writing stock image
Photo by Billion Photos via Shutterstock.

I mentioned in the article, “Group says Town needs to add more sites to housing list” (Los Gatan, Aug. 30-Sept. 5, 2023), that I thought the leadership, two mayors and the Town Manager have failed us for the past two years. They had to get a certified Housing Element done by Jan. 31 for us to avoid penalties. They managed all Commissions and the process.

They will tell you that this process was extremely confusing and complex. They’re right.  

However, Campbell, Los Altos Hills, Milpitas, Mountain View and Gilroy all managed to have their Housing Elements certified. Our leaders could have done a better job in the following areas:

• They started working on the General Plan and the Land Use Element which upzoned over 850 acres Town-wide, doubling the development density. There was no statutory deadline and no penalty for not having the General Plan and Land Use Element being completed by Jan. 31. This put the Town well behind getting a solid start on the Housing Element and established significant penalties if not certified on time. We are now paying the price for that decision with four SB 330 projects and at least one builder’s remedy.

• In March 2022, our attorney sent a constructive and informative letter to the Town suggesting they complete the Housing Element and do the General Plan and the Land Use Element after the Housing Element was certified. The Town rejected that reasonable suggestion and never asked any questions.

• The Town was late putting out an RFQ for a consultant to assist the Town getting the Housing Element certified. Of the 23 or so RFQ’s sent out, they got only one response. Why not keep pushing it out for more qualified responses until you have at least three viable candidates to evaluate and select? 

• After two years working with EMC Planning, spending more than $300,000 and making three submissions of the Housing Element to HCD, the Town has failed to obtain certification, and missed two statutory deadlines.

• The Town has decided not to “renew” the EMC contract, and hired a new consultant at a cost of $50,000. If the process was going well, there wouldn’t be a need to hire a new consultant after two years and $300,000 being spent.

• More than 50% of the Housing Element Advisory Board meetings were cancelled indicating either a lack of leadership, or no sense of urgency. 

Commissioner Roseburg, mentioned in the article, stated I had increased the number of housing units. I replied that we have been very consistent with the sixth cycle RHNA requirement of 1,993 units assigned to us plus the 15% buffer. Mr. Rosenburg may have misunderstood an article we wrote on our website. Go here (tinyurl.com/3kspsyaf) to read it. 

What I was referring to was that with the reduced affordable housing units and the increased market rate housing units being proposed by the developers, the Town was entering the “no-net loss” area; something the town absolutely cannot do. The Town has to make up the missing units.

The North 40 developer sent a courtesy letter to the Town well in advance clearly stating they did not anticipate developing the Phase II N40 parcel at the exact affordability mix the Town had allocated on the Housing Element site inventory. Rather, they would comply with the Town’s 20% affordability requirement.  

Both the North 40 and the Los Gatos Lodge in their SB 330 development applications are proposing to develop significantly fewer affordable units than the Town planned in the site inventory for these income categories. That deficit has to be made up by finding more acreage upon which to build the missing affordable units.

By our calculation the Town needs to find more parcels which when properly zoned will accommodate a 222 shortfall in very low and a 115 shortfall in moderate income categories. That would require adding approximately 14.8 acres to the current 87 acres for a total of 102 acres. 

Though we advocate adding more land for the additional units, they are really add-backs to cover the affordable units not being proposed by the Lodge and Phase II N40 parcels. We’ll stand firm on the 1,993 plus the 15% buffer. 

Jak Van Nada wrote this column on behalf of the Los Gatos Community Alliance.

Previous article​​Cool season vegetables for autumn
Next article‘You dumb young people think you can get away with everything’ (Police Blotter, Aug. 27-Sept. 2)


  1. This is the first time I have read articles on the housing for the area of Los Gatos Blvd with Ace Hardware. Wow I see that a whole 58 houses could go in there! The convenience of that store to me living down the street on a half acre on which I cannot afford to add housing I would love to build is unbelievable. It is worth more than 58 houses to more than just Los Gatos. Why aren’t they talking about the houses along north Los Gatos Blvd instead of one of the few significant stores here in Los Gatos. Maybe that area is already destined for medical or other since I have not followed much of the town planning. The new housing across Los Gatos Blvd is not low or low middle income housing, it’s way up there in affordability. If Whole Foods is moving a bit north, there is a whole shopping section in there at Los Gatos Blvd and Blossom Hill Rd that I think could be affordable housing. Rite Aid could not afford to stay and that was a huge loss to me. It was much nicer than CVS, but I believe that CVS is trying. Los Gatos CVS is located just about where the hardware used to be many years ago.

    • Please sign me up for the newsletter - Yes


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here