Cupertino Matters

Today is the last day to vote! As of yesterday, only 15% eligible voters had cast their ballots, a sad commentary for democracy, particularly in local elections which affect our daily lives. For last minute voters, the Cupertino Library (second floor) as well as other Vote Centers are open until 8:00 tonight. They can handle missing ballots as well as registration. Voting can be done anywhere in Santa Clara County – no more local  precinct voting. Once you’re done, you can then join the watch party for the results, particularly local races, which should be substantially known by about 10 p.m.

Declining enrollment is a major concern for local school districts. Fremont Union High School District (FUHSD) has seen a decline of 1,474 students from 2017-18 to 2023-24. This translates to a decline of approximately 50 classrooms over this period, which has a major impact on class offerings and instructor staffing. This decline is expected to continue since the classes now in 10th – 12th grades have an average of 327 more students than the average in the incoming 4th – 8th grades in the two underlying elementary districts. This pattern is consistent with other districts in the county, given declining birth rates, an aging population, and lack of housing development for new families. More details can be found in the FUHSD Enrollment Report for 2024. There is NO plan to close high schools, with the district adopting various strategies to balance enrollment.

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

Agenda and Presentations

Study Session:
Revisions to Cupertino City Council Procedures Manual (tabled from September 6, 2023). A year ago, the city council adopted a procedures manual to address deficiencies identified by the city’s internal auditor, Moss Adams. These changes have been effective, reducing the average length of a regular meeting from 5.5 hours in calendar year 2022 to 5.2 hours in calendar year 2023.  More significantly, the total number of meetings has almost been cut in half (from 43 from January–August 2022 to a much more normal 24 from January–August 2023). Total meeting time has been reduced by approximately one-third, a major improvement for the public, council, and staff.

Council directed the city attorney to return potential revisions to the council procedures manual in six months on Sept. 6, 2023. But that meeting was long and contentious so the item was tabled for another six months, now returning as a separate study session.

Regular Session
There are two Ceremonial Items (1) Recognition of March as American Red Cross Month, and (2) Recognition of March as Youth Art Month. The Consent Calendar contains three routine items. 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 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)  Shane Company, previously located at the Oaks, is one of the top ten sales tax producers for the city. After a search for a replacement location, the company chose to remain in Cupertino at a mid-block site that’s a less than ideal location for retail. A major problem is the lack of visibility to customers coming from outside Cupertino. The company applied for a sign exception to the Planning Commission, but was denied. This is an appeal to the city council to allow additional lighted signs, recognizing the limitations of the current site.

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 City Council identified the Commission Governance Reform Package as a priority item and added it to the FY 2023-2024 City Work Program. This item is directed at updating commission and committee administration, procedure, and governance.

Revisions include (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.

Item No. 8: Consider list of agenda items requested by City Councilmembers (“TBD List”). Councilmembers Moore and Chao requested four agenda items, which must be approved by the entire council. Staff is recommending moving forward only on the Housing Element study session.

Item No. 9: Council Reports (now submitted in written form) are provided by all council members. Councilmember Chao’s report significantly departs from provided format and largely offers comments of her own.

Informational Items include Item No. 10 : Cupertino Senior Center Bingo and Hidden Treasure and Item No. 11 Blackberry Farm Golf Course Fee Increase.

CLOSED – CITY COUNCIL – Mon, Mar. 4, 2024, 4 p.m.

Item No. 1: Workers compensation claim pursuant to Government Code § 54956.95(b) (Ricardo Acevedo v. City of Cupertino, WCAB No. ADJ17329936)

Item No. 2: Conference with real property negotiators pursuant to Government Code § 54956.8 Property: 10301 Byrne Avenue, Cupertino, California, 95014; APN 357-11-020 Agency negotiator: Matt Morley, Assistant City Manager Negotiating parties: Bay Area Housing Corp; and Community Veteran Partners Under negotiation: price and terms of payment

RECAP – Planning Commission – Tues., Feb. 27, 2024, 6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting

YouTube:   1 hr. 46 min.

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. This project was reviewed, with the observation that the project was well within planning guidelines, with no impact on neighbors or access to the property. The only reason the matter needed to be considered by the Planning Commission was the 15% hillside site line requirement. The Commission approved unanimously.

Item No. 3: 2023 General Plan and Housing Element Annual Progress Reports (APR) Housing Element APR. This report is required by the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) by April 1. Each year, more data points are required, which increases the workload on the Planning Division. The Planning Commission commented on the report, which will then be sent to the City Council in March.

CUPERTINO COURIER: March 1, 2024

The front page photo and article on page 5 is entitled Chefs of Compassion: Cupertino based nonprofit celebrates 50th anniversary with fundraiser; Los Gatos chef brings her passion for nutrition education to fundraiser for West Valley Community Services. Community Briefs on page 5 are (1) From Apple to opera, and (2) A fair contest. Page 10 is a previously published article regarding Vallco from the Mercury News entitled City OKs new neighborhood plan at site of old mall. Legal notices on page 16 include (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) a 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