Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Town's Work
All Town Departments shall use a lens of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the development of the Town budget, delivery of services, and the creation of all new programs, projects, and policies. All proposed policies and ordinances will be reviewed in this context.
The Town is also working to expand its community engagement and Commission recruitment efforts to include more Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. All Town Boards, Committees and Commissions will have an opportunity to consider how to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into their work and to discuss that with the Town Council.
In November 2022, the Town held a mandatory staff Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training entitled "Creating Environments of Belonging" led by DEI trainer and former prosecutor Mwanaisha Sims. DEI training can help build a safe and equitable workplace for all staff and promote an environment where everyone feels comfortable being their authentic selves at work. The topic discussed included:
- Awareness of workplace diversity issues, such as those affecting underrepresented groups, in daily interactions
- Exploration of internal beliefs and unconscious biases
- An understanding of what motivates (and demotivates) those around us
- Collaboration skills to help work more effectively with people who have different qualities from your own
- How to stand up to discrimination such as racial bias or sexual harassment
- Skills to foster an inclusive workplace culture
In February 2023, the "Creating Environments of Belonging" DEI training was also offered to the Town Councilmembers and all Town Commissioners.
In May 2023, Mwanaisha Sims returned to offer staff a second training that specifically focused on learning tools for how to respond to microaggressions, bias, and uncomfortable conversations.
At the March 23, 2021 Council Policy Committee meeting, the Committee reviewed the Town's Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion efforts and future work plan items. The Committee asked staff to focus efforts on community partnerships, expanded outreach, and an additional Community Workshop. The staff report, meeting minutes, and meeting audio are available on the Town website.
Town Manager's Office - Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Consultants
On August 17, 2021, the Council unanimously voted to authorize the Town Manager to enter into agreements for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant Services with two firms: American Leadership Forum Silicon Valley Insights (ALF) and ReadySet. The Town Manager's Office is managing the agreements and work.
ALF is handling the Town’s external JEDI goals through Town partnerships with local organizations and the broader community. ALF specializes in external engagement and dialogue, leveraging community partnerships, and developing gap/overlap analysis. ALF engaged with both Town leaders and community partners (including the Chamber of Commerce, faith-based organizations, business owners, and local school districts) to assess the level of understanding of the current JEDI efforts and identified barriers and opportunities.
Under Council direction, the Town Manager's Office is continuing to work with ALF on the development of a JEDI Plan.
Town Manager's Office - Staff Equity Team
Beginning in 2022, the Town Manager's office has lead an inter-Departmental Staff Equity Team. Each member of the team are champions of the Town’s equity and inclusion efforts. Participants serve as an equity resource in their respective Departments and meet on a regular basis to discuss matters of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) and how the Town can be more welcoming to all. The team forms an inter-Departmental foundation to advance equity within Departments and throughout the Town as a whole.
Senate Bill 1100
On August 22, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 1100 which updates public meeting laws to establish “mechanisms to de-escalate disruptions” and allow local governments to remove individuals or groups who are “willfully interrupting” meetings. The law also allows the leader of the public meeting, such as the Mayor or Chairperson, to remove a disruptive participant after issuing a warning. The bill was introduced by State Senator Dave Cortese and co-authored by Assemblymember Evan Low. The Town worked with Senator Cortese and Assemblymember Low on the development of the legislation based on experiences at Los Gatos Council meetings and enthusiastically supported the bill.
SB 1100 defines willful interruptions, sets a minimum standard for when the removal of a meeting participant is warranted, and articulates the authority members of a legislative body can exercise when faced with bullying, harassment, and/or violence. The ability to quickly restore order preserves safe, open access for the public to participate in governmental proceedings.
This legislation is important to allow the business of City/Town Councils, Boards of Supervisors, School Districts, and Special Districts to proceed in an orderly and respectful fashion. The modifications to the Brown Act with SB 1100 strike a balance to maintain individual civil liberties and Constitutional rights, protect public safety, and provide needed protection of elected officials and their work on behalf of their communities.
Parks and Public Works Department - Utility Box Art Program
The Parks and Public Works Department recently completed Phase IV of the "Outside the Box" utility box art program. Phase IV includes four utility boxes with art vinyl wraps that integrate diversity, equity and inclusion while demonstrating a sense of community, sustainability, and creativity, further enhancing the culture of the Town. The designs were chosen by a committee comprised of Town staff and Los Gatos Arts and Culture Committee members. For more information on the program, please see the utility box art program webpage.
Complete Streets Commission - Race in Transportation Lecture Series
Parks and Public Works Director Matt Morley and members of the Complete Streets and Transportation Commission attended a UCLA lecture series on "Race in Transportation" to learn and explore ideas for making Town transportation more equitable. This lecture series featured national experts on a range of topics around transportation, race, and equity and was presented by the UCLA Department of Urban Planning and the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies.
Los Gatos Library - Represent Los Gatos: Oral History Project
The Local History Room of the Los Gatos Library holds a collection of historically valuable documents that help tell the story of the Town of Los Gatos. However, the stories of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are underrepresented in this collection. The Library acknowledges that without the voices of the BIPOC community, it is not possible to paint a complete picture of the history of our town. The Los Gatos Library launched the Represent Los Gatos Oral History Project to fill these gaps in the collection and to allow community members to share their own stories, however they would like them to be told.
This project is approached with the understanding that the history of archives has not been favorable to BIPOC communities, and that BIPOC individuals are rarely invited to tell their own stories. The community is asked to share their stories so that future generations will have access to a more complete history of the Town.
For more information, please email email@example.com or visit the Represent Los Gatos: Oral History Project webpage.
Los Gatos Library - Providing Space for Learning and Dialogue
The Town is providing spaces for members of the community to learn and be in dialogue together, including programming through the Library on affordable housing and the intersection of environmental sustainability and equity.
Los Gatos Library - A to Z World Food
In March 2023, the Library launched the A to Z World Food food culture database. It contains traditional recipes from 174 countries. With a free Los Gatos Library card, the community can access 800+ food culture articles, 6,500+ recipes, 500+ ingredient articles, 6 food glossaries, and 13,000+ high-quality photos through this resource.
Community Development Department - Adopted 2040 General Plan
On July 30 2020, the General Plan Update Advisory Committee (GPAC) held a special meeting to discuss the topics of racial, social, and environmental justice in the General Plan. The GPAC decided by consensus to add a new Racial, Social, and Environmental Justice Element to the General Plan.
On June 30, 2022, in accordance with State law (Gov. Code Section 65300), the Town Council voted to adopt the Draft 2040 General Plan with modifications after several public hearings at both the Planning Commission and Town Council. The Adopted 2040 General Plan includes the new Racial, Social, and Environmental Justice Element.
The adopted 2040 General Plan and an FAQ document are now available at www.LosGatos2040.com.
Community Development Department - Housing Element
The Town of Los Gatos is in the process of updating its Housing Element of the General Plan and it will soon be circulating for public comment.
The Town's Housing Element is a strategic plan for housing the Town's present and future residents. The Housing Element must contain effective polices and programs to implement the Town's housing goals.
For more information on the Housing Element Update and to participate, visit www.losgatosca.gov/HousingElementUpdate.