two new projects
A apartment block and a bubble cul-de-sac are the two latest projects to hit Los Gatos. (Town of Los Gatos)

The stage has been set for the next phase of residential development reticence in Los Gatos as two new housing projects have officially entered the arena: a blocky apartment complex and a traditional suburban cul-de-sac.

The developers behind both say they qualify for fast-tracking under new State laws SB 330 and the “builder’s remedy.”

And both have already begun to drive significant opposition from local residents—before they’ve even been submitted as formal applications.

“We need to have more reasonable and guided—and affordable—housing that satisfies the needs of older adults and lower-income people in town,” said Councilmember Matthew Hudes in an interview with the Los Gatan at the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Co. Sept. 7. “How did we get where we are?”

Hudes was referencing a message he e-blasted out that morning, in which he lambasted Town officials for what he called “wasted time and money” (for their “extensive effort” to include the public in crafting the 2040 General Plan and Housing Element) and for following the State’s lead in “pushing for more housing.”

Councilmember Hudes laid out his thoughts about what he believes is “reasonable” housing development and what led to the current real estate development environment in a recent email to local residents. (Gmail screenshot, color added)

The email also derided the two newest projects, which hadn’t even been “deemed submitted” as pre-applications yet.

It would be another week before 220 Belgatos Road cleared that bar, followed by 14849 Los Gatos Blvd. the following day.

In that time, plenty of local residents had shared their concerns about emerging projects with municipal officials, including during a Town meeting, where Los Gatos folk took notes about the limited weapons in their arsenal to fight back.

During the joint Planning Commission and Town Council study session, Sept. 12, residents requested answers about 220 Belgatos Road and 14849 Los Gatos Blvd., but Town staff kept things vague.

After all, the meeting was focused on educating the public about the nuances of the growing slew of new housing laws and wasn’t a forum to discuss specific developments.

apartment proposal
Pre-application submission for a seven-story apartment block. (Town of Los Gatos)

Doctor behind seven-story apartment plan

The two latest projects bear similarities in some ways.

In others, they couldn’t be more different.

Silicon Valley Properties LP’s “Los Gatos Blvd. Apartments” (alternately, “The Boulevard Villas”) is a small tower aimed for a stone’s throw from Good Samaritan Hospital.

The Anderson Architects, Inc. design stops short of weaving in the sense of flow revealed recently for the 405 Alberto Way four-story mixed-use proposal.

The proposed 132 rental units—including 27 affordable to “lower income” households (20%)—are on a plot that’s still relatively rustic.

The plan is to demolish 1920s vintage structures (there’s currently a single-family residence, a cottage and a detached garage on the 0.9-acre site), eliminate trees and raise seven stories.

site where seven story apartment is planned
This rustic property could eventually become home to a new apartment tower. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

The project—which totals 255,362 square feet, including three levels of underground parking—is just what the doctor ordered, as far as some housing advocates are concerned.

The developer says the Town doesn’t have much choice in the matter, anyhow.

“This project is being processed pursuant to the builder’s remedy,” reads the letter from the applicant, referencing the provision which prevents towns from denying projects based on zoning if they haven’t adopted a Housing Element that’s up to snuff. “As such, the project should require no density bonus, incentives or concessions, waivers or reductions of development standards, or reduced parking ratios given that it may not be disapproved even if it is inconsistent with both the zoning ordinance and general plan land use designation.

“However, given that the project will include sufficient affordable housing to qualify for the benefits of the Density Bonus Law…the applicant reserves the right to seek any such benefits depending on the City’s feedback on and handling of the project.”

Town Manager Laurel Prevetti told the Los Gatan while the project is within the North 40 Specific Plan Area, it’s separate from the other North 40 Phase II SB 330 pre-application.

North 40 officials say the land was owned by former Los Gatos mayor Brent Ventura and later sold to Ali Moayed, who currently owns it through his Silicon Valley Properties limited partnership.

housing to be demolished
This house would be demolished to make way for multi-family housing under the new proposal. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Back in March 2008, Moayed was sentenced to a year in jail after pleading guilty to one count of felony elder abuse and one count of felony insurance fraud.

Moayed was put on probation for three years, ordered to pay $50,000 to the California Medical Board for investigative costs and $15,000 to Medi-Cal in restitution, and told to complete 100 hours of community service.

He ultimately served just one month in jail, he told the Los Gatan.

Then, in 2019, Moayed was charged with eight felonies related to his work at the Los Gatos Urgent Care Clinic along with his wife Dr. Farzaneh Tabrizi.

