Cupertino Matters

Summer has come too quickly with the Memorial Day weekend in just a few days.

There is good news for summer entertainment with the announcement that, in tandem with Mayor Mohan’s mayoral fund, local nonprofit groups were able to raise sufficient money to continue a tradition cut from the city budget:  Cupertino’s free Shakespeare in the Park to return this summer: The nonprofit performing arts group was able to raise more than $30,000. In addition, free summer concerts in the park begin June 6 and run through August 8, on Thursdays, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Memorial Park Amphitheater.

The city reached a major milestone by adopting the Housing Element that the state HCD blessed on the third iteration. The next step is final approval of zoning changes which have to be completed within 120 days to complete compliance. As reported in the Mercury News, Cupertino adopts housing plan for 4,588 homes, seeks to allow zoning for high-density projects: There are 36 sites within the city that will accommodate the housing units. A responsible council would have voted unanimously for approval. Non-compliance means loss of land use local controlincluding ongoing exposure to  the “builder’s remedy” of the Housing Accountability Act, potential exposure to litigation, ineligibility for significant grant funds, and other adverse consequences.  Two council members, however, chose fiscal and legal irresponsibility. Councilmember Kitty Moore, spoke in support of the housing element, but then objected on the basis of unknown environmental concerns, voting nay. Councilmember Chao objected to the process, urging even more delay (which would translate to additional costs to the city) and voted to abstain. Both she and Councilmember Moore had ample opportunity over the past three years to engage. They failed to get the city to a point of compliance by the deadline.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL – Tues., May 21, 2024, 6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting; 6:00 p.m., Closed Session

Agenda and Presentations

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

The sole Ceremonial Item is Recognition of National Public Works Week, May 19-25, 2024. The Consent Calendar contains seven 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 No. 10: City Manager’s Third Quarter Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2023-24. This report measures progress of the expenditures and revenue for the current fiscal year, and provides key input for the budget for next year. Minor adjustments to the $121.8 million budget are recommended. Of note, property tax grew at only 3% which is below the 6.65% for the county, due to low number of home sales and lack of development in the city. Transient occupancy tax is down and not expected to recover in the short term. Status reports are provided for Special Projects, Grant Applications and CIP projects.

Item No. 11: Initial Study Session on Fiscal Year (FY) 2024-25 Proposed Operating and Capital Improvement Program Budgets. This item provides the council and the public with an overview of the 640-page proposed budget for FY2023-24. Through a combination of service level reductions, modestly improved tax revenues and other revenue increases, the proposed budget is $146.5 million in overall expenses. Of that General Fund expenditures (the city’s unrestricted funds used to fund regular operations) would stand at $89.9 million, with $89.8 million in regular revenues, and $0.1 million funded from the unassigned fund balance.

The first 50 pages with the Introduction and Budget Message are well worth perusing, particularly the Notable Accomplishments by Department, which are extensive, even with the budget and staff reductions. The excellence of our city finance staff was recognized with an award for Operating Budget Excellence for Fiscal Year 2023-2024 from the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers. Of note, the turnover rate has decreased to a normal 9% compared to a 16% rate in FY 2020-2021, which had been 87% above the median of surrounding cities.

Item No. 12, Council Reports, (now submitted in written form) are provided by Mayor Mohan, Vice-Mayor Fruen and Councilmember Wei. Councilmembers Chao and Moore did not submit reports at the time the agenda was released.

RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Tues, May 14, 2024, 6:45 p.m., Special Meeting; 5:30 p.m., Closed Session

YouTube:  3 hr. 50 min.

Agenda and Presentations

Item No. 1: 6th Cycle Housing Element and Associated General Plan Amendments.  Since the city has been notified that the revised third draft of the Housing Element meets the statutory state requirements, this meeting was necessary to formally adopt the Housing Element. In addition, the city has to rezone the Priority Housing Sites within 120 days to be fully compliant. This was a two hour session with an extensive staff report followed by public comment and council deliberation. There were 17 speakers, overwhelmingly supportive of approving the staff recommendation, and requesting  unanimous approval to signal commitment to meeting the state’s requirements. Valley Church made a last minute request to remove their properties, which was allowed, reducing the buffer from 35% to 28%. Council ultimately approved on a 3-2 vote, with Moore voting nay and Chao abstaining.

Item No. 2: Fiscal Year 2024-25 Fee Schedule (continued from May 7, 2024). This annual review and revision was generally non-controversial, with the exception of adding a fee to obtain a parking permit in areas with permit parking (generally around schools). Only 913 homes are eligible, with roughly half actually requesting the free permits. Adding a fee would only generate about $11,000 a year, so council opted to remove that fee, and reconsider use of public property when parking matters are considered in the future. The second fee that was removed was an encroachment fee for cranes to install ADUs in backyards, with concern expressed that this additional fee might discourage ADU production. Council approved unanimously.

Item No. 3: Consider accepting the City’s Investment Policy. This Consent Calendar item was pulled for discussion. This policy is reviewed annually, and must be approved by council after review by the Audit Committee. Had the policy not been approved, a gap in authority to invest city funds would have arisen. Council approved unanimously.

CUPERTINO COURIER: May 17, 2024

The front-page photo and community brief on page 5 entitled, The humble turtle: Cupertino embroidery service proves people of all abilities can work together. Cupertino resident supports special needs community. Community Briefs on page 8 are (1) Librarian shakes things up, recognizing Clare Varesio, former Cupertino community librarian, and (2) History Day Trip. Legal notices are (1) Bid Invitation for Preventative Maintenance Programs Project, (2) Renewal of Existing Storm Drain Fees for FY 2024-25, (3) Application for sign exception permit at 10490 S. De Anza Boulevard to be heard at the Planning Commission on May 28, (4) Municipal Code Amendment to chapter 19.48 to be heard at the Planning Commission on May 28, and (5) Adoption of Lawrence-Mitty Park Trail and project Final Conceptual Design Mitigated Negative Declaration.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor