One last discussion on the Habitat Plan scheduled for Monday night

The final version of the hefty 50-year, $660 million, 2,800 page Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan – the sweeping multi-agency regional plan said to streamline the development process as well as protect open space – is up for discussion once and for all during Monday’s regular City Council meeting. 

If all goes as planned, Council will vote to enter an “implementing agreement” which spells out their responsibilities and terms of participation to the plan. If approved, Council will then appoint two members to a new joint powers authority board for the plan. 

If Council approves everything about the plan, just one last hoop must be jumped through: An approval of a new City ordinance which allows for participation, which would be voted on during the Nov. 5 Council meeting. 

The habitat plan was scaled back about a year ago after fielding public comment to include a open space preservation area of 47,000 acres rather than the 58,000 acres originally proposed. 

“This plan is a smart, well thought-out approach toward planning for development and conservation, giving more certainty to developers and public projects, while providing funding and successful protection for wildlife conservation,” the board of the Habitat Conservation Plan wrote the Council Oct. 8. 

The plan is said to “streamline” development by having developers go through one agency (the habitat plan) rather than going through all the hassle to obtain permits from separate agencies as they do now.

Gilroy staff recommends Council to adopt the plan, but not all members are convinced yet. Councilman Dion Bracco told the Dispatch in September that he plans to vote it down, saying it’s a convoluted document that would inevitably lead to too much government control. 

“I don’t think the people of the habitat plan even know what’s in it,” Bracco said. 

Also on Monday’s agenda

Council will also vote on whether to allow a Gilroy property to qualify for a property tax reduction in accordance with the Mills Act, which gives property tax breaks to homeowners who agree to preserve historic properties. 

The owner, David Matuszak applied for a Mills Act agreement for his home on 7751 Rosanna St. 

Known as the Hornlein House, the home was constructed in the late 1800s or early 1900s and belonged to Otto Hornlein a carriage maker and sign painter. 

The state reimburses local school districts for any lost revenue for a Mills Act property. Last year, the City received less than $252 from 7751 Rosanna St. property, so loss to the City would be some portion of $252.

The property owner is obligated to maintain the property and reinvest all tax savings directly back to the property. 

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