Cupertino Criticized for Lack of Transparency Over City Attorney Randolph Hom’s Departure

The pending transformation of a rundown Cupertino mall into a massive complex—2,400 residential units, 1.8 million square feet of office space, 400,000 square feet of retail—has become a test case for a controversial new law that aims to fast-track residential development in hopes of easing California’s crippling housing shortage. Ever since Sand Hill Property Company pitched the plan in March under SB 35, which requires cities to green-light certain mixed-use and residential developments, cities throughout the state have fixed their gaze on Cupertino to see how the landmark legislation would play out in a region considered ground zero of the affordability crisis.

It was somewhat surprising, then, that officials offered no public explanation for City Attorney Randolph Hom’s abrupt departure in mid-May. Hom’s unceremonious exit—with severance pay reportedly close to $200,000—was announced internally by way of an email from then-City Manager David Brandt notifying employees that deputy attorney Rocio Fierro would assume Hom’s role until the City Council hired a replacement.

The secrecy around Hom’s termination while he had such consequential work to do has fueled rumors that it had something to do with the intensely scrutinized Vallco Mall project. And without clear answers from the council and City Hall, despite numerous public records requests from local activists, it seems the speculation will go unchecked for the time being.

Mayor Darcy Paul didn’t return Fly’s call for comment, while city spokesman Brian Babcock declined to elaborate because he says it’s a personnel matter.

Maybe there’s nothing much to it. But residents and local watchdogs want answers about the termination of one of only a couple employees that the council can directly hire or fire. The other, Brandt, retired as city manager this month after signing a letter affirming that the Vallco Mall project is SB 35 compliant.

The city should be more forthcoming, regardless, says Tara Sreekrishnan, who’s running for council this fall. “I’m someone who follows these council meetings really closely, and I didn’t even notice that this happened,” she says. “I think it shows a lack of transparency from our city.”

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10 Comments

  1. Fly, are you saying they are paying the former City Attorney of Cupertino $200,000 to NOT work? Didn’t he just get a pay raise of some amount? Don’t employees get raises for doing a GREAT job? How much was his raise?

    Watching last night’s City Council meeting…the word “farce” comes to mind.

    Acting City Attorney, Interim City Manager plus 5 or more news trucks and video cameras, multiple outbursts. Time for some housecleaning, and a really hard look at that Vallco Plan…dang that’s a hot mess, the picture looks insane, is that fake grass on the roof, in a drought, while the state is burning? What’s SB35 doing skipping studying a wacky plan like that? Isn’t that in computer chip making territory too? Streamlining means quickly approve, right? This smells bad.

    So the city tried to beg money off Apple last night for an employee tax, looks like they were blaming them for their traffic, vanished the Attorney seemingly about the monster Vallco project who would have maybe not approved it? There’s greed, and then there’s Cupertino Council greed, in a category all its own.

  2. Concerned for Cupertino – take a closer look, that isn’t AstroTurf but over 30 acres of roof garden up 90 feet in the air using OUR precious water for the richest of the rich to gaze down on. Those under, or at street level won’t see it without drones. Those are swimming pools on the roof, at least four. Those 7 towers are 22-23 floors high making them the tallest in the county?! About 250’ high. Heard there’s some toxic waste still on the sight and old asbestos in there too.

    What SB35 means is NO California Environmental Quality Act Process. This passed the city’s 90 day review period with no Environmental Impact Report and is screaming towards a September approval with no EIR. Thanks for nothing, SB35.

    Cupertino can throw away a reported $200,000 like that to keep the City Attorney away and hide their tracks, for this project? Why? Guessing he knew too much. Who else knows what he knows?

    • Agreed!💯That is why I removed my app to work for City Atty sadly. Cupertino will no longer be able to recruit the best…but maybe the City Council is comfortable with it.🤷‍♀️

      • > That is why I removed my app to work for City Atty sadly. Cupertino will no longer be able to recruit the best…

        Really tooting your horn there, Alice!

  3. Now now children, you know that your socialist Gods, Jerry Moonbeam Brown and the legislature created and signed off on SB35 for the GOOD OF THE CHILDREN (that’s you). Antifa will come and teach you a lesson if your not careful.
    As far as water is concerned, the Vallco park, like Apple campus II, will use high salt content recycled water for the park. Matter of fact, both Sunnyvale and San Jose HAVE to find users of the recycled water since they are NOT allowed to dumb more into the south bay. The south bay was turning too fresh/brackish with all of the low salt water being released into it. Part of the solution was to kick the can by extending the pipes that released the treated water farther out (north) of the old pipes. The other part is to find users for the treated water like The Villages in south San Jose (but it is killing the Redwood trees in the golf course due to the salt content).

    • Qanon,

      Where can us sheeple read about the recycled water and fresh water issues you bring up? Much obliged…

  4. The May 11 closed session for the City Attorney’s performance evaluation and an employee dismissal drew 2 speakers and 4 letters from the public. How often do you see that sort of attention for closed session. One of the letters said, “Now that there has been an SB 35 application filed with the city, I’m concerned that Randy Hom’s approach will result in lawsuits on a much larger scale than the penny-ante Measure C lawsuit initiated by Steven Scharf and the Better Cupertino PAC.”

    During a Council Meeting the follow month, Councilman Barry Chang acknowledged on the dais members of the public, “knew everything” about what should have not been disclosed about the closed session. The City Council has been asked repeatedly for the past couple of months to clear the air on what happened, but nothing is forthcoming from the Council.

  5. Cheaper to pay off an employee than have him voicing a unfavorable opinion or disconcerting information regarding city council and/or senior management selling out to developers.
    Thank Stanford for imitating SB 35. Stanford is probably the most corrupt ” non-profit” (ha) organizations. They have thousands of unemployable lawyers that do nothing more than come up with convoluted deals with politicians to make the university more money.

  6. Of course, they tell us everything is fine! You have to trust the system or if you don’t like the 7- 23 story towers, you must be anti-growth! or a bad NIMBY! (a name created to separate the people by the developers). I wonder how the people living in the surrounding area feel about all those people overlooking their home or most likely parking in their streets?

    environmental impact report? nothing hear to see people. Good thing people still have time to act.

  7. Such unceremonious firing of city attorney in the midst of ascertaining validity of SB35 application begs the question of ‘who is running the city?’. Seems like there is lot of power and money play going on. I hope people of Cupertino take note of it and act accordingly in upcoming elections.

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