AHOZ Housing vs. N40 Housing Discussion, Next Door Oka and Nearby Neighborhoods

posted in: Los Gatos Lodge, North 40, Our Town | 0

Jeff Loughridge from Oka

This is the three minute speech I gave at the 1/20/15 Town Council Meeting. This message is very important and should be read and understood. The town could be forced to accept high density housing at the Los Gatos Lodge, the old Higgins-Root property along Blossom Hill Road and others. I am currently a member of the Los Gatos Housing Elements Advisory Board. These high density projects would bring more traffic and more students to the schools. There may be a better solution if the Council, and you (the residents) take action.

I am speaking tonight as resident, not as a Housing Element Advisory board member. I’d like to talk about the North 40. But in order to have a complete picture of the issues I need to back up a little bit. We are at a pivotal point in Los Gatos history. Land use issues and housing have never been more important or as complicated. Important, because traffic and school impacts have never been as bad as they are now. And, with the new projects about to come on line, it will probably get worse.

As you already may know, Los Gatos is REQUIRED by the state to plan for 619 affordable housing units in our town housing element. We’ve had similar issues over the last two housing elements, but this time it’s different. The state wants ALL constraints that might stand in the way of getting the affordable housing built to be eliminated, making the development of the affordable housing an almost sure thing. The affordable housing developments will have to pay either nothing or just a small percentage of the traffic mitigation fee, since it would be considered a constraint. Affordable housing, by definition is zoned at a density of 20 units per acre minimum. The state is also directing us to provide a density bonus of up to 40 percent on top of this density. So, for example, the Los Gatos Lodge site, at 20 units per acre comes out to 170 affordable units. Add in the density bonus and you’re at around 240 units. Do the same math with the other existing affordable housing sites and we’re looking at around 90 units at Higgins business park on Blossom Hill. Oak Rim, around 65 units and the Southbay site, off of Knowles around 207.

If developers choose to develop these sites, they will be generally be fast-tracked in as little time as one year, with little or no ability by residents to review or to weigh-in. They will most likely be DESIGNED to attract families with children. Each of these developments would add MORE to the traffic and school impact problems, three of which are located in already traffic-heavy areas of Los Gatos.

Right now the North 40 is planned to have 364 housing units, 60 of which are affordable housing. We have the opportunity to take credit for every housing unit built on the North 40 as long as it is developed at 20 units per acre minimum. Even the market rate units. If we choose. Plus, the traffic mitigation fees are approximately 12 million dollars.

Taking credit for these units will allow us to eliminate up to three of the affordable housing sites. We will be able to mitigate the traffic around the North 40 to better handle the increased traffic. We will be able to include public input at every step of the way so there are fewer surprises.

I urge residents to try to get up to speed on this complex problem and I respectfully request Council and staff to look into this further.

Shared with Oka + 17 neighborhoods in General

Reply 20

Donna, Brenda, Janice and 6 others thanked you

Ryan Moll from Carlton Ave 21 Jan

This is horrible!!!

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Shawn Wood from Knowles 21 Jan

Jeff I’ve been engaged in the Los Gatos leadership program lately, but not the housing element issues. (You should enroll in this program next year!). Please keep me posted and I will show up to support.

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Jeff Loughridge from Oka 21 Jan

Next Housing Element Advisory Board will be January 27. The leadership program meetings were all on Friday. Can’t do Fridays. Camping.

Shawn Wood from Knowles 21 Jan

Well keep us organized and updated. I also thought of contacting the pacific legal foundation or other similar organization as I believe what is being done violates state law

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Reg Hildreth from Carlton Ave 22 Jan

Jeff,

We have been attending the LG town council meetings for the last 3 years and have been watching developments pertaining to the north 40. Having grown up in LG ( National Ave. / Camino Del Sol) and now living one block off of Samaritan we are also very concerned about the traffic on Bascom / LG blvd, impacts to our local schools as well as housing development and to our community. We have encouraged our neighbors to get involved with very little success. Several months ago we saw on the local news LG citizens protesting the north 40 development when the environmental impact report was up for certification by the town council. Our question was “where were these people when the north 40 development was first being discussed” I also encourage everyone get involved…NOW!!!

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Jay Shuler from Houge Park 22 Jan

I’m trying to understand… is the issue that we don’t want low income residents living near us due to crime, or that we are worried about impacting our own property values, or that the town cannot afford the roads and schools, or… what?

Where I grew up in Michigan, we had busses to take kids to school. This was an incredibly convenient and effective system both economically and environmentally, it reduced traffic congestion around the schools and on the roads leading to the schools, it saved parental time shuttling their students back and forth, and arguably created a few solid jobs for bus drivers. Why has this been abandoned in San Jose and Los Gatos? School busses would solve most of the congestion problems you mention, for example.

