We are deeply troubled the Town Manager continues to refuse to make the newly hired Consultant available to our elected officials (who are responsible for adopting a compliant Housing Element) and the public to provide their findings as to the status of the Housing Element and directly discuss their plan to obtain HCD certification. We would point to the attached letter from HCD which clearly states that the housing element process must engage the community by making information regularly available while considering comments.
Refusing to have the Consultant available to the public at the September 19th Town Council meeting to provide an update on their September 5th meeting with HCD (after having three previous Housing Element rejected by HCD and the failure of the prior consultant to obtain certification after 2 years and spending over $300,000 for their services) and available for questions is incompatible with HCD clear direction of engaging the community. It also appears that the Staff’s intention to prepare a fourth draft of the Housing Element for presentation to the HEAB prior to any public meeting to discuss Consultants specific plan to cure the prior defects also runs counter with the explicit goal of public participation.
The excuse the Consultant is too busy to attend a public meeting goes beyond the pale. A competent Consultant, which we’re sure Tam and Associates is, can meet with our elected officials and the public AND remain focused on obtaining HCD’s certification. It is a false choice that has been intentionally constructed to prevent the Town Council and the public from directly obtaining valuable information regarding the housing element process and HCD’s concerns.
Why is the current process in the best interest of the public? It isn’t. What facts are being hidden from the public view that is driving the Staff to take the unreasonable position of not allowing the Consultant to attend the Town Council meeting? One can only wonder.
It should be also pointed out there is no need to revise the existing contract to require the consultant to attend Town council meetings. A reading of the contract clearly shows the scope of work does not specifically exclude attending Town Council meetings where public comments are made. In fact, the contract specifically states that the consultant will summarize public comments received and how the Town responded to these comments. If the consultant never meets with the Town Council and the public, how exactly will the consultant comply with this statement of work?
It is not too late to instruct the Town Manager to have the Consultant attend the meeting and be made available for questions. Please take the appropriate action and officially request the Consultant to attend. The public has a right to directly question a consultant that the Town has retained to prepare a compliant Housing Element after three failed attempts at obtaining HCD certification.
One last comment: Out of the 18 HEAB meetings scheduled in 2023 ALL but 5 have been cancelled. That is a 72% cancellation rate. How does that comply with HCD’s directive of public involvement?
Worse 50% of the HEAB consists of individuals who are also either on the PC or are member of the TC – both bodies of which have administrative and quasi-legislative authority over approving the Housing Element. The HEAB is not an independent group that can advise the TC or PC when 50% of this body advise themselves. This is another example of how flawed the HE process has been from the start when they started on the General Plan before working on the Housing Element. Lack of effective leadership from the top has been the common thread.
Los Gatos Community Alliance