City seeks applicants for development task force

Roundtable forum: "Building the Arts through

The city of Gilroy announced Thursday it’s seeking applicants
for six spots on a newly formed and questioned development
standards task force, approved earlier this month by a 4-3 vote
from a divided Gilroy City Council.
The city of Gilroy announced Thursday it’s seeking applicants for six spots on a newly formed and questioned development standards task force, approved earlier this month by a 4-3 vote from a divided Gilroy City Council.

Debate has centered around changes made to the 11-member group, which originally had 13 members and gave equal representation to local school, environment and development representatives. But the Council approved a revised composition that deleted school district representation and eliminated one environmental seat, swapping it with another developer spot, after city staff suggested local schools might not be affected the standards reviews and that the environmental community may not be concerned with issues over the city’s redevelopment ordinance and neighborhood district.

Mayor Al Pinheiro and Councilmen Dion Bracco, Bob Dillon and Perry Woodward voted in favor of the revised task force during an Aug. 1 regular meeting. Peter Arellano, Cat Tucker and Peter Leroe-Muñoz voted against it.

Tucker urged the Council to “rethink this a little bit more” before voting, and Arellano – who will serve on the task force –wanted the group to return to its two-developer, two-environmental makeup.

The Council approved the new line up the same night it approved the final map for Rancho Hills project, a controversial 71-home development planned for the foothills of northwest Gilroy.

Some residents claimed the city didn’t do enough to inform residents of the incoming development and laughed at the explanation that the project didn’t require and environmental impact report. Neighbors also criticized the city for renewing the project’s expired residential development ordinance allotments in October 2010.

Resident Lisa Thornquist said allowing an extra developer and eliminating a spot for an environmental representative was a case of “the fox guarding the hen house.”

“People follow the rules, but it’s the rules that need to be looked at,” Thornquist told the Council. “It’s this kind of intention that gets into problems like the one we’re in now with Rancho Hills.”

The focus of the task force is to review the city’s development standards within its zoning code, including lot sizes, building setbacks and parking standards, according to a city press release. The group will also critique specifications for public improvements such as street widths and pavement sections, underground utilities and fire hydrant and street light spacing.

The group will be comprised of two Councilmen – Arellano and Woodward – along with two planning commissioners, two residential developers, a commercial or industrial developer, a South County Housing representative, a local environmental community member and two community members at-large.

The task force will meet in open public meetings at least once a month, but no more than every two weeks, according to the city.

Applications are available at cityofgilroy.org and at City Hall and must be submitted by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13. The Council will interview applicants during the Monday, Sept. 19 regular Council meeting.

Leave your comments