Looking back at the email, it seemed like a good omen.
It came in response to a message Hung Wei sent as part of her campaign for one of two seats on the Cupertino City Council. In the missive, the resident said that while she personally would abstain from voting, she were sure Wei would win.
Sure enough, Wei is projected to end up with the most votes out of five candidates running for two council seats. The runner-up, Planning Commissioner Kitty Moore, emerged as the second victor in a tight race against attorney J.R. Fruen, Mayor Steven Scharf and activist-gadfly Charlene Lee.
In the latest update from the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters (ROV), with 92 percent of the ballots cast counted, Wei claims 11,039 votes (25.7 percent) to Moore’s 10,426, Fruen’s 9,167, Scharf’s 9,159 and Lee’s 3,095.
Unlike 2018, when her bid for a council seat fell 300 votes short, Wei was determined to come out on top in 2020. The former Fremont Union High School District trustee said she believes voters chose her because she stood firm on key issues facing the city.
“In 2018, there was a lot of negative campaigning, but I didn’t argue with it,” she said. “But this year I stood up against negative campaigning coming from our mayor (Scharf) and emphasized that we don’t need divisiveness and negativity in our town. My goal is to bring back civil discourse and respect to Cupertino.”
The City Council race pitted two anti or slow-growth members in Scharf and Moore against pro- or smart-growth candidates in Wei and Fruen. In the end, voters selected one from each side. As a result, the council retains a dominant anti or slow-growth faction, with Darcy Paul, John Willey, Liang Chao and Moore all in alignment with the anti-development Friends of Better Cupertino group.
Moore has been in lockstep with the Friends of Better Cupertino group, which opposes high-density housing development, reasoning it will strain city services and threaten neighborhood integrity and character.
Scharf and Moore backed a costly and unsuccessful lawsuit against the much ballyhooed Vallco Town Center Project, which will provide the city with 2,400 housing units (with 1,200 deemed affordable).
With the council seemingly in a constant quagmire of litigation and dysfunction in the last several years, Wei understands it’s more important than ever for council members to work together—irrespective of differing opinions—to move the city in the right direction.
“We’re at a crossroads,” she said. “The state has housing allocations and are passing laws to take away local control [if those allocations are not met].”
SB35 was passed in 2016 in an attempt to force reluctant cities to accept more housing. Cupertino, incidentally enough, has been warned by state officials that it could be sued for violating the law if more housing is not built.
“I plan on making rational, workable solutions for our city so we don’t have another SB35 project and aren’t involved in lawsuit after lawsuit.”
A community volunteer who has served on the board of many local nonprofits for 20-plus years, Wei said her diverse skill set can help the council collaborate on some of the most pressing issues facing the city.
Those issues include housing for seniors, teachers and working families, maintaining neighborhood integrity while meeting state-set housing-construction targets and reducing traffic congestion while supporting regulations that are environment-friendly.
“We all want what’s best for our community, so now it’s how do we reach that?” Wei said. “Even though I have differences with Better Cupertino, I believe we can collaborate to move this city forward. It’s not about personal animosity. Once elected, I will work with them, and hopefully they will work with me, too.”
Great reporting. This is the sort of journalism we need more of.
Hey there, how about tell us more about SB 35?
Cupertino residents oppose the SB 35 project that’s landed in Cupertino, but where’s the part in that new law that requires “housing constructed” shall be used to provide safe, sustainable, long-term homes for people?
Sweet marketing trick.
Build “housing” but for what purpose? Vacant (like bloated safety deposit boxes for tax haven money seeking repatriation)? Short-stay rental (lucrative “hotel” use)? Built as “affordable” but only until the property owner can cry “it won’t pencil out” and then sell the “affordable” obligation to a third party who will save the day (buy) only if the “affordable” restriction is removed? Or, “entitled” but not built in the foreseeable future because, to an investor, having an entitlement is as good as money in the bank but way less trouble than building anything?
Really, find us any new (2017 and beyond) California “housing” laws that require that residences built under legislative mandate will be used to provide safe, sustainable, long-term homes for people.
As for Cupertino, residents rest easier with the resident-friendly majority Council that has served the community admirably since 2018. Those asserting “disarray” in Cupertino were apparently not paying attention before 2014, when residents woke up to a then-majority Council that gave away entitlements to commercial property owners because they asked for them. Never mind the written and spoken objections of scores of residents.
Thank you Mayor Scharf for your service. Cupertino is in a better place today because of your advocacy on behalf of the community.
