Cupertino Matters

Spring may be officially here, but the weather is still unpredictable, changing from gorgeous sunshine for the Cherry Blossom Festival to predictions of flooding this past weekend.

There is significant  progress in Cupertino with regard to housing beyond the state’s recent “thumbs up” letter on the city’s Housing Element draft. Sand Hill Properties provided the following update on work at Vallco, now named The Rise, following on the recent approval of modifications to its previously-approved project under SB 35:

“Our work is progressing on schedule, with site work to prepare for installation of utilities and infrastructure slated to resume in the May/June timeframe. This phase will see increased collaboration with utility agencies such as Cal Water and PG&E as we work to coordinate and upgrade existing infrastructure to serve the future needs of the project, and we anticipate this work will take an estimated three months. Following site preparation, we will be in position to begin the installation of these permanent utilities and infrastructure, which will require at least eighteen months of construction and will pave the way for the construction of individual buildings.”

There was a ribbon cutting on May 6 for the Westport Senior Apartments located on the former Oaks / Westport site on Stevens Creek. The building has 48 units of subsidized affordable housing. Residents were chosen by lottery and are expected to move in by the end of May. This is an excellent location close to the Senior Center, Memorial Park, the VTA 23 and 523 bus lines, and De Anza College. There are 88 unit townhomes under development by Taylor Morrison immediately adjacent.

Several developers have filed SB 330 preliminary housing development applications in order to lock in the current development standards. These may or may not move forward: (1) Pizza Hut, Staples and Fontana’s site on Stevens Creek, (2) 20883 Stevens Creek Blvd which has several office buildings as well as Panera Bread, (3) 10065 Estates Drive, across from Vallco, and (4) 20739 Scofield Drive in the neighborhood near Faria Elementary. These are in addition to previously approved  projects: (1) Marina Plaza (replacing the food market) which may be modified to include more homes, (2) Canyon Crossings on Foothill Boulevard, which has completed demolition, but not started construction, (3) 1655 S. De Anza Boulevard (replacing the Coach House) which has not started demolition, and (4) 22690 Stevens Creek Blvd., the former Bateh Bros. site, which is nearing completion.

In school news, the Fremont Union HIgh School District (FUHSD) Board board made the final decision on the trustee area map at its April 24, 2024 Map Hearing. This was a contentious meeting as reported in the Mercury News: Fremont Union School District approves district zoning map for new trustee election system. The system will take effect during the district’s November election. The meeting was disrupted by a parent, then resumed after he was removed by the sheriff’s deputies, as noted in the San Jose Spotlight: Tempers flare over Silicon Valley school district map. After discussion and an initial ranking of 3 votes for map 5, and 2 votes for map 6, the final vote was unanimous to adopt revised Map 5. To comply with legal requirements, each district has an approximate population of 48,000 residents.

In addition to determining boundaries for the newly formed trustee areas, the board also agreed on the sequencing of district elections. Three board members (Rosa Kim, Naomi Nakano-Matsumoto, and Stanley Kou) won’t be up for election until 2026, so remain at-large. De facto, Stanley Kou resides in Trustee Area 1, Rosa Kim resides in Trustee Area 3, and Naomi Nakano-Matsumoto resides in Trustee Area 4. For the 2024 election, two trustees (Rod Sinks and Jeff Moe) would have been up for election even if there were no changes. With the newly formed districts, based on residence, Jeff Moe is eligible to run for election in Trustee Area 5. Trustee Area 2 in north Sunnyvale is an open seat for the 2024 election.

UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL – Tues, May 7, 2024, 6:45 p.m., Regular Meeting; 6:00 Closed Session

Agenda and Presentations

The Closed Session is Conference with legal counsel – existing litigation pursuant to Government Code § 54956.9 (City of Cupertino v. Jennifer Chang, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 21CV380291). This item involves recovery of money due to an embezzlement uncovered by city employees in 2018.

Ceremonial Items are (1) Recognition of May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and (2) Recognition of May as Affordable Housing Month. The Consent Calendar contains five 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. 9: Fiscal Year 2024-25 Fee Schedule (continued from April 16, 2024). This item remains in preparation and will be postponed to the next meeting..