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Jay Shuler from Houge Park 22 Jan

One more “liberal” comment: what about public transit. This is another great way to relieve congestion. Bus-to-Train works well in the areas you mentioned. There is a VTA at Winchester on the North side, and there are busses that run up Bascom and Winchester that service that station. This is really an important city planning challenge that should be seen systematically.

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David Yu from North Los Gatos 22 Jan

How does low income equate to crime and property value? You would still need to meet a minimum standard when purchasing a low income house. For some areas the minimum is making 60k a year minimum up to the medium household income for the town. I know West Valley, which consists of Cupertino, Saratoga, Campbell requires a minimum of 60k a year to up 95k to even qualify and most are on a lottery system giving more weight to those that work in the town and own businesses in the town.

Edited on 22 Jan

Jay Shuler from Houge Park 22 Jan

David: it certainly should not. I am just trying to understand what Jeff’s objection is to more low income housing, other than $12M he claims will be needed for traffic mitigation, etc.

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Jeff Loughridge from Oka 22 Jan

Jay, I appreciate your comments. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that Los Gatos has come anywhere NEAR its moral or ethical obligations to provide more affordable housing, not to mention even meeting the State’s requirements. And, although I outlined some facts as I know them, my real goal is to get people in town aware of the housing situation facing us. I wanted to point out that there are more factors to be considered than just the one project that might be up for discussion. The complications were what I wanted to point out, not my objection to them. I might object with the WAY the state is implementing some of their plans, but it is what it is, and we have to find a way to live with it.

I’m not saying anything about crime or property values. I’m just trying to figure out the best way to approach our (Los Gatos) housing requirements. Every town and city in California has an affordable housing quota that MUST be met.

The increase in traffic and the school impacts should be a problem that town residents would want to weigh in on. I am just trying to get that conversation started.

How to best integrate the affordable housing into Los Gatos is one of my goals.

It is my understanding that buses were considered too expensive. I DO agree that new public transit routes could be added that would reduce traffic across town.

This is a bi-partisan issue that needs to be dealt with. And no, the town can not afford much in the way of traffic mitigation. For the last decade Los Gatos has had one of the absolute lowest traffic mitigation fee in the bay area that developers have to pay when they develop land in Los Gatos. Our Town Council and staff has been reluctant to increase this traffic mitigation fee until just recently when a group of concerned citizens got involved. So developments for the last few years have not generated enough money to pay to mitigate the traffic they create. And Los Gatos has a backlog of traffic mitigation projects that total around 42 million dollars. 42 million dollars more than they can afford.

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Jay Shuler from Houge Park 22 Jan

LOL Good answer, Jeff! Sounds like bad planning based possibly on what is known as “lack of political will”. Also known as cowardice :-).

People hate taxes, then hate when things go wrong because governments can’t afford to support them. Sounds like there is a need for a one-time levy to shape things up in very carefully considered ways, eh?

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Terry McBriarty from Vasona 22 Jan

I agree people need affordable places to live. Unfortunately the way the state has structured things it is virtually impossible to create an infrastructure to support the housing that we have much less hundreds of new houses. Anyone who tries to drive around town during rush hour can see the horrendous traffic. Los Gatos planned poorly for the future and we are paying the price. They thought they would keep the riff raff out or cut down traffic by only having one entrance/exit to highway 85? That’s worked out just great.

If you don’t have children of school age in public school perhaps you are unfamilar with the plight of the public schools in Los Gatos. The link above explains CA law which puts a cap on developer impact fees. It was my understanding that one would have to build a $5,000,000 house to offset the cost to educate one child with the developer fees and property taxes etc. (This was someone elses math not mine – at a school board meeting or town council) And that doesn’t even get us anywhere near building the new school that we need as ours are all bursting at the seams.

Our school has a cafeteria with a capacity of 463 I believe it is. Our enrollment is rapidly approaching 700. During back to school night when over 700 adults showed up they didn’t even set up chairs for us as we tried to squeeze into the cafeteria. Pretty sure we were still in violation of fire code. For the kids they do 3 separate assemblies and the kids eat lunch in shifts.