A tree along the North 40 Specific Plan perimeter is putting a strain on local infrastructure. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

He pled no contest to one count of presenting (back in 2013) a fraudulent insurance claim exceeding $950, for which he was fined $2,000, and the rest were dismissed.

The money for the new development didn’t come from illegal billing, he stressed.

“Nothing was ill-gotten,” he said. “The facts are set.”

Moayed says he’s committed to helping the Town fulfill the strict obligation placed upon it by the State to build significantly more housing than it has in the past.

“That’s the number one goal,” he said. “It’s tough to find a place to live around here.”

The Moayed Family Foundation, Inc., his philanthropic organization with $1.5 million in assets, provides some short-term housing assistance and meals to help immigrants get on their feet in America.

When asked if he views the Los Gatos affordable housing project through the same humanitarian lens, Moayed replied that, no, he sees them as completely separate initiatives. And he says he’s OK with the fact that he likely won’t win over the naysayers who think what he’s proposing isn’t appropriate for the community.

“I’m not going to change anyone’s mind,” he said. “They’re entitled to their opinion. I’m entitled to mine.”

Moayed’s also gearing up for a fight with the feds. He says he was overcharged on his taxes and is set to take the commissioner of the IRS to trial on Jan. 8.

Construction worker
A construction works on a utility company project on Belgatos Road. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

How California’s new housing laws encourage additional affordable housing

Robson Homes, 220 Belgatos Road’s developer, is proposing 30 two-story single-family residences on a 4.4-acre Union School District field.

The plan features 24 market rate homes, (17 four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath and seven five-and-a-half bath homes; seven detached market-rate ADUs and two attached market-rate junior ADUs).

Barbara Kautz of Goldfarb & Lipman LLP explains new housing laws at a Sept. 12 Town meeting. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

The market-rate units would come with a two-car garage.

The plan includes six below-market-rate duplexes, each with a garage that fits a single vehicle.

“Because the (Town) has not yet adopted a substantially compliant…Housing Element and the Project is a housing development project that will provide 20 percent of its units for lower income households, the Project is protected by the Builder’s Remedy,” wrote the developer’s representative Bryan W. Wenter, of Miller Starr Regalia, adding Los Gatos “cannot lawfully require the Project to obtain a General Plan amendment or rezoning, nor can it disapprove the Project for not seeking and obtaining a General Plan amendment or rezoning.”

Los Gatos contends the fact it “adopted” a Housing Element it said was “substantially compliant” back in January (even though the State later disagreed) protects it from these sorts of claims.

“Urgent information” about the project was posted to a telephone pole near Belgatos Park along with a printout of a Belwood Homes Association newsletter page urging neighbors to “get organized.”

While some spoke in support at a special USD meeting Aug. 25, casting it as a helpful source of ongoing revenue to help address the District’s financial woes, others said they were concerned with increased traffic, pedestrian safety, privacy and a lack of transparency, according to meeting minutes.

urgent information
Community activism is underway in the neighborhood. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

The field needs more than $2 million in repairs. As the land is valued at $23.2 million, the deal is structured to generate $1.15 million in revenue for the district each year, according to a board report.

The homeowners association said more than 75 neighbors showed up for the exchange agreement vote, which was passed 3-2 (Vickie Brown, Doug Evans and Thomas Rossmeissl in support; Sheila Billings and Jennifer Petroff against).

The district’s superintendent Carrie Andrews said California’s education funding model disadvantages USD.

Los Gatos residents learning about housing laws
Local residents study up on new housing laws during the September study session. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

“Union School District is the lowest funded per student in Santa Clara County,” she said. “We believe our students deserve access to exceptional programs regardless of the inadequate funding model and because of that, we must evaluate all opportunities and partnerships.”

An administrator at one of the (non-USD) schools located next to the empty field approached by the Los Gatan Sept. 7 said she wasn’t happy about the plan.

“We don’t like it either,” she said.

Belwoods neighbor
A woman shares concerns with the suburban cul-de-sac pre-application for 220 Belgatos Road. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Back in July, Robson Homes President Mark Robson told Terra Realty Advisors, Inc. another option might be possible: to request a General Plan amendment to change the land use designation and secure a density bonus to achieve 27 lots (including two below-market-rate).

“A General Plan Amendment is discretionary and the process is lengthy, perhaps resulting in more BMRs or denial,” he wrote. “We do not think the additional risk and uncertainty of this entitlement path is worthwhile.”

They went the SB 330 / Builder’s Remedy route instead.

So, in this case at least, new State laws managed to generate a housing plan with more lower-income homes than otherwise might’ve been proposed.

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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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