The Forum video was posted in Better Cupertino YouTube Account:

The audio was not clear in some places. Please use earphones which may solve the problem.

Thanks to BC personal donors, business sponsors and many BC volunteers to make it happen!


7 thoughts on “04/23/2017 Better Cupertino First Town Hall Forum on Sensible Growth

  1. Thank you for inviting me to participate.

    I have corresponded with Ro Khanna since the event. He said that he really liked the quote I stated about public transit, “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.” We’re a long way from that in Silicon Valley, and especially in Cupertino but at some point we’ll have to find a way to fund usable public transit. Look at what Bay Area rail looked like in the 1930’s:

    I was glad that the woman that was recruited by the developer groups was there to speak. It’s important that we hear from all sides, even when they are misinformed, so we can understand the source of their confusion. I just wish that she had decided to use facts in her recital, rather than stating the same tired old talking points that developers run around the Bay Area distributing. Those that have attended Cupertino City Council meetings have witnessed several individuals reading the same talking points that were provided to them. Alternative facts are not the way to move the country, or the Bay Area forward, and that kind of behavior is just as bad when the left resorts to it as when Trump does it. Do research and use facts and people will respect you even if they disagree with you.

    One thing struck me this weekend, after talking to numerous residents on Earth Day and after the town hall, Better Cupertino is actually the progressive group in Cupertino. They advocate for affordable housing, transportation, schools, good governance, transparency, environmental sustainability, and for regional planning. They are composed of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, and are incredibly ethnically diverse. They fight against those entities that have “an overblown sense of entitlement” (I heard that phrase used on KQED last week and it stuck in my head because it so accurately represents those entities that seek to harm our communities for their own financial gain).

    I know that some people were unhappy about the format of the forum and that they didn’t get to talk to Ro Khanna. I encourage them to attend one of the many town hall meetings that Ro’s staff organizes. I was told that Ro actually stayed much longer than he had planned, and that he resisted tremendous pressure to not come at all. The organizers should also have limited the response times of the panelists.

    One takeaway from the forum for me was that one of the hardest things for many people to understand is that the “law of supply and demand” does not actually apply to every good or service. It’s not a real law. Michael Goldman did a good job trying to explain it. A couple of months ago I met someone from Contra Costa county at an ABAG meeting that was trying to educate some of the attendees of the need to address the demand side of the afforable housing equation, but his words fell on deaf ears. For those interested in this subject here are some useful links:

    Another progressive ideas that we need to encourage are a) reform the parcel tax system to make it more equitable (following Berkeley’s model).

  2. Thank you so much for doing this. I live in San Jose and we have nothing like this. I did not appreciate the clueless person that the developer sent to attack some of the panelists using “Alternative Facts,” but I guess you could not know this in advance. Clearly she was not prepared to be challenged on the lies she so rudely stated. This is just what developers do when they can’t win using facts and logic.

    Loved Mr. Goldman’s explanations of housing supply, demand, and affordability since a lot of people don’t understand that the “law of supply and demand” is not really a law and not always applicable (unfortunately, Chappie Jones is one such person, but he seems open-minded and willing to learn.

    Ms. Kuo handled the attack by the developer’s person very well. Though I think that maybe you could get someone from Santa Clara or Mountain View next time.

    Mr. Scharf was great. He decimated the alternative facts that the developers love to promote. Glad that he, and the woman who spoke during the comments, pointed out the fact that school enrollment is in fact not decreasing. I liked his line about an overblown sense of entitlement, which was very relevant and true.

    Thank you for the Costco cookies, that was a nice touch. And thank you to Better Cupertino for being there for Cupertino and the surrounding cities. Your group is a breath of fresh air in Cupertino, fighting for transparency and honesty against those people and companies determined to exploit Cupertino and other cities for their own profit. Also thank you for your Earth day booth the day before. It was wonderful. My kids loved playing with the dirt and winning prizes.

    Please sponsor more events. You’re the only group stopping the bad people from hurting the good people.

  3. Very interesting presentation. Perhaps the audience should have been notified of Mr. Khanna’s previous commitments before and after this meeting and why he wasn’t taking the stage before discussions began.
    Interesting prospective from each of the city representatives.

    My take away was that the whole bay area should have a consolidated transportation system and network rather than individual city and individual county transportation system with funding by each city. My guess is that each city will go into protection mode and will have project proposal ending arguments over who pays and what the system will look like for their cities. i.e. reasons why someone else should pay, who has the most business should pay, etc.

    Apparently, some in the audience feel that Mr. Khanna’s is the money guy and should be the one bringing back taxpayer money from Washington to the bay area which apparently won’t happen with the new administration. Worst, the bay area cities, counties, and the state my be receiving less money returning in the future so I doubt Mr. Khanna will be able to do much of anything to help.

    Thanks to the organization for presenting this forum.

    P.S. I left after the audience portions started and attendees started screaming and give speeches. Whining, blaming and complaining doesn’t add anything to the solution of the problem. I attended to listen for solutions for which several of the panelist has vague solutions and individual city stakes in the problem and solution like the one I mentioned above but beyond this, there were only reasons for our problems that anyone living in the bay area are aware.

  4. Better Cupertino Town Hall Meeting on Sensible Growth Misses the Mark

    This is a long winded comment, which is meant to generate open discussion on this forum. While it is very critical, it is not critical simply to be mean spirited, but because this Town Hall meeting needs to be a learning experience, and I believe we learn best when we are open and honestly express our opinions. I hope that those who disagree with my comments will specifically address where and why they disagree, and the discussion will take off on those points. I want to thank Better Cupertino for promoting this feedback page, because I originally felt that the lack of a forum for discussion was the worst aspect of the whole process.
    Better Cupertino’s town hall meeting was a big disappointment. It leads me to question whether Better Cupertino is interested in the “grass roots” or is more concerned with justifying their existence. The proclamation was made that there must be transparency, but the only thing transparent to me, as an observer, was content. There was no discussion on sensible growth, there were disjointed approaches to transportation (a topic that Better Cupertino cannot solve), Housing (a topic that Better Cupertino cannot solve), Business growth (a topic that Better Cupertino cannot solve), rather than a discussion about the concerns of the population, which would enable the various city representatives to at least hear what the people’s concerns are. The discussion was so lacking that representative Ro Kahana made a bee line exit of the meeting before a single constituent could voice their concerns. He did, however, praise his achievements in listening to a group of people in Kentucky. I guess he used up his quota of listening for 2017, or, maybe, he just doesn’t care what the folks of Silicon Valley have to say.
    Better Cupertino proved exceptionally disingenuous, when they admitted knowledge of the situation prior to the discussion, but made no attempt to organize the agenda to enable the congressman to hear his constituents. In fact, Better Cupertino representatives made it clear that Kahana had no intention of listening to the people because it was not a town hall meeting organized by his people. Clearly he has no desire to listen to topics that are not pre-filtered by his minions. Politics as usual.
    And what about our city officials? They appeared to all have arrived safely coated in Teflon to prevent anything substantial from sticking to them. There was no desire to listen. There was only a concern to limit the discussion. Better Cupertino made a point of squelching free and open discussion. That is some grass roots organization. I heard nothing but party lines spouted by each of the representatives, and great quantities of self-praise as to how much they have proven they care. Legends all, in their own minds. I didn’t notice very much interest in listening to what the people had to say.
    The discussion could have been simple. As several of the participants pointed out, the problems are solvable, but it requires the skills and participation of many of the willing citizens. A global plan is required, looking at the communities as systems. We need to reach out across borders and plan for interaction between localities. We need to remove the developers from the discussion, and put together an optimal long term plan that covers housing, resources, schools, green space, transportation, quality of life and everything that effects our growth. We need to dictate to the state what we (the citizens) wish to do, and not the other way around. We need to take the profit motive out of the government, which means eliminating the rampant corruption that exists. I know that in Cupertino, it is politics as usual. Citizen participation in planning is prevented by rigging the committee participation. People are not allowed to contribute by merit, but only by proper connections.
    Better Cupertino wants to generate transparency and integrity in the Cupertino City Council. I have no idea how they plan on achieving it when they cant even promote transparency in a Town Hall Meeting.

    1. Hi Larry….I like your approach.

      However, I must disagree with you on a couple of points.
      1. We need the development community to be a part of the discussion if you want to get anything built. I’m not saying they have to lead the discussion, but they need to be a critical part of it, leading in some areas.
      2. The community only gets to lead the way if they are looking out for all members, current and future. If only one of those groups is prioritized, then the community gets to be a participant and not a leader….just like other stake holders.

      The reality is, we need big ideas to solve our problem. But first, we need to have a clear definition of the problem. Is it we want better transportation? Do we want more affordable housing? Do we want less traffic? Do we want to prepare for massive growth or no growth? Can we handle the current “status-quo?”

      I would like to suggest the problem we are trying to solve is: What is the vision for our region?

      Sure, each city has their own requirements and motives, and few really want to work together. But that is what we need. We need regional cooperation and collaboration. If Cupertino tries to figure it out on their own, as does Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, etc., we have the classic silo approach to a solution. Ask any corporate how catastrophic silo thinking and planning is…like working in a vacuum. No good.

