- Living in Los Gatos
- Town Departments and Services
- Parks and Public Works
- Environmental Services
- Environmental Sustainability Initiatives
Environmental Sustainability Initiatives
The General Plan update is a pivotal opportunity to shape the future of Los Gatos. Through this process, the Town and the community consider many pertinent topics, including transportation, mobility, housing, environmental justice, public health, and others to ensure Los Gatos is positioned to achieve its vision its vision for the future. Visit the Los Gatos 2040 to access the approved general plan with modifications.
Formally, CaliforniaFIRST, this statewide program provides a new way for property owners to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for their homes and businesses.
SPRING INTO GREEN
The Town’s annual sustainability celebration is back! On Sunday, April 24th, the Town of Los Gatos will be celebrating Earth Day at Town Plaza Park from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The festivities include environmentally focused exhibitor booths, a tree planting ceremony, the weekly Los Gatos Farmer’s Market, family-friendly activities, live music, and more! Visit the Spring Into Green page to stay up-to-date on the latest information.
SILICON VALLEY CLEAN ENERGY (SVCE)
Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) is redefining the local electricity market, providing our residents and businesses with new clean energy choices—renewable and carbon free electricity at competitive rates. The Town of Los Gatos with 11 other communities in Santa Clara County formed SVCE, creating a community-owned agency. SVCE is now the Town’s official electricity provider. Town facilities have saved 5,639 pounds of greenhouse gas emission by utilizing clean energy through SVCE. The entire community of Los Gatos has saved 34,897,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions! Click here to learn more about Silicon Valley Clean Energy.
The Town adopted its sustainability plan in 2012 and many of the ideas within that plan have guided efforts over the last decade. Updating this plan for the future should be a workplan item in the coming years.
The Town of Los Gatos sponsors the Adopt-A-Highway Clean Up Program in order to help protect the environment and keep the Town entrances pristine. This program consists of monthly clean up days located at the Highway 17 exit 20B on and off circle ramps. For more information on upcoming training sessions click here.
Started in 2003, this program allows residents and businesses to “adopt” one of the 28 raised planting beds located along North Santa Cruz Avenue in the Downtown area. Planter “adopters” are responsible for purchasing, planting, and maintaining plant materials in their planter. Visit the Adopt-A-Planter Program page to learn more.
CONNECT LOS GATOS
Connect Los Gatos is a program of bicycle and pedestrian projects that promote connectivity and improve the multimodal network throughout the Town. The program will expand access and improve safety for key community destination points. Connect Los Gatos is aimed at making it easier and safer for all to bike and walk in Los Gatos. Alternative transportation reduces the Town's Greenhouse Gas emissions, improving the quality of life in Los Gatos while promoting an active lifestyle. Visit the Connect Los Gatos page to learn more.
ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING STATIONS
Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations help provide a diversity of fuel options to residents while helping to greatly reducing CO2 emissions. The Town currently has twelve Tesla Supercharger stations with eight more schedule to be installed. In addition, the Town also has six Tesla Level II Ports. The Town also has sixteen ChargePoint Stations located throughout Town. The locations of the current EV charging stations can be found here. You may also utilize the ChargePoint App or Tesla Supercharger Map to see EV locations. The PlugShare lists all EV stations in a given region.
ENVIRONMENTAL WASTE STATIONS
The Town of Los Gatos and City of Campbell partnered together with the West Valley Clean Water Authority and was awarded the B7 Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Grant to execute ten environmental waste stations along the Los Gatos Creek Trail, with five locations in Los Gatos. These stations include a trash receptacle, a recycling receptacle, and a dog waste receptacle along with environmental signage on the importance of preventing creek pollution.
INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT (IPM)
The Town walks the walk by implementing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program. Town staff receive Integrated Pest Management (IPM) training to learn the most efficient less-toxic approaches to pest management in Los Gatos. Click here to access the Town's IPM Plan.
