Cupertino Council Contenders Draw Fire for NIMBY Hot Takes

Between its storied legal fight against denser development and outrageous comments from community leaders about the perils of urbanization, it’s safe to say that Cupertino has become the NIMBY Capital of Silicon Valley.

Mayor Steven Scharf went viral in early 2019 after jokingly taking a page from President  Donald Trump, saying he wanted to build a wall around the border of Apple’s hometown. The remark came a few months after a community member angered housing advocates by lamenting, in a public hearing, about how more housing—God forbid—could make Cupertino a magnet for “uneducated” poors.

Cupertino’s present election has brought more variations on those NIMBY themes.

One such not-so-bon-mot—which Assemblyman Evan Low found alarming enough to publicly call out—came in council hopeful Charlene Lee’s candidate statement.

Lee, a self-describe Yale alumnus, called for moving the homeless to “the border of San Jose and Morgan Hill by working with some billionaires, CEOs, charities, [the] California governor, county supervisors and mayor of San Jose.”

On Twitter, Low condemned Lee as “atrocious,” saying her statement “does not reflect our values in Silicon Valley.” Some people responded by saying we should cut Lee some slack because she has—how shall we say?—issues.

That seems a fair point, considering how the rest of her statement meanders into claims of false imprisonment, rape and theft and is overall a little, well, out there.

In a phone call, Lee said she was unaware of the blowback, but unsurprised since so many people have been out to get her. She defended her proposal as sensible and compassionate. Perhaps folks will forgive Lee—a woman with no official leadership position—as well-intentioned but misguided.

It’s hard to say as much for Cupertino planning commissioner and fellow council candidate Kitty Moore, who once suggested on Nextdoor that “3,200 single males” moving into the planned Vallco development would prey on Cupertino High coeds.

“Are these underage high school females the ‘young ladies’ who will go there to meet Apple professionals?” she wondered.

Moore, Lee, Hung Wei and Joseph J.R. Fruen are in the running on the Nov. 3 ballot for two Cupertino City Council seats against the incumbent Mayor Scharf. For more information about the contenders, click here.

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6 Comments

  1. I’m sorry is Ms. Lee has some other issues going on, but we can’t cut any slack for someone who is trying to win public office. The public interest has to come first, and we shouldn’t shy away from condemning bigotry when it’s on the ballot. Kitty Moore similarly deserves the call-out for her fear mongering. Between Sharf, these two ladies, and Ray Wang, Cupertino is really building themselves an ugly reputation. It’s getting to the point where other cities are going to have to really stand up to them.

  2. A politician, or aspiring politician with some “issues.” That’s not news – that is common-place. And, Cupertino is the Hulk of NIMBY’s – but San Jose has some serious NIMBY issues, too. Ms. Lee has some ridiculous comments on her website – it’s worth a look, because her assessment on certain issues – just outrageous.

  3. Oh goodness, Fly, not a smart look for you to traffic in misinformation campaigns.

    NIMBY is a pejorative marketing term invented by special interests who seek the transfer of real property from individual ownership to corporate and global oligarch ownership. We have NIMBY thanks to WIMBY, Wall street In My Back Yard, efforts to demonize and outlaw people’s interest in controlling their housing costs and building wealth through single family home ownership.

    Not on board with the WIMBY agenda to commoditize the residential housing supply? Tell Governor Newsom today (change.org petition to oppose AB725 and AB2345): http://change.org/p/governor-newsom-veto-the-five-housing-bills

    As for District 28 Assembly Member Evan Low whose got no better ways to dedicate his time than to publicly shame a resident with mental illness, let’s hope his constituents realize that they do have better options than voting for him for in November.

  4. Kitty Moore and Steve Sharf are aligned, while J.R. Furen and Hung Wei would normally considered their opposition. As far as I know, Charlene Lee is not aligned with either group. I strongly encourage everyone to read Ms. Lee’s Campaign Statement!

    Cupertino has an interesting history. Remember that in the months before the last election, Randolph Hom, the City Manager, was secretly put on leave for months before he was finally terminated. Mr. Hom sued the city alleging he was put on leave because of his opposition to the Vallco SB 35 development proposal. Mr. Hom settled for $205K.

    https://www.sanjoseinside.com/the-fly/cupertino-criticized-for-lack-of-transparency-over-city-attorney-randolph-homs-departure/

  5. Randolph Hom was Cupertino’s City Attorney who advised the City that the now approved Vallco Town Center SB 35 application project was not compliant with the law. For his trouble, he was suspended by a then-majority Council and ultimately dismissed.

    David Brandt was the City Manager at the time who approved the same Vallco Town Center SB 35 application project. Within week’s of his approval, the same City Manager had tendered his resignation and left town.

    SB 35 makes a mockery of the law because it transferred the discretion to approve development projects from local electeds to City or County staff, who are compelled to act in service to the State Legislature. Read the fine print of the law and you will see there’s no requirement for an SB 35 project to be compliant with the law in order for staff declare “eligibility” and “approval”.

    SB 35 needs to be repealed. Who has the courage, financial resources, and political will to do what needs to be done?

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