Los Gatos council rescinds land use, community design elements of General Plan

The Los Gatos Town Council on Tuesday voted in a split decision to rescind elements of the 2040 General Plan instead of putting the matter on the November ballot.

The council also unanimously voted on Tuesday to postpone further discussion on the matter until the town’s Housing Element is certified, which could happen this summer. That vote came weeks after the town submitted its Housing Element, which outlines all housing developments at all income levels in the town for the next eight years, to state officials for approval.

Both votes come almost two years after a group of residents largely connected with the Los Gatos Community Alliance launched an effort to appeal the elements of the plan focused on land use and community design. Council members first approved the 2040 General Plan – which called for 3,196 housing units to be built in the town over the next 20 years – after a contentious town council meeting in June 2022.

Councilmembers Rob Rennie, Maria Ristow and Rob Moore voted in favor of rescinding the two controversial elements, agreeing that they didn’t want to put an issue as complex as land use on the ballot for voters to decide.

“It’s highly unusual to have land use items on a ballot. I think we’re doing our public a disservice by asking them to try to understand something as complex as a General Plan and then vote on it,” Rennie said.

Mayor Mary Badame and Vice Mayor Matthew Hudes argued in favor of meeting with the Los Gatos Community Alliance, the group spearheading an appeal of the two elements, and waiting until after the Housing Element is approved before making any decisions.

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“I like the idea of rescinding it, but I don’t know what the future holds,” Badame said.

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Proponents of the appeal argued that the 2040 General Plan paved the way to building an unreasonably high number of housing units in town. The organization gathered 2,200 signatures in support of the appeal – which came in the form of a referendum – in 2022, which the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters later verified.

In October 2022, council voted to delay their response to the referendum to focus on approving the town’s Housing Element first.

In rescinding the two elements of the of the 2040 General Plan, the council allowed the community design and land use standards of the 2020 General Plan to remain in effect, outgoing town manager Laurel Prevetti said.

“We have an adequate General Plan; we are in compliance with state law,” she said.

Prevetti told the council it was best to wait until after the town’s Housing Element is approved before revisiting the issue.

“We would prefer to get all the way through adoption and have that certification letter in hand before we start a whole new planning effort,” Prevetti said.

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