Los Gatos doubles its housing, residents cry scandal
LOS GATOS, CA – In a city that has barely grown over the past two decades, Los Gatos is looking to add more housing – almost twice as many units as it needs by 2040 .
Authorities are recommending 3,783 new housing units over the next 20 years. This is a significant increase of 90% from the housing production target set by the city state of 1993. According to the city’s own calculations, Los Gatos needs 1,500 to 2 000 new homes by 2040 to keep pace with growth.
City officials said the ambitious housing plan is an effort to make Los Gatos more inclusive for non-white and less well-off residents. But opponents say the numbers don’t quite add up.
“We also want to address the issue of inclusiveness, but I’m not sure if that’s the answer,” resident Lee Fagot told the San Jose Spotlight. “It’s not a real request.”
Los Gatos executives plan to move from single-family homes to multi-family housing options such as duplexes and townhouses.
As part of the Los Gatos 2040 draft master plan, housing density will more than double the current rate across the city for the first time in recent history, potentially adding almost twice as many units as it does. enough to cope with the population growth in 20 years.
Low density neighborhoods could see up to 12 housing units per acre, a jump from a maximum of 5 units per acre under the previous general plan.
According to the plan, a proposed change in land use designation will allow for more mixed-use development and multi-family housing options, including duplexes, triplexes, quadruple, cottage lots and semi-detached homes. row, which are generally more affordable than single-family homes, according to the plan.
This will allow developers to build taller or taller in almost any neighborhood, city manager Laurel Prevetti told San Jose Spotlight.
“The city is really focused on how to become a more inclusive community (through affordable housing) and be more welcoming to people who earn less money,” said Prevetti.
But some residents fear that new housing will increase traffic and deplete the area’s limited resources, such as water and energy.
“This is contrary to changes in our population, which have been either stable or declining,” Fagot said. “We just don’t see this level of demand for housing in the city.”
Fagot, a resident over 30, added that he “feared the plan was a response to the state’s housing goal” rather than a policy change that made sense for the city.
The city is required to have policies to allow new housing, but it is not responsible for building them, Los Gatos director of community development Joel Paulson said at a community meeting.
For years Los Gatos has been a city of single family homes. In 2019, the median price of a home was around $ 1.69 million, according to census data. Forty percent of the city’s population earned more than $ 200,000 per year in 2019.
Of 13,299 dwellings, 71.5% are single-family homes. Almost all of the new homes added in the past decade were single-family homes, according to city data.
This has deterred the new arrivals, officials said. The city’s population grew by around 1,200 between 2010 and 2018. That’s an increase of 0.5% per year, and it’s one of the slowest rates in South Bay. Los Gatos had around 30,000 residents in 2019, according to census data.
Los Gatos has also experienced an increasing vacancy rate over the past decade, which fell from 5.3% to 6.5% between 2010 and 2018, according to city data. In comparison, the housing vacancy rate in Santa Clara County declined over the same period, from 4.4% to 3.9%.
“A significant demand”
The goal of the general plan, said Prevetti, is to bring “a greater variety (of housing) and a greater variety of prices” to a new population who historically could not afford to live in Los Gatos.
Los Gatos is responsible for providing 1,993 housing units as part of the 2023-2031 Regional Housing Needs Assessment Cycle, a state mandate that requires local cities to plan for affordable housing needs. There is no penalty, however, if cities fail to meet their state-mandated housing goals.
“Last time around, we only had to plan 600 homes with our (allocation),” Prevetti said. “This time around, we need to plan for at least 2,000. So that’s a huge demand and the city is up to the challenge.”
Housing goals for the Bay Area have increased this cycle to account for goals not met in previous cycles, according to the Association of Bay Area Governments. The agency prescribes a housing goal that every city or town in the Bay Area must meet every eight years.
At least six Bay Area jurisdictions have appealed their mandatory housing allowances as part of the RHNA 2023-2031 cycle. Los Gatos didn’t.
The new proposal does not apply to the hillside areas of the city for safety reasons related to forest fires.
Running out of vacant land, the city will rely on redevelopment projects in mixed areas, as well as medium and high density residential areas, to achieve its ambitious goal.
Prevetti said the city will prioritize mixed-use redevelopment projects along trade corridors or older malls. At least 20% of new housing must be affordable for low- and moderate-income households, those earning $ 117,750 and $ 177,624, respectively, per year for a family of four.
The city has identified eight areas where this can occur, including Downtown, Los Gatos Boulevard, North Santa Cruz Avenue, North Santa Cruz Avenue District, Winchester Boulevard and Lark Avenue.
Low-density residential neighborhoods will also see changes, but new developments must follow design guidelines to match the architectural style of the city.
“This will also allow for a slight increase in density in neighborhoods in accordance with our residential design guidelines,” said Prevetti. “You won’t really be able to see the change, but in a particular building, if someone wanted to break it down into individual units, they could.”
The ambitious goal would be equivalent to adding 200 new homes per year. Officials said they doubled the target because they wanted to plan for the next two rounds of housing allocation.
“It’s a pace that has never been seen in the region and certainly not in the city,” Fagot said. “I see no reason why such numbers should be put in place.”
Between 2010 and 2018, the city added 250 units in total, an increase of about 0.2% per year, according to city data.
By state law, a single-family lot can accommodate up to three units, including secondary suites. The city is also counting on these to achieve its housing goal.
The plan to densify Los Gatos and double its housing targets comes as the Bay Area’s largest city, San José, braces for its own battle against an initiative called “Opportunity Housing.”
The policy would allow developers to build up to four homes on plots of land limited to single-family homes.
A Los Gatos resident named Leonie said at a recent community meeting that she was concerned about how the plan could exacerbate the city’s water and traffic problems. She did not provide a last name.
“Los Gatos is a funnel for the beach at (highway) 17,” she said. “We can’t plan too many (many) more buildings if we don’t have the water and the roads to support them.”
Los Gatos is preparing an environmental impact report to assess these concerns, Paulson said. The report is expected this summer.
City officials have held four community meetings to review the proposal since 2018, which Fagot says is not enough.
“We need more citizen participation in this process,” he said. “The impact of this plan is going to be on the next generation, so we need to think about it.”
Los Gatos executives say they will hold more hearings ahead of the plan’s adoption in November.
To learn more about the Los Gatos 2040 General Plan, see http: //losgatos2040.com/genera …
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