Dozens of Los Gatos residents advocated for causes from traffic and transportation to senior services and supporting the homeless population at the town’s annual priority-setting meeting Tuesday evening.
The meeting is meant as a chance for council to recalibrate the town’s goals and priorities for the year ahead of next month’s budget discussions.
Council added supporting homeless residents, streamlining business licensing and adopting a senior services roadmap to the list of priorities at the behest of several residents who spoke at the meeting.
“We are constrained in terms of staff capacity. We have a lot of great work that’s underway in all the areas I just mentioned, but we want to complete this work,” town manager Laurel Prevetti said. “We’ve heard a lot from Los Gatos residents and others who care about our town.”
The priorities fell into four categories: public safety, financial management, quality of life and transportation/traffic.
Of the 37 public commenters, 10 spoke in favor of supporting senior services in town. The recently established Senior Services Commission is finishing up its roadmap of services that it will present to town council later this year.
“As we age in place, we need to have meaningful activities for our older adults so they can continue to contribute to society and live independently,” said Maureen Heath, who serves on the commission.
Another 10 residents spoke up about the importance of supporting Los Gatos’ unhoused population.
Two people experiencing homelessness spoke at the meeting as well, advocating for warming shelters and services in town.
“It’s important to remember that they literally have to go sleep outside tonight after this, and that shouldn’t be happening in our town,” said Kylie Clark, who lives in Los Gatos and works with West Valley Community Services. “They’re residents just like anybody else, and I think it’s really important to remember that, and that we need to take care of them just as we take care of our housed residents in Los Gatos.”
Representatives from New Museum Los Gatos asked town council to consider giving the museum free rent to help with rising costs.
“Donors and funders have told me they may reduce or eliminate their contributions because they figure if the town doesn’t support us, why should they?” NUMU Executive Director Ami Davis said.
Town attorney Gabrielle Whelan presented a list of eight ordinances on her agenda this year, including an update to the town’s concealed carry, noise, ADU and e-bike ordinances.
Some of those updates are meant to make Los Gatos’ ordinances in line with state law or county ordinance changes.
Council is scheduled to begin budget discussions Feb. 21. Los Gatos is projecting a $10 million-plus budget deficit over the next five years as the region rebounds from the economic impacts of the pandemic.
The town’s business tax, which up until the November election had not been updated in 30 years, is expected to bring in an estimated $1 million in annual revenues. Los Gatos staff estimate that the deficit will increase by about $2 million per year, so the town still needs to come up with another $1 million to break even.
“We’ve got a lot of good work ahead of us,” Mayor Maria Ristow said. “Now, to figure out how to pay for all of it, we’ll be working on the budget.”