Council, Commission Talk Policy

Governing officials will meet to collect perspectives on growth
and development
Gilroy – The city’s top governing bodies will meet next month to align perspectives on development projects and growth policy.

The Sept. 11 meeting between city council and the planning commission comes a few months after friction over efforts to revamp the city’s growth control law. A number of council members scolded commissioners at the beginning of the summer for spending several months reviewing proposed changes to the city’s housing permit competition – the heart of local growth control laws – only to return with a suggestion that further talks be held with developers and other stakeholders. Councilmen had expected recommendations on a new grading curve for projects – one that would reward eco-friendly and affordable housing – in time for a competition this fall, when officials plan to dole out permission to build 190 homes. Instead, city leaders will not have a chance to apply a new grading system until the next major competition in 2013, when several thousand permits are awarded.

“We need to make sure that the council properly communicates what we want the planning commission to do,” Councilman Craig Gartman said. “I feel that the line of communications has fallen down between the two organizations. We have not met to do a study session or meeting with them for a very long time. It’s hard to work with an organization when those lines of communications are frayed.”

Council members have also been quick to congratulate commissioners for their work on development and growth policies. The commission often spends months reviewing major developments, ensuring projects meet the city’s zoning regulations. On policy issues, they serve as the initial layer of review on recommendations by city staff.

“The planning commission is the research arm for the city council,” Gartman added. “It’s very important that the two organizations try to work as closely as possible … and that council properly communicates what it’s looking for.”

In addition to guidance on changes to the housing competition, Planning Commission Chairman Tim Day said he hopes to discuss a policy proposal that would require housing projects to match the character of surrounding neighborhoods.

“For me, it’s to get a read on council and what they’re expecting from planning commissioners,” Day said, “so we’re not going off in two different directions.”

The meeting, which is open to the public, takes place at 6:30pm in City Hall, 7351 Rosanna St.