Mayor Darcy Paul delivered Cupertino’s annual State of the City address Wednesday night, highlighting recent successes and outlining priorities for the coming year.
The Mayor thanked outgoing Mayor Steven Scharf and Councilmember Rod Sinks, and welcomed new Councilmembers Kitty Moore and Hung Wei. He thanked continuing Vice Mayor Liang Chao and Councilmember Jon Willey, and acknowledged City Manager Deb Feng for ‘tireless and consistent efforts’ in her first year in the role while coordinating the city’s response to the Coronavirus. Paul recognized staff for exemplary service in their respective roles throughout his remarks, and themed 2021 a year of gratitude and opportunity, encouraging the community to keep pulling together.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to help others, and as we meet these challenges, we are more grateful for the future opportunities we have to make things better for everyone, ourselves included, when we put forward our resources honestly and with compassion,” he said.
The address highlighted several specific areas of City action over the past year:
Mayor Paul cited the city’s proactive approach to COVID-19, as among the first in the County to enact a citywide mask order, and thanked the community for their contributions relating to the procurement and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE). He expressed pride in the city’s volunteer and not for profit community for their contributions, and lauded the emergency preparedness of the city’s information technology team in ensuring continuity amidst the transition to remote operations.
Mayor Paul reviewed the city’s work with Abode Services in supporting the homeless encampment on Wolfe Rd. and I-280, noting the services offered, including temporary shelters and the establishment of new shelters; motel placement for high risk individuals; resources for showers; employment assistance; substance abuse treatment and mental health support; and housing assistance programs. On November 19, 2020, the City allocated $200,000 in funding to support a pathway to housing for those experiencing homelessness. The City also established an alternate temporary outdoor site including portable restrooms, handwashing stations and debris bins. “The County of Santa Clara and Abode Services will continue to coordinate outreach and engagement services prioritizing a pathway to housing for each remaining individual,” he said.
Small business relief
Cupertino successfully launched a small business emergency relief grant program using $229,000 of Cares Act funding for eligible businesses of 25 or fewer employees that include low-moderate income individuals. The City provided grants of $5,000 to 37 small businesses to assist with their recovery.
The City has also provided 50,000 masks to businesses, temporarily waived permit fees for temporary signage and streamlined outdoor business operation permits. The City launched two webpages, Cupertino.org/covid19businessinfo for business resources and Cupertino.org/openforbusiness for community support of local business.
Recreation and social services
Mayor Paul reviewed the success of the City’s virtual recreation page at Cupertino.org/virtualrecreation to allow community members to stay active and engaged while at home. The Senior Center initiated meal delivery for eligible seniors and wellness calls from staff to senior center members. The City also provided emergency programs including cooling centers during the heat wave, and evacuation centers during the wildfires. Additionally, Cupertino Cares was established to help foster positive and healthy community connections, with fun activities posted on social media each week and special giveaways such as the Halloween buckets.
Paul said the City’s financial approach is founded upon a ‘lesson learned,” and reviewed additional financial controls including internal audits implemented in the years following the 17-year, $800,000 embezzlement scheme uncovered during Paul’s previous term as Mayor in 2018. “We are doing well with regard to our internal checks and safety mechanisms financially,” he said. While the fraud case is ongoing, and a trial setting is anticipated, Paul indicated a settlement could be accepted beforehand. “The City expects a positive conclusion and the ultimate return of embezzled funds,” he said. More information is available at cupertino.org/fraud.
Accounting firm Moss Adams, contracted by the City to conduct a full analysis of the city’s finances, has identified ‘areas of higher risk’ in its comprehensive risk assessment, as well as opportunities for operational efficiency and enhancements. The City’s Audit Committee will be providing a recommendation to City Council on an internal audit work program before the end of the fiscal year.
The city’s financial data is available online at Cupertino.org/finance.
Housing and Construction
Mayor Paul reviewed last August’s approval of The Oaks redevelopment, now known as Westport Cupertino, slated to provide 267 age-restricted housing units, including 88 townhome and row home units, higher-density units and 44 affordable units across the street from the city’s Senior Center. The property also facilitates a pedestrian and bicycle easement on the western edge of the project site.
Paul also highlighted the city’s library expansion underway, which will add two floors of needed space, in cooperation with the Library Foundation.
Mayor Paul noted the emphasis on accessibility and equity in terms of creating other amenity space in the city. He reported the purchase of seven acres of space bordering Lawrence Expressway for stewardship into parkland related activities under the city of Cupertino. The precise programming will be forthcoming, and will include outreach to the community.
Racial equity and social awareness
In a discussion around racial equity and increasing social awareness, Mayor Paul reported the City will reexamine the city seal, also known as the city logo – currently featuring a helmet worn by Spanish conquistadores – and explore the consideration of a symbol more representative of contemporary community values.
“My hope is that we can have honest and effective conversations about our perspectives without posturing and with compassion,” he said. “In many ways we are at the crossroads now, and we need to keep pulling together as we have done in many ways before.
“The state of Cupertino is one founded upon and continued with gratitude. We are grateful for our residents, staff and stakeholders, and we see the opportunities from that foundation when we stay consistent with principles that we cherish and that we seek to preserve.”
The full 34-minute address can be viewed here via YouTube.