Monta Vista annexation debated by council

The Cupertino Courier | 0406 | February 11, 2004

By Allison Rost

Some residents of Monta Vista have embraced the Democratic Process and let the Cupertino City Council know that they're against the prospect of annexation. But they'll have to wait a little longer to find out while the city checks to see if they have enough votes to halt the process.

At the Feb. 2 city council meeting, city clerk Kimberly Smith requested a continuance of the annexation question so she could double-check the city's records of registered voters in Monta Vista against those of Santa Clara County. This is the next step in an annexation strategy the Cupertino City Council adopted in 1998 for three unincorporated areas - Rancho Rinconada, Garden Gate and Monta Vista. The other two areas have already been incorporated into the city. Now Cupertino wants to annex 43.41 acres of land in the area bound by Steven Creek Boulevard, the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, Mclellan Road and Blackberry farm.

Much of the land consists of individual parcels in the Monta Vista Neighborhood, where one resident can pay Cupertino taxes while the resident's next door neighbor does not. A map of the area to be annexed looks like a slice of Swiss Cheese, with its smattering of unincorporated lots sprinkled around in an area already within the city limits.

The county is encouraging annexation. They do not want to be in the residential business said Mayor Sandy James. But we don't want to bring people into Cupertino if they don't want it. The city council's plan involved accepting written and verbal protests from Monta Vista residents through a public hearing at the Feb. 2 meeting. Most against the annexation let the council know through written protest. By the close of the public hearing, the council received 74 protests. Few Monta Vista citizens protested in person, but those who did were impassioned.

The infestation of the city of Cupertino has degraded our quality of life said Rhoda Fry, who came armed with slides showing oddities such as a power pole placed in the middle of the street. The roadways are already part of Cupertino. Fry also decried the monster homes being built in her neighborhood. Much of whats being built is ugly at best, she said. We need some planning around this. Speaking for annexation, another resident and Mayor James commented that the change would standardize regulations in Monta Vista instead of the piecemeal approach now in place due to differing jurisdictions - the city of Cupertino and Santa Clara County Annexation would also subject the new city residents to city taxes such as a utility users' tax while relieving residents of certain county service fees.

At the close of the public hearing, Smith reviewed the policy for handling protests, which is guided by state law. If less than 25 percent of residents protest annexation, the city can proceed. If the percentage falls between 25 and 50 percent, the city would hold an election on the annexation question.

There are two measures to determine these figures: registered voters and land value. Twenty five percent of the land value of the potential annexation area hovers around $9 million, but the sum of the land value owned by those submitting protests is $6 million.
The number of registered voters is a bit more complicated. Going from a list pulled from the county on Dec. 18, 25 percent of the registered voters in Monta Vista is 78. The city received 74 protests. Smith requested a continuance to get an updated list of registered voters from the county, taking into account anyone who's recently registered.
The proposed continuance was passed unanimously by the city council. So for now, Monta Vista residents will have to wait until Feb. 17 to learn what happens next - whether the map will become a united block of Cupertino or remain a hunk of Swiss cheese.