People at a community meeting.
The Cupertino Quinlan Community Center was packed for Mayor Sheila Mohan State of the City speech. Photo by Annalise Freimarck.

Thank you, Deborah, for the introduction. Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the 2024 Cupertino State of the City. I am honored to be standing before you tonight, giving my first State of the City address, as your newly selected mayor representing this wonderful city.

Tonight is an evening of celebration and gratitude. 2023 brought its challenges, but it was also a year of opportunity, innovation and perseverance. Tonight is about being Stronger Together, because partnerships are good, partnerships make business sense and because success is best when it is shared. Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.

Although I am eager to jump right in, I would like to acknowledge and thank our partners first:

Starting with my colleagues on the City Council. Vice Mayor J.R. Fruen, Councilmember Liang Chao, Councilmember Kitty Moore and Councilmember Hung Wei.

I know how hard each of you works. I also know that your thoughtful decision making and the countless hours you invest in fulfilling your responsibilities are a big  reason for Cupertino being the remarkable City that it is.

Any other elected officials that are present today – please stand, so that I can  acknowledge you.

I would also like to acknowledge our city staff, led by City Manager Pamela Wu and the Executive Team – Chris Jensen, Matt Morley, Tina Kapoor, Rachelle Sander, Kristina Alfaro, Chad Mosley, Bill Mitchell and Ben Fu. To all our City employees  – your dedication and hard work to Cupertino is noticed and appreciated. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to ensuring that our services run seamlessly, our streets are maintained, our public spaces are activated, and that we are connecting with our community.  All of this was on display most recently during last week’s  storms – where damage to property and residents was minimal.

And, of course, our partners for today – The Cupertino Rotary Club and the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce. Thank you for being instrumental in supporting our community members and businesses through a variety of services and events. I’d also like to acknowledge many of the other community organizations in our City who we work with on so many different fronts.

Thank you to our local businesses who have generously sponsored today’s food: Pineapple Thai, Lazy Dog, and Wow Tea. As well as Waku Ikebana Society for the  beautiful arrangement you see here. Our talented Jazz musicians – the students from Homestead High School – thank you!

To everyone the city partners with: our school districts Cupertino Union School  District and Fremont Union High School District, De Anza College, the Library, our regional partners, businesses, and most importantly, our residents – thank you  for being a part of the City of Cupertino.

A community is more than just a gathering of individuals. It is a tapestry woven with the threads of unity, resilience, and a shared purpose. As a whole, this community  exemplifies the profound truth that we are indeed stronger together.

Everything that the city does is driven by our commitment to providing exceptional service and staying true to our mission of furthering education, innovation, and collaboration – these are the hallmarks of Cupertino. From strengthening our  relationships with our sister cities, to labor negotiations, to streamlining processes, to welcoming new businesses. We have had much success in 2023. Together, we  are stronger. Let’s take a moment to appreciate our wonderful city.

What an exciting year! And we have many outstanding programs, projects, and  events ahead of us. As we embrace this new year, we recognize that we are presented with opportunities to be creative.

A crucial part of driving innovation is transparency. Our city understands that information is power, and empowering our community members with the right information is critical. In this climate, where misinformation can so easily distort perspectives, we recognize our responsibility to be particularly vigilant.

Last year, we enhanced our Gridics CodeHUB – a user-friendly digital platform that makes it easier for everyone to visualize and interpret how zoning requirements  apply to specific properties throughout the city. We are soon launching a new website designed to enhance online connectivity, efficiency, and communication.

The redesign isn’t just about aesthetics; it is about creating a seamless interface connecting our community to the resources they need.

Another innovative project is the McClellan Ranch Flora and Fauna AR project. An app that isn’t just about seeing; it’s about experiencing and learning in a whole new way, which will greatly enhance our educational outreach and provide a fun, interactive way for users to engage with the natural world. And of course, we worked with many partners to design this app that we will be unveiling this spring.

These efforts are meant to promote a transparent environment where knowledge is readily accessible on the digital forefront, and to maximize and expand the investment we have made in these community resources through technology available to us today.

In our pursuit of innovative solutions, we recognize that addressing housing needs within Cupertino calls for creative measures. When it comes to housing, the city strives to create spaces that people can call home while balancing growth reasonably and responsibly. Staff is working diligently, and we are making great strides towards getting a State-certified Housing Element. And just last month, my colleagues and I unanimously passed a new ordinance to greatly expand the range of accessory dwelling units permissible throughout the city in order to facilitate this key form of naturally affordable housing.

