Santa Clara lawmaker faces censorship for comparing owners to toddlers
Santa Clara resident calls on city to take action against city council member for comparing single-family homeowners to toddlers.
Resident Leonne Broughman, who sits on the city’s library commission, filed a petition on July 12 to censor or reprimand council member Kevin Park for his comments at a city council meeting.
“This was not the first time he had said offensive things about staff and others,” Broughman alleges in his petition, although she does not provide examples of Park’s behavior towards workers at the city.
Park doesn’t think his comment was malicious. He said the analogy was inspired by his four-year-old daughter and was intended to explain his thinking about housing in the city. But he said he was also not surprised by the petition.
“I haven’t tried to offend people and I don’t know if a lot of people would have been offended by it,” Park told the San José Spotlight. “I think people who are offended by this are more likely to look for a reason to be offended.”
The comment in question occurred on July 6, when Santa Clara City Council debated housing density on El Camino Real, the city’s commercial and transit corridor. Park has expressed support for a plan recommended by the city to build denser and taller.
“Just like you can’t ask toddlers to specify their own lunch, you can’t really ask single-family homeowners to design a city,” he said at the meeting, advocating a plan for address the concerns of owners and newcomers. “For homeowners, I hate to say it, (but) density is coming. But we have to manage the transition.
The initial comment reached out to Broughman, who spoke out against the plan to build four-story buildings in the hallway.
“I hope city council will censor or at least reprimand Councilor Park for his offensive comment about myself and the rest of the residents of the Santa Clara single-family homes,” the petition read.
Broughman declined to answer questions on his petition.
“Log on to Tuesday’s meeting and you’ll see,” she told the San José Spotlight.
Santa Clara City Council will consider the petition at its next meeting on Tuesday, which was pushed back from last week’s meeting at Broughman’s request.
Tit for tat
Since being elected to council in November, Park, the first Korean American to serve on Santa Clara city council, has found himself in at least one other contentious situation.
In April, Park joined a council majority in censoring council member Kathy Watanabe and berating Mayor Lisa Gillmor after Watanabe refused to let him speak at a “Stop Asian Hate” rally.
The vote highlighted the deep rift in city council where Gillmor and his one ally Watanabe are struggling to maintain control against newcomers like Park, Suds council members Jain and Anthony Becker, who have turned the political landscape of the city in 2020 and deprived the mayor of his majority.
The two factions disagree on a number of issues, including the city’s controversial relationship with the San Francisco 49ers and the city’s six-district electoral system.
Now, the petition to censor Park highlights the lingering animosity not only from council members but also from their supporters, he said.
“It’s tit for tat,” Park said. “It’s like because you berated that person… and voted for censorship, so we’re going to do this to you.”
None of the council members, city workers or residents raised a problem with Park’s analogy during the meeting. Broughman filed his motion six days after the meeting.
Park said he wasn’t too concerned about the petition, adding that he hadn’t discussed the matter with anyone else on council. He wants to know what his colleagues think of the complaint.
“I don’t know if there were good reasons to follow up on the action that was requested,” he said.
The board member also did not contact the petitioner. Park is in South Korea for a conference and a family trip, he said.
“I hope, and I would ask that if people are having problems, tell me what the problems are,” he said. “Don’t tell me what the problems are by shooting me with a warning petition. Let’s just talk.