This map from the City of Gilroy shows the Hecker Pass property subject to the Surplus Land Act. Photo: City of Gilroy
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The Gilroy City Council agreed to declare the mountainside behind Gilroy Gardens as surplus land to satisfy a state requirement before it pursues an expansion of the park.

The Aug. 2 unanimous decision by the council gives housing developers 60 days to express interest in the roughly 340-acre hillside.

The city sought proposals for the “Hecker Pass Highway Tourism and Recreation Development Opportunity” in late 2020. It received two proposals—one from Las Vegas-based Imagine That! and the other from Select Contracts of Canada—that would transform Gilroy Gardens and the mountainside if approved.

But the council’s decision to choose a firm to negotiate with stalled in May as it could have been in conflict with Assembly Bill 1486, also known as the Surplus Land Act, City Attorney Andy Faber told the council at an earlier meeting. 

That bill, approved in 2019, requires jurisdictions to make all “surplus” properties—defined broadly as land that is not currently in use by cities, counties and districts—to be made available to affordable housing developers before they can be sold.

Once declared a surplus, affordable housing developers have 60 days to state their interest. If a developer does step forward, the jurisdiction must enter into “good-faith” negotiations with them for 90 days.

If no developer shows interest in the property, or if a deal cannot be reached in the subsequent 90 days, then the city can resume negotiations with its chosen developer for a tourism-focused site.

The city is not required to sell the property to a housing developer.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.

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