From our May 9 newsletter:
⤑ The city council rejected a proposal to expand the Bicycle Pedestrian Commission (BPC) to a 7-member Complete Streets Commission, similar to ones established in Los Altos, Menlo Park, and Los Gatos.
⤑ The opponents of the Regnart Creek trail are pushing hard to defund the trail, using the budget shortfall as an excuse. Every city council meeting has now become a referendum on the trail.
⤑ The Bike/Ped Commission has changed from prioritizing bicycle and pedestrian projects in the city’s approved Plans to a focus on traffic management and monitoring, and to personal, rather than city-wide, interests.
Read on for more details.
Cupertino City Council meetings are now being held via Zoom. Public speakers are unmuted when it is their turn to talk.
Assault on the Regnart Creek Trail continues
When the city council unanimously approved the trail and its funding in September 2019, we thought there would be no more votes on the trail and it would proceed to construction. That is not the case any more. Instead, city staff keep bringing the Regnart Creek Trail back to the City Council for a vote at every stage.
On Tuesday May 19th, the city council unanimously voted to adopt the Regnart Creek Trail Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND), as well as execute a Joint Use Agreement and a land exchange with Valley Water. This came after several hours of intense pushback from the same residents who have opposed the trail for the past two years. Councilmember Liang Chao spent extensive time questioning the nature of the notice for last fall’s hearing and casting doubt on the legitimacy of the vote. The city attorney squarely refuted all her claims.
The city staff now plan to bring it back for yet another go/no go vote in Fall 2020 to approve the design and authorize putting the project out to bid. Trail opponents take opportunities at each Council meeting to mount any challenge they can in an effort to challenge the legitimacy of the approval and drive up the trail’s cost, in an apparent effort to then claim that the trail is too expensive to build in a time of austere budgets. This is a fully funded project. No other similar public works project endures this degree of scrutiny and plodding progression.
The Regnart Creek Trail is being put through far more approval votes than any other project in Cupertino history.
The impetus behind this extraordinary behavior by city staff seems to be a well-meaning attempt to ensure that the voices of all residents are heard. The net result, however, is that the voices of the few residents against the trail are being given much more importance than the majority of residents that support the trail.
In Tuesday night’s meeting, the usual anti-trail residents, including Councilmember Liang Chao, pushed hard during the CIP budget review to defund the Regnart Creek trail. This was not recommended by staff, who have put together a list of other projects based on a rigorous prioritization exercise. Still, again, everyone had to listen to two hours of anti-Regnart Creek trail rhetoric repeating the same complaints that have been addressed or been proven unfounded last year.
We need to continue speaking up in support of the Regnart Trail as the push-back on the trail is happening at every council meeting. It is anticipated these attacks will continue into next year, after another city council is elected, until construction starts in Jan 2021.
The most troubling development in June 2nd’s meeting is that the battle for the future of walking and biking in Cupertino is now fully in the open.
Battle for the Soul of the Bicycle Pedestrian Commission
Walk-Bike Cupertino Board and Cupertino Bike/Ped Commission Role Changes