Los Gatos Weekly Times

Residents get first look at proposed Housing Element sites

Town must plan for nearly 2,000 new housing units in next eight years

- By Hannah Kanik hkanik@ bayareanew­sgroup.com

At a March 31 community meeting to update residents on the Housing Element, staff presented a list of potential housing sites, demonstrat­ed a simulation tool for housing site allocation and took public feedback.

This marks the next step in creating the Housing Element for Los Gatos, which serves as the blueprint for the town's growth and developmen­t over the next 20 years and includes quotas for affordable housing units, known as the Regional Housing Needs Allocation.

All California cities are required by state law to submit their plans by the end of the year or face penalties. Los Gatos must add 1,993 new housing units between 2023 and 2031 to meet the needs of people across all income levels.

Community Developmen­t Director Joel Paulson asked residents who attended the meeting to spread the word to others about giving feedback on the Housing Element.

“This is an ongoing process, as with the General

Plan, so please continue to be engaged,” Paulson said.

The town worked with EMC Consultant­s to identify potential sites where housing units could be developed in town. They found 10 districts where developmen­t could occur, as well as 202 pipeline projects and an estimated 200 accessory dwelling units.

Staff demonstrat­ed a simulation tool called Balancing Act that allows users to allocate housing units across town on their own and submit their findings. Residents can add comments to their selections, and add new sites for considerat­ion. The tool can be accessed via https://engagelosg­atoshousin­g.com

Town council said last year that it wanted to concentrat­e its future residentia­l growth in commercial areas to allow more people to walk instead of drive cars in an effort to limit traffic in town.

The consultant group recommende­d the following districts for considerat­ion: downtown, North Santa Cruz Avenue , Los Gatos Lodge, Los Gatos Boulevard, North 40, Lark Avenue, Winchester Boulevard, Pollard Road , Union Avenue and Harwood Road.

Each district has several parcels listed for developmen­t. Paulson said the property owners have not been surveyed on whether they would be interested in selling, but that will happen later.

Resident Jayne Sonnensche­in said she was concerned about the Pollard Road site because Saratoga already approved two parcels along the same road.

“I just urge Los Gatos in this process to consider that all of us that live in the canyon off of Quito Road between Highway 9 and Pollard depend on Pollard Road for our transporta­tion,” Sonnensche­in said. “What often happens, I find, is that each town is acting independen­t of the others.”

The Housing Element Advisory Board is set to consider developmen­t policies later this spring and complete a Housing Element draft by the summer. The group will hold public hearings at the end of the year before submitting the final draft to the state.

The Housing Element, which is a part of the General Plan, is due by Jan. 1, 2023. If the plan is not approved by the deadline, the town could face severe penalties.

“The town would have limitation­s for state funding, not only housing related but transporta­tion related. It would also expose the town to potential lawsuits, and those lawsuits could happen from (the state). They could also be vulnerable to lawsuits from the public and housing applicants,” said Ande Flower, principal planner for EMC Planning Group.

The Housing Element Advisory Board, town council and planning commission was to meet on Wednesday for a Joint Study Session on the Housing Element. The next Housing Element Advisory Board meeting will be at 7 p.m. on April 21.

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