Practicality, funding and compliance with state legislation were the main concerns of the Los Gatos Town Council as it held a special study session Monday afternoon to develop a Sustainability Plan as directed by the 2020 General Plan.
Consultants Joanna Jensen and Nicole Vermilion, of Berkeley-based The Planning Center DC&E, presented nine different town operation measures for the plan and gave council members a chance to weigh in on each.
“The purpose of this meeting is to present a laundry list of measures to the council,” said Los Gatos Town Manager Greg Larson. “We want to know which measures are worthy and which are not so we can take them off our plate and focus on the ones that are.”
Council members Joe Pirzynski and Diane McNutt had issues with Jensen's recommendation that the town encourage land-use intensity near retail establishments in town, stating that areas surrounding the commercial business district on North Santa Cruz Avenue is already well-developed and would not fit Los Gatos’ small-town makeup.
“We don’t see intensity as a significant value, we see it as an issue,” Pirzynski said.
The former Los Gatos mayor admitted that the council’s philosophy of staying away from intense development near retail could hinder its alignment with California Senate Bill 375, which calls for greenhouse gas emission reductions through sustainable land-use planning.
Other measures, including a town-funded shuttle service, the installation of bicycle parking downtown and the implementation of an audit system to monitor low and renewable energy appliances and infrastructure, were found to be unpractical and too expensive.
“I see costs being associated with a lot of these recommendations,” said Vice Mayor Barbara Spector. “The town does not have the money or the resources to implement these.”
Several Council members were also cautious of using terms like “require” when stating a measure for implementing part of the plan and several members opted to use words like “encourage.”
Another one of Jensen’s recommendations was to implement community gardens in the town’s open space.
According to the town’s Parks and Public Works Director Todd Capurso, there might be some open space at Worcester and Belgatos parks to make the recommendations a reality.
The consulting firm will host a community workshop in late January to educate the public on the measures and receive input from the town’s Sustainability Committee and Planning Commission so the Council can adopt the document in August of 2012, Jensen said.