Cupertino Matters

I hope readers had an enjoyable and relaxing Memorial Day weekend!

Affordable teacher housing has been a major concern for local school districts. Earlier this year, Santa Clara County agreed to swap the 1.5 acre county-owned parcel on De Anza Boulevard (the former site of the now-closed Outback Steakhouse) for a larger Apple-owned 5-acre property on Wolfe Road nestled between Vallco and I-280. The site has historically been called the “Simian property” and in days past served as overflow parking for Vallco retailers. The project’s goal is to develop affordable and middle-income rental housing opportunities with an emphasis on providing homes for West Valley school district and De Anza Community College employees.

Eden Housing and the Architects FORA/Engage FORA team were selected to develop the site. The organizations will host a community-wide listening workshop on Monday, June 3, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.at Collins Elementary School, in the Guided Learning Center, at 10300 N Blaney Avenue, Cupertino. It’s a drop-in informal format to collect community input.

Though visible signs of progress at the Vallco site are limited, city approval of the SB 35 modification and the Housing Element are noted in a national commercial real estate publication in an article entitled: How a Silicon Valley Ghost Mall Becomes a Vibrant Mixed-Use Community.

UPCOMING – Planning Commission- Tues., May 28, 2024, 6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting

Agenda and Presentations

Item No. 2: Lawrence-Mitty Park and Trail project Final Conceptual Design General Plan Consistency and Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration. Acquiring the land for this park on the east side of Cupertino adjacent to Lawrence Expressway was complex and took years to achieve. After extensive community input, a Final Conceptual Plan has taken shape. The next step is approval of this Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND) prepared for the proposed Conceptual Design of the Park, in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The findings made at this hearing regard consistency with the General Plan, which will be forwarded to the Parks and Recreation Commission as per the Municipal Code, and the recommendation regarding the adoption of the IS/MND will be forwarded to the City Council for its consideration during the project’s final approval. Approval of, or a recommendation on, the Final Conceptual Design itself is not within the Planning Commission’s purview.

Item No. 3: Consider Municipal Code Amendments to Chapter 19.48 (Fences), Chapter 19.08 (Definitions). This item is part of a larger, ongoing project to clean up the Municipal Code. Local ordinances evolve, as do state and federal laws, as well as industry practices. As a result, the city’s current fence code is not consistent with the Building Code. The intent here is to establish standards, streamline permitting processes, and reduce the number of Fence Exception reviews. Notably, seven foot fences would be allowed without neighbor approval in areas where six foot fences are allowed. Seven to eight foot fences would still require abutting property owner approval.

Item No. 4: Sign Exception Permit to consider a ground sign with LED lighting and three wall signs exceeding 200 square feet in an area where only one is allowed at an existing service station. (Application No(s): EXC-2023-010; Applicant(s): Steve Locke; Location: 10490 S De Anza Boulevard; APN: 369 39 042)  Redevelopment of this 76 gas station at the corner of De Anza Boulevard and Pacifica Drive was approved in 2018, and is finally nearing completion. The current Municipal Code sign regulations are largely designed to meet the needs of general commercial businesses, but not the specific needs of particular classes of merchants, such as gas stations. The applicant is requesting a Sign Exception Permit consistent with those granted to other gas stations in the city.

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

YouTube: 3 hr. 29 min.  (Adjourned at 10:21 p.m.)

Agenda and Presentations

The report from the Closed Session is that the city has reached a settlement that would fully recover funds ($800,000 plus interest) embezzled from the city in the early 2010s. This litigation (City of Cupertino v. Jennifer Chang, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 21CV380291) follows an earlier criminal action brought by the District Attorney and which resulted in a partial restitution of the pilfered money. The City Attorney complemented the Administrative Services staff and Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, LLP–the city’s outside counsel–in reaching this successful outcome.

Consent Item No. 7, Fiscal Year (FY) 2024/2025 projects proposed to receive funding from the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Account (RMRA), created by Senate Bill (SB) 1, was pulled by Councilmembers Chao and Moore to answer their questions.  Public comment strongly supported approval. Council ultimately approved the staff recommendation unanimously.

Item No. 10: City Manager’s Third Quarter Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2023-24. There was little discussion on this report measuring progress of the expenditures and revenue for the current fiscal year, which had only minor adjustments.

Item No. 11: Initial Study Session on Fiscal Year (FY) 2024-25 Proposed Operating and Capital Improvement Program Budgets. Steve Toler of Baker Tilley, an outside consultant, presented the Financial Forecast Review. A key assumption in the forecast is that there will be a recession every seven years, instead of every four. Revenue growth is projected to increase 2.9% for sales tax, 3.0% for property tax and 2.1% for TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax). There was discussion of community and festival funding. Mayor Mohan reminded council that the objective is a balanced budget for the next fiscal year, which will be adjusted as needed during the year. Councilmember Chao made a motion to remove the funding for three City Work Program items from the budget. Seconded by Councilmember Moore, the motion failed 2-3 with Mohan, Fruen and Wei voting nay. The original motion to approve the staff recommendation passed 4-0-1 with Chao ABSTAINING. This was a study session on the full budget as proposed so the final budget will come back on June 4 to council for approval. Each of the constituent parts of the budget were previously considered on their own so that the full budget would represent significant consideration from council and the public. Indeed, public comments were sparse and came exclusively from individuals who commonly comment at city council meetings.

CUPERTINO COURIER: May 24, 2024

The front page photo and community brief on page 4 is entitled Council adopts Housing Element: State law calls for 4,588 new units to be built  by 2031. Community Briefs on page 4 include (1) Neighborhood preparedness, and (2) Teen commissioners sought.  Page 5 is a previously published Mercury News article entitled Shakespeare in the Park gets another summer run. Legal notices are (1) Renewal of Existing Storm Drain Fees for FY 2024-25, and (2) Public Hearing for Final Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024-25.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor