicon Valley mayors agree lack of housing is a top issue. In addition, the Mercury News highlights progress of a long-awaited project largely funded by the county: Construction for all-inclusive playground at Cupertino Jollyman Park to begin this year: The new play area is designed to address the needs of all ages and abilities.

Our residents are also advocates for school safety, as covered in a separate Mercury News piece: Cupertino students, parents call for more safety measures at busy high school intersection: Safety concerns have been raised at the busy Finch Avenue and Calle de Barcelona intersection near Cupertino High School. In recreation news, the San Jose Spotlight notes that local golfers backed increased fees to help retain our local public golf course: BlackBerry Farm fee increases    Cupertino golfers will pay more to play course. 

Mark your calendar for March 27th, when Supervisor Simitian will be hosting his 9th annual public meeting regarding the future of Lehigh Southwest Cement Plant and Permanente Quarry (located in the Cupertino foothills). He is terming out this year, so this will be his last Lehigh event. Readers can visit the event landing page on Supervisor Simitian’s website for more information.

Finally, the Fremont Union High School District’s (FUHSD) move to by-trustee area elections nears a critical juncture. Last night, the District’s Community Trustee Area Districting (CTAD) Committee winnowed down a large list of potential trustee area maps to three options representing community feedback. The top choice, a map that combined the top half of one draft map (Map K) and the bottom half of another (Map T), garnered overwhelming support from the committee (a vote of 13 – 1). Close behind it was Map H, followed by Map K. In terms of sequencing of elections–i.e. which trustee areas would be up for election in 2024–the committee offered the Board various options for their consideration, but focused on being responsive to the community demands for the southeastern portion of the district, centered on Lynbrook High School, and the northernmost portion of the district (north of El Camino Real) going first due to their overall lack of historical representation. The FUHSD Board of Trustees will make its initial consideration of these maps on March 20.

UPCOMING – Planning Commission – Tues., Mar. 12,  2024, 6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting

Agenda and Presentations

The action items on the agenda involve recommendations to extend development agreements from five years to eight years for two previously approved hotels. The applicants justify the request by noting that COVID negatively impacted development by increasing costs and reducing expected business occupancy for the immediate future. The good news is that both applicants are committed to moving forward with the hotels, provided economic conditions, construction costs and business travel improve in the additional time frame. If these hotels are built, they would provide millions of dollars in transient occupancy taxes (TOT) to the City of Cupertino.

Item No. 2: Amendment to a Development Agreement for the Cupertino Village Boutique Hotel Project and associated environmental review. (Application No(s): DA-2023-002; Applicant(s): KIMCO (Sunil Plaha); Location: 10801 and 10805 N. Wolfe Rd. This hotel is slated for the area currently occupied by Duke of Edinburgh restaurant, directly across from Apple Park. At the time of approval, the hotel was expected to generate $1 – $1.5 million in TOT a year.

Item No. 3: Amendment to a Development Agreement for the De Anza Hotel Project and associated environmental review. (Application No(s): DA-2023-003; Applicant(s): De Anza Properties (John Vidovich); Location: 10931 N De Anza Blvd. This hotel is planned for the area currently occupied by the Goodyear Tire store on De Anza Boulevard, adjacent to I-280 and Apple’s Infinite Loop building. At the time of approval, the hotel was likewise expected to generate $1 – $1.5 million in TOT a year.

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Tues, Mar. 5, 2024, 6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting: 5:00 Study Session

YouTube: Part 1 – 1hr. 31 min.; Part 2 – 3hr. 59 min. 