Item No. 10: 2024 Legislative Update. This overview addresses pending legislation in Sacramento. Of the 2,295 bills introduced in this session, the staff and city’s lobbyist recommend taking positions only on those bills directly impacting Cupertino, and relying on the League of California Cities for most lobbying efforts. The staff recommends preparing and sending letters taking positions on three bills: (1) Bay Area Affordable Housing Measure (BAHFA) – Affordable Housing, (2) Assembly Bill (AB) 1779 (Irwin) – Public Safety, and (3) Senate Bill (SB) 1143 (Allen) – Environmental – Waste Management. The major issue facing the state legislature is the significant budget deficit. Impact on city finances is unknown. From the report, “The highly respected non‐partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) previously projected a $58 billion deficit based on the Governor’s revenue projections. However, the Governor’s January budget proposal projected a $38 billion deficit. In early February, the LAO released an update that predicts that by the time the Governor releases his May Revision to the budget, the state’s deficit is projected to be $15 billion higher, ballooning to $73 billion.”

Item No. 11: Council Reports (now submitted in written form) are provided by all council members. Councilmember Chao’s reports continue to be off-topic and unrelated to her role as a member of the City Council.

RECAP – Planning Commission – Mon., April 29, 2024, 6:45 p.m., Special Meeting

YouTube:  2 hr. 41 min.

Agenda and Presentations

The sole agenda was a Public Hearing with subject: 6th Cycle Housing Element and Associated General Plan Amendments. The staff presentation was a shortened version of the city council presentation, explaining the rationale for the major changes from the first iteration of the Housing Element which provoked 16-pages of comments for revisions. Commissioner Steven Scharf, who played a major role in shaping that non-compliant version, complained about lack of commission input in subsequent revisions, ignoring the major issue of modifications to obtain HCD approval. Guidance from HCD was that any changes to the document–unless they were intended to be more ambitious–would invalidate their approval.

In addition, staff noted that zoning changes to facilitate the construction of 4,588 new homes through 2031 will be required in order to obtain full legal compliance. Without these, the city is ineligible for many grant funding programs, sits in jeopardy of court process and hefty fines, and remains exposed to development applications under the “builder’s remedy” which allow developers to ignore development standards for qualifying housing development applications. The major discussion focused on allowing corner lots to develop under the city’s duplex development standards. This program would expand on existing standards already allowing three accessory dwelling units with any single-family home and a statewide law (SB9) that would allow for a similar level of density.

There was an obvious split on the commission. Chair Fung, Vice-Chair Lindskog, and Commissioner Mistry, who were not involved in the initial site inventory, asked clarifying questions, generally expressing approval of the plan. Commissioners Scharf and Madhdhipatla raised objections, with Commissioner Scharf declaring he would not not support a “flawed” plan, despite the dramatic consequences to the city continuing to have an unapproved plan. The vote to recommend council adoption of the Housing Element and associated General Plan amendments was approved 3-2 with Scharf and Madhdhipatla voting nay.

CUPERTINO COURIER: May 3, 2024

The front page photo and article on page 3 is entitled Open to finding inspiration: Bay Area artists provide behind-the-scenes access into creative process for the 38th annual open studios tour. Page 4 is an article entitled Home is where the honeybees are: Keeper provides the buzz about Cupertino beekeeper, Jack Carter. Community Briefs on page 4 are (1) Block leaders wanted, (2) Symphonic band concert on May 19, and  (3) Agriculture Walk. Page 8 is a previously published Mercury News article entitled Zoning map OK’s for trustee elections for Fremont Union High Schools District (FUHSD). The sole legal notice is a Bid Invitation for Preventative Maintenance Programs Project.

CUPERTINO COURIER: April 26, 2024

The front page photo and community brief on page 5 is entitled Helping fight hunger:  Cupertino-based nonprofit’s client base increased this past fiscal year, highlighting West Valley Community Services. Community Briefs on page 5 are (1) Housing Element receives approval, and (2) Community services in Cupertino. Page 7 is a previously published Mercury News article entitled Budget cuts revisited: Council votes to continue funding city operations initially removed. Legal notices are (1) Notice of Public Hearing Fiscal Year 2024-25 Fee Schedule to be heard at city council on May 7, 2024, (2) Second Reading of an ordinance to regulate tobacco products, (3) Second Reading for DeAnza Hotel extension of development agreement, and (4) Second Reading for Cupertino Village Hotel extension of development agreement.

Warm regards,
Jean Bedord
Cupertino Matters
Publisher and Editor