Location. Location. Location.
That’s the familiar mantra we hear when discussing how to value real estate. The same can be applied to a land use debate currently underway in the Town of Los Gatos.
The issue: On an existing, mostly empty and outmoded office park at the edge of the Town, a local developer is proposing to build four new office buildings at four stories each. The prospective main tenant for the buildings is Netflix, a locally grown company headquartered in Los Gatos that wants to deepen its roots and add 900 plus high quality, high-tech jobs.
This is the second iteration of a project that was approved by the Town in 2011 but then stopped due to a challenge filed under the California Environmental Quality Act, a good law that is often abused, as is the case here.
Why the opposition to the project? A small but vocal minority of Los Gatos residents are very concerned it will erode the “Town character.”
Let’s pause for a moment. Yes, the Town of Los Gatos is a wonderful place. I moved there 10 years ago, attracted by many of the elements we all hold dear. The downtown is a gem, one that draws people from all over the region.
That said, the argument that we should only allow office buildings no higher than 35 feet in order to preserve the “town character” is a one size shoe fits all approach. It ignores the fact that the site backs up against Highway 85, is nowhere near the Town center and is near the end of a planned light rail line. In recognition of these site attributes, the Town’s general plan has long designated this location for more intensive job growth.
“Town character” is critical, but should not replace critical thinking. This revitalization of an old office complex does not threaten the Town character and will bring with it many benefits like increased property tax revenues for our schools, a stronger argument to complete the light rail expansion and 900 high skilled jobs.
If you live in Los Gatos or Monte Sereno, please join me at the May 20 Council hearing to support good jobs in the right location in a wonderful Town. I hope to see you there.