For the past four years Los Gatos has been working on preparing and finally certifying its 2007-14 Housing Element, a state mandated document addressing the town's supply and affordability of housing.
The Los Gatos Town Council approved the Housing Element in March 2012, and the state certified it as meeting state law in September 2012, said Los Gatos Community Development Director Wendie Rooney.
One of its key implementation programs is the so-called Affordable Housing Overlay Zone, or AHOZ.
The AHOZ is not a project that would result in either developing properties or rezoning properties, but rather is a policy that allows a property owner to develop their property consistent with the existing zoning or with the AHOZ, but not both, Rooney explained.
The AHOZ is proposed to apply to five properties, three on Oka Road, the former County Courthouse property on Knowles and Capri drives and the rear lot of the Southbay Development site on Knowles Drive and Winchester Boulevard.
The AHOZ contains development standards such as setbacks, building heights, parking ratios, affordability levels such as percentage of affordable and market rate housing, and incentives to develop consistent with the intent of the AHOZ.
The allowable number of units that can be accommodated on the properties is as follows:
- Oka Road Site A: 128 units
- Oka Road Site B: 60 units
- Oka Road Site C: 60 units
- Courthouse Property (Knowles and Capri): 104 + the potential for a 20 percent density bonus for 125 units
- Southbay Development (Knowles and Winchester): 213 + the potential for a 20% density bonus for 256 units
Finally, each site would have to provide approximately 50 percent affordable units and 50 percent moderate- and market-rate units.
The theory is that the market rate units would offset the cost of the affordable units, according to Rooney.
However, now that the program has been planned for the past three years, and the town is progressing with the approval of the program, community concern has been raised.
The town has scheduled a community meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 18 in Town Council Chambers, 110 E. Main St., to address the issue.
Property owners are under no obligation to develop their properties even if the AHOZ is approved, Rooney said.
The town’s obligation to the state is to illustrate that the town has the capacity to meet state mandated planning for affordable housing, she said.
The town is not obligated to ensure the units are built, but must demonstrate that there is sufficient land, that has available infrastructure, and is close to jobs and transit to accommodate future affordable housing, she added.