Sept 28 Los Gatos Housing Element Advisory Board meeting
Los Gatos' Housing Element Advisory Board met Sept. 28. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

While multiple Housing Element Advisory Board members took issue with some of the more progressive language in the latest draft of the Housing Element, Sept. 28, everyone but Councilmember Matthew Hudes ended up voting to make no changes to the document before submitting the residential development plan to the State for review.

Hudes was concerned, among other things, about not having a chance to hear from the Town’s new consultant, Veronica Tam & Associates, tried to change the wording of how prevalent racially-restrictive covenants were in town (from “popular” to something some locals would find less offensive) and sought to replace language that tied single-family housing to racism with wording Sacramento uses.

“This is a document of the Town, and when the Town says something it means something,” Hudes said. “And if the Town makes statements that are purposefully, as I say, self-flagellating to win some sympathy from someone, I think this is a mistake.”

The decision allowed Los Gatos to resubmit its 6th Cycle Housing Element to the Department of Housing and Community Development on Monday.

Multiple community members requested the Town extend the public comment period for the draft to allow them more time to understand the changes to the expansive volume.

‘When the Town says something it means something.’

—Matthew Hudes, councilmember

Town Associate Planner Jocelyn Shoopman said no new sites had been added to the list of places where residential development can occur.

She added projections about the potential for various types of developments to occur had been refined.

And Los Gatos recently learned it could take credit for 250 additional units, based on technicalities of how HCD counts the amount of housing municipalities must plan for.

Hudes said it seemed like Los Gatos was planning on double-counting 194 units from the previous Housing Element and asked if that was permissible.

Staff said the Town currently believes this is above-board.

“We were surprised as well when we received the information,” Associate Planner Erin Walters said.

Planning Director Jennifer Armer agreed it was “a little counterintuitive,” but confirmed it was “in compliance with direction from the State.”

Los Gatos Community Alliance member Jak Van Nada questioned, during public comment, why the Town wasn’t planning to address a shortfall of hundreds of lower-income units between what’s in the Housing Element and what’s being planned by the North 40 Phase 2 developer.

Staff said Los Gatos wouldn’t have to address this sort of potential problem until later and didn’t recommend any changes.

Ryan Rosenberg, a public representative on the board, said from his standpoint, it was better to try to get the document across the finish line than to improve language he took issue with in the draft.

“I remember the first time I saw it, to be perfectly honest, I was taken aback,” he said. “I am quite uncomfortable with several things.”

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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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