At a community meeting on March 31 to educate residents on the housing component, staff presented a list of potential housing sites, demonstrated a simulation tool for housing site assignment and collected public comments.

This marks the next step in creating the housing element for Los Gatos, which serves as a model for the growth and development of the city over the next 20 years and includes quotas for affordable housing, known as of Regional allocation of housing needs.

All California cities are required by state law to submit their plans by the end of the year or face penalties. Los Gatos must add 1,993 new homes between 2023 and 2031 to meet the needs of people at all income levels.

Community Development Manager Joel Paulson asked residents who attended the meeting to spread the word to others about the opportunity to provide input on the housing component.

“This is an ongoing process, like the overall plan, so keep engaging,” Paulson said.

The city worked with EMC Consultants to identify potential sites where housing units could be developed in the city. They found 10 districts where development could take place, along with 202 pipeline projects and about 200 secondary suites.

Staff demonstrated a simulation tool called Balancing law which allows users to self-assign housing units across the city and submit their findings. Residents can add comments to their selections and add new sites to consider. The tool is accessible via https://engagelosgatoshousing.com

The city council said last year it wanted to focus future residential growth in commercial areas to allow more people to walk instead of drive cars in a bid to limit traffic in the city.

The consulting group recommended that the following neighborhoods be considered: Downtown, North Santa Cruz Avenue, Los Gatos Lodge, Los Gatos Boulevard, North 40, Lark Avenue, Winchester Boulevard, Pollard Road, Union Avenue, and Harwood Road.

Each neighborhood has several parcels listed for development. Paulson said the owners weren’t asked if they would be interested in selling, but that will happen later.

Resident Jayne Sonnenschein said she was concerned about the Pollard Road site because Saratoga had already approved two parcels along the same road.

“I just urge Los Gatos in this process to consider that all of us who live in the canyon off Quito Road between Highway 9 and Pollard are dependent on Pollard Road for our transportation,” Sonnenschein said. “What often happens, I find, is that each city acts independently of the others.”

The housing component advisory board is expected to review development policies later this spring and complete a draft of the housing component by summer. The group will hold public hearings at the end of the year before submitting the final draft to the state.

The housing element, which is part of the overall plan, is due by January 1, 2023. If the plan is not approved on time, the city could face stiff penalties.

“The city would have limits for state funding, not only for housing, but also for transportation. It would also expose the city to potential lawsuits, and those lawsuits could be brought by (the state). They could also be vulnerable to lawsuits from the public and housing seekers,” said Ande Flower, senior planner for EMC Planning Group.

The Housing Component Advisory Council, City Council and Planning Commission will meet at 6:00 p.m. on April 6 for a joint Housing Component Study Session. The next meeting of the Housing Component Advisory Council will be at 7:00 p.m. on April 21.