Press Release on behalf of (Ms.) Helam Luk and Patty Chi

A legal challenge to stop two rezoning ordinances in Cupertino being put before voters in a referendum was rejected last Friday. Absent further challenges, the ordinances will be put on the ballot for decision by Cupertino voters come November.

Santa Clara Superior Court judge William J. Elfving issued an order Friday after hearing extensive argument from attorneys for proponents and opponents of the proposed referendum petitions. The order denies a request by Cupertino resident Dorothy Stow to have the petitions deleted from the November ballot for alleged failure to follow legal format requirements. [Copy of the court's order.]

The referendum petitions were sponsored by CARe ("Cupertino against Rezoning"), a group of Cupertino residents including Patty Chi and Helam Luk and aim to overturn two rezoning ordinances passed by the city council of Cupertino. The ordinances would rezone two large parcels to allow the building of condominiums by Vallco and Toll Brothers as mixed commercial and residential areas to permit the building of condominiums. Both parcels are currently zoned as purely commercial. Local residents fear that the proposed rezoning and condo developments will lead to further population influx which in turn would further overburden the school systems, create extended traffic gridlock, and make further demands for city services while depriving the city of sales tax revenues.

The two petitions to overturn the city ordinances passed with a total of 5,144 signatures in one case, and 4,818 in the other, almost double the 2,543 signatures required for a petition to pass.

The legal challenge to the petitions alleged that the form of petitions failed to include a short headings on the second and later pages describing the subject matter in 20 words or less as required by Article 9011 of the Elections Code. Rejecting this claim, the judge ruled that section 9011 applies to statewide referendum measures only. A different set of rules governs referendum measures at city or county level.

The judge also rejected claims that the petitions had been circulated without attaching copies of the ordinances in question as required under the Elections Code.

Bern Steves, an attorney who defended the case on behalf of CARe together with Oakland-based Stuart M. Flashman, commented: "This case should never have been brought. We are happy that the court has now thrown out these groundless challenges to clear the way for voters to decide themselves how they want Cupertino to develop without more overcrowding at schools, traffic gridlock, and loss of potential sales tax revenue to fund badly needed public services. The developer's claims to offer "affordable" housing is bogus. $600,000 condos are not "affordable" to mid or low income people in the valley."

Sunday, July 16, 2006