We used to be able to use the auditorium of Calvary Church for our Variety Show – which was a huge event for our school – the only time the entire student body could be together in one room. Calvalry was also used for the Promotion (Graduation Ceremony & Fisher’s Graduation Ceremony) – This year we were told NO MORE by Diana Abbati without so much as a discussion because one person from Fisher MIddle School complained to the Freedom From Religion Association who then wrote a letter to the district telling them to find another non-denominational venue for all school activties. So instead of having our Variety Show in a wonderful comfortable venue that has ONE cross up on the wall and NO BIBLES, NO RELIGIOUS WRITINGS OR PROPOGANDA we will have our Variety show in a crowded stuffy gym at Fisher with no AC in the last few days of school. I’m sure it will be nice and cool. Our new (3rd in 3 years) Principal isn’t invested, he just does what the DO tells him.

Van Meter almost 700 students.

Blossom Hill almost 700 Students

Daves around 600 Students

Lexington 120 – Only Lexington has room for maybe 100 students? If that. I just got my yearly email asking me to send my kid to their bright shiny school that they spent millions of dollars building that is half full when the schools in town are plenty full.

But wait? What about the Middle School? The Middle School has 1300 students right now. That is more students than attended Saratoga High School when I graduated in 1991. I can’t imagine going to a middle school with that many kids!

So it isn’t that we don’t think people need places to live. They do. But kids need places to go to school too and the lawmakers tied our hands and said that the developers don’t need to pay to build new schools. The money they pay is about enough to slap up a portable. The money necessary to obtain land and to build a new school is a huge investment. We have trouble getting a parcel tax passed to just keep us limping along. People are like, my kids are done with school, so I don’t want to pay anymore. It’s sad. I hope our schools can be saved.

Oh, and BTW I went to some of those North 40 Planning Meetings back way back when – they didn’t really care what we wanted. They want to build houses and hotels and retail. Doesn’t matter how many meetings we have. That’s not going to change.

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sheila gokey from Cambrian Park 23 Jan

The road can be prolonged by a good “call to action”; however, it is already a foregone conclusion that these developments are going to happen.  Los Gatos is going to continue to be the most expensive place to rent and/or own in Santa Clara County.   Properties in Los Gatos are on average almost a million dollars over the same piece of property with a San Jose address.  It makes total sense to “take credit” for the properties which could go toward the mandated affordable housing.

Appropriate and qualified management of “affordable housing” can make a major difference whether the property is an eye sore or a palace.  I’ve managed CIDs for over 30 years. I would love the opportunity to brain storm management ideas for the “affordable housing” mixed use properties.

Please feel free to contact me either at this email address or by phone 415 269 2368.

Have a great day!

sheila

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Julie Reinhart from Carlton Ave 23 Jan

I need to ditto on Jay S. comment. I also grew up in the midwest and took the bus to school through HS. This is a very efficient way to cut down of the grid lock that takes place near our school.

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David Yu from North Los Gatos 23 Jan

To understand why the town needs to build more housing/retail on open land you need to understand the town’s operating budget. The source of revenue comes from two areas, property tax and sales/use tax. This seems to indicate the more homes and businesses built in the town the more stream of revenue coming in.

Most small towns/cities have this issue. As long as there is land somewhere, something will be put up. With the little land there is in desirable areas such as LG, developers will maximize the space in the form of urban style CIDs.

As Jeff said, it’s almost inevitable that development will take place, if not now, later. I think he’s trying to say if the residents in town wants to expand the road infrastructures or have better alternative transportation access, make the developers fulfill these needs when they’re building on the land. Have them modify the existing roads on their dime to take into account for the increased cars on the roads. Have them build the additional schools needed to account for more students.

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Liat Perlman from Rinconada 25 Jan

A couple of questions or comments.

Why is north forty high density more acceptable to you than high density LG lodge location?

North 40 traffic congestion impact seems greater as Winchester, Lark and LG blvd being impacted by both campbell and los gatos commercial building growth (cambell at hacienda), proposed 85 lane increases (baffling), Netflix and other expansion on Winchester

All “affordable” housing in LG has sold at high prices so not really affordable to those in real need.

High density will impact schools wherever built in LG if in LG school district. So what is diff between lodge vs north 40 location?

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Jeff Loughridge from Oka 25 Jan

Here is the way I look at a site like the Los Gatos Lodge site and how I look at the North 40. For me it really is like making a list of the pros and cons for each. This makes it much less of an emotional decision.

Los Gatos Lodge, if developed under the AHOZ (Affordable Housing Overlay Zone), would be zoned at twenty units per acre as a base, plus the state density bonus of around 40% which would result in a potential jump from 170, to total of 240 units. Now there will have to be reduced open space, setbacks, height restrictions, and parking regulations, less than other developments. A developer would look at the site and see how many market rate (full market price units) they could put on the site and how few affordable housing (very low income, low income, and moderate income) units they could get away with.

