Cupertino’s new slate of planning commissioners has roiled some locals and one of the city’s newest council members, who call the powerful advisory board’s makeup a slap in the face to voters. The latest additions include ex-Planning Commission Chair R “Ray” Wang, ex-Mayor Steven Scharf and relative newcomer Muni Madhdhipatla.
Lone dissenter to the appointments, Councilwoman Hung Wei, says she worries about diversity, including gender, age and renters versus homeowners.
“We have five males, … very conservative in housing policies,” she says. “I think that’s what the community is concerned about.”
She says councilors could’ve picked someone less controversial than Wang, the guy who threatened to contact a critic’s employer in 2019 and encouraged others to do the same with pro-growth advocates. Wang later penned an apology in the Merc.
Cupertino Mayor Darcy Paul says those actions, and the accusations of a former political foe who sued Wang more than a decade ago over harassment claims, didn’t affect his choice. He tells Fly he liked Wang’s work on the commission and wanted someone who could “hit the ground running.”
Some residents also say appointing Scharf, who lost re-election last fall, contradicts voters’ wishes. “He put his name back out there to be re-elected by the voters and the voters rejected him,” says JR Fruen, founder of pro-growth Cupertino For All, who finished the council race 33 votes behind Scharf.
But Paul defended Scharf’s nomination, noting he still managed to garner more votes than most past council members.
Scharf, meanwhile, has already made his views on Wei’s dissent clear, posting on Facebook that “only the one developer-controlled council member didn’t vote for the three most qualified applicants.”
That affirmed Wei’s decision, she says.
“This is the divisiveness that Cupertino does not need.”