      How do we overcome this? Again, I would like to suggest the *only* way I have seen to overcome this inherent competition between cities is through the community. We, the community, need to work beyond our arbitrary borders. We have the power and authority to make government respond. We need to join in ranks to have a voice at the table. We only succeed if we are united (maybe not on the same page with regards to outcome, but we need to be in terms of process). The process needs to span borders. I would ask how many Cupertino residents attend any Santa Clara events or community meetings. And visa-versa. No one’s fault. We all attend way too many meetings. We need to find ways that we can have an organization that helps consolidate and organize members around the county.

      I suggested the City and County of Santa Clara, just like San Francisco. Just like NYC. Remember, all of these cities have dense areas and residential only areas, ranging from high density to low density. But no city wants to give up their financial position by taking on the housing nightmare that is San Jose. But that’s not thinking very regionally. We all have a pretty big problem, not just San Jose. So how can we make everyone a but more comfortable with taking on a deficit? Well, let’s look at consolidating some of the general services we all need and use. How about we go after the easy one…the library system. Do we need a dozen or more library structures in City and County of Santa Clara? Want about parks? Or street services? Or Police and fire? Dare we say a more consolidated school system?

      Think about how much money is put into each of these independent systems and how much economy of scale you can get when combined. Heck, we might even be able to do a better job for less. But, that requires people giving up some control and maybe even accepts that things might be different in a new government type.

      Would it be easy? No. Is it what we need? I don’t know. I’m not an economist or a developer or a government worker or an elected official. I am a pizza guy that advocates for solutions to obvious problems. I want us all to be able to look beyond our current issues, talk about what a future that would be exception would look like, and not get stuck on “there’s too much growth” or “there’s too much traffic” or “I don’t want to see anything change” or “let’s bring us back to the ’80s whenI bought my house because that’s what I signed up for.” We need to be able to have a discussion. I was hoping this event would start that discussion. I think it opens the door to future events. I’d like to plan on that.

      Something worth noting: Santa Clara will be hosting Project for Public Spaces (PPS) again in their city and this time PPS will be leading a Power of 10+ discussion. It is all about visioning your city. They will be talking about their entire city. They have some big projects too, specifically the $6.5B City Place project. Every city has big and impacting projects. That’s fine. But what is not fine is cities suing each other and not trying to figure out how to make this area work together. Cities should be required to collaborate, but I digress. The Power of 10+ is a city level visioning session. How many times have you seen your city vision with the community. The community is the driver, but the community needs to care about more than their own neighborhood (in my opinion). This will be a great session and will take place in late May. Please message me if you want to learn more or keep an eye on the Santa Clara Placemaking web page: (the dates sometimes change, so be sure to check back). You can also message me and I will add you to my email updates list.

      Which get’s back to my original premise: We need to come together as a community so that local government sees the citizens from multiple cities working together and forcing them to consider resources and concerns outside city borders. I look forward to working with all parties!

      1. Hi Kirk, I essentially agree with what you have written, and do not see it in disagreement with what I wrote. I definitely agree with the statement that we must state what the problem is before we attempt to solve anything. I also completely agree that the solutions might require big ideas, and not necessarily simple ideas, but I do believe the statement can and should remain simple – look at development and the future vision as a system with interacting parts, and interacting communities. I believe that the resources and brain power of this community is not being taken advantage of, and I believe (no facts to support it, plain belief for whatever it is worth) that this is being done on purpose so as not to interfere with the developers’ agendas (and profits) with the support of elected officials, hence the comment politics as usual.

  5. This was a good “first step” in having a discussion, but a discussion needs to have consistent facts and data. I heard elected officials reference content that was factually inaccurate or outdated. We need to have ALL of our elected officials on the same page in terms of the facts our our region and the numbers being used. This was clearly not the case. When I asked a member on the panel (a council person) if they had heard of Don Weden, the retired Principal Planner for the County of Santa Clara for over 34 years, the answer was no. And I would guess most of the panel has not heard of him or participated in his workshop. I would encourage everyone interested in community activism and the regional needs of the area hear what he has to say. Otherwise, we are not starting with the same facts. If we are all on the same page, then we can have principled discussions on how we move forward. We may not agree on the next steps, but we all need to agree on our current information and data.

    You can see him and Project for Public Spaces talk about placemaking at:

    We need to have a regional view and approach here…this is something everyone has agreed on. Would like you to consider getting Don Weden in to speak to your audience. If you need help setting that up, let me know. We need to proactively engage the development community so that positively influence the changes in our communities. And most importantly, we need to be looking at create places we need (even if we personally do not want them) so that we have options for our new residents and our aging communities.

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