Los Gatos staff break down proposed design requirements for developers – The Mercury News

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Los Gatos staff and a group of consultants presented a list of proposed design standards to be applied to future housing development in the city during a virtual community meeting on Thursday.

These proposed standards come in response to state laws like SB 35 that seek to streamline housing development and seek to remove personal or subjective judgment from city building applications, M Group consultant Tom Ford said at the meeting. .

This also applies to affordable housing developments, which can go through a simplified review process if they meet certain criteria.

“What the state was trying to do was find a way to remove some of the hurdles that sometimes arise with development projects that are stuck in a review process,” Ford said. “So the state has put this stipulation with these projects that they can only be judged by objective standards that have already been in place the day the bid comes in.”

Developers must meet these requirements for building layouts, parking lots, facades and building materials when applying to build in the city, including the nearly 2,000 state-mandated housing units to be built. by 2030.

These standards establish requirements for new construction applications to ensure that the aesthetics and functionality of new housing matches the current look and feel of the city.

The planning commission and city council must approve the standards before they are implemented this fall.

Ford responded to questions that were raised at the last community meeting in February, including concerns that the whole city looks alike based on the criteria.

“These standards are objective, but they still leave a lot of control to the designer,” Ford said.

Some objective criteria are grouped into dashboards, where developers can choose what to include to achieve this requirement.

“The important thing is not that someone has to do all of this, but that we gave a menu of options – a palette, if you will – and that they can sort of choose from the palette,” said said Ford.

Los Gatos resident Susan Burnett asked how these standards differed from all the other design standards already in place in the city.

City staff said the objective standards were taken from design review requirements for various parts of the city, including the Hillside and North 40 development.

This review process comes as Bay Area cities must plan for their housing growth for the next eight years, including affordable housing. The state has determined that Los Gatos must plan nearly 2,000 new homes over the next eight years, 847 of which must be for low- or very-low-income housing.

Failure to create the plan could allow developers to build in town without public scrutiny.

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