Corrections for this article, which did not have my input, include that I was a named petitioner for the FoBC v City of Cupertino lawsuit which was over the determination that the Vallco SB35 project was compliant with the new law. The SB35 law is written such that a plan left on a shelf for 180 days and never reviewed is deemed approved. That Vallco SB35 project uses the new housing law to worsen the housing shortage by having inadequate housing for the over 7,400 employees. This was achieved by counting over 1.4 Million square feet of residential parking garages as residential space and not counting 3.4 Million square feet of office and retail parking as non-residential space.
I could go on correcting this piece but having an “angle” vs. explaining facts with journalistic integrity appears to be the objective of this author. I look forward to improved efforts in the future. Best of luck.
Cupertino Council Member-Elect Moore, one more correction for the article. SJI inside labels you and Mayor Scharf as “anti-growth” or “slow-growth” advocates, which are not terms I have heard others who are familiar with yours and Mayor Scharf’s work use to describe either of you. I have heard “sensible growth” applied, which I agree with: grow where the community has capacity to grow, as needed, and with a plan that follows the law.
I understand that with the next Regional Housing Needs Assessment, the State of California, by way of the appointed body Housing and Community Development agency, assigns 6,000 +/- new residential units to be added to Cupertino in the next 8 years.
Let’s imagine fairy dust falls from the sky and property owners who have sat for years on their housing entitlements start to pull permits, and stable development sites decide to pursue projects and also obtain new or additional housing entitlements. And, miracle, 8 years from now Cupertino grows its current housing inventory by the required (and breath-taking!) 25% now mandated by the State.
What provisions does Cupertino have in place today that would require or incentivize in a meaningful way that the new housing units would be used for stable, long-term homes for people? What prevents property owners from building homes and letting investors leave them vacant because empty houses make for easier trades when it comes time to sell? What prevents property owners from building homes only to turn them into very comfortable hotel-like accommodations for people traveling on business or for vacationers?
Supposedly, communities across California are to force-build housing (using what levers?) because “Housing Crisis!”, but whose crisis do we solve when neither existing homes nor new homes are required today to provide shelter for anyone?
And, congratulations on your election win! Cupertinians are very lucky to have you on their side.
I always found San Jose Inside articles to full of errors and misinformation. Still never bothered to correct. First and foremost, SB35 law passed in late 2017 to go into effect from Jan 1, 2018. So, get your facts right. Then mayor Darcy Paul and Steven Scharf tried to fix loopholes in the general plan in September 2017 so that SB35 would not aggravate housing deficit further in Cupertino. Unfortunately, the Sandhill supporting council members Rod Sinks, Barry Chang and Savita Vaidhyanathan blocked it paving the way for Sandhill to leverage SB35 law. Please note that Savita lost re-election in 2018 to a relatively unknown Jon Willey.
If you really want to be of journalistic value, get the facts and stop labeling people. Otherwise, you are nothing more than a smear blog.
This article fails to mention that the self-styled “pro-resident candidate” Hung Wei got her 50K+ financial support and endorsements mostly from outside of the city. She has no experience or expertise in city affairs and repeatedly made unsounded “solutions” to city development issues in favor of the mega-developers.
She got a small piece of the $7 million investment that the developers made in the city council race in 2016, 2018 and 2020. Most of the money was laundered through unions, chamber of commerce, the local democratic club. The amount hidden is simply obscene for a small city with a population as small as Cupertino. The special interests definitely will want something in return. That includes one of new major player — The Apartment Owners Association!!
We will watch closely what Hung Wei will do for her rich clients. Time will tell.
Follow the money and it all leads back to Sand Hill, which has been running a dirty campaign against Cupertino ever since Pau started his Vallco project. The dirty tricks include the Cupertino Today PR outlet and dirty campaign funding.
I wish that reporters would stop buying into the same old false rhetoric that has been perpetuated far and wide by our “local developer” to confuse our residents and shame them into approving a bad project that gives the developer max profits at the expense of our jobs/housing balance. The truth is that both Kitty Moore and Mayor Steve Scharf are pro-sensible-growth and pro-housing. What they didn’t support are the 2M sq. ft of office for the Hills at Vallco, or the 1.8M sq. ft. of office for the Vallco SB35 because both projects would actually result in a net loss of available housing units because of the many jobs that they add. This same jobs/housing unbalance for the last 30 years is what has led to California’s housing crisis in the first place. Both Scharf and Moore recognize the need for housing for the missing middle, lower-income, BMR, and our senior population that far outpaces the addition of more office. Cupertino does not have land to waste and the developer needs to meet our City in the middle. That does not make Ms. Moore or Mayor Scharf anti-development. It means that they are watching out for our City’s future and the needs of our residents. Naturally the developer wants as much lucrative office and luxury housing that they can get away with, but that is not what our City needs.