Council votes for 45-day moratorium

Plan will be presented to manage new development

The Gilroy City Council and Planning Commission will not be hearing or approving any multi-family housing projects until Feb. 21, after an interim urgency ordinance was adopted by the council in a 6-1 vote.

Council member Dion Bracco voted against the ordinance, which will halt any new projects from coming before the council and commission for 45 days to give staff time to create a report of current housing and zoning needs within the city.

All other council members voted to approve the ordinance, which needed six votes to pass. According to the staff report presented to the council, California cities can only pass a moratorium of this nature if “there is a current and immediate threat to the public health, safety or welfare, and the approval of additional multi-family development entitlements would result in that threat to public health, safety or welfare.”

City staff concluded such threats were present.
The initial report came in November after the council directed city staff to research whether an ordinance was necessary or possible.

Senior planner for the city, Stan Ketchum, told the council, “We think it’s prudent and important that we have a little bit of a time out…to give us a chance to look at these issues going forward.”

The ordinance will not affect plans already approved or in late stages of development-; at the Jan. 7 meeting when the ordinance was approved, the council also voted to approve a multi-family housing project on Monterey Road. However, the ordinance will allow staff to analyze city services needed for the projects, the effects of multi-family projects on portions of city infrastructure and where new projects of the type would fit best within the city.

A project is considered multi-family if it is three units or more.

Ketchum told the Dispatch that the moratorium is not intended to last any longer than 45 days and that the state mandates a report be presented to the council within the first 30 days or the urgency ordinance. He expected the presentation to occur at the Feb. 4 meeting of the council.

Within the presentation, housing trends will be addressed to best identify potential building sites for projects. Ketchum said an economic report commissioned by the council identified a trend of building multi-family residences near places of employment, which may influence the findings of the report and how the council proceeds when approving projects.

“We believe there is a potential impact on the city’s residents long term if we don’t have all the information we can on how multi-family residential and affordable housing, which is a subset of multi-family, comes before the city,” Ketchum told the council.

The findings from the study will become part of the city’s emergency and general plans.

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