Council goal session: Setting the priorities for 2011

Happy New Year everyone. With a new year and a new council,
comes the ability to clean off the slate and start anew.
Happy New Year everyone.

With a new year and a new council, comes the ability to clean off the slate and start anew.

The Gilroy City Council Goal Setting Session is coming up on Jan. 28 and 29, and it’s a good time for the residents of Gilroy to make known what you feel are important issues facing the community.

In my last column, I outlined what issues I thought the council should tackle from a council point of view.

As I wander around town I hear from many people what they would like to see our council accomplish. Here are three issues which, in my opinion, deserve mentioning.

Number one on the list is crime. As it has been reported in the Dispatch over the last few weeks, there is a rise in business and residential crime. Cars, businesses and homes are getting broken into; business owners are being held up at gunpoint, shootings and stabbings throughout the town.

It feels like we are back in the ’90s when gangs ruled the town. Maybe it’s time that the council make fighting back against gangs a number one priority. I didn’t agree with the last council that pushed for cutting the police force and taking officers off the street. I think we should have more community policing with an officer walking the downtown day and night. Maybe the downtown business owners should unite and demand a foot patrol in the downtown area again.

We need to bring back the successful Lucky 7 program, a police program that focused on the “lucky” 7 top gang leaders, which Mayor Mike Gilroy championed. The Gilroy Police Department would identify seven leaders of the local gangs in Gilroy and give them just a little extra attention. This is called being proactive and if you couple that with community policing, where the officers get out from inside their cars, maybe we can start fighting back. You can help, too, when you see something that doesn’t look right, call the GPD.

Second on the list is the overall condition of our roads, alleys and sidewalks. Eigleberry is a disaster and the butt of many jokes. Most people believe that nothing will ever be done to fix the worst street in town, and don’t get me started on the constant problem of faded painted lines on the street. The city bought a brand new paint truck for street painting, and it would be good if we could see it used beyond minor touch ups. I’ve seen the two guys who run that truck and they do a great job and I would like to see them do more of it.

When your street needs restriping, pick up the phone and call. Additionally, there is my favorite subject, the sidewalks.How many of you in Gilroy have bad sidewalks in front of your house but have not contacted the city to come out and repair it before someone comes along and trips and falls. Haven’t we seen enough of this? It can all start with a simple phone call.

The third issue, a much more complex and I think most important, is the continuing disconnect of the outstanding RDO’s (Residential Development Ordinance), the new Neighborhood District for Gilroy, and the backlog of homes that have yet to be built from the last 7 to 8 years.

RDO’s are issued to developers to allow new homes to be built, these RDO’s are sometimes held onto by builders for many years waiting for the right market conditions to begin their construction projects. Many of these outstanding RDO’s were issued prior to the neighborhood district (a plan which specifies the density and types of homes to be built in specific areas) which was put in place in 2002 with the adoption of the city’s General Plan. The problem lies in the potential volume of home building that could take place once the market opens up versus the city’s plans for support infrastructure and the school district’s capacity plans for new students. In the late ’90s, early 2000s there were up to 700 homes being built in a year. This crippled the city and school district’s ability to support such growth.

We have avoided the tsunami with the economic downturn in the last few years, but hundreds of homes are approved for building in 2011, the wave is on its way.

It is time for the City Council to put controls in place to make sure we do not repeat the problems experienced 10 years ago. The council needs to determine an acceptable building rate that the city and school district can support. Measures are needed to prepare, plan and budget for this growth. This includes things such as: water and sewer capacities and the staff required to inspect and administer this growth.

This is an opportunity to be proactive and make the necessary changes to the General Plan and the RDO. There should goals set to ensure special study sessions are held to focus on these issues.

When the request goes out from this council for the formation of a community review committee for the Gilroy General Plan, take this opportunity to participate. That way you have a say in the future and the direction Gilroy is heading.

The council cannot do any of this without community involvement. The council needs your emails, phone calls and don’t hesitate to stop your local councilmember in the grocery store to bend an ear. I always planned to spend two hours to get a loaf of bread when I was on the council – part of my responsibility to be available to the public. And though I am no longer on the council, I still feel a responsibility to hear people out in the store.

Just something to think about …

Craig Gartman is a local businessman and former councilmember. Reach him at [email protected]

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