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Priorities

Board member for the fremont union high school district board 
Board member for the fremont union high school district board 

Actual transparency

Cupertino taxpayers deserve true transparency on how their dollars are spent, rather than the current lipservice we have. I promise to not waste millions on frivolous lawsuits. In contract, this current city council has wasted your money in the following way:

  1. Threw away $121 million in free money by blocking new development. This money would have gone toward a new city hall, a performing arts center, $14.5M for CUSD, adult school, traffic mitigation, a transit center, and extremely low-income housing. All set on fire.

  2. $1.2M on pointless lawsuits to advance their own political agenda. ALL of which they lost.

  3. Held 66 “closed” sessions completely secret from the public between 2019-2021. This is far higher than normal. 

  4. 400 hours of paid staff time spent to turn Cupertino into their personal lobbying firm to lobby the State of California, instead of spending that money on City Services.

 

2022-10-25 02_34_33-City Council rescinds new code of ethics, new one to come in March_ -

One of the first actions the Better Cupertino Council did was to repeal the code of ethics, after campaigning on transparency

Growing the right way

As an attorney, I will leverage my strong knowledge of public policy to extract as much as possible from developers—for our community. I won’t just say no to everything like our current city council because I understand that the City Council is expected to negotiate for the good of our whole community. By saying “No” to everything, the current City Council has gotten us into constant legal trouble and is on track to get us in trouble with the State of California, for failing to plan for new housing at all income levels. Indeed, if we stay on the City Council’s current course, Cupertino will lose almost all local control on February 1, 2023 because it has failed to timely submit a housing plan to the state. J.R. Knows how to navigate state housing law and get us back on track. We can grow sustainably while also enhancing the lives of existing residents.

 

Our failure to effectively plan our cities is the largest environmental challenge that we face and the greatest contributor to climate change. Numerous studies show that newer construction and new diverse housing uses far less water–even on a per capita basis–than ordinary sprawl development. Here is one such study.

 

Newer homes are also subject to higher water efficiency standards, which is one reason why California’s urban water use has declined steadily since 1995 despite the increase in population:

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SOURCES: Water use: California Water Plan Updates (Department of Water Resources, various years). Population: Department of Finance.

I have been a consistent and staunch supporter of preventing residential sprawl in favor of more sustainable, and more energy/water efficient denser infill development with lower carbon footprints. As we grow, we must do so sustainably.

​Restoring our reputation and partnerships

  1. Cupertino leadership has lost its ability to collaborate with others. We have burned all of our bridges with our school districts, nonprofits, the business community, other cities, and the State. In contrast, I have strong working relationships with our leaders in the public and private sector.

  2. Look at my endorsements because they demonstrate that I know how to work with other people, and that I am trusted by our fellow elected officials and organizations across the bay. We need that to actually achieve our goals as a city. Notably, Better Cupertino’s Council candidates are only endorsed by other members of Better Cupertino. 

  3. I know how to work with our state leaders to get the best bargain. As the Mercury News puts it best “Cupertino has become the Silicon Valley poster child for city mismanagement.” Instead of working closely with our state leaders to get funds for city services and regional planning solutions, we have triggered the State into passing SIX unique state laws specifically aimed at correcting Cupertino’s mistakes over the past 4 years. 

We want to proactively shape state policies by being role models and collaborators, not by being the bad actors that need to be held accountable.

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Homes for our teachers, children, seniors, and workers

Let’s be honest. Cupertino is not affordable. We’ve seen countless small businesses struggle to retain staff and close because their employees are forced into mega-commutes on account of the extraordinary cost of housing. We’ve lost local control because we failed to plan at Vallco. We are about to lose all local control because our city council hasn’t submitted a viable housing plan to the state. We can do better. We should use the legal tools we have to plan a city we can be proud of. If we do not, we will continue to lose teachers and young families, who will move and work elsewhere for a cheaper cost of living. Additionally our seniors are aging in place without downsizing options, and our workers commute hours into Cupertino, creating massive emissions and increasing traffic in our community. 

 

I am an affordable housing advocate and attorney, who personally specializes in understanding our complex housing challenges. I will make sure Cupertino maintains its local control without constantly breaking the law—unlike our current City Council and the Better Cupertino Candidates.

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  1. Focus on new housing development along Stevens Creek Boulevard—I believe we should plan for the lion’s share of our state-mandated housing requirements (5,000+ homes) along the Stevens Creek corridor, where we already have the best infrastructure and amenities. This will reduce the strain and density on existing families who live in outlying neighborhoods. Planners who study land use policy agree that we should be focusing on transit-oriented, sustainable housing sites, like the corridor. 

  2. Partnerships for funding—the main constraints on getting affordable housing are (a.) land and, (b.) money. I have strong relationships throughout the Bay Area, unlike the current City Council and the Better Cupertino candidates. That is why organizations and officials across Silicon Valley have endorsed our campaign. Relationships are essential for negotiating strong projects that benefit residents and for leveraging funds that otherwise would not be available. These funds in turn subsidize projects, increasing the likelihood we actually get affordable housing built, and that we get the intended project we desire. 

