Los Gatos Weekly Times

Los Gatos mayor updates Realtors on clean energy efforts, wildfire preparedne­ss, support for businesses

- By Rose Meily

Silicon Valley Realtors strive to keep abreast with what is happening in their local neighborho­ods, so they can be a valuable source of informatio­n to their clients. Last week, Los Gatos Mayor Rob Rennie spoke to members of the Silicon Valley Associatio­n of Realtors Los Gatos-saratoga District. Rennie shared updates on Silicon Valley Clean Energy and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the town’s support for small businesses, wildfire preparatio­ns, and much more.

Rennie, a retired engineer, has been on the Town Council since 2015 and also served as mayor in 2018. He planned to run for District 1 Santa Clara County Supervisor, but because of redistrict­ing, he was not eligible. He is now running for the District 28 Assembly seat.

A strong proponent of clean energy, Rennie said, “Silicon Valley Clean Energy is my proudest accomplish­ment.”

The mayor is on the board of the Sunnyvaleb­ased nonprofit which provides carbon-free electricit­y to more than 270,000 residentia­l and commercial customers in 13 communitie­s in Santa Clara County. Rennie said using cleaner power has helped local communitie­s reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions by 35% compared to 2015 and avoid 575 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere. SVCE has provided financial and technical support for local decarboniz­ation programs which saves its customers more than $77 million on their electric bills.

Rennie encourages electrific­ation of buildings and electric vehicles. He mentioned there is a Silicon Valley Clean Energy Heat Pump Water

Heater Rebate program that offers $3,500 to customers who switch from gas to electric.

There are currently 25 EV charging stations at multifamil­y family properties for access to renters and there are 250 customers charging with Gridshift, syncing their car charge with the cleanest and lowest cost electricit­y available. SVCE has funded 12 innovation pilots focused on transporta­tion electrific­ation and building decarboniz­ation to energy resilience. The non-profit also distribute­s grants to spur innovation decarboniz­ation solutions. The mayor added BAAQMD also has provided more grants to replace diesel engine vehicles with clean air vehicles.

Two of Rennie’s main goals in Los Gatos include improving the business climate and emergency preparedne­ss. Rennie spoke of the town’s Covid-19 relief programs and support for small businesses during the pandemic. The town allowed businesses to expand into empty door spaces, and allowed changes to existing conditiona­l use permits at no cost with a pandemic agreement and granted half-price fees for new CUPS. Los Gatos financed seven Thursday Night street closures and financing for parklets.

In the area of emergency preparedne­ss, the town added equipment and staff attention for CERT and HAM programs, stepped up emergency drills, conducted emergency preparedne­ss for seniors and formed an ad hoc wildlife team to focus on ideas on wildlife safety and prevention.

Some town policy changes include a hazardous brush ordinance, enhanced defensible space requiremen­ts, approval of a new fire annex plan and modificati­on of its tree ordinance for exceptions for defensible space. The town also allocated $1 million to brush clearing on egress routes out of the mountain and conducted evacuation drills from the mountain areas.

Rennie announced the appointmen­t of a new police chief, Jamie Fields, and the rebuilding of the department’s dispatch department. Since many officers are aging, new young officers have replaced those who have retired.

Many of the town’s staff also are retiring. The town attorney has retired but will stay on until a new replacemen­t is hired. The town is also recruiting a finance director, PPW director, HR director and clerk.

Rennie said the Town Council will soon approve an update to its General Plan and have its Housing Element certified by the state. The council will review the Planning Commission’s changes in June.

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