A tough year is ahead for the Los Gatos Town Council and community as they deal with the issues of gun sales, affordable housing, the expansion of Hillbrook School and two major land-use developments in the so-called North 40 and next to the current Netflix location, Los Gatos Mayor Barbara Spector said Tuesday evening during her State of the Town address.
Spector, elected by the Council as mayor in November of 2012 and who also served as mayor in 2008, said when her peers chose her as the town's top government leader, she said the community "needed to be prepared in 2013 to roll up our sleeves because this town has a lot of work to be done in the coming year."
On Dec. 17, 2012, she recalled placing the issue of gun sales in town on the agenda for a public hearing
She then recalled the Council had its holiday break with its very first meeting of the new year 2013 being Jan. 22 to tackle the so-called Affordable Housing Overlay Zones.
The Council chambers and its overflow lobby were full for that hearing with a total of 45 speakers addressing the legislative body about affordable housing areas in town. That meeting ended at 11:15 p.m. and Council unanimously decided to send the issue to the General Plan Committee for reconsideration.
Then the next meeting, A total of 85 people testified that evening and close to 12 midnight, the meeting was adjourned until Feb. 11.
One week after that final gun sales meeting, Spector noted when she said the community needed to roll up its sleeves and get the work done she meant, "We need to roll them up further and get even more work done, because that's how this year is going."
She then gave an update on issues that are top-of-mind for Los Gatos residents, including a possible moratorium on gun sales, which comes back to Council March 4 and giving town staff time to research a possible ordinance to restrict future weapon retailers.
The AHOZ issue is going back to the General Plan Committee, then to the Planning Commission and Council with public hearings expected in the spring and summer.
Hillbrook School's expansion, which has two components of concern—conditional-use permit intepretation and expansion—will have its Council hearing March 18. Some residents feel the school's permit has been violated and school officials want to modify the permit, which is going through environmental review and will be heard by the Council this fall, she said.
a huge swath of land bounded roughly by Los Gatos Boulevard to the east, Highway 85 to the north, Lark Avenue to the south and Highway 17 to the west, in on the verge of being developed by Grosvenor.
Spector said the project's specific plan will be sent to the 15-member North 40 Advisory Committee, which she chairs, and then to the Planning Commission and then to the Council. Spector said she anticipates the process to take place the entire year.
About the future expansion site for Netflix, on Albright Way and Winchester Boulevard, developer John Shenk has submitted a draft environmental impact report for public review. She anticipated the issue coming to the Council in the summer.
"They're all land-use issues and they are what I consider significant ... " she said.
She also talked about budget issues and said there was a relationship between the city's finances and the land-use issues.
In 2008, she said "Los Gatos would be resistant, but not immune" to the Great Recession. "I didn't really know what this financial situation was going to be ... resistant, but not immune turned out to be very accurate ... What I didn't anticipate was the duration" of the economic downtown.
In Los Gatos, finances have remained fairly consistent with little deviation of revenue generation each year, however, the town's fixed expenses have increased mainly due to pensions, which are fixed and retirement employment benefits, she explained.
The town has addressed the budget challenges with furloughs, salary freezes, and reorganizations. However, because it has reduced the town's bandwidth and its ability to deal with new issues will be challenged.
A meeting in November with town staff revealed a pending work plan that had an excess of 30 work items supposed to have been addressed because of ordinances, the General Plan and directives, she said.
These items include the town's alcohol and entertainment policy, proactive code enforcement, a process for addressing complaints about conditional-use permit violations, Almond Grove street repairs, review of the downtown parking assessment district, interface with other West Valley cities on issues such as plastic bags, dedicated electric vehicle charging stations, and review of planned developments in town, Spector said.
The mayor said these issues cause uncertainty in the community.
"What is the state of our town? As of today, within one month of the first Council meeting of 2013, we have demonstrated ourselves to be an engaged community, engaged with the beautiful town where we live," she said. "Throughout this year, I will expect our town will remain engaged ... with hard work, transparency, and integrity. Will it be challenging? Yes. Can we do it? Absolutely."
She added: "I look forward to working with everybody."