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Initial Public Review Draft of the Town’s 2023-2031 Housing Element

The 30-day Public Review period for the Town’s 2023-2031 Draft Housing Element ended on September 27, 2022. Please see below for next steps in this process.

A 30-day public comment period of the Initial Public Review Draft Housing Element is required before the Town can submit to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for preliminary review. Following review by HCD, an updated draft Housing Element addressing HCD comments will be prepared. Once the draft Housing Element has been updated to address HCD comments, it will be scheduled for further review by the Housing Element Advisory Board at a future meeting.

Initial Public Review Draft of the Town’s 2023-2031 Housing Element

The 30-day Public Review period for the Town’s 2023-2031 Draft Housing Element ended on September 27, 2022. Please see below for next steps in this process.

A 30-day public comment period of the Initial Public Review Draft Housing Element is required before the Town can submit to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for preliminary review. Following review by HCD, an updated draft Housing Element addressing HCD comments will be prepared. Once the draft Housing Element has been updated to address HCD comments, it will be scheduled for further review by the Housing Element Advisory Board at a future meeting.

Comments

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

I previously posted feedback from a pdf document. Unfortuanately, the formatting as lost when I copied it here. Please let me know how to send the feedback properly formatted.

William Walker 3 months ago

Feedback on Town of Los Gatos 6th Cycle 2023-2031 Housing Element
William Walker September 4, 2022
wwwalker4@comcast.net
I will give feedback referenced by section.
10.1.1 California’s Housing Crisis
The document states that there is a housing crisis, but there is no reference to any peer-reviewed academic study demonstrating a crisis. Last time California had a housing crisis was 2007-2008, when housing prices plummeted due to sub-prime mortgages. Many families were bankrupted.
The second paragraph states that Santa Clara County is projected to add 169,450 jobs, but again there is no reference to where the projection originated. My understanding is that California lost population in the previous several years (https://www.macrotrends.net/states/california/population), and that Santa Clara county population has declined since 2020. Also some large companies such as Charles Schwab, Tesla, HP, Oracle have relocated their headquarters out of state. Moreover, the advent of work-at-home has resulted in workers relocating to lower cost states. So I am very skeptical that population will continue to increase as in the past.
In my opinion, historically low interest rates in the previous few years resulted in excessive housing demand. The real housing crisis is likely to be a repeat of 2007-2008, which we are already starting to see as increasing interest rates cause a recession and falling house prices. Adding more housing will make the crisis worse, as it did in 2007-2008.
I find the final paragraph is really puzzling. When I moved to Los Gatos in 1983, it was highly segregated, indeed many neighborhoods built before 1963 excluded racial minorities from home ownership. It is right to condemn those bad old days. But times have completely changed, my neighborhood, and Los Gatos as a whole is highly integrated now. There is no problem to solve here.
10.1.2
Same comments as the previous section, I am highly skeptical of the projected increase in households. The actual data from last year indicates California’s population is declining (https:// www.macrotrends.net/states/california/population).
At least here there is a reference to where the data came from, but I don’t believe the data.
10.1.3 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing
I don’t understand how California is supposed to enforce replacement of segregated living patterns with integrated living patterns. Will Cupertino be forced to kick out Chinese residents? It’s an unfortunate part of human nature that many people prefer to live in neighborhoods with their affinity groups. I’m not one of them, I like the melting pot and oppose multiculturalism, but I also believe in freedom of association. Based on the racial make-up of my neighborhood, I’m very skeptical of the statement that “racial segregation in Los Gatos increased between 2010 and 2020”. Los Gatos is a model community for racial integration.

Ironically, when I went to college at Cal in the 1970s, the student Co-op where I lived was completely integrated. Now, if you visit the Berkeley Student Co-op website, you will find that many of the Co-op houses have “themes”, such as people-of-color, and LGBT, and students are encouraged to segregate themselves to live with their affinity groups. O brave new world, that has such people in it! Segregation has become fashionable again.
10.1.4 Overview of Planning and Legislative Efforts
I’m sorry my feedback to the general plan was not adopted by the Town Council. Most importantly, the vast expansion of housing adopted by the general plan flies in the face of sound city planning practice, and will result in environmental destruction and a deterioration of the quality of life in Los Gatos and throughout the bay area. An environmentally sensitive plan would have advocated to decrease the population of outlying suburbs with no access to public transportation, such as Los Gatos, and to increase the population density within 1km of mass transit hubs, such as Cal Train stations. This is how planning is done in Japan (where my wife and I have a second home). Most of the northeastern states, such as New York, historically have very low population densities once you leave the big cities, California was built out as a continuous suburb. We need to make California look more like Japan or New York. The Los Gatos general plan doubles down on the environmentally unsustainable continuous suburb model.
I understand the California legislature has mandated certain housing policies, but the solution is to push back by banding together with other outlying suburbs and rural communities to fight environmentally destructive mandates.
Of course Los Gatos is segregated from other communities by income. Los Gatos is a luxury brand, with vacant lots running over $1 million. Forcing low income housing into Los Gatos is like asking Daimler Benz to build an economy car, their cost structure doesn’t allow it. Los Gatos land costs can’t sustain low cost housing. You don’t need to travel far from Los Gatos to get to areas with lower land prices, for example, Santa Clara, San Jose, Morgan Hill, Milpitas.
Finally, building high-density low-income housing in Los Gatos will violate the original covenants and restrictions on existing housing and degrade its value. I view the covenants and restrictions as a contract I signed onto when I bought my house. I don’t see any proposal in this document to compensate existing residents for degrading their property values. Again, the town needs to push back against legislative mandates that don’t make sense.
10.1.5 Public Participation
Public disclosure of new regulations by the Town Council is inadequate. Many residents do not subscribe to social media, do not read newspapers, shop at Safeway rather than at the farmer’s market, and avoid using the internet as much as possible. For instance, my neighbor bought a gas leaf blower one week before the town banned them. A proper form of disclosure is by USPS, every resident needs to receive a hard-copy in the mail.
But more importantly, when radical proposals that completely and irrevocably change the town’s character are proposed, the citizens of the town should be given an opportunity to vote. This was not done with the 2040 General Plan.
10.2 Overview of Housing Need and Constraints
This section is largely repeating and expanding on what was already written in the previous section. My comments above apply.