LED STREET & TRAFFIC LIGHTS
All of the red and green traffic lights in Los Gatos, and the majority of pedestrian signals, street lights, and yellow traffic lights, use light emitting diodes (LEDs) instead of High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps. LEDs use about 40% to 50% of the energy of HPS lamps, reducing energy costs – and last about five times as long, reducing replacement costs.
OUTSIDE THE BOX PROGRAM
The Outside the Box Utility Box Art Program is designed to enhance the area by adding works of art to the streetscapes on surfaces that are often targeted by graffiti vandals. Artwork on utility boxes functions as a form of communication to a moving audience with the goal of demonstrating a safe, diverse, equitable, and inclusive urban environment. Successful proposals will integrate diversity, equity and inclusion while demonstrating a sense of community, sustainability, and creativity, further enhancing the culture of our Town. Accepted artwork will be converted into a vinyl wrap and installed directly on the utility box. Visit the Outside the Box Program page to learn more.
RECYCLED RUBBER ASPHALT
In April 2021, the Town was awarded a $230,000 grant from the Department of Resources Recycling & Recovery (CalRecycle) through their Rubberized Pavement Grant Program. The grant funds will be used towards rubberized chip seal in the Street Repair and Resurfacing Project over the next two years. Rubberized asphalt concrete (commonly known as RAC) is material made by blending ground-up recycled tires with asphalt. CalRecycle estimates that in 2018, Californians generated 51.1 million waste tires. Identifying means to recycle tires for viable markets is essential to divert tires from being landfilled or disposed of illegally. For more information on the use of recycled tires click here.
Town street sweeping equipment is compliant with Rule 1186 requirements for PM10-efficient sweepers. This certification ensures that the street sweepers will pick up particulate matter with a diameter of 10 microns or less from the roadway; the goal is to reduce contribution to particulate air pollution. The standard was established for Southern California municipalities, and has not yet been required of Bay Area communities, but the Town has voluntarily adopted the more stringent standard.
TOWN RECYCLING CONTAINERS
Recycling containers have been installed next to garbage containers throughout the Town of Los Gatos. This provides residents and visitors with an easy option to recycle their waste rather than to throw it away. Visit the Town Sustainability page for an interactive map of recycling containers throughout the Town of Los Gatos.
TREE CITY USA
In 2023, the Town was named a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation for the 43rd consecutive year, honoring its commitment to its community forest. In order to become a Tree City USA, a community must have a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a comprehensive community forestry program, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation. Each year, the Town coordinates a community celebration and plants trees in honor of Arbor Day. The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation, in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service.
WEST VALLEY CLEAN WATER AUTHORITY (WVCWA)
The West Valley Clean Water Authority serves as the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Authority for the Town of Los Gatos and the Cities of Campbell, Monte Sereno, and Saratoga. The purpose of the WVCWA is to provide facilitation of collaborative stormwater management and pollution prevention efforts to assist the Town in compliance with the municipal stormwater permit and improve water quality. Visit the West Valley Clean Water Authority website to learn more.
CITY SOLAR AWARD
In 2007, the Town was honored with 2nd place by the NorCal Solar Energy Association for the number of solar projects installed in a medium-sized city. The innovative solar recognition program, called the City Solar Awards, recognizes municipalities for the amount of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology installed on homes, businesses and municipal buildings. The Town currently utilizes solar at the Los Gatos Library, the Parks & Public Works Department, and the Police Operations Building. All Town facilities generate approximately 210kwh of solar energy, which helps to reduce the Town's greenhouse gas emissions generated by 47MT of CO2 emissions from Town operations.
The Town of Los Gatos recycles and tracks all internal electronic waste disposal. Improper disposal of e-waste is both illegal and poses a potential threat to people and the environment. The Town of Los Gatos partners with Santa Clara County’s Household Hazardous Waste Program to allow residents to correctly dispose of electronic waste, also known as e-waste. If disposed of improperly, e-waste has the potential to cause severe human and environmental health impacts. Some e-waste may be put directly in your bin, click here to learn what e-waste is applicable. Click here for more information on proper e-waste disposal.
EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY
In 2006, the Town Council adopted a resolution that promotes the integration of environmental costs associated with products throughout their life cycles into their market price, thus requiring businesses to be financially or physically responsible for such products after their useful life. Click here to view the Extended Producer Responsibility Resolution.
GREEN BUSINESS CERTIFICATION
Since 2007, the Town organization has been certified as a Green Business by Santa Clara County. To be certified “green,” the Town must be in compliance with all regulations and meet program standards for conserving resources, preventing pollution, and minimizing waste. The key goals of the program are to promote resource conservation and pollution prevention. Click here to learn more about the Green Business Certification Program.
GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY
The Town contracts with the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) to conduct a greenhouse gas inventory, a measurement of the sources and quantities of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from government operations. The inventory includes greenhouse gas emissions for the base year of 2008 through the present. The inventory provides a benchmark to measure future progress in reducing emissions.
Today, the Town has 13 hybrid vehicles, 1 electric motorcycle, and in 2 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs that makeup the Town Fleet. Electric and hybrid vehicles reduce fuel consumption resulting in fewer greenhouse gas emission.
LED TOWN FACILITY LIGHTS
Town facilities have been upgraded to light emitting diodes (LEDs) replacing traditional fluorescent lighting that used mercury and phosphorous. This transition results in energy savings and the elimination of mercury use.
LEED GOLD STANDARDS
The Library facility was constructed at the high LEED Gold standard. LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system that measures features such as energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions, indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources.
LIBRARY BATTERY STORAGE
Staff is currently pursuing the installation of battery storage at the Library to provide energy resiliency and to allow for the use of off-peak electricity during high energy consumption periods
MAYOR’S CLIMATE PROTECTION AGREEMENT
In 2007, the Town formalized its commitment to take action to significantly reduce global warming pollution by signing the “U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.” This Agreement, passed unanimously by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, calls for taking action to meet or beat the greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 7% below 1990 levels by 2012.
All of the Town’s heavy-duty diesel-fueled trucks and equipment, including street sweepers and dump trucks, run on biodiesel. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel; in the United States, most biodiesel is made from soybean oil, though canola oil, sunflower oil, recycled cooking oil, and animal fats are also used. According to the U.S. EPA, switching an existing vehicle fleet to biodiesel reduces emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter, sulfates, hydrocarbons, and air toxics.
ALL-ELECTRIC REACH CODE
Moving towards a sustainable future, the Town of Los Gatos adopted an all-electric reach code for new construction on December 17, 2019. Los Gatos' code requires electrification for all single family and low-rise multifamily buildings. Read more about Los Gatos' reach code here.
COMMERCIAL ORGANICS RECYCLING (AB 1826)
In April 1, 2016, the State of California's Assembly Bill 1826 requires commercial customers that generate 8 cubic yards or more of organic waste per week to establish organic waste recycling services. The purpose of AB1826 is to divert organics from landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Los Gatos Town Code requires developers to provide an opportunity for the public to salvage building materials from demolished structures. Developers must advertise in a newspaper when a structure is available for salvaging. All wood, metal, glass, and aluminum materials generated from a demolished structure must be recycled.
In an effort to reduce our environmental impact, the Town of Los Gatos adopted Green Monday on December 17, 2019. Green Monday requires all meals served at Town facilities, Council meetings, and events held on Mondays be completely free of animal products. Green Monday is both a day and a national organization, with a goal to encourage communities to make healthier choices for both themselves and the planet. The Los Gatos Library and the Parks & Public Works Department work with Plant-based Advocates to feature plant-based recipes, host cooking classes, and more. For upcoming event information click here.