  3. Modernizing our city’s laws—Cupertino has many outdated rules when it comes to development, many of which create unnecessary, bureaucratic barriers for affordable housing. This, and resistance from sitting council members, is why so few developers build in Cupertino, and why we struggle to produce affordable homes. We can remove excessive bureaucracy that wastes taxpayer dollars, while also making sure to hold developers accountable to environmental standards and the needs of existing residents. It should not take several years to get code-compliant projects approved, only for the project to never actually get built! This can be changed by bringing our General Plan, fee regime, land use policies, and project review process into the 21st Century.

  4. Promoting mixed use communities—I strongly support new, mixed use projects in Cupertino that provide housing, parkspace, retail, and other public amenities for new and existing residents. Mixed use projects will allow us to better fund affordable housing, while also ensuring that retail can be successful in Cupertino. Residents have long demanded more retail options in Cupertino—the best way to do that is to ensure we have sufficient nearby foot traffic via well-planned new housing in mixed use facilities. 

  5. Avoid sprawl—Cupertino has long practiced planning principles that promote building further and further out. This sort of sprawl creates longer travel times for everyone to access the things they love, while also dividing our community. We need more community, not less. By focusing on infill development near jobs, transit, shops, and other amenities, we will reduce emissions, increase access to amenities, increase community, and create more options for building affordable housing in Cupertino. 

Protect local control without breaking the law—The lesson Vallco should have taught us is that unless we plan for the future we want to see, we will get the future nobody desires. On our current trajectory, our city council will submit our next state-required housing plan too late to stay in legal compliance by the critical deadline of January 31, 2023. As of February 1, 2023, because of council’s inaction, a developer will be able to propose a project of ANY density on ANY site zoned for commercial or residential use. That loss of control removes the council's ability to negotiate better benefits and better projects. I am committed to putting us on track to keep local land use authority and meet not just our legal obligations but also the needs of current and future residents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2022-10-25 03_19_03-'Nimbyism' or 'balanced growth'_ Housing at center of Cupertino counci
2022-10-25 03_19_13-'Nimbyism' or 'balanced growth'_ Housing at center of Cupertino counci

Creating vibrant community life

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My key message to voters is that Cupertino residents deserve better. We deserve intergenerational options for recreation and community-building. We deserve an actual downtown area, like virtually every other suburban city around Cupertino. We deserve ample greenspace, well-interfaced with our urban landscape. 

Cupertino is a wealthy town, with high property costs, great schools, Apple corporation, and other indicators of a high opportunity zone. This should be better leveraged to extract large community benefits packages from any new development. This would include new cultural spaces, youth spaces, and lively mixed use areas that promote public gathering. With careful planning, transportation demand management, and transit-oriented developments, we can simultaneously build the walkable, bikeable communities we all deserve 

Mitigating traffic

Our campaign is centered around making sure Cupertino prioritizes the needs of everyone and their preferred transportation types, while at the same time ensuring that new growth does not result in more traffic and more emissions.

 

Here is my plan for traffic:

Transportation Demand Management (TDM) programs: TDM programs have been proven to work for Apple Park (commercial office) and for apartment and condominium complexes in Mountain View. Good TDM programs are the fruit of good advance planning and negotiated compromise. TDMs allow us to reduce the impact of new growth on our congestion without requiring sacrifice from existing residents and businesses.I am a skilled policy expert who understands planning and land use and how to craft and use TDM programs.

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Transportation Demand Management (TDM) programs: TDM programs have been proven to work for Apple Park (commercial office) and for apartment and condominium complexes in Mountain View. Good TDM programs are the fruit of good advance planning and negotiated compromise. TDMs allow us to reduce the impact of new growth on our congestion without requiring sacrifice from existing residents and businesses.I am a skilled policy expert who understands planning and land use and how to craft and use TDM programs.

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Alternative Transportation: To achieve this vision of having far less traffic, we need to transition our city plan to one that intentionally promotes walking, biking,and transit. In doing so, our residents will reap the benefits of a city that is not built entirely around cars, and the city can focus on making alternative forms of transportation far more convenient. I am the only Cupertino City Council candidate who received a perfect 100% score from Walk-Bike Cupertino in its evaluation process. I support the re-envisioning of the Stevens Creek Corridor as part of a multi-jurisdictional effort between San Jose, Cupertino, Santa Clara, and VTA to make the corridor more sustainable and less congested. 


Modern City Planning: Our vision to fight traffic should occur simultaneously with our need to provide more affordable housing in Cupertino—especially as the state of California requires us to plan for and facilitate almost 5,000 new homes as part of our 8-year housing element update cycle. We can create beautiful, affordable, mixed-use communities that promote these values of walking and biking, and push developers to build people-oriented projects, rather than car-oriented ones—through tactful negotiations and thoughtful planning. By focusing on mixed use projects near places of employment, new Cupertino residents will be far more likely to live close to where they work, go to school, eat, play, worship, etc, rather than needing to commute into Cupertino. We can and should plan smarter so that our growth enhances our existing quality of life.