10.2.6 Special Housing Needs
This section is mostly free of data, and what little data is presented lacks citations.
I’m a senior, but I question the section about senior household affordability. My understanding is that seniors are the wealthiest Americans (https://www.lexingtonlaw.com/blog/finance/average-net-worth-by- age.html). Seniors also benefit from Medicare, Social Security, Prop. 13 property tax reductions, and senior discounts.
The section on homelessness lacks data, and the reasons stated for homelessness are wrong. My understanding of the homeless crisis in California, as documented in Michael Shellenberger’s book San Fransicko, is that it is almost entirely a crisis of drug addiction and untreated mental illness. Organizations advocating personal liberty such as the ACLU, together with progressive prosecutors, have made it impossible to solve the homeless crisis. Open borders have increased the supply of Fentanyl. And it is a real crisis: in San Francisco more people died of drug overdoses than Covid in the last two years.
10.4 Energy and Resource Conservation
Solar roof panels are not a means of reducing energy costs. Considering the maintenance and depreciation, I believe (I am an electrical engineer specializing in semiconductor physics) they generating very expensive power. If the town really believes solar roof panels are a good investment, then the numbers should be presented in this document. Although I am an SVCE customer, and own an electric car I have not experienced any reduction of my power costs. Indeed, California has some of the most expensive power in the US.
The figures touting 99% reduction in utility-related emissions by providing clean energy are patently false. When the energy required to manufacture solar panels is accounted for and amortized over their life, and recognition of the fact they are manufactured in China using high-carbon coal power, the numbers are nowhere near as good. Moreover, solar power is not generated during the peak demand period between 4PM and 9PM. Back-up power capital equipment needs to be kept on-line, and that adds to the cost. Failure to do so has led to California’s current energy crisis, and caused my electric car to be charged with out-of-state coal power brought in to alleviate the crisis.
A better way and less expensive way to reduce power costs is to install a light colored roof, insulate your attic, and plant deciduous trees to shade your house. Fenestration should be minimized. I notice that most houses being remodeled these days are styled as retro mid-century modern with black roofs and huge windows, which is very bad from an energy efficiency standpoint.
California has shut down two of its three nuclear plants in the last few years, with Diablo Canyon scheduled to be taken off-line in 2024-2025. The result is an increase in the proportion of carbon- spewing power generation, and higher energy costs from renewables. According to Wikipedia, Diablo Canyon generates electricity at six cents per kW hour, one fourth of what I pay for so-called SVCE clean power. And nuclear generates power 24/7.
10.5 Goals, Policies, and Implementation Programs
Basically, I oppose almost all of the policy recommendation in this section. Here are my proposed replacement policies.

1. The town should advocate for the state to electrify CalTrain and eliminate all grade crossings. The money saved from killing the bullet train can be reallocated for this project. Once Caltrain is electrified, San Jose to San Francisco is a 30 minute commute (electric express trains without grade crossings can travel at 80 MPH). California is way behind on electric commuter trains.
2. The town should recommend a 1km circle centered around each major CalTrain station be re-zoned for ultra-high-density housing. The entire housing needs of San Mateo and Santa Clara county can be met for many years. People can walk to train stations in five minutes, eliminating the need to expand freeways. Similar zoning changes would be beneficial for BART.
3. Towns and suburbs not served by mass transit hubs should be encouraged to down-size or remain stagnant to alleviate the burden on highways and reduce car-miles, exactly the opposite of what the town is currently advocating.
4. The town should request that Diablo Canyon not be closed. San Onofre nuclear power station decommissioning should be stopped immediately, and the power station should be rebuilt and brought back on line. Third-generation nuclear power stations should be built to replace windmills and photovoltaics, which are not viable sources of carbon-free power. Reasons for advocating this position can be found in Michael Shellenberger’s book Apocalypse Never.
5. The town recognizes that the VTA light rail system is a failure. It is slow, expense, unreliable, doesn’t stop near your office or home, and needs to be fixed or dismantled. Google buses are an alternative. The town should recommend to study how to get people to work without cars. Bicycles are not a good option.

William Walker 3 months ago