Agenda and Presentations

Study Session:

Revisions to Cupertino City Council Procedures Manual (tabled from September 6, 2023). Council reviewed potential changes to the City Council Procedures, with the reminder that these could be reviewed every two to three years, unless deemed necessary earlier. One area of discussion focused on better management of the consent calendar to reduce the amount of wasted time on the dais. Another area was more efficient tracking of speaking time for each council member to keep deliberations on track. Public comment included a request for clarification of communication with council for items forwarded from commissions to council. The discussion of the role of council reports proved contentious, with Wei and Fruen supporting restricting them to council/city related activities, while Moore and Chao espoused including general commentary and extraneous personal development activities. After competing motions, council directed staff to make modifications to (a) establish an earlier cut-off time for individual councilmembers to pull consent calendar items, after providing a written reason for pulling the item, (b) establish a procedure for councilmembers to reserve speaker time; (c) prescribing the contents of the councilmember reports, and (d) refine the circumstances for commissioner availability at council meetings. The motion passed by a vote of 3-2, with Moore and Chao voting nay. The item will return to council with language provided by the city attorney’s office.

Regular Session
Oral Communications is usually members of the public wishing to address the council on non-agenda items and the council can’t take action. Councilmember Kitty Moore, however, took the unprecedented and bizarre action of speaking on informational Item No. 11, Blackberry Farm Golf Course Fee Increase, in a classic micromanagement of operations rebuked by the Civil Grand Jury. 

Item 6: Consider an appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision to approve a sign exception to allow two wall signs for a single tenant (Shane Co.) at an existing retail building (Application No(s): EXC-2022-004; Applicant/Appellant: Kevin Tallman, Shane Co.; Location: 19900 Stevens Creek Blvd.; APN: 369-05-044). Council spent over an hour and a half on this item, clearly demonstrating the roadblocks faced by retail businesses in Cupertino. Shane Company has done business in Cupertino since 1988, so dealing with the antagonism toward business was a new experience. The prudent approach would have been to approve their request for two more lighted signs, then evaluate after a year, in a motion offered by Councilmember Wei and supported by Vice Mayor Fruen. Instead the council got bogged down in temporary sign regulations, window signs, and other excuses instead of trying to assist a significant sales tax producer in overcoming a less than ideal location. The Planning Commission denied the application, so Shane Company came to the city council. After yet another series of substitute motions, the council approved a second substitute motion to allow one lighted sign only, by a vote of 3-2, with Wei and Fruen voting nay.

Item 7: Revisions to City commission and committee administration, procedure, and governance, including an ordinance to regularize commissioner appointments and revise commissioner qualifications; and resolutions adopting revisions to advisory bodies appointment process and Commissioners’ Handbook. The proposed revisions included (1) regularizing commission terms to occur at regular intervals (2-3 per year) with consistent four year terms, (2) removing the requirement of a business representative for Housing and Sustainability commissions, (3) removal of commissioners not only for attendance reasons, but also failure to complete required training, and conflict of interest reporting, (4) establishing the criteria for service on each commission, and (5) removal of the automatic appointment of alternate commissioners in the case of vacancies.

Several commissioners provided public comment on proposed modifications in several areas. Council discussion centered around (1) qualifications for commissioners, (2) control of commission agendas, (3) removal of commissioners, (4) the process to select replacement commissioners. A modified version of the staff recommendation carried the day that would include removing the requirement of a business representative from the Sustainability and Housing Commissions, but allowing council to appoint such a representative irrespective of residency; clearer timelines for compliance with mandatory training and reporting requirements, and disallowing commissioners from participating in commission meetings as members unless they’ve complied; together with direction to the city manager to conduct outreach to commissioners on the Handbook and its updates. The motion to approve the modifications was approved 4-1, with Wei voting nay.

Item No. 8: Consider list of agenda items requested by City Councilmembers (“TBD List”). This was an overly long discussion, requiring two votes to extend the meeting.  Only council members Chao and Moore have made requests, most of which have been addressed already. Two items will be addressed by memo, the Housing Element study session is in progress, and the final request to change the meeting day (due to Chao’s work schedule) is not acceptable.

CUPERTINO COURIER: March 8, 2024

The front page photo is entitled Heading out with head honchos: League of Women Voters to hold meet and greet with head officials. Community Briefs on page 5 are (1) Meet local officials, and (2) Clinic moves forward on De Anza community college campus. Page 7 is a previously published article from the Mercury News entitled Board rejects switch to all-grass fields: Officials opt to update, replace artificial turf. There are no legal notices.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters