Better Cupertino co-founder runs for Cupertino City Council
To Cupertino City Council candidate Liang Chao, her political action committee Better Cupertino (BC) was born out of necessity. A local parent concerned with how the City Council was apparently making decisions without resident input, Chao took it upon herself to found BC in order to hold the City Council accountable and to ensure that they serve the citizens of Cupertino. Chao is currently a member of the Cupertino Union School District Board. During her tenure, she took an active role in removing then-superintendent Wendy Gudalewicz in 2017.
Chao has been consistently advocating against what she believes to be the failures of the City Council, some of which surround the process to renovate the now vacant Vallco mall. She believes that the City Council’s responsibility should be to act as a “watchdog,” enforcing the law. Currently, she says, the City Council has not fulfilled that duty, consistently giving developers more and more leeway as to what they can do within Cupertino.
“The City Council has been giving in every step of the way [in Vallco redevelopment],” Chao said. “That’s why the development at Vallco has become bigger and bigger and bigger.”
With the rest of BC, Chao has stated her concerns at City Council meetings many times, only to be dismissed. As a result, Chao says, conditions in Cupertino like traffic and developer overreach have worsened. If elected, Chao aims to bring transparency to city processes so that they are clear and objective.
“We’ve tried to communicate for three years,” Chao said. “Things have just gotten worse and worse. I feel like we need the right leadership in place to rebuild trust. This should be a city where the decisions are made to benefit the people, not always [giving] the people [up to developers].”
Despite her activity surrounding Vallco redevelopment, Chao says she does not intend on making it a major part of her campaign, instead pointing to strong policies as her primary focus. The Vallco Tier 2 Specific Plan being approved, which would bring another influx of workers into a city that’s already suffering from heavy traffic, she says, was a result of a lack of such strong policies that would protect Cupertino from what she deems aggressive state laws like SB 35 that would encroach on city rights. According to Chao, a better approach would be to develop clear and objective policies that developers cannot unfairly take advantage of. Oher policy goals of Chao’s are to develop a plan to provide affordable housing for families, the elderly and the disabled, as well as to establish a transit structure like Apple and Google’s commuter buses that would be available to all of Cupertino in order to reduce traffic.
“It’s not against development,” Chao said. “But when you set very clear standards, ‘this is what we are looking for, don’t mess around with me,’ people know exactly how to follow [them], then, in fact, we will have more quality development and the process will be clearer.”