HILLSIDE DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES
Adopted by the Town Council in 2004, the Hillside Development Standards and Guidelines are a set of standards with which all new hillside homes must comply. They contain voluntary green building standards, including taking maximum advantage of passive solar heating, natural cooling, and natural light; and encouraging the use of salvaged, recycled, or reused building materials.
LEAF BLOWER ORDINANCE
Gasoline leaf blowers shall be prohibited from use in all residential, commercial, and industrial zones or public space. Electric leaf blowers in excess of 65 decibels, measured 50 feet from the source, shall be prohibited from use in all residential, commercial, and industrial zones or public space. Gas powered leaf blowers degrade the quality of life in Los Gatos by polluting the air, posing multiple health risks for operators and residents, generating high noise levels, and disrupting neighborhood tranquility. Visit the Leaf Blower Ordinance page to learn more
SHORT-LIVED CLIMATE POLLUTANT REDUCTION (SB 1383)
In September 2016, Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statues of 2016), establishing methane emissions reduction targets in a statewide effort to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP) in various sectors of California's economy. SB 1383 establishes targets to achieve a 50 percent reduction in the level of the statewide disposal of organic waste from the 2014 level by 2020 and a 75 percent reduction by 2025. The law grants CalRecycle the regulatory authority required to achieve the organic waste disposal reduction targets and establishes an additional target that not less than 20 percent of currently disposed edible food is recovered for human consumption by 2025. On November 16, 2021, Town Council adopted the Organic Waste Disposal Reduction Ordinance in compliance with SB 1383. Effective January 1, 2022, residents and businesses are required to divert organics from the landfill.
SINGLE-USE CARRY-OUT BAG ORDINANCE
The Single-Use Carry-Out Bag Ordinance was approved by the Town Council after considering an Environmental Impact Report in which Los Gatos joined 23 other cities to study the effects of single-use plastic bags on the environment. The intent of the ordinance is to reduce the environmental impacts and pollution from plastic bags, reduce waste, and promote a shift towards reusable bags as a Zero Waste measure. The Ordinance also helps the town meet requirements to reduce plastic bags found in waterways under the Municipal Stormwater Permit issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Board. Visit the Single-Use Carry-Out Bag Ordinance to learn more.
One of the 2015-2016 Strategic Goals and Priorities of the Town Council was to update the Town’s Smoking Regulations, last revised some 25 years ago. In that regard, on May 17, 2016 the Town Council adopted amendments to the Town’s Smoking Regulations. The amendments to the Town Smoking Regulations come in the context of greater scientific understanding of the dangers of secondhand smoke and the continued drop in the percentage of adult smokers in the Bay Area. The amendments include provisions for prohibiting smoking in public places, commercial areas, and multi-unit residences. All of the amendments have already been adopted by one or more jurisdictions within the Bay Area. Visit the Smoking Regulations page to learn more.
URGENCY DROUGHT ORDINANCE
On August 3, 2021, the Town of Los Gatos passed an Urgency Drought Ordinance declaring the existence of a condition of water shortage and providing mandatory reductions in and specified prohibitions of water use. The Town launched the #DroughtReadyLG campaign on drought awareness education and continues to work with Valley Water as part of the Drought Response Plan Task Force. In response to Valley Water’s call for a 15% water usage reduction, the Town of Los Gatos did the following: reduced park irrigation, reduced median irrigation, reduced fountain hours, and Adopt-A-Planter water efficiency.
WASTE DIVERSION (AB 939)
CalRecycle, the state agency tasked with regulating solid waste in California, requires that every municipality divert at least 50% of its solid waste from the landfill. In its last certification, Los Gatos exceeded the state goal by diverting 56% of its solid waste from landfill disposal.
WATER EFFICIENCY LANDSCAPE ORDINANCE
The Water Efficiency Landscape Ordinance was adopted by the Town Council in 1992 to promote conservation and efficient use of water. All new commercial developments and residential developments of five or more units are subject to this ordinance, which requires developers to calculate the water allowance permitted for the site and estimated water usage. The ordinance encourages the use of recycled water irrigation.
