Three candidates are vying for your support in the Monte Sereno City Council election Nov. 6, 2012 where there are two seats up for grabs.
- Incumbent Monte Sereno Mayor Susan Garner
- Businessman Walter Huff
- Attorney Julie Wiltshire
Los Gatos Patch asked the candidates to respond to four questions. Below, you will find responses from Wiltshire. Responses are written by the candidates and have not been edited by Patch.
Los Gatos Patch: What will you do about meeting state requirements for Regional Housing Needs Assessment and diversity of housing?
Julie Wiltshire: Monte Sereno will be considering increasing the maximum allowed size for second dwellings in certain zoning districts up to 1,200 square feet. The city is also proposing that these second dwellings be allowed to be on a second story. Finally, the city is offering incentives for those who rent out their second units at what is deemed to be "affordable," such as waiving planning fees dealing with that application. Currently these fees amount to $2,450. I would support all of these measures taken with regard to secondary dwellings, as it would help our city meet certain requirements under our housing element. In addition, I would want to see the number of inhabitants for such dwellings no longer restricted, so that families may rent out these units. I believe the Hacienda property on Highway 9 is a viable solution to meet our RHNA units and keep us in compliance with our obligations and state requirements. Discussions for annexation and "pre zoning" that property have taken place, but real negotiation between the property owners that are most effected by such development (surrounding that 4.5 acres) and the owner of the Hacienda needs to happen to find what is reasonable to all parties. The latest I have heard are plans to develop three bars, serving alcohol, on the Hacienda site, where people will be leaving late at night onto a dangerous highway. Surely a residential area there would be better for everyone, so long as there are ordinances in place for the style, size and access for that housing that is in keeping with the feel of our beautiful community. Perhaps even housing may be created for older members of our community that must sell their huge property because they can no longer maintain it.
Patch: What are your thoughts about compensation for Monte Sereno Council members?
Wiltshire: I believe that council members are doing a service for their community. It has always been done on a voluntary basis, and I am fine with it staying that way. There should be a way, however, for council members to be more easily reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses caused by city council business.
Patch: What do you think of Monte Sereno City Manager Brian Loventhal's performance and his staff?
Wiltshire: Brian's staff are courteous, professional and adept. However, I have heard some complaints about the city manager. There are legal claims made against the city that there was improper reporting in Monte Sereno's 2011 Annual Housing Element Progress Report. Further, the city has allowed proposed attempts to implement our housing element to escalate to the point that it now faces legal action. Mr. Loventhal needs to be proactive about keeping the city out of legal trouble. At the same time, it is the responsibility of the council to more effectively manage his actions and verify reporting of facts, to the courts and government agencies.
Patch: What do you think are the city's three most important issues and what do you intend to do about it, if elected?
Wiltshire: The three most important issues affecting Monte Sereno are:
- As I stated above, it is important to meet the requirements of our housing element and not be in breach of our obligations under the state mandate. This is essential to avoiding costly legal action against the city that will certainly end with the city complying by court order, after depleting our resources on both sides' attorneys fees and court costs. Once a serious plan of action is put in place and a timeline set out to meet our obligations, it is essential that our city manager be instrumental in such resolution. Then, the council may then more fully give its time and energy to other important issues in our community.
- Another issue of importance in our city is pedestrian safety and traffic calming. Highway 9 is unacceptably dangerous for walkers, bikers and drivers. Highway 9 has fatalities each year, and this must stop. I want to re-engineer that stretch of highway through our city and make it safe. I have heard ideas for a pedestrian highway and other ideas about making Highway 9 a single lane through our town, or changing the speed. I will seek a solution that makes it safe. I also want to make Winchester Blvd., Vineland Ave. and Daves Ave. all safer, quieter, calmer streets. I will talk with the Los Gatos Police department as well as the council members, in our town and others, as to what they think will work best.
- I have walked almost all of Monte Sereno, and I have talked with many people. I have a huge array of issues that I wish to bring to the council's attention. However, certain issues where there is potential danger and subsequent liability for the city must be dealt with first. One example is an area on Withey Road where mudslides are certain to happen at some point. This has been drawn to the attention of the Monte Sereno City staff. Should an accident happen regarding this area, the city faces liability. There is another area of Monte Sereno up by La Rinconada Country Club where a Monte Sereno resident has had three drivers miss a turn and end up in her yard. She is having difficulty getting a 3-way stop sign put in because that area is on the border of Los Gatos. I plan to work with the Los Gatos Town Council to see what may be done about this issue of potential liability for both cities. In addressing the concerns that I heard from many residents, I want to be proactive and rectify dangerous situations before they conclude with accident or injury. I want to make Monte Sereno a safer place.
To read Wiltshire's candidate statement, please click here.