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The Latest Updates on Vallco – September 2023

Five years have passed since Cupertino employees approved the 2018 Vallco Town Center SB 35 project (Vallco SB 35 project, located on Stevens Creek Blvd and N. Wolfe Rd) under ministerial approval provisions of the 2017 SB 35 bill. The last project updates published on the City of Cupertino’s website and on the property owner’s “The Rise” website are dated May 2023. Empty Vallco Site, as of September 2023 Background Several areas of Vallco land were found to be contaminated by toxic waste. In April 2021, the supervision of the soil contamination cleanup was transferred to Santa Clara County’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety (DEH). After significant testing and reporting, a site cleanup plan was approved in December 2022.  Cleanup efforts began around May/June 2023 with the hauling away of some contaminated soil, but since then activity at the site appears to have stalled. In 2018, Kitty Moore unearthed the contamination at Vallco via her thorough analysis of EIR and Geo

New Mirage Glass Sculpture at Apple Park Uses Sand from 70 Deserts Across the World

At the busy headquarters of one the world’s most iconic companies, a new oasis beckons to contemplate the diversity of our planet. Mirage is a new glass sculpture commissioned by Apple and created by artist Katie Paterson and architectural studio Zeller & Moye. It is located adjacent to the Apple Visitor Center in Cupertino.  Paterson and architectural studio Zeller & Moye partnered with UNESCO’s International Geoscience and Geoparks programme, sand experts from around the world, and local glass artisans to create the artwork. Mirage is free to the public, and is accessible 24 hours a day. At night, the pillars are lit with a gentle glow. Parking is available at the Apple Visitor Center parking lot. Learn more at . Here are some photos:  

2023-2031 Cupertino Housing Element Update

On July 25, 2023, the Cupertino City Council received an update on the 6th Cycle Housing Element, 2023-2031. The Housing Element (HE) is one of 8 required elements of every California city or town's General Plan. Whereas, the General Plan is a kind of long-term roadmap for all kinds of development in a jurisdiction, the Housing Element is  the roadmap strictly for housing development, and it is revised and updated multiple times within a single General Plan cycle. Possible Revisions to the Submitted Housing Element that Might Incline HCD to Approve It The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) reviews the HE for compliance with current State laws and conducts its own analysis as to whether each jurisdiction has identified sufficient suitable new housing locations. As Cupertino learned from HCD's comments to the HE Cupertino submitted in February 2023, certain revisions to the draft HE submission may increase the likelihood that HCD would view the HE fa

Cupertino Council Majority Moves to Reduce Transparency into Lobbyist Activity

At the July 6, 2023 City Council meeting, three Councilmembers (Wei, Fruen, and Mohan) approved first round changes weakening Cupertino's lobbyist registration ordinance. The changes include a provision that allows lobbyists who are paid less than $5,000/quarter to avoid publicly disclosing their activity. Councilmembers Moore and Chao opposed the changes. Cupertino’s Lobbyist Ordinance: A Brief History In February 2021, the Cupertino Council enacted an ordinance that requires lobbyists to publicly disclose their activities. The term "lobbyist" included individuals, media, businesses, and select organizations that attempt to influence the government in exchange for paid compensation. This ordinance provides transparency to Cupertino residents around lobbying activity, and helps ensure that our city's democratic processes are not unduly influenced by conflicts of interest.  In July 2022, the League of Women Voters Cupertino Sunnyvale (LWVCS) filed a lawsuit challengin

Memorial Park Updates: Renovation, Timeline, and What to Expect Next

After a year of research and community outreach, plans for a revitalized Memorial Park are moving closer to completion. The new design will provide recreational opportunities for all ages and abilities, improve upon dated facilities, and increase connectivity with more bikeways and walkways. What’s Changing Many of the park’s new features will occupy space that is currently not in use. The plan would turn many areas of empty lawn or plants into a multi-age playground and nature play area, additional picnic areas, upgraded bathrooms, a passive garden walk, and a bocce court. It would also include more bike paths and walkways throughout the park. What’s Staying the Same Some of the park’s most prominent features will remain unchanged. These include the Veteran’s Memorial, tennis courts, main event lawn, amphitheater and stage (with upgrades), gazebo picnic area, and Quinlan Community Center & Senior Center. Source: Memorial Park Preferred Draft Concept, Presented 6/21/23 Next Steps I

Simple Explanation of RHNA and Housing Mandates

By Amy Kalish Marin Post & Citizen Marin WHAT IS RHNA? RHNA is the Regional Housing Needs Assessment — the number of housing units (a place for at least one person to live) assigned to an area by the state. This happens in eight-year housing cycles, and the allocation numbers are determined by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). WHERE DOES IT COME FROM? The total number is supposed to represent California’s current and projected housing needs over the next eight years. This is the 6th RHNA cycle, covering 2023-2031. The HCD says California is short 2.5 million housing units. (Walked back from Governor Newsom’s unsubstantiated campaign assertion of 3.5 million). The numbers have been questioned.  Note from Cupertino Facts: In the 6th Cycle Housing Element update (2023-2031), Cupertino must plan for 4,588 new housing units. DID RHNA FAIL AN AUDIT? Yes. The 2.5-million-unit req

Santa Clara District Attorney Finds No Evidence of Council Member Interference with Staffing Decisions

The Santa Clara Office of the District Attorney has found no evidence for a referral accusing current and former Cupertino City Council Members of interfering with staff hiring and firing decisions.  Council Members Kitty Moore and Liang Chao prepare for council meetings by reading the materials and asking questions. They have been accused by the new Council majority of exercising improper conduct in their interactions with current and previous Cupertino City Managers. The DA’s letter confirms that the accusations of criminal conduct are baseless, and it similarly affirms that the insinuations against former Mayor Darcy Paul have “no evidence, documentary or otherwise” to support them. The District Attorney refutes Hung Wei’s accusations against her fellow Council Members Kitty Moore and Liang Chao, sent via email to the public on May 21st, 2023. “There is no evidence, documentary or otherwise, that any former or current Council Member attempted to influence any of the City Managers in