Los Gatos Imposes 45-Day Development Moratorium

The Los Gatos Town Council, Los Gatos Boulevard, San Francisco, Grosvenor USA Limited, SummerHill Homes LLC, Eden Housing, Inc., Bay Area

By Michele Chandler

The Los Gatos Town Council has temporarily put the brakes on further development applications within the controversial North 40 development, which is bordered by Lark Avenue, Los Gatos Boulevard, Highway 85 and Highway 17.

At its meeting on August 15, the Town Council approved a 45-day moratorium on processing future development applications for the area until updates to the entire North 40 Specific Plan have been completed.

A temporary moratorium is necessary, the Town Council said, “to prevent new development that might conflict with the Town’s contemplated new North 40 Specific Plan policies, zoning regulations, or design standards, as well as possible amendments to the Specific Plan.”

The Town Council will decide at its meeting on Sept. 5 whether to extend the temporary development moratorium.

At its meeting on August 1, the Town Council approved development on 20 of the total 44 acres within the North 40 area. That decision stands, permitting San Francisco-based developer Grosvenor USA Limited, in partnership with SummerHill Homes LLC and Eden Housing, Inc., to build a multistory development on the southern half of the area.

The Grosvenor-SummerHill-Eden development envisions 320 residential units—50 affordable senior units among them—and 66,000 square feet of retail space, including a San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace-style Market Hall.

The consortium’s development will include walkable neighborhoods with cafes, restaurants and personal services and “will connect the lifestyles of today’s empty nesters and young professionals,” according to Grosvenor’s website.

“It’s been a long time coming. It’s been a challenge for our community, having a piece of land that has been basically open space for a very long, long time,” said Town Manager Prevetti in a recent interview. “We’re hopeful once it’s all done, it will fit in nicely with the community.”

The council approved the consortium’s proposal by a 3-1 vote. Council member Steve Leonardis abstained while council member Barbara Spector cast the lone dissenting vote.

The Grosvenor-SummerHill-Eden alliance is now free to move forward with their plan to develop the site, which is part of a larger 40-acre area owned by Yuki Farms. The developer consortium was the first—and only—group to propose development on a portion of the site after Los Gatos approved its area plan for the entire North 40 parcel in 2015. The developers submitted an initial application in November 2013, which was resubmitted in 2015 following the approval of the Specific Plan.

The Los Gatos Town Council initially turned down the development in September 2016 amid concerns about housing density and the lack of affordable units in some parts of the project.

The developers sued in October, saying their proposed housing complex “complied with all applicable Town plans, zoning and policies.”

Then, in June 2017, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Drew Takaichi ordered the council to reconsider the project, saying the town had used subjective reasons rather than objective ones in its decision to deny the application.

Grosvenor has said the project will provide “much needed housing for Silicon Valley, including low-income housing for seniors. We have worked collaboratively with the community for more than nine years and will continue to do so in order to bring this housing and the Town’s vision to life.”

A Town Council Study session is scheduled for Oct. 3 to provide direction on potential amendments to the North 40 Specific Plan that do not require additional environmental, economic or other analysis.

Prevetti said there have been inquiries, but no formal submitted applications, for the remaining property, which has multiple owners, includes portions of a walnut orchard, businesses along Los Gatos Boulevard and smaller homes and is now covered by the temporary development moratorium.

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