Now, zero traffic fatalities – that’s not just the city’s goal, but a commitment to the safety of everyone on our roads. Last year, staff began drafting the Vision Zero Policy and Action Plan in collaboration with our community members. We  encourage everyone to get involved in this decision-making process and help provide insight.

As for the safety of students, significant strides have been made in traffic improvements around 14 Cupertino Union School district schools including signing and striping, ADA ramps, and studies for crossing guards and stop signs. These efforts underscore our commitment to supporting safe routes to school and creating an environment conducive to the well-being of our youth.

These projects are not merely items to check off on a to-do list but opportunities to create innovative solutions. Let’s embrace these opportunities and others this year, knowing that together, we can forge a more transparent, connected, and safe city.

Speaking of being connected, I am proud of everything the Silicon Valley Hopper program has achieved in the last year by connecting residents to easy and cost effective transportation.

Silicon Valley Hopper, the popular Via-Cupertino on-demand shuttle service, has pioneered micro-transit for Cupertino. These shuttles are not just a way to get from  Point A to Point B; they increase mobility and enhance connectivity for our community and neighbors. Its popularity has already paved the way for significant expansion, geographically and environmentally. Late last year, we partnered with the City of Santa Clara and expanded transit options for the South Bay community. By this Spring, SV Hopper will transition its entire fleet to an all-electric lineup. This transition aligns with our commitment to a greener future while promising a quieter, cleaner, and more sustainable transportation experience for all. If you have  yet to use SV Hopper, you’re missing out. Here’s how to get started…

Whether you’re heading to a Caltrain station, a doctor’s appointment, or a shopping  mall, SV Hopper is available to make your ride seamless. And perhaps this service will expand to other cities because of Cupertino’s vision – making others Stronger Together!

As we continue to enhance our partnerships with neighboring cities, there are exciting physical activities for the community to partake in along the picturesque Stevens Creek Trail. While you are jogging, skateboarding, or taking a nature walk, be on the lookout for new medallions recently added by the Friends of Stevens Creek Trail. The signage was developed in collaboration with trail partners to help unify this 20-mile trail across the region.

Through programs like SV Hopper and amenities like Stevens Creek Trail, we are working to create a regional connection that not only provides a variety of  transportation options, but also enhances quality of life spanning multiple  communities.

In 2023, we were proud to witness the opening of the Regnart Creek Trail, which provides a tremendous opportunity to travel via trail to events, schools, the library,  and shops – all without a car.

The journey of bringing Regnart Creek Trail to fruition took many years of  community dialogue and compromise. And we are ecstatic that it is now open for the community to experience.

As we celebrate our city’s efforts to strengthen connectivity for increased mobility, we are developing opportunities for our community to come together and enjoy shared recreational activities and events.

The Parks & Recreation department continues to make significant improvements to amenities while actively fostering a strong sense of community through its fun events, numerous recreation classes, and many parks.

Last year, we saw thousands of residents come together to celebrate and create lasting memories through a variety of community events. Let’s take a look back at some of those events…

Additionally, the city offers a wide range of fitness and cultural classes such as Yoga,  Zumba, Line Dance, Chinese Dance, Tai Chi, Hula and Bombay Jam. For the sports  enthusiasts, the city offers softball, pickleball, and golf classes. For the art enthusiasts, there are painting and drawing classes, with the opportunity to dive into  the intricate art of Chinese Brush Painting.

Public Works is a big partner for Park amenities. We secured funding for various enhancements such as benches, hydration stations, outdoor table tennis, shade  structures, trees, and pickleball striping. The installation of these amenities across 18 different sites has significantly improved the overall park experience for our residents.

We also completed construction on the city’s FIRST full-sized basketball court and  a community garden at Wilson Park. Whether shooting hoops or tending to a garden, these new amenities have brought recreation variety to the community.

Creekside Park also witnessed notable improvements in 2023, with the completion  of a Tot Lot providing a safe space for our younger community members. In  addition, we have finalized the design for the Creekside Park School Age  Playground.

Currently in the design phase, our team is working closely with the community to  create a park adjacent to Saratoga Creek that reflects the desires and needs of our  residents.

Looking ahead, we are excited to begin construction of an all-inclusive playground  at Jollyman Park, set to begin this Spring. This project aligns with our commitment  to inclusivity, ensuring that our parks are accessible and enjoyable for individuals of  all abilities.

And soon the Council will have an opportunity to adopt a plan for the future of  Memorial Park, ensuring this great resource remains the gem of the city for  generations to come.

Going back to Parks and Recreation, in recognition of our dedication to providing  recreational activities for all ages, the National Recreation and Park Association  awarded us the prestigious SHAPR 3.0 Grant. The best part is – Cupertino is the  only city in California to receive this honor so far. That deserves a round of  applause!

