On May 20, 2019, at the direction of Cupertino City Council, the Clean Water and Storm Protection Fee ballots were mailed to initiate a property owner ballot proceeding for the Fee. See video for May 7 Council meeting, agenda item 8.
Ballots were received at City Hall through 5:00 PM July 5, 2019 and tallied on July 8, 2019 under the supervision of the City Clerk. The measure received a majority of “yes" votes on ballots returned by Cupertino property owners, and on July 16, 2019 City Council enacted Ordinance No. 19-2183 to add Chapter 3.38 of the Municipal Code to formally establish the fee. The fee is based on parcel size and will appear on Property Tax bills beginning in 2019.
Access a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) below. For more FAQs, visit our Frequently Asked Questions webpage.
1) What is the City of Cupertino Clean Water and Storm Protection Fee?
The Clean Water and Storm Protection Fee provides funding to prevent trash and other pollutants from flowing into local creeks and the Bay, where it can harm fish and other wildlife. It also ensures proactive maintenance of infrastructure to protect local property from flooding.
2) What is the cost of the fee?
The exact fee for your property, or properties, is included on your property tax bill(s). Additionally, you may access the interactive map below to view fees for all parcels subject to the fee.
The fee for an average-sized residential parcel is $44.42 per year. The fee is in addition to the annual 1992 storm drainage fee of $12 per year. The combined total of the 1992 fee and the new fee for an average-sized residential parcel is $56.42 per year (or $4.70 per month).
See Fees in the Map Below
* Fee information is based on most recently available data from Santa Clara County
** Hold "Shift" to pan the map
3) Is there a provision to give subsidies or rebates to low income property owners?
On August 20, 2019, City Council voted to assist qualifying low income property owners by offsetting 20 percent of their annual fee with general fund revenues. Property owners will be able to submit applications on-line or by mail. Application materials are currently being developed and the City expects to begin receiving applications for the subsidy in November of 2019.
4) What will the Fee provide?
- Timely pro-active maintenance of aging infrastructure to prevent unexpected failure and additional costs
- Enhanced stormwater pollution prevention
- Enhanced street sweeping services to pick up toxic particulates and heavy metals. Includes use of newer, more efficient street sweeping vehicles.
- More frequent inspection of storm drain inlets to proactively identify necessary repairs
- Water pollution prevention for our creeks, the Bay, and ocean
- Expanded Environmental & Sustainability outreach & education
- Litter/Vegetative Debris Removal
- Environmental compliance oversight of construction site activities
- More frequent storm drain cleaning to clear debris and prevent property flooding during rain events
- Expedited response to reports of Illicit discharge of pollutants to the drainage system and creeks
- Residential rebates for installation of new on-site improvements to infiltrate, harvest, or retain rain water. Rebate details and application coming soon.
5) How were votes counted?
The fee was approved because the “yes” votes received at City Hall by 5:00 pm on July 5 exceeded the “no” votes received at City Hall by July 5th at 5:00 pm.
6) Are the rates equitable between single-family residential and non-single-family residential parcels?
Yes, they are. The rates are based on how much impervious surface a typical property contains. Impervious surfaces are those which don’t absorb rain water such as rooftops, driveways and sidewalks. The rate for all property categories ends up being approximately $475 per acre of impervious surface. For a typical residential parcel of 0.17 acre (about 7,405 square feet) with 55% of its surface being impervious, that works out to a $44.42 fee. For a commercial property of ten acres with 85% of its surface being impervious, that works out to a $4,038 fee. More details about the amount of imperviousness for each rate category and other attributes can be found in the Fee Report.
7) Will the Fee increase in future years?
To offset the effects of inflation on labor and material costs,the fee may be increased in any given year by not more than 3% , based on the San Francisco-Oakland Consumer Price Index-U (“CPI”), whichever is lower. However, the amount of the fee can never exceed the cost of the services provided, as verified by the findings of a citizen oversight committee. After the citizen oversight verification has been completed, the City Council will hold a public hearing in which they must vote to accept or reject the continued collection of the fee and any CPI increase.
