More Fun in Condoland

Jack Kerouac once wrote, "You can't fight City Hall. It keeps changing its name." And how true that seems in Cupertino right now, as there seems to be no stopping the city's condo fever. Local resident Patty Chi tried to at least keep it in check by spearheading a petition drive to get two referenda on the local ballot to overturn City Council votes to rezone land and let developer Toll Brothers and Vallco Fashion Park start building condos along Stevens Creek Boulevard.

The day city clerk Kim Smith reported that both petitions had twice as many signatures as needed to qualify for the ballot, City Attorney Chuck Kilian received notice that a lawsuit had been filed to prevent the referendum that challenged their project from ever seeing the light of day. The suit names Cupertino resident Dorothy Stow as the plaintiff, and alleges that the petitions were too confusing for anyone who signed them to know exactly what they were supporting and therefore should be invalidated.

Sounds fair enough, right? Right, except that it was Toll Brothers' lawyers who filed the suit—apparently they needed an injured voter before they could allege voter injury. But while Stow's personal motivation for taking part in the suit remains a mystery (with neither her nor any of the lawyers involved commenting on the case) her ties to the city's government are not. In the four decades Stow has lived in Cupertino, both she and her husband have held high-ranking positions in the Chamber of Commerce and her husband is currently one of the directors of the Cupertino Rotary Club, along with Mayor Richard Lowenthal and Councilmember Orrin Mahoney. The City Council is refusing to take sides, which means Chi finds herself very alone in this fight. But for now, she's sticking to her guns. "The city has already approved over 100 condos," Chi says, "and those aren't built yet. Why can't they wait and see the impact?"