On Education, Rod has recognized that our schools are the prime attraction to those moving to Cupertino, but are remarkably funded at nearly the lowest levels of any schools in the State. The State requires us to build a certain amount of new housing, which we certainly need, but a law called SB50 does not allow us to consider school impacts in our land use decisions. Some development projects put more burden on schools than they bring in funding. That's why Rod has been a primary advocate on the Council for our new system which brings developers to the table to voluntarily offer benefits, for example, to schools, in exchange for building office space or hotel rooms. Our General Plan has a cap with numerical allocation for both of these, and when we amended our General Plan last year, we did not replenish those allocations. This means that starting this year, developers submitting new project applications for either office or hotel are not entitled by right to build. Some have suggested that this system of community benefits will cause the Council to approve projects that the community does not want. But in the first review under the new system in February, Rod led the Council in turning down two projects: a hotel of 100+ feet near the existing Cupertino Inn on DeAnza Blvd just north of 280, and a mixed use project with office and hotel at the Oaks. What is the end goal? Schools need money to pay for facilities and teachers. Rod wants to make sure that schools are made more than whole by new development in the City.
But Rod believes that no amount of community benefits can turn a bad project into a good one.
Rod has also looked for opportunities to bring more housing for teachers. At a starting salary of $60,000, new teachers struggle to afford living here. Last year, the City Council approved some of the highest Housing Impact Fees in the South Bay across all types of commercial development to fund below-market-rate housing. In the recent approval of the Hamptons, Rod argued that we allocate the new below market rate housing to moderate income earners, which is a good match for teachers in the early phase of their careers, or who are breadwinners for single income households.
Rod has also been working to help students get to school on foot and by bike more safely and relieve congestion around schools.
Read more on safer bikeways