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Saratoga City Council considers Housing Element proposal in seven-hour meeting

By Hannah Kanik, The Mercury News, January 11, 2022

“More than 550 residents sat in on the seven-hour meeting, where Saratoga City Council reviewed a list of nine potential sites to fulfill its state-mandated Housing Element requirement. More than 130 people voiced concerns over the high concentration of proposed developments along Saratoga and Cox avenues and the area north of Highway 85.

“ ‘In my mind, this is the biggest challenge the city of Saratoga has faced since its incorporation,’ Mayor Tina Walia said at the meeting. ‘It is fundamentally going to change the character of Saratoga, and that is personally very disturbing to me.’

“Saratoga City Council appealed its RHNA allocation last July, asking for a 50 percent reduction from 1,712 to 856 new housing units. [The Association of Bay Area Governments denied all six appeals from Santa Clara County.]

“Community Development Director Debbie Pedro said that if Saratoga does not fulfill the Housing Element requirement, the city will be subject to ‘severe penalties.’

“ ‘These include reducing our say over future development, including building permits, subdivisions and use permits. Other penalties include fines and loss of grant funding for things like money to improve our roads,’ Pedro said.

“Some who spoke at Monday’s meeting pushed a ballot initiative proposed for the November ballot that’s intended to give local governments more control over local land use. City Council passed a resolution last October in support of the proposed statewide initiative.

“Council also discussed guiding policies for the new developments.”

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