8) Does this new fee replace the existing fee?
No. You will continue to pay the existing fee ($12 per year for residential). The 2019 Clean Water and Storm Protection Fee is in addition to the 1992 fee. If the City had proposed an increase of the $12 fee to $56 per year, the City would have risked the fee being voted down altogether, and could have lost the $12 fee from 1992 which was covering a portion of the cost to provide clean water services and maintain infrastructure to prevent property flooding.
9) How was the fee determined and will it increase every year?
The City of Cupertino prevents flooding and protects the local environment by collecting, cleaning, and managing all rainfall and urban runoff via its storm drainage system. Currently, a portion of the costs to provide these services are paid for by a fee that was implemented in 1992. As shown in the chart below, without additional revenue, the Clean Water and Storm Protection Program has been in deficit over the last several years and continues to be in deficit now. The new fee addresses the shortfall between projected revenues and expenses. The fee is proportional to the impervious surfaces (such as pavement) found on the property or category of parcel. The 2019 Clean Water and Storm Protection Fee Report, includes more information about the Program’s revenues and costs, as well as more details about how the fees were calculated.
Although the Ordinance and fee structure allow for annual increases limited by the lesser of the local Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 3%, City staff predict that costs will not increase for the next four or five years. This means that the fee will likely not increase over that time as shown in the chart below.
Revenue from the existing fee, shown in green, used to be enough to cover most of the costs of the program Over time, as revenues stayed the same and costs rose, the funding gap has grown.
10) Is this fee part of the annual “fee schedule” review and will it be voted/approved by the City Council as part of all the other fees?
The proposed amount of the fee each year will be calculated based on the annual costs of the Clean Water and Storm Protection Program for the corresponding year. There will be a separate public hearing item on the City Council agenda each year for City Council to consider a resolution to set the rate and to order the levy of the Clean Water and Storm Protection fee for one year. It is anticipated that this item will be on the City Council agenda in May or June each year. The public hearing will be publicly noticed in the Cupertino Courier (or a similar local publication) at least two weeks prior to the hearing. This item cannot simply be part of the fee schedule.
11) Will the property owners be notified that the City is reviewing this fee?
It is anticipated that this item will be on the Council agenda as a public hearing in May or June each year. The agenda will clearly indicate that the Council will be voting on a resolution to approve the levy of the Clean Water and Storm Protection fee for the coming year.
12) What keeps the City from continually adding more expenditures to be covered by the fee?
By law, the funds from this fee can only be spent on Clean Water and Storm Protection services and improvements. The funds cannot be used for any other purpose, and will be part of the annual audit of the City’s finances by a citizen oversight committee. The fee must be spent for services described in the approved Fee Report (available by link at the bottom of this webpage). Services that are covered by the fee include proactive inspections and infrastructure maintenance to avoid higher costs after potential unexpected failures occur; treatments and compliance efforts to ensure that only clean water reaches local creeks, and (by way of local creeks) to the Bay and the ocean; and expanded educational outreach focused on students in local schools to engage and support community efforts toward keeping our waterways clean and healthy (because it takes a community effort, in addition to city staff activities, to maintain clean and healthy waterways which also protect property values).
13) Does the City Council approve any new expenditures covered by the fee, or is it at the discretion of the staff?
A citizen oversight committee will conduct an annual audit of the City’s finances. The report from the oversight committee will be provided to City Council with the staff report for the item that requests Council to consider a resolution to set the rate and order the levy of the fee for one year. This City Council agenda item will be a public hearing during a regularly scheduled City Council meeting in April, May, or June. Property owners are encouraged to voice their opinions at the public hearing for Council to consider prior to voting on a decision.
14) Is there a provision to give subsidies or rebates to low income property owners?
City Council directed staff to develop rebates for low-income households. This provision is scheduled to be considered at the City Council Meeting on August 20, 2019.