Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Better Cupertino News • February 2018

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Better Cupertino News • Happy Year of the Dog!
~   F  E  B  R  U  A  R  Y    2  0  1  8   ~

It ain't progress if it doesn't improve our quality of life.


Come to our Forum on City Planning

Saturday, March 10, 6:30 - 8:30 pm

Cupertino Community Hall
10350 Torre Avenue, Cupertino, CA 95014

Our guests are Mayor Darcy Paul, Council Member Steven Scharf and Planning Commissioner Don Sun; the discussion will be moderated by Muni Madhdhipatla. This is you chance to ask questions and voice your opinion on traffic, housing, retail, and controversial developments like Vallco and the Oaks, and more!
  T  A  K  E    A  C  T  I  O  N   ~

Send your Vallco EIR comments (& here's how)

Now is the time to send comments for the Environmental Impact Report (EIR)* on possible impacts to the Vallco Shopping District Site. Refer to this Notice of Preparation document for information about what kinds of things will be studied in the EIR. Some examples are effects on air quality, traffic, and public services.

Not sure how to write your comments? Download this handy tip sheet. Comments are due on or before Monday, 3/12/2018 by 4:30 pm. Send comments to the Cupertino Planning Department. Sign up for updates related the process to change the Vallco Shopping District site at envisionvallco.org

*What is an Environmental Impact Report (EIR)?  In short, an EIR identifies and examines the likely environmental effects of a proposed project, and proposes measures to avoid, mitigate, or offset them. EIRs are written reports to inform the public and public agency decision-makers of significant environmental effects of proposed projects, identify possible ways to minimize those effects, and describe reasonable alternatives to those projects.
Ready to Vote in 2018?

2018 is sure to be a critical election year nationally and locally. It's true what they say, every vote does count. And, voting is our best means to hold our government accountable to represent the needs of the people who live within its jurisdiction, not the financial or ideological concerns of special interests located elsewhere.

Are you eligible to vote but not registered at your current address? Register online today: registertovote.ca.gov

Are you eligible for citizenship, but haven't yet completed the naturalization process? Sign up for a citizenship class today: Santa Clara County Library Citizenship Resources and Immigrant Info

Did you know since 2004 the majority of Santa Clara County voters are registered to vote by mail, and the County pays the postage? Don't miss an opportunity to vote due to Election Day travel, illness, or unforeseen schedule crunches — request to receive future ballots by mail.

REFERENCE: Registrar of Voters Post-Election Report, November 8, 2016 Presidential General
Oppose Voting In Libraries and Near Library Entrances
Better Cupertino hosts information booths in front of the Cupertino library door.
During the ballot collection window for the November 2016 General Election, the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters (SCCROV) placed receptacles for receiving mail-in ballots in front of 15 libraries and inside 3 libraries.

Unfortunately, libraries and library entrances are not acceptable locations for polling places, including mail-in ballot drop-off boxes and "early voting" in-person polling venues, because "as trusted, neutral, safe spaces, libraries are ideal institutions to lead dialogue and deliberation efforts in communities" (see note), while polling places by necessity are information silent zones where deliberation and engagement in political matters cannot occur within a 100-foot radius of the polling place.

Consider that without access to public spaces such as libraries, public plazas, and parks, community members have very few venues where they can meet each other to discuss community concerns, candidates, and ballot measures in advance of an election. When polling places are located inside libraries and near library entrances, libraries are eliminated as venues for civil deliberation and civic engagement for weeks leading up to the election and right at the time when community members are seeking information about items on their ballot.

It is Better Cupertino's understanding that on Tuesday, 3/6/2018, the advisory body for the SCCROV, the Santa Clara County Citizens' Advisory Commission on Elections, will consider a request to remove libraries and areas near library entrances as polling place locations in Santa Clara County in time for the June 2018 Primary Election and all elections thereafter. Please consider attending and speaking out against locating polling places in libraries and near library entrances. Send written comments to CACE to Deputy Clerk Jean Anton on or before Wednesday, 2/28/2018 to ensure that commissioners will receive your comments in advance of the 3/6/2018 meeting.

Santa Clara County Citizens' Advisory Commission on Elections
Tuesday, March 6, 2018, 6 pm
Isaac Newton Senter Auditorium, first floor
70 W Hedding Street, San José, CA 95110

(street parking is often available on San Pedro after 5:30 pm)

REFERENCESCCROV Post- Election Report, November 8, 2016 Presidential General

NOTE: "As trusted, neutral, safe spaces, libraries are ideal institutions to lead dialogue and deliberation efforts in communities." — American Library Association, Libraries Transforming Communities

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin wrote on an excellent blog post about California Senate Bill 827: New Housing Bill Well-Intentioned, Yet Ultimately Wrong Approach to Development. Here are some highlights:
  • This [SB 827] would open up many now quiet residential neighborhoods to large-scale housing developments and would ruin the character of these neighborhoods. 
  • It would also eliminate parking requirements for these developments, creating further parking impacts and congestion in residential neighborhoods.
  • If SB 827 is approved, agencies like AC Transit would suddenly have power over land use decisions by simply deciding where to place a bus stop, or improving bus headways.
  • There is no question that we need more housing. But SB 827 does nothing to address affordability. In fact, the legislation actually encourages displacement by incentivizing landlords to allow properties near major bus stops or BART to fall into disrepair in order to replace them with market-rate housing. 
  • Senator Weiner argues that his legislation will cut greenhouse gas emissions, but the opposite is true: "what about working families who will undoubtedly be displaced when they can't find an affordable home? When someone lives in Vallejo but commutes to a job in Berkeley, it only puts more cars on our freeways — and adds emissions."
  • It is true that we need a way to incentivize cities to approve more housing, especially near transit. But we must do it in a way that doesn't completely override local control or undermine ongoing efforts to build affordable housing, something that Berkeley is working very hard to do.
  • We all agree that we need more housing. But getting there must happen in a way that takes into account people from all walks of life and not just the privileged few, and without destroying the very elements that made communities desirable places to live in the first place.
This article from the January 5, 2018 Silicon Valley Business Journal gives some background. Please write to the Cupertino City Council and urge them to show their opposition to SB 827. Encourage the City Council to join councils from Palo Alto, Milpitas, Novato, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, (and more by the day!) by writing to State Senator Wiener to assert firm opposition to SB 827.
~   C  O  M  M  E  N  T  A  R  Y   ~

