The Cupertino City Council voted last week to remove Planning Commissioner Ray Wang from his post over allegations that he harassed City staff and members of the community.
Mr. Wang, who was supposed to serve until 2025, was removed on a 3-2 vote by Mayor Hung Wei, Vice Mayor Sheila Mohan, and Councilmember J.R. Fruen. Councilmembers Liang Chao and Kitty Moore voted against his removal.
Wang had been accused of hostility and harassment against the municipality’s staff during the housing element process. However, the allegations against him stretch as far back as 2003 when he was sued by then-Redwood City Planning Commissioner Rosanne Foust for harassment and stalking.
Ms. Foust contended that Mr. Wang took actions that resulted in her email account receiving pornographic content. While that civil matter was settled out of court, he was ultimately charged with a misdemeanor and two felonies. Mr. Wang plead no contest to the misdemeanor charge and the two felonies were dismissed because of a negotiated settlement, according to reports.
Additionally, screenshots of Mr. Wang calling pro-housing activists “YIMBY neoliberal fascists” on Nextdoor surfaced shortly after his appointment in 2019. Community members filed a complaint calling out Wang’s intimidation of members of the public on social channels, specifically his ‘doxing’ of a Sunnyvale resident in which he instructed social followers to deal with YIMBYS by contacting their employer for the purpose of “getting them reprimanded and in some cases a dose of reality.”
Former Mayor and now Chair of the Planning Commission Steven Scharf defended Mr. Wang at last week’s meeting and implied that his ousting was funded by real estate interests.
The majority that voted to relieve Mr. Wang of his duties is a direct result of last November’s midterm elections, which ushered in a shift in the Council’s politics toward a greater acceptance of housing and growth.
Late last year, the City received a scathing Grand Jury report excoriating city officials for fostering a toxic work environment that led to significant staff turnover of key positions within the last several years. It also called out the City for lack of an Ethics and Code of Conduct Policy with enforcement provisions. The City’s last ethics policy was adopted in January 2020, a year after the then-Council rescinded one adopted three months prior. As part of its response to the Grand Jury report, the City this February agreed to revisit its current Ethics policy using the 2018 policy as a starting point for the revision.