Hold Developers Accountable
It is increasingly clear that market-rate developers alone will not solve this crisis. Developers often see our city as a lucrative opportunity. Most are profit-seeking; they are not charities. It should also be said that the federal and state government have large roles to play in solving this crisis, but as we know, we are currently unable to rely upon them. Therefore, the City’s loyalty should be to the public—not profit.
As your representative on the Council, I will take the responsibility of weighing the costs and benefits of new development extremely seriously. The needs of the residents of Cupertino—not developers—will always come first. In addition, I will always consider how a given development project meets the needs of the middle-class and working-level citizens of Cupertino.
I cannot represent the citizens of Cupertino and the commercial development industry at the same time. Therefore, I absolutely refuse to take money from developers to fund my campaign. As your Councilmember, I will fight to make sure that developers are held accountable, pay their fair share, and respect and maintain the vibrancy of our community.
Prioritize Affordable Housing
As your Cupertino City Councilmember, I will push for increasing the amount of affordable housing required for new developments. Currently, the City requires that developers of large-scale developments must pay a per-square-foot fee to the Cupertino Affordable Housing Trust Fund on the total proposed square footage of the project, or include a certain percentage of long-term affordable units as part of the project.
Specifically, I will study increasing the Affordable Housing Mitigation Fee required in large, commercial office projects (not small businesses). It is notorious how little these massive office projects have contributed to our affordable housing funds considering the amount of jobs they create. This fee should go into a fund that will support the production of new and rehabilitation of existing housing for lower-income and workforce ownership housing (including first-time homeownership opportunities).
Objective Density Standards
Objective density standards – that are strictly enforced through the Zoning Code – will ensure that neighbors and developers alike understand what the rules are, and proposed projects adhere to the rules. These standards are even more important considering the new statewide housing laws that have taken effect and allow for the automatic approval of development. To ensure that traffic impacts are minimized, major thoroughfares and transit corridors in Cupertino should be easily walkable, “bike-able”, and transit-accessible.
The City should not amend its City Code for development projects on an ad hoc basis, thus circumventing the City’s General Plan and related zoning ordinance. I’m a proponent of sustainable development and the responsible growth strategies laid out in Plan Bay Area 2040. City planning decisions should be made responsibly and should be transparently disclosed to the community. Excessive or uncontrolled development would bring measurable traffic to our community, as well as other negative impacts.
I support community-sized zoning that minimizes impacts on neighbors and preserves Cupertino’s unique neighborhood character in primarily residential areas that are currently zoned for one- and two-story buildings. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) or duplexes could be supported in these zones if the lot size is appropriate and impacts on neighbors’ privacy and solar access are minimized.
The root cause of our housing affordability crisis in Cupertino and the Bay Area is a jobs/housing imbalance. Cupertino has a history of job growth outpacing housing and population growth. We currently have about 3 jobs in Cupertino for every 2 units of housing. If office growth continues to outpace housing and population growth, we will continue to see cost of living rise at an unsustainable rate. Since housing takes about 2 years to build after approval, the jobs that are added during this time will always create a “housing shortage”. It is hard to keep up unless office and housing growth is seen at the same time. I support a stricter jobs/housing balance in our zoning to address this issue.