An exterior of an office building with the title Cupertino City Hall written on the front, behind green bushes.
Cupertino City Hall is located at 10300 Torre Ave. Photo by Annalise Freimarck.

An easy way to keep up with your local community is to stay up to date with your city’s public meetings.

In a 2022 reader survey, San José Spotlight readers told us they wanted to be more civically engaged and involved in local policymaking. Last year, we compiled guides on how to engage with public meetings in San Jose, Milpitas and Sunnyvale. As we expand further throughout Santa Clara County, we wanted to compile a guide for Cupertino residents interested in participating in public meetings.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to view and engage with Cupertino City Council meetings.

Watching council meetings

The Cupertino City Council meets twice a month, on the first and third Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. You can find the city council meeting and other commission meeting agendas on the city’s legislative calendar.

Cupertino must comply with the Brown Act, which governs how public meetings are run and aims to make them more accessible and transparent. The city is required to post its agenda at least three days before every meeting. A draft of the council agenda is typically made public sometime the week before the meeting and is continuously updated until the meeting occurs.

Here are ways you can tune into the meeting:

  • In-person: You can attend at Cupertino City Hall, located at 10300 Torre Ave., and sit in the public audience area.
  • Zoom: You can find register in advance on the meeting’s agenda to have a Zoom link emailed to you.
  • Youtube and web streaming: The meeting is livestreamed on the city’s Youtube channel and a live webcast.
  • Legistar: You can watch meeting broadcasts live or find audio and video recordings of past meetings on the city’s Legistar, which also houses all public meeting agendas.
  • Television: Council meetings are broadcast and replayed on AT&T channel 99 and Comcast channel 26.
  • Phone: Dial 669-900-6833 (toll-free) during the meeting. Be sure to enter the webinar ID and password found on the meeting’s agenda.

If you require accommodations to engage in a council meeting, such as the need for a translator or visual or audio accommodations, contact Cupertino’s city clerk office at 408-777-3223 at least 48 hours before a meeting.

Participating in council meetings

Cupertino City Council meetings have a public comment period called oral communications for people to voice their concerns about items not on the meeting’s agenda. Topics on the agenda are open for public comment when the items come up during the meeting. Members of the public get a maximum of three minutes to speak.

Remember: Public comment during oral communications is only for items not on the council’s agenda that day. If you have a comment for an item on the agenda, save it until the item is heard and the mayor asks for comments on that item.

You can submit comments in the following ways:

  • In-person: You can fill out a blue speaker card at the beginning of the meeting and hand it to the city clerk.
  • In writing: You can submit written comments to the council via email at [email protected]. Written comments must be received by 4 p.m. on the day of the meeting to be included in the agenda. Written comments are attached to the appropriate council meeting and item under Written Communications, but are not read at the meeting.
  • While using Zoom: Use the Raise Hand feature during oral communication or public comment on an item.
  • While on the phone: Press *9 to raise your hand and request to speak for oral communications or public comment on an item. Once your name is called by the clerk, press *6 to unmute yourself. Unregistered participants are called on by the last four digits of their phone number.

Navigating council meetings

Cupertino’s city council meetings follow a particular order governed in part by state law, city charter, convention and “Rosenberg’s Rules of Order.”

Regular meetings start as close to 6:45 p.m. as possible, depending on closed sessions held before the meeting. Closed session is held when the council discusses topics that aren’t open to the public, such as contract negotiations or litigation. Closed sessions are held at 6 p.m.

The meeting opens with a call to order, the Pledge of Allegiance and roll call. After roll call, there is a closed session report, followed by ceremonial items.

The council then addresses postponements and orders of the day, where councilmembers may defer an item, so pay attention if you are listening for a particular topic. Oral communications follow postponements and orders of the day.

Next comes the “consent calendar,” or “consent” for short. This is a list of usually non-controversial items that are approved with a single vote of the council. Any councilmember or resident can comment on any consent item. Councilmembers can pull items off the consent calendar for a broader discussion. The public is otherwise invited to speak about all consent calendar items when the mayor invites public comment.

Any items after the consent calendar are items of broad public interest. Some fall under a general “public hearing” category, while others are organized into the action calendar, which involves council votes, and informational items, in which the council receives reports. Often, each item opens with a presentation from city officials who researched the specific item.

Once the presentation is complete, the mayor sometimes calls for questions from the council and then opens the floor to public comment, where residents can voice their concerns about the planned item. These items can be proposed ordinances, which change city law, or resolutions stating a proposed council policy. Often agendas include reports from staff that don’t require an action, but the council will vote anyway to accept the report.

After the mayor closes comments from the public, councilmembers discuss the item. They can also ask questions of city staff from various city departments, the city attorney for clarification or other stakeholders in the process. As councilmembers discuss the item, one can call for a “motion” which outlines what action the council will approve. The motion requires a “second” to show there’s support for the idea.

Items usually require a simple majority of three votes to pass.

Meet your councilmembers

The Cupertino City Council consists of five members, all elected by voters. The four councilmembers and mayor are all elected citywide. As of 2024, the mayor is Sheila Mohan, who took office in December 2023 after serving as a councilmember since 2022. The mayor is one of five votes and cannot veto policies. Mohan’s term will end in 2026 and she is eligible for reelection.

Mayors serve one-year terms and councilmembers serve four-year terms. All elected officials may serve a maximum of 10 years and 354 days. Officials may not serve as mayor consecutively.

After 10 years, officials must wait four years before being eligible to run for office again. Elections are held on the first Tuesday of November in even-numbered years, during the statewide general elections.

The mayor and vice mayor are appointed by the council every year. The vice mayor chairs council meetings when the mayor is absent. The current vice mayor is J. R. Fruen.

Here are the five councilmembers and how long they’ve been in office:

  • Sheila Mohan: 2022-present. Term ends in 2026. Up for reelection.
  • J. R. Fruen: 2022-present. Term ends in 2026. Up for reelection.
  • Liang-Fang “Liang” Chao: 2018-present. Served as vice mayor in 2019 and 2021. Term ends in 2026. Not immediately eligible for reelection.
  • Kitty Moore: 2020-present. First term ends in 2024. Up for reelection.
  • Hung Wei: 2020-present. Served as mayor in 2023. Term ends in 2024. Up for reelection.

Click here for contact information for the council and email addresses for each councilmember.

Other personnel

Cupertino operates on a council-manager system of government. All administrative decisions go through the city manager, who is appointed by the council. To put it simply: The council votes on and approves policy, while the city manager implements it. The current city manager is Pamela Wu, appointed by the council in 2022.

The city attorney, a law professional employed by the city, and the city clerk, who keeps the meeting’s minutes, are also present at meetings. The city attorney provides legal advice to ensure the council is following the Brown Act, answers legal questions and explains city, county, state and federal laws. The current city clerk is Kirsten Squarcia, appointed by the city manager in 2020. The city attorney is Christopher Jensen, appointed by the council in 2021.

Contact Annalise Freimarck at [email protected] or follow @annalise_ellen on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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