The Collective Wisdom of California Residents Against SB 827 (Proposed, Wiener) — PLEASE VOTE NO!
Danessa Techmanski is a 30-Year Cupertino resident and 4th-generation Californian
The introduction of SB 827 was the shot heard 'round California and it has already drawn massive criticism from city councils, sensible growth advocates, and low-income housing groups up and down the state. Letters of opposition were written to the bill's author, State Senator Scott Wiener, almost immediately by the California Sierra Club (1) and the League of California Cities (2), as well as from 37 grassroots organizations from the Los Angeles area through a collective letter from act-LA (3). Some of California's most prominent labor, conservation, and environmental justice groups have also relaunched the coalition CEQA Works against SB 827 and some of the other new housing bills. (4)

Despite Wiener's background as a San Francisco Supervisor, SB 827 shows a complete misunderstanding of the purpose of the General Plan as a city's guiding policy document for land use change and a blatant disregard for the role of community involvement in the democratic process. Furthermore, the flaws in this one-size-fits-all housing bill are easily illustrated by looking at cities like Santa Monica where there is already a good balance of housing, but the majority of their city would be up-zoned beyond their control because of the many bus routes. (5)  Zoning needs to be left to local experts. Period.

The bill ignores or overrides factors in planning such as urban form, open space, historic preservation, safety, walkability, aesthetic design, traffic concerns, future transit plans, and the ability for local agencies to address particular housing levels in their RHNAS (Regional Housing Needs Assessment). Furthermore, SB 827 stimulates development with no regard for any negative economic, environmental, or social impacts.

The intention of this document is not launch an attack or blame high-tech companies or their workers for their part in our current housing dilemma. Indeed, their benefits to California and the world are inestimable. The point is to illustrate the role that any imposing industry plays as part of the root cause in a housing shortage where land is scarce and economic inequity exists. In areas like Silicon Valley, each additional office development digs cities deeper into the housing hole.

As an example, SB 827 enriches for-profit real estate developers through "up-zoning" instead of holding local governments accountable to limit office construction to levels that ensure that new workers can be accommodated within the jurisdiction. It also absolves high-tech companies of their responsibility for our growing low- and middle-income housing problems through by-right development that is affordable to mostly high-tech workers at the expense of the rest of society.

As median housing prices rise with more luxury development and the uptick in rents, 30% of California's renters now struggle just to make ends meet. (6) There are no provisions in the bill for improvements to infrastructure, transit, public services, schools, or means of equity for existing residents whose homes are affected, while at the same time making them responsible for the continuing influx of tech workers and the 4-5 support jobs that each one generates. Those responsibilities fall squarely on the backs of taxpayers.

One cannot help but question the fact that the bill's authors, Scott Wiener and the California YIMBY group, are generously funded by the tech industry. More than 120 tech executives have signed a letter supporting SB 827, including companies like Lyft and Uber who will greatly benefit from a large influx of well-compensated tech workers living in dense housing with no parking. The majority of Wiener's top donors are from the real estate, tech and construction industries. (7)

Is this bill really designed to remedy the housing problems for the general public, or does it serve to advance the agendas and privileges of certain political groups and economic industries?

download full article to read more
~   R  E  Q  U  I  R  E  D  •  R  E  A  D  I  N  G   ~

on Development Issues
February 2, 2018 • The Marin Post • Yuppies In My Backyard: SB-827 and Deconstructing Community – PART I • Bob Silvestri
"Affordable housing" appears to be just a useful talking point that Senator Wiener and his collaborators, who call themselves YIMBYs (an acronym for "Yes, in my back yard"), use to get what they want, which is to open the flood gates to development of all kinds, regardless of the social justice, economic or environmental consequences."

February 18, 2018 • Daily Beast • Dense Ain't 'Smart' / From Disruption to Dystopia: Silicon Valley Envisions the City of the Future • Joel Kotkin
The unaffordable Bay Area, Google's new neighborhood 'built from the internet up,' and China's police state each offer glimpses of what the tech giants plan to sell the rest of us. 

February 22, • The Mercury News • Silicon Valley tech hiring outpaces rivals, but woes worsen • George Avalos
Traffic is becoming worse in Silicon Valley at a much faster pace than other tech hubs. • From 2010 through 2016, average commute times soared 18.9 percent in Silicon Valley. Over the same period, commute times rose 14 percent in Seattle, 8.2 percent in Southern California, 7.7 percent in Boston, 7.1 percent in Austin and 6.3 percent in New York City. • "An average Silicon Valley commuter now spends 72 minutes commuting per day, round trip," the report stated. "This figure has grown marginally since last year and remains second only to the commute time of New York City workers, who spend 74 minutes commuting."

February 24, 2018 • New York Times • Tech Envisions the Ultimate Start-Up: An Entire City Silicon Valley wants to save cities. What could go wrong? • Emily Badger

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