We are laying the groundwork and moving towards a greener and more sustainable  tomorrow. Let’s take a look at how we are doing that.

Aside from what you saw in the video, we have also taken proactive measures to encourage water conservation by waiving fees for large properties opting to replace turf grass with drought-tolerant landscaping.

Prioritizing low-emission alternatives, we have plans for major capital investments  in our fleet of vehicles and landscaping equipment and have streamlined our permit review process for electric vehicle charging stations.

As for renewable energy, we have purchased two mobile solar-powered EV charging  facilities, with delivery anticipated in April.  Thank you to Silicon Valley Clean Energy for providing funding for these charging stations.

Our commitment to sustainability has grabbed attention! The city’s Climate Action  Plan was recognized with an impressive A rating – a testament to our dedication to reducing our carbon footprint. Our Memorial Park Ponds Repurposing project won  the American Public Works Association Silicon Valley Project of the Year Award.

These accolades highlight our dedication to eco-friendly projects that make a  positive impact on our community’s future.

This past year, we have made substantial advancements on several key initiatives aimed at enhancing our city’s infrastructure and ensuring the safety and well-being  of our community.

First, I would like to highlight the completion of the Sidewalk Improvement Project along Orange Avenue and Byrne Street, stretching from McClellan Road to Stevens  Creek Boulevard. These enhancements not only beautify our neighborhoods but also  promote pedestrian safety and accessibility, fostering a sense of community  connection.

Moving on to our commitment to sustainable transportation, I am excited to see the  ongoing work of the McClellan Road Separated Bike Corridor. This project,  expected to be completed by Summer, involves crucial improvements that will  elevate the biking experience in our city.

In the realm of stormwater management, the Pumpkin Drive and Fiesta Storm Drain  project Phase 1 has been successfully completed. This endeavor, addresses storm  drainage improvements crucial for the safety and resilience of our community.

As we look ahead to the future, the city’s Transportation Division has been awarded  a Highway Safety Improvement Program Grant totaling over $3 million dollars. This  grant will be instrumental in implementing safety improvements along 15 roadway  corridors within Cupertino, further solidifying our dedication to creating a secure  and efficient transportation network.

This past year, we made headway on many large-scale developments.

Our largest single-housing project in the history of Cupertino – The Rise (formerly  known as Vallco) – is set to become the new social heart of Silicon Valley. It is now  better aligned to the current market conditions, and will add retail, housing, office, public park, and open spaces.

Another significant project is Westport Cupertino. This ambitious project is set to  enhance our mixed-use landscape, providing a vibrant mix of living spaces and  commercial opportunities. Westport Cupertino includes 259 housing units, ranging  from rowhouses to townhomes to senior affordable units. Additionally, it includes  35 memory care rooms, addressing the needs of our senior community, and 20,000  square feet of commercial space.

The Canyon Crossing project, a mixed-use development, promises to add a unique  charm to its surroundings. This project features five single-family homes, eight  townhomes, and five apartments – strategically placed over a 4,536-square-foot  commercial building.

Another one is Alan Row – a nine-unit townhome development on Stevens Creek  Boulevard that was approved in 2022. Construction of the site is progressing, and  occupancy is expected this summer.

While we began construction on many projects, the City Council also approved new  developments. We look forward to the redevelopment of Marina Plaza with the  construction of three mixed-use buildings and 206 condominium units. We will also  be seeing two new full-service hotels, De Anza Hotel and Cupertino Village  Boutique Hotel, as well as the 283,000-square-foot mixed office and commercial  development on Vallco Parkway.

The City of Cupertino has long prioritized business retention and revitalization,  recognizing the vital role local businesses play in shaping our economic landscape.  The diverse businesses that have chosen our city as their home speak to the  collaborative efforts of the city, the Chamber of Commerce, and the community.  Let’s give a round of applause to all the new businesses who chose Cupertino as  their home in 2023.

In the spirit of “stronger together,” I am eager to share that we are launching the  Business Connect platform this year. This platform will serve as a space for the  exchange of ideas, resources, and opportunities – ensuring that our local businesses  have the tools they need to continue to thrive. Through strategic partnerships, we  aim to create a supportive network that bolsters collaboration, innovation, and  growth.

Our partners in education are making a significant impact in our community as well.

First and foremost, let’s celebrate the success of Cupertino’s great public schools and  De Anza College. The dedication of our educators and the hard work of our students  have continued to elevate the standards of education, and to foster a nurturing  environment for growth and learning. Our schools continue to be nationally  recognized for their excellence in education. De Anza college boasts exceptional  diversity in enrollment and one of the highest transfer rates of all community  colleges.

