former mayor
Former Monte Sereno mayor Shawn Leuthold speaks on housing issues at City Council. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Last night, Monte Sereno City Council voted unanimously to adopt a Housing Element that should be “good to go.”

On April 22, the California Department of Housing and Community Development sent a letter to the City, saying it was prepared to certify their all-important homes plan.

This follows a big push by Monte Sereno officials to get homeowners to add new granny flats (accessory dwelling units) or legalize ones they’d previously installed on the sly.

Councilmember Bryan Mekechuk largely credits former mayor Shawn Leuthold for their success.

“Shawn was the one that led the charge,” he said, noting he came up with the idea of going door-to-door. “He actually had a signup sheet there on an iPad…He would close the sale right on the doorstep.”

They divided the city into five segments, with each Council member taking one. And each Site and Architectural Commissioner was paired with a Council member.

“We were sharing what was working and what was not working,” Mekechuk said. “You don’t want one area that has all your housing. You want it to be spread through the community. By having ADUs we don’t have one pocket of high-density.”

Getting to this point hasn’t been easy, he acknowledged.

“It’s taken a couple years,” he said, looking back on the process which began with a study session in February 2022. “It was a long, difficult process.”

The City first worked with consultant EMC Planning Group, and later, Metropolitan Planning Group.

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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