Strengthening our schools

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​While the school boards, not the Cupertino City Council, have the real say in what happens at our schools, I understand and share your concerns for our schools. I went to our schools as a kid in Cupertino for elementary, middle, and high school. My goal is to make sure future families and their children have the same opportunities that I had as a child.

2022-10-25 03_11_17-CUSD Board Votes to Close Three Schools in 2022-23 School Year - The S
2022-10-25 03_11_31-CUSD Board Votes to Close Three Schools in 2022-23 School Year - The S

Here is how I plan to support our schools as a Council Member:

 

  1. Increasing our taxbase, reducing the strain on existing families—Currently, Cupertino residents are frequently called upon to vote for new taxes to support our school districts, many of whom have children now aged out of our schools. There’s a reason for that–CUSD maintains lots of school facilities but suffers dramatically declining enrollment. Per a complicated state formula–the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF)--districts are entitled to receive a certain amount of funding calculated on a per-pupil basis. Districts that generate more money than the formula allows get to keep their tax dollars. These are called “basic aid” districts. Cupertino has failed to grow its tax base and brings in less money than it would get under LCFF. As such, CUSD is funded under LCFF, meaning that total funding is tied to total enrollment. By contrast our high school district is able to fund itself because Sunnyvale has a newer and higher tax base from newer development that triggers new tax assessments. Allowing reasonable development to proceed can help CUSD achieve greater financial stability without more regressive parcel taxes. 

  2. Negotiating better community benefits from new projects–As the state requires Cupertino to plan for nearly 5000 new homes, we can leverage that process and a more modern zoning code to incentivize developers to make additional contributions to our school districts in exchange for greater flexibility on project applications. 

  3. Addressing chronic enrollment decline—Per official government reports, total enrollment in CUSD abruptly shifted into decline almost as a decade ago, losing over 1,800 students, or nearly 10%, in the last five years. More than two-thirds of that reduction occurred in just the last two years, so the degree of decline has rapidly increased. Soaring housing costs are assumed to be the main cause of this radical shift, with fewer young families able to move into the district and the continuing families aging past typical child-raising years. Certain city council candidates have repeatedly lied about our schools being overcrowded, while they are simultaneously bleeding enrollment. The truth? Our schools need more kids if they are to stay open. We can solve for that by planning for diverse housing types at all income levels. This is the only way to stabilize our enrollment, and subsequently increase our funding levels per student. 

  4. Partnerships with school districts—I am endorsed by every board member of the Fremont Union High School District Board of Trustees, the majority of the Cupertino Union School District Board of Trustees and every member of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees. We need Councilmembers who actively seek opportunities to partner with the school districts, other cities, and private actors to address issues like teacher retention—due to most Cupertino teachers being unable to afford a home in Cupertino. By coordinating land use, financing, and strategic relationships, we can house our teachers and workers who keep our school district strong. 

Safe Neighborhoods

We all deserve to feel safe both inside and outside of our homes. That means ensuring safe streets—reaching a vision zero policy of zero car-inflicted deaths. It means protection from threats of gun violence and being able to walk freely at night, with sufficient, well-placed street lightning. In our homes, we should be safe from property crimes and break-ins. On council, I will advocate for a better partnership between neighborhoods, public officials, and the sheriff’s office. He will rebuild the block leader program to mitigate these issues and build a stronger community. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is my plan to improve public safety:

 

  1. Rebuilding a block leader program to enhance public safety–the block leader program needs a reboot so that neighbors are more connected to neighbors and have both the knowledge and the incentive to look out for each other’s daily interests. 

  2. Tagging stolen goods like catalytic converters—Several other jurisdictions have successfully started tagging catalytic converters of residents’ cars to combat the extreme rise in catalytic converter thefts. This is something Cupertino ought to do in addition to offering educational and subsidy programs to help residents protect their catalytic converters from theft in the first place.

  3. Better street lighting to be safe at night—Many of our residential streets provide insufficient lighting for you and me to feel safe walking around at night. Many of our parks turn off their lights early into the night, preventing families from taking safe nighttime strolls. With the perception of rising crime everywhere, we need to make residents safer through better street lighting. We can do so while also making sure we do not violate our new dark skies ordinance, which protects wildlife and clamps down on light pollution. 

  4. Funding to keep your family and home safe—Adding security measures to property can incur many costs for families that might already be struggling due to the rise in inflation. I believe the city should create a public incentive program for those affected by thefts and crime, whereby property owners can get reduced rates for the purchasing of certain safety goods. Making your house safe and secure should be cheap and accessible. 

  5. Safety of children—Cupertino residents care deeply for their families and children, who deserve to feel safe outside of the house. We can leverage funds from new developments, existing revenue streams, and our partnership with the County Sheriff to create emergency response beacons in several public areas, where children are likely to go—such as the Library, parks, afterschool programs, Main St., etc. The availability of these devices, across the city, would disincentivize any harm or crime directed at children and also provide an extra layer of emergency safety for faster response times.

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