Hillside Specific Plan - Introduction

Hillside Specific Plan - Introduction
The purposes of the Los Gatos Hillside Plan are to address the existing and future development policies of town and county, to make recommendations for future development in the planning area, and to promote harmony between development and the natural environment.

The Board of Supervisors and the Town Council jointly appointed the first hillside committee comprised of two planning commissioners and staff from each agency in the spring of 1975. This Committee was to develop a plan for development of lands in the Los Gatos hillside area through the formulation and implementation of development policies and standards in at least five areas:
  1. Circulation patterns
  2. Water supply
  3. Fire protection
  4. Sanitary sewage disposal
  5. Aesthetic impact of development
This Committee filed its report on November 24, 1975, finding that a substantial portion of the study area was steeper than 50% slope and if developed to the extent allowed by existing regulations would create extensive deficiencies in access, water and sewer services. The Committee also found that due to market pressures, the study area would develop with or without proper plans, policies and standards, and recommended that the board and Council appoint an expanded committee which would include representation of conservationists, county and town homeowners, League of Women Voters or AAUW, county Landowners Associations, Board of Realtors, town citizenry residing outside the study area, and agriculturalists to prepare a specific plan.

During 1976 and early 1977, the second Committee met and formulated a specific plan which was presented at a joint Board of Supervisors Town Council meeting in May, 1977. That plan included the following statement: "In its work the Committee's ever present goal was to attempt to encourage that kind of growth which would be harmonious to the environment and fair to the landowners and residents, both present and future. This report is an effort to reflect as accurately as possible and desires--not always unanimous--of the community in and around Los Gatos as best we could perceive them. The recommendations are based on field trips, questioning of experts in many fields, excellent staff research and technical presentations, and listening to many residents of the study area on such subjects as road circulation patterns, water supply, sanitary sewage disposal, protection of plant life in the fragile hillside area, and the accommodation of an optimum population."

Soon after, the town Planning Commission commenced public hearings on the plan and recommended an amended plan to the Town Council on February 8, 1978. The county Planning Commission recommended approval of the amended plan on November 8, 1978. The Town Council held hearings, studied some further amendments and after having referred the amendments to the Planning Commission adopted the specific plan on August 7, 1978. The Board of Supervisors then adopted the same plan as adopted by the town on March 19, 1979.

Upon adoption of the Plan by the Board of Supervisors, the town amended its various ordinances and created three new hillside zones in compliance with the provisions of the Hillside Specific Plan. By the end of 1979, all areas in the town and within the urban service area were rezoned or prezoned to one of the new zones in accordance with the recommendations for sub-area residential densities in this plan. In 1980, the town amended the plan regarding circulation in the vicinity of Tourney Road, and LAFCO amended the town's urban service area boundary to correspond to the recommendations in this plan. The town prezoned all of the new urban service area in 1981. The county has also rezoned the entire area as part of a general rezoning of the mountains to zones which are consistent with the plan.

In 1983, as part of the town's comprehensive review of the town's General Plan, the town Planning Commission appointed a subcommittee to study the Hillside Specific Plan to ensure that it was still consistent with the General Plan. The Committee's recommendations included:
  • Updating the findings and background information,
  • Deleting those items which had been accomplished,
  • Revising the policies to reflect actual usage of the plan over the previous four years,
  • Reformatting the plan to be consistent with the town General Plan, and
  • Strengthening the Hillside Plan.
Goals of the Los Gatos Hillside Plan
  1. Preservation of the irreplaceable natural environment of the mountains.
  2. Addressing of the differences in development policies, regulations and standards between the town and county and study of possible new standards.