Cupertino Planning Commission Picks Roil Residents

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.”

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  1. So Darcy Paul apparently has no problem appointing a man who harasses the public by signing them up for porn without their consent or complaining to their employer about their political differences, because he has the redeeming trait of being committed to excluding people from living in Cupertino. What a world we live in.

  2. SJI, why does the lawful selection of Planning Commissioners in Cupertino rise to the level of newsworthiness?

    Cupertinians who pay attention know who advocates for residents and who advocates for financial interests.

    Madhdhipatla, Scharf, and Wang have earned the respect of a majority of Council Members because each has a history of standing up to financial interests. None of these Planning Commissioners will be taking paid gigs later to push for upzoning or aggressive development projects that will make a pile of money for a few but scar the city and worsen the shortage of affordable housing for decades to come.

    Cupertino has an abundance of “former mayors” and other ex-officials eager to sell sizzle for some oligarch’s hot development project. Residents are sick of “the taking” and have worked hard for years to elect responsible Council Members who will select responsible commissioners.

    Congratulations to the new and re-appointed Cupertino Planning Commissioners.

  3. Cupertino has a corrupt city council.. The appointments to the planning commission violate stated city policy “new members to represent the community by such factors as culture, gender, age, and location of residency within the city.” Five MEN were appointed, though the city is over 50% women; ALL are homeowners, though roughly 35% of residents are renters; ALL are from the high tech industry, not a variety of backgrounds. Our community has to actually build 4,558 housing units in the next RHNA cycle. So who represents teachers and other social service professionals who need affordable housing? Who’s going to put shovels in the ground?

  4. The people selected are 3 capable individuals, who will serve the city well. Their gender should not matter! Enough of this nonsense about divisiveness. If council member Wei wants to bring the city together she must make an attempt to accept and work with whoever was selected instead of complaining. Show my example, council memebrt WEi!

  5. But why should Cupertino have to add thousands of housing units, just to stack-and-pack even more Third-world H1-B workers that nobody needs or asked for? Who does this benefit? Apple? So instead of having even an ounce of corporate responsibility, they can continue to burden the systems and fabric of society with their legions of cheap labor? The unemployment rate in the US is over 10% right now. Adding more people at this level of population and economic dysfunction is insane. It’s suicidal. It is also totally unnecessary.

    I know there are few actual Americans left in Cupertino, and so there is not really collectively any sanity around the destructive forces of immigration, because being honest and introspective about the situation, even if one is themselves an immigrant, is a rarity. However, we have to try; if we are being objective and honest, then we have to be able to admit that this is what has been destroying the city. Even though my own family is immigrants, I can be objective and understand that everything has a limit. You can’t just continue a policy forever, indefinitely, long past when it makes sense or is necessary or desirable, simply because it was once done, or once benefitted you personally. That is short-sighted, selfish, and frankly, stupid. Conditions, and situations change, and policies have to change with them.

    Unfettered mass immigration causes sprawl, congestion, increases pollution, makes commodities more scarce and thus more expensive and thus less affordable. How are these mysteries? We are in the midst of a population crisis, and at risk of becoming like the other countries with this level of population – a Third World mess. The most stable nations which have the highest living standards and the highest “happiness” or “contentment” scores, are all nations with a stable population. Look it up!

    It’s far too late to “save” Cupertino – but you can prevent it from becoming even less livable than it is today. Liveability in Cupertino has declined for the last 50 years straight. And by the way, if people genuinely want a city that is occupied by a variety of people/professions and not just high tech drones, then housing prices would have to return to the sane levels they were at before all of this madness and that isn’t likely – certainly not with the population at the current levels and the same idiotic policies in place that produced this over-population crisis in the first case.

    Prior to the 1980s, the occupations of Cupertino residents were not limited to high tech. While it was a bedroom community for Lockheed and other companies in the defense and semiconductor industries, the biggest employers were much more diverse in terms of their operations, with a lot of manufacturing and other business support functions. Hence, many middle-class workers engaged in a variety of functions, with vast amounts of skilled trades/professionals working on things beyond just computer science or electronics.

    The specialization of Silicon Valley into nearly 100% knowledge work, plus technological advances, globalization and offshoring of most manufacturing, has helped to drive out nearly all of the good non-tech jobs formerly held by middle-class residents of Cupertino. Gone are the days when an “assembler” at one of the many manufacturing centers in the valley or when a teacher married to an enlisted Navy electronics specialist might be able to afford a single family home here. Now you have to be a senior engineer married to another senior engineer or a senior management executive to be able to afford the average Cupertino home which is now over $2M for a little shoebox of a house.

    Were these good choices, to double the population of the city, balkanizing it in the process, and eliminating the middle class? Who can defend this?

    You reap what you sow. This is decades of dumb ideas coming to a head here. Be better. Think like a rational human being – and not like a politician jumping on the current diversity craze or bandwagon to score a cheap political point.

  6. Why is outside money funding Hung Wei & JR Fruen Campaigns?

    Hung Wei has raised $49,463 so far based on her filings. The analysis of her donations show

    * 41% of her donations are from OUTSIDE Cupertino.
    * 15% of her donations are from Political PACs. Mostly unions and developers.

    Hung Wei’s website says “Hung’s campaign is entirely funded by residents, workers, and local businesses.”

    JR Fruen has raised so far $27,503 based on his filings. The analysis of his donations show

    * 43% of his donations from OUSTSIDE Cupertino.
    * 15% of his donations are from Political PACs, Real Estate and Unions.

    City Council candidates Steven Scharf and Kitty Moore signed the campaign pledge to stay within $30K spending limits.

    City Council candidates Hung Wei and JR Fruen chose NOT to sign the same pledge. We won’t know how much they raised and spent until elections are over as they don’t have any upper limits.

    Vote for resident focused grass roots candidates Kitty Moore and Steven Scharf; they are not influenced by OUTSIDE money and PACs.

    If Hung Wei is so much conerned of “divisiveness,” we can recall her at the right time or unseated her in 2024.

    Those pesky YIMBYs need to shut up and go away. This is OUR city. We do not need these self-serving invaders to declare their version of communism and born-entitlement.

  7. Who are these residents who were roiled ?. From the replies/comments here they seem to be a small minority. Democracy means the minority loses and the majority wins. Your article is better titled “Democracy works well in Cupertino”

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