Alison Steer
Alison Steer accused the Town of bias, as she sought to thwart a lot line adjustment. (Town of LG / YouTube)

The Los Gatos Town Council rejected an appeal by a neighbor opposed to a proposed lot adjustment on a Los Robles Way property.

Following a bit of back-and-forth with Town Attorney Gabrielle Whelan about the 17200 Los Robles Way site—and after the developer produced an old subdivision map with a prospective road already foreseen—Council denied the appeal.

“This has been an ongoing struggle in our community,” said neighbor Alison Steer, the appellant, at the Dec. 19 meeting. “All the sudden you’re going to create a new public right-of-way, which is going to be paid for by the Town of Los Gatos taxpayer. So, we’re going to build this person a driveway. And we’re going to maintain the driveway…The Town has done everything possible to make sure this goes through. And I’ve never seen any kind of bias like this before in my life. I’m an electrical engineer. I’m a woman. I work in the industry. And I’ve never seen bias like this.”

Planning Commission had already rejected the effort to block the lot line adjustment of three adjoining lots.

In its report to Council, staff noted several lot violations would be fixed by allowing the reconfiguration to proceed.

‘The Town has done everything possible to make sure this goes through.’

—Alison Steer, neighbor

But in her public testimony, Steer said the Town was trying to “make sure a developer can get what they want.”

The parcels are located at Los Robles Way and Worcester Lane.

Part of what figured into the decision was that of Government Code Section 66412(d), which describes which re-drawings are to be ministerial in nature: if the new lot line adjustment involves four or fewer existing adjoining parcels, where the land taken from one is simply added to an adjoining parcel, and where no extra parcels are created; and the resulting properties still fall within the General Plan rules.

Staff noted in its report that ministerial projects are exempt from the stringent California Environmental Quality Act review process.

Council was also wary of taking too big of a swing on this particular case, as it’s part of litigation that was stayed.

Steer reiterated her contention that a right-of-way doesn’t exist “on any of the maps today,” on questioning from Councilmember Rob Rennie about her chief concerns.

Developer Tony Jeans sought to quash the idea that Los Gatos would be on the hook for a new road—and he produced a vintage document to prove his case.

Tony Jeans said despite what Steer claimed, the paperwork he’s uncovered tells a different story. (Town of LG / YouTube)

“This is the subdivision map that created Los Robles Way,” he said. “I would like to point out where Los Robles Way goes. It goes all the way up here, and then it goes onto the property and terminates at the point we have shown. So, the frontage is actually along this section here. And I don’t care what Alison says. It’s on the property.”

He added that in 1927 Los Gatos OK’d the subdivision map with language that doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

“It says all the streets are approved and accepted as public highways,” he said. “So, this is a public right-of-way going all the way down, as shown on this map.”

A map from the 1920s
This map from the 1920s played a key role in helping Council come to a decision. (Town of LG / YouTube)

Whelan said the lot line adjustment would be considered a minor land use change and not subject to a CEQA review.

Rennie asked if an SB9 project (that would allow a different sort of ministerial lot-split) would be allowed regardless of a lot line adjustment.

Planning Manager Jennifer Armer confirmed that a developer could submit an SB9 plan for the area in question.

Councilmember Maria Ristow said it would be more appropriate to debate many of the concerns when a development is actually proposed.

In an email to the Los Gatan, last year, Steer said her home looks out toward a ravine past a parcel that’s currently too small to build anything on.

She said the lot line adjustment creates the opportunity for several new homes to be built at some point in the future next to where she lives.

Four Council members voted to deny the appeal, with Vice Mayor Matthew Hudes abstaining.

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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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