Let’s be clear about the pricing for these lower income homes. Although I have not seen this pricing, it will be much lower than what you might be used to seeing in the town. Affordable houses that you might be more familiar with are created through our Below Market Program. This program is at the discretion of the town and not regulated by the state and results in housing not exactly what you could call affordable. And the units would be designed to attract families. Families with children. Seeing as how most of the schools in town are at their limit in terms of enrollment, the best thing would be to have students go to Lexington School. Unfortunately, that would mean that although the neighbors across the road would have their children in Van Meter, Fisher and Blossom Hill, these new residents would have to take their kids to Lexington. Having lived in Los Gatos for over 35 years myself, I don’t think this is going to go over to well.

But what would make an AHOZ site much different than other developments would be the LACK of constraints, a state-imposed condition. The development would still have to pay the normal fee /tax for the schools but would generate next to nothing in Traffic Mitigation fees for the town. That means ANY traffic mitigation like new turn lanes at an already busy intersection like what was done recently at University and Hiway 9, would have to be paid for by the town. They don’t have the money.

The traffic created at the Lodge site would exit out onto Hiway 9. Think of the times that you’ve been stuck in traffic on Hiway 9 trying to get to either direction on Los Gatos Boulevard, but especially towards the directions of the elementary schools. This new traffic will have to feed into that already stopped traffic and will create an even bigger backup into the downtown area. And there won’t be any money available to add a lane, retime a traffic light or much of anything.

Oh, and here’s the kicker. One of the main constraints that the State is requiring us to remove for these AHOZ sites, is our town processes. The state would require that these developments be fast tracked and avoid the typical public review at public meetings so that these developments go through our town processes in one year.

Now, let’s look at the North 40. The proposed development right now has 364 housing units, 60 of which are for very low income seniors. Since all the housing at this point could be zoned (no overlay zone needed) at 20 units per acre, ALL 364 units could be counted towards our state required RHNA numbers. No density bonus. No additional units. Just what is in the proposed plan.

There will be market rate housing along with the affordable units. But these market rate housing units are designed differently. The senior housing is designed to attract seniors, the millennial housing is designed to attract singles and couples, not families and the Move-down units, although more spacious, are designed for empty nesters. Los Gatos is still a school attractor community and so we will see some families, just not at the same rates as housing designed specifically to ATTRACT families. And since this housing would already be pretty far from all the schools, a Lexington school restriction would be much easier to swallow.

The development will not just have housing, though. It will have retail, restaurants, an open air market and many other amenities that will benefit all the neighbors in the North end of town. It will generate Traffic mitigation fees in excess of 12 million dollars. Money which will be sued to improve the traffic on Los Gatos Boulevard, Lark and the freeway access.

And, the development will go through the excruciatingly transparent process that other developments in town are subject to. Public input and scrutiny. And since it is not fast-tracked, public input is encouraged and welcomed as part of this development process.

So, you be the judge of what you see to be the best for the town. I have already decided which way I am leaning, each and every one of us needs to review this information, ask questions and understand what is in the Town of Los Gatos’ future.

Donna, Tammy, Holly and 1 other thanked you

David Yu from North Los Gatos 25 Jan

Liat, the pricing is significantly lower but if you ever resell it, you sell it at the same Below Market Rate price you bought it at + LG CPI. Financially speaking, it’s a very good deal. You typically end up paying less than rent or about same as rent plus you get deduction on your tax every year and get to live in a nice home that’s new or semi-new. You won’t be able to purchase low and sell at market rate. Typically you pay at most 300k on a home selling for a million plus if you qualify. I believe LG has a Mid Market Rate program too.

Builders need to allocate 10% to 15% of total homes built towards BMR. The only way that’ll happen is if developers build CIDs. The developers will not allocate more than they have to towards BMR housing because it hurts their bottom line.

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Liat Perlman from Rinconada 25 Jan

Pricing for lower income homes in Los gatos at least in least 10-15 years has not been affordable by truly low income people. There’s also favouritism in. Theres been reported controversy on this. with city council family members getting the units. With these developments hopefully the bottom of the wait list will get served ie truly needy and teachers as well as other service folks such as fire and police.

The interesting question to ask for those who oppose the 40% state dictated increase is what is the penalty for non compliance with the state mandate. How can open space first be allocated. There’s likely a loop hole on that. The open space land could be reserved at the onset by splitting the parcel and donating the land to the city. I’m sure there are other ways too.

My biggest concern is traffic on Winchester and lark corridor which is already terrible.

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Barbara Robinson from Hacienda 26 Jan

Campbell has their planning meeting TUESDAY 1/27 @ 730pm at .

Planning Commission Public Hearing

City Council Chambers

70 N. First Street

Campbell, California 95008

if anyone is interested………………

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