The housing element law is the State’s primary market-based strategy to increase housing supply, affordability, and choice. The law recognizes that in order for the private sector to adequately address housing needs and demand, local governments must adopt land use plans and regulatory schemes that provide opportunities for, and do not unduly constrain, housing development. By law, every jurisdiction must plan for its fair share of new housing for all income segments of the community.
The housing element process begins with the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and Department of Finance (DOF) identifying the total housing need for the San Francisco Bay Area for an eight-year period. The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) then distributes this need to local governments based on a methodology developed by representatives of the nine County Bay region and adopted by the ABAG Executive Board.. The methodology considered existing local General Plans, projected job growth, transit locations, and other factors. As a result, housing policy in the State rests largely upon the effective implementation of local general plans and, in particular, local housing elements. Housing element law also requires the HCD to review local housing elements for compliance with State law and to report its written findings to the local government.
Los Gatos was required to plan for 619 housing units per State law.
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• Explanation of the relationship to and consistency with the General Plan;• Location and distribution of land uses, including the amount of each type and the development densities and intensities;• Development standards and guidelines for each land use;• Transportation circulation, other infrastructure, and public facilities to support the planned level of development; and• Implementation strategies, including financing of infrastructure.
Once a Specific Plan is adopted, development applications for the area are reviewed by the municipality for consistency with the Specific Plan as well as other applicable governing land use documents in the community.
The North 40 Specific Plan Advisory Committee (N40 AC) was established by the Town Council on March 7, 2011. The goal of the N40 AC was to serve as an Advisory Committee to the Town Council and the Planning Commission through coordination with staff and interaction with the community. The N40 AC consisted of nine members from the General Plan Committee, and up to six members of the community from the General Plan Update Advisory Committee. The N40 AC began meeting in March of 2011 and concluded their work on October 15, 2013. All meetings were open to the public and community members provided input at the meetings and in writing. The N40 AC considered all public comments in its deliberations. The N40 AC meeting minutes and reports are available here.
An Environmental Impact report (EIR) for the Draft Specific Plan was prepared and circulated for public comment in early 2014. The document received 35 comments. The Planning Commission considered the Draft Specific Plan and EIR at two meetings in July and August of 2014 at which 25 people provided public testimony. The Commission also considered all written public comments as documented in the reports available on the North 40 website. The Planning Commission deliberated on all of the information and public comments, and forwarded its recommendations to the Town Council for the Council’s consideration which occurred on August 13, 2014.
The Town Council considered the Draft Specific Plan and EIR on eight occasions between September 2014 and June 2015. During these proceedings, the public had multiple opportunities to submit written comments and provide verbal testimony as documented on the North 40 website, Council videos, and written reports and summaries. The Final EIR was certified on January 5, 2015 and the North 40 Specific Plan was adopted on June 17, 2015, incorporating the modifications approved by the Council based on its deliberations, consideration of public testimony, Planning Commission recommendations, and all other information contained in the record.
The North 40 reflects the special nature of our hometown. It celebrates our history, agricultural heritage, hillside views, and small town character. The North 40 is seamlessly woven into the fabric of our community, complementing other Los Gatos residential and business neighborhoods. It is respectful of precious community resources and offers unique attributes that enrich the quality of life of all of our residents.
Guiding Principles to Achieve this Vision
• The North 40 will look and feel like Los Gatos. • The North 40 will embrace hillside views, trees, and open space. • The North 40 will address the Town’s residential and/or commercial unmet needs. • The North 40 will minimize or mitigate impacts on town infrastructure, schools, and other community services.
The Council reduced the development amount from the recommended quantities by the North 40 Advisory Committee (364 housing units and 580,000 square feet of non-residential development). The Planning Commission and Town Council meeting minutes and reports are available here.
Click here for the Draft EIR Appendices.
Click here for the Final EIR.
• Albright-Los Gatos Business Park• Sutter Health-Palo Alto Medical (15400 Los Gatos Boulevard)• Stanford Cancer Center (Corner of Los Gatos Boulevard and Samaritan Drive-San Jose)• CVS (15650 Los Gatos Boulevard)• Swanson Ford Mixed Use Development (Corner of Los Gatos Boulevard and Blossom Hill Road)• Dell Avenue Area Plan (Campbell)• Additional smaller pending or recently approved projects were also included
The TIA analyzed the cumulative traffic impacts associated with the North 40 in the context of these pending or ongoing development applications. The TIA includes any mitigation measures that are proposed or required as a result of these projects and analyzed the required mitigation measures associated with the North 40 Specific Plan to reduce potential traffic impacts to a less than significant level pursuant to State law regarding environmental analysis, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Los Gatos was required to plan for 619 housing units per State law.