The City of Cupertino strives to create educational opportunities for students as well  through strong partnerships with a variety of organizations. Last year, our Teen  Commission received its highest number of applications to join. This program has  become a great platform for our youth to voice their opinions and shape the future  within local government. Staff was also busy hosting a successful cybersecurity

public education event and Hack Cupertino – two different events that equip youth  with knowledge and skills to navigate the cyber landscape.

And last but certainly not least, it’s never too late to acquire new skills or deepen  one’s understanding of the world. Recognizing the importance of lifelong learning,  we offer numerous wellness resources, senior assistance programs, and recreational  classes, including our newest grant-funded program, “Walking with Ease.”

We remain dedicated to cultivating a high level of engagement and belonging,  ensuring that every Cupertino community member feels included.

The importance of getting involved within the community cannot be overstated.  When we come together, we bring forth different perspectives that create a vibrant,  inclusive community where voices are heard, and ideas are valued.

Firstly, I want to remind each one of you to subscribe to GovDelivery – city’s e notification method – for timely and crucial announcements. This platform serves as a vital link, keeping us informed about the latest news, projects, and programs that  shape our community. You can subscribe to all e-notifications or pick only the ones  that are of interest to you.

At your fingertips is also Cupertino 311. The free app that provides residents with  improved access to issue reporting and other helpful city information. Residents can quickly report issues such as graffiti, potholes, and illegal dumping to the city to  address. There is a QR Code on the screen you can scan now to learn more, or  download the app.

If you aren’t able to capture it from the screen behind me, don’t worry, we have  included two QR codes on the program: One for the 311 app, and the other to sign  up for notifications.

Every quarter, we publish the beloved Scene newsletter. And specifically for our senior community, the Senior Scene newsletter, which now has a new home within the Recreation Brochure. These newsletters are filled with upcoming classes, social  events, workshops, and much more to ensure that our community and our seniors remain well connected and engaged.

As we look ahead, our commitment to inclusivity and bringing the community together remains steadfast. Our cultural events and festivals, including celebrations like Bike Fest, Earth Day, Summer concerts, Diwali, Holi, cherry blossom festival,  and fall festivities, are a testament to our rich diversity.

By participating in events and classes and staying informed on the latest community  news and announcements, we honor the diverse tapestry of traditions that enrich our collective strength and unity.

The state of our finances is difficult to summarize in a single word – it’s challenging, but we like to think that challenges provide space for innovation and opportunity.

Last year, the City Council adopted the 2023-2024 budget for approximately $121.8 million dollars. And this year we will continue to find creative ways to balance our  budget.

We have engaged in open dialogue, hosted budget community meetings, and  provided outreach opportunities at various events to ensure that the community is  informed and involved in the decision-making process.

To ensure the city has a balanced budget, we are looking at cutting costs and  increasing revenues. Through the elimination of vacant positions and strategic use of reserves, we have already achieved substantial savings.

Yet, creating a balanced budget requires more than just fiscal responsibility — it  requires us as a community, to work together, forge compromises and find strength in partnerships.

Recent economic conditions are steering our focus toward fundamentals. It’s a temporary  revisit to our humble beginnings, where practicality triumphed over extravagance. Today, Cupertino’s resilience is defined by its commitment to providing those essential services – a reminder that sometimes simplicity is the key to sustainability. We may not be able to provide everything that the community demands, but rest assured we will do everything in our power to minimize adverse  impact on the community.

We recognize that this journey is ongoing. And in the spirit of togetherness, we must face any current or future challenges head-on alongside our many wonderful  partners. We have always been able to count on your understanding, support, and  dedication to the city’s well-being, and we know none of those changes in the  future.

Our community’s well-being also relies on our collective efforts to stay informed, engaged, and ready to face any challenge that may come our way.

I want to take a moment to highlight the commendable work of our Office of  Emergency Management.

Through initiatives and events, including the Citizen Corps, Block Leader Program, Public Safety Forum, and National Night Out, the team conduct extensive outreach to ensure that crucial public safety information reaches everyone. These programs empower the community to be active participants in enhancing our resilience and  preparedness.

Our city departments collaborate to prepare in advance of emergencies – that is our  strategy and our commitment to reduce the impact of disasters. We ensure preemptive work by proactively identifying and addressing potential hazards, thus building a more resilient and secure environment for everyone.

Keeping the safety and security of our community in mind, it is now time for me to introduce our first responders and our partner in public safety, who strive to keep  our city safe every day. Please join me in welcoming Sheriff Robert “Bob” Jonsen  from Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.

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