WOOD BURNING ORDINANCE
Town Ordinance No. 1905, the Wood Burning Ordinance, restricts the sale and use of fireplaces and other wood-burning appliances that do not meet federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. According to the EPA, residential wood burning contributes significantly to particulate air pollution.
BIKE TO WORK WEEK
The Town annually celebrates National Bike to Work Week, a great way to save on travel expenses and reduce impact on the environment while promoting a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, the Town has a number of employees who regularly bike to work on a year-round basis. Visit Bay Area Bike to Work to learn more.
The Employee Commute Emissions Reduction Program (ECERP) includes bicycle accommodations, telecommuting opportunities, a carpool program, and public transportation alternatives to help reduce the level of emission generated when Town employees commute to and from work. Additionally, the Town actively encourages its employees to use alternative modes of transportation, such as bicycles or public transportation, when staff travels during the work day on official business.
The Town of Los Gatos hosts a variety of environmental events and workshops promoting sustainable living, stormwater pollution prevention, and environmental stewardship. Visit the Town's Growing Greener page to learn more.
GROWING GREENER CAMPAIGN
The Los Gatos: Growing Greener Together Campaign provides Town employees and community members with a seasonal newsletter featuring green tips and best practices for home and at work. As part of the Town’s Green Business Certification, this campaign promotes resource conservation and pollution prevention. Visit the Los Gatos Growing Greener page to learn more or the Los Gatos Library Events page to learn about upcoming workshops.
HAZARDOUS WASTE PROGRAM
The Town partners with the Santa Clara County Household Hazardous Waste Program to ensure that Los Gatos residents correctly dispose of their household hazardous wastes. Improper storage and disposal of household hazardous waste, such as paint, solvents, and insecticides, is associated with accidental poisonings, collection worker safety risks, and environmental contamination of surface water and groundwater. Click here to learn more about the Household Hazardous Waste Program.
HOLIDAY TREE RECYCLING
Every holiday season, the Town partners with West Valley Collection and Recycling to arrange for the pickup of holiday trees curbside as a part of their regular collection schedule. Recovered Christmas trees are taken to Guadalupe Landfill and process as yard trimmings, which may then be converted to compost and available to residents to purchase. Click here for more information.
HOME ENERGY SAVING TOOLKITS
As of 2018, the Los Gatos Library has partnered with Silicon Valley Energy Watch (SVEW) to offer Home Energy Saving Toolkits to residents. Each toolkit contains a variety of energy measurement tools along with free conservation items such as LED light bulbs and door and window sealing foam.
KEEP LOS GATOS BEAUTIFUL MONTH
Each April, the Town sponsors a series of events and programs to celebrate National Earth Day, National Arbor Day, and National Volunteer Recognition Week, with the goal of raising awareness about the environment and making a positive change on individual behavior.
LOS GATOS LIBRARY EVENTS & PROGRAMS
The Los Gatos Library hosts a variety of book readings and guest speakers on the topic of environmental sustainability. The Library also host the journaling program, Our Nature Stories, encouraging people of all ages to make connections in nature and learning about local history with their YouTube series. Click here to learn more!
The Police Department is participating in the County of Santa Clara MED-Project Program (Medication, Education, and Disposal), designed to encourage disposal of prescription medications. This is a free service fully funded by the MED-Project. Government facilities and private businesses (drug stores) within the County received secure disposal bins for kiosk disposal of qualified medications. The Town's MED-Project Disposal Bin is located at the Police Operations Building lobby located at 15900 Los Gatos Boulevard. Click here to learn more about disposing your unwanted medications.
SPARE THE AIR
When a “Spare the Air” day is identified by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Town actively places updates on its website encouraging residents to refrain from potentially harmful activities such as burning wood. The Spare the Air program asks residents to reduce pollution by making clean air choices every day.