The Planning Commission conducted its required public hearings on the draft Housing Element and also made its recommendations. The Town Council considered both sets of recommendations as well as additional public testimony when it made the final decision to adopt the housing element. The Council’s final decision on planned locations for new housing included the North 40. All of the deliberations and materials regarding the Housing Element can be found here.
Technical Appendices: Click here.
The meeting minutes and reports for the Housing Element Advisory Board (HEAB) can be found on the Town website: Click here.
In response to the Town’s draft housing element, the HCD determined that the Town did not demonstrate adequate sites, appropriately zoned to meet the jurisdictions share of the regional housing needs. In order to obtain certification of the Town’s housing element from HCD, the Town had to designate sites including providing zoning that allows owner-occupied and rental multi-family uses “by-right” with minimum densities and development standards.
The phrase "use by right” shall mean the local government's review of the owner occupied or multifamily residential use may not require a conditional use permit, planned unit development permit, or other discretionary local government review or approval that would constitute a “project” for purposes of Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code [CEQA]. Any subdivision of the sites shall be subject to all laws, including, but not limited to, the local government ordinance implementing the Subdivision Map Act. A local ordinance may provide that “use by right” does not exempt the use from design review. However, that design review shall not constitute a “project” for purposes of [CEQA]. Use by right for all rental multifamily residential housing shall be provided in accordance with subdivision (f) of Section 65589.5.25. The concept is to require the community to identify sites that are available for development with affordable housing without any discretionary review, 25 §65589.5(f) permits a local agency to require developments to comply with development standards consistent with meeting the quantified objectives and to impose fees to provide services and facilities.
• Widening of Lark Avenue to accommodate additional traffic lanes, and • Modifications to Los Gatos Boulevard within the existing right-of-way, both south and north of Lark Avenue.
Additionally, the Specific Plan required that each phase of proposed development provide a traffic analysis to determine that the traffic and impacts studied within the EIR are not intensified with a proposed project within the Plan Area.
Developers and School Boards can voluntarily consider additional arrangements. For the southern portion of the North 40 Area, the Los Gatos Union School District Board entered into an agreement with the prospective developers regarding school issues. It can be viewed here.
The process through which the government acquires private property for public benefit is known as condemnation. Most condemnation proceedings turn on the value of the property at issue. How much a piece of property (or an interest in property) is worth depends on many factors. The zoning of the property and the value of surrounding properties provide useful guidance for the calculation. The many unique characteristics of a property often result in a different estimation of value between the property owner and the government. In addition to an appraiser and an attorney, each side may have additional experts, such as engineers and architects. Factors that are considered in property valuation include: its size, how it is zoned, what kinds of buildings and roads are on it, what it's currently being used for, what it could be used for, how accessible it is, what other businesses or land uses are adjacent or nearby, and whether there are tenants or other leaseholders involved.
Given the value of the North 40 with the adopted Specific Plan and zoning, it is unlikely that the Town would have the resources to purchase the land for fair market value under these processes even with corporate donations and other tax revenue.
The Town of Los Gatos does not regulate no-fault eviction or relocation assistance. Under state law, eviction notice requirements are governed by the agreement between the landlord and tenant and there are relocation assistance laws that may or may not apply depending on each individual circumstance. The Town does work to improve and preserve the supply and quality of existing rental and ownership housing opportunities that are available for residents and employees of local businesses. When new developments are approved by the Town, the Below Market Price (BMP) Housing Ordinance adopted in 1979 requires developers to offer a minimum percentage of the units so they are affordable to lower and median income households. Hello Housing (www.hellohousing.org) is the administrator of the Town's Below Market Price (BMP) Housing Program.
Under the Town Code outside of the Specific Plan area, all uses involving the service of alcohol require a CUP. Because the Specific Plan establishes zoning rules specific for the North 40 area, restaurants offering alcoholic beverage service do not require a CUP. In contrast, under the Specific Plan, a standalone bar requires a CUP.
The Town Council can repeal or amend the North 40 Specific Plan. Chapter 6.5 in the Specific Plan specifically addresses the process for amendments. Any application that has been deem complete under the permitting streamlining act or subdivision map act would not be subject to the repeal or amendments that were made by Council.
The Town currently provides for non-discretionary review of new second units in Town. In addition, there are properties with multi-family zoning within the Town for new condominium or apartment developments.