By The Fly/ September 9, 2020
Between its storied legal fight against denser development and outrageous comments from community leaders about the perils of urbanization, it’s safe to say that Cupertino has become the NIMBY Capital of Silicon Valley.
Mayor Steven Scharf went viral in early 2019 after jokingly taking a page from President Donald Trump, saying he wanted to build a wall around the border of Apple’s hometown. The remark came a few months after a community member angered housing advocates by lamenting, in a public hearing, about how more housing—God forbid—could make Cupertino a magnet for “uneducated” poors.
Cupertino’s present election has brought more variations on those NIMBY themes.
One such not-so-bon-mot—which Assemblyman Evan Low found alarming enough to publicly call out—came in council hopeful Charlene Lee’s candidate statement.
Lee, a self-describe Yale alumnus, called for moving the homeless to “the border of San Jose and Morgan Hill by working with some billionaires, CEOs, charities, [the] California governor, county supervisors and mayor of San Jose.”
On Twitter, Low condemned Lee as “atrocious,” saying her statement “does not reflect our values in Silicon Valley.” Some people responded by saying we should cut Lee some slack because she has—how shall we say?—issues.
That seems a fair point, considering how the rest of her statement meanders into claims of false imprisonment, rape and theft and is overall a little, well, out there.
In a phone call, Lee said she was unaware of the blowback, but unsurprised since so many people have been out to get her. She defended her proposal as sensible and compassionate. Perhaps folks will forgive Lee—a woman with no official leadership position—as well-intentioned but misguided.
It’s hard to say as much for Cupertino planning commissioner and fellow council candidate Kitty Moore, who once suggested on Nextdoor that “3,200 single males” moving into the planned Vallco development would prey on Cupertino High coeds.
“Are these underage high school females the ‘young ladies’ who will go there to meet Apple professionals?” she wondered.
Moore, Lee, Hung Wei and Joseph J.R. Fruen are in the running on the Nov. 3 ballot for two Cupertino City Council seats against the incumbent Mayor Scharf. For more information about the contenders, click here.
The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.