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Illustration of the writing process. (Shutterstock)

Los Gatos has eight huge housing projects as a result of our leadership failing to get the Housing Element certified. 

The General Plan process started more than five years ago. One very critical item in the General Plan is the Housing Element (HE). It is critical because the State gave the Town a very adequate amount of time to get the HE certified by meeting their requirements by Jan. 31, 2023.  The Town started off on the wrong foot by working first on the General Plan that had no penalties and no deadline. That went well over their estimated time period and no one in management thought they needed to move immediately to the Housing Element. 

The Town received its first rejection letter of the HE on Jan. 12. Since then, the Town has failed certification four additional times. It will be two to three months more before we have another shot at getting this across the goal line. In the meantime, more applications can be filed for non-conforming residential buildings.

A disastrous consequence of the Town’s failure is something called the “Builder’s Remedy,” long known by the Town to have severe penalties. It is a housing development streamlining tool that provides developers the option to file an application for a housing development project with at least 20% affordable housing that is not in conformance with a jurisdiction’s zoning or General Plan. That’s where we are now, four projects of which are Builder’s Remedies. More can be filed until the Town becomes certified but no other city we can find in our size range have more than three Builder’s Remedies projects.

Council voted on Dec. 5 to give the Town Manager a raise of more than $15,000.

What does this mean to you? By our calculations, the projects we currently have will create 1,141 market-rate units; 247 affordable; 3,331 additional residents and 2,000 more cars as the Town continues to narrow streets like Blossom Hill Road and Los Gatos Boulevard. If you thought traffic was already bad? Brace yourself. Not only will we suffer these consequences, but our greenhouse gases (aka pollution), which are already far under our goal, will only worsen. What happens to the schools? What about water? Why has the Town refused to do a financial impact analysis?

One of the new buildings will be 12 stories tall or twice the size of our current tallest building, the Penthouse Apartments. Three of the new buildings will be seven stories and we will lose the Los Gatos Ace Hardware on the north end of town; the post office on the south, and the Los Gatos Lodge in the middle to new developments that prior to a Builder’s Remedy, could not be built.

In our opinion, Los Gatos’s top management, consisting of former Mayors Maria Ristow and Rob Rennie, who both managed Town Manager Laurel Prevetti, have in the past two years caused the most disastrous situation this Town has ever suffered through. These three plus Councilmember Rob Moore all approved of doubling the density of Los Gatos back in 2022. Do you think there may be more going on than meets the eye?

The Council voted on Dec. 5 to give the Town Manager a raise of more than $15,000. Meanwhile, residents will have to live with seven- and 12-story buildings; abject failure in meeting our affordable housing goals; massive traffic increases; reduction of traffic lanes; a bridge we can’t afford; water shortages, increased pollution, etc., that will only get worse.

The question should not be about giving the Town Manager a raise, but rather, the Council needs to let us know why they would want to keep someone with this track record on our payroll at all.

Jak Van Nada is a member of the Los Gatos Community Alliance.

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