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|Santa Clara County, CA||November 5, 2002 Election|
By Paul DuboisCandidate for Council Member; Town of Los Gatos
This information is provided by the candidate
If we hope to maintain the quality of life in Los Gatos, then it's time to elect candidates to the Town Council that are not only passionate about that quality, but bring real experience and workable solutions for maintaining sustainable growth, keeping open lines of communication, mitigating traffic congestion, addressing hillside and affordable housing issues, and meeting the needs of our youth, families, and seniors.Quality of Life
Can anyone say that the quality of life in Los Gatos has improved or even been maintained over the last four years? I don't think so. What I hear are residents complaining about the unresponsiveness of local government; increased traffic; hillside issues; proposals for new developments that do not follow the General Plan; a need for affordable housing; and a lack of facilities to accommodate youth, family, and senior activities.
The one thing that all Los Gatos residents are able to bask in is the unique character of our town. To us, Los Gatos is a special place, with a look and feel that sets us apart from other communities. Nestled at the base of the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains, we have endeavored to protect this "Camelot" from the pressures of urbanization and sprawl so prevalent in surrounding communities. However, these pressures are beginning to impact every area of our town. If we hope to maintain the quality of life in Los Gatos, then it's time to elect candidates to the Town Council that are not only passionate about that quality of life, but have workable solutions to maintain sustainable growth. It starts with demanding that town government be responsive to its residents, in all parts of town.
As a result of talking to residents throughout Los Gatos, it has become clear to me that many feel abandoned and ignored. In some parts of Los Gatos the residents relate more with neighboring cities than with their own town. It seems that the only time anyone takes an interest in these areas is during an election when candidates are out walking neighborhoods courting votes. This is wrong, and if elected I would propose a series of neighborhood meetings to allow residents the opportunity to voice their concerns directly to their elected representatives. In addition, I propose the initiation of The Town Council Hotline, a 24/7 voicemail to each elected official, where a resident can call and leave messages regarding concerns, suggestions, or complaints. You can rest assured that, if elected to Town Council, I will be responsive to your calls. I also propose that an annual survey be included in the Town Newsletter, allowing residents of all ages to evaluate council performance and recommend improvements for the betterment of the community. All of Los Gatos deserves equal representation, not just the downtown or boulevard areas. We need a council that is responsive to the electorate.
One thing affecting every area of Los Gatos is the impact that automobile traffic has on our lives. Town officials recently hired a Traffic Engineer (as opposed to utilizing a consultant), and I believe this is a step in the right direction towards making an impact on traffic problems within the town. Through mitigation measures (such as traffic lights or traffic-calming mechanisms) traffic problems can be reduced. However, I believe that it is the responsibility of the Town Council to evaluate the "triggers" that call for traffic mitigation. This would help determine realistic levels so that problems would no longer be ignored until they are out of control and affect our roadways.
Good traffic planning programs involve a three-pronged approach - Engineering, Education, and Enforcement. The town's engineering abilities are already in place. However, we have no ongoing educational programs, and traffic enforcement is selective, based on the availability of the Police Department. As your Town Councilman, I will concentrate on all three areas to: identify and address policy issues affecting traffic; promote the development of ongoing educational programs dealing with pedestrian and vehicular safety; and encourage aggressive traffic enforcement in problem areas. Furthermore, I believe that traffic is not just a Los Gatos issue but a regional one and should be looked at globally. To accomplish this we need regional transportation plans to help reduce the volume of traffic on our roadways. I believe that the light-rail line should be extended through Los Gatos and down the Highway 85 corridor, and should occur sooner rather than later. And, if it were linked with a town-wide shuttle system, people could get to light-rail, or other town destinations (e.g. school, town, athletic events, shopping, etc.) more easily, and without driving.
Los Gatos Hills
Our hillsides are one of our most important assets. As a Planning Commissioner I have been working hard to develop new specific standards to protect them from over development. However, there is much more work to be done to insure the wellbeing of both new and existing hillside residents from disasters such as fires, earthquakes, and mud and landslides. I have much admiration for the Santa Clara Central Fire District and California Department of Forestry, and I feel that it would be my duty as your Town Councilman to encourage even closer work with these agencies to develop emergency water-storage capacity and delivery specifications; emergency evacuation routes; better street signage and visible addressing; and improved town-supported, fire/safety educational programs. Additionally, I would work closely with both the CDF and the County of Santa Clara to insure the continued operation of the helicopter fire-suppression unit, based at Lexington Reservoir. No one wants to see a repeat of the Oakland Hills fire, but unfortunately, our beautiful hills face the same risk. Our new General Plan calls for the implementation of Public Safety strategies on the hillsides, and as your Town Councilman I think the time has come to do just that, and I will.
Maintaining Community Character
With thanks to the many dedicated citizens who donated their time and talents, our town developed and passed a new general plan. That plan is the blueprint for maintaining the quality of life in Los Gatos. I believe it must be followed, not ignored or scrapped when faced with outside development interests. That plan also calls for the protection of our neighborhoods from the incursion and impacts of business interests.
With the exception of the "north-forty", infill, and some hillside areas, there is little room for additional development in Los Gatos. When development does occur, it not only impacts the environment, but the quality of life, animal habitats, and our ability to provide basic town services, let alone adequate water and sewage treatment. I support a strong emphasis on sustainability and the protection of our open-space resources in the planning process. As a Town Councilman I believe it would be my responsibility to insure that an equitable balance is maintained between the rights of a property owner to develop and the protection of the town's environment and quality of life. I vow to uphold the new general plan.
Los Gatos has made some headway in its plan to add more affordable housing to the community. The Planning Commission has specifically called for the inclusion of below-market housing in projects, and that it be made available to teachers and public employees. Additionally, the town has invested in the Santa Clara County Housing Trust in a regional attempt to address affordable housing. This is an important issue that faces all Santa Clara County cities. When our business, public, and educational employees, not to mention our own children, can't afford to buy in our community, the results are adversely impacted roadways with businesses and schools having a difficult time finding qualified employees. Additionally, we must ask ourselves what would happen if our public safety employees were forced to live fifty or sixty miles away. Would they be available if a disaster were to occur? As your Town Councilman I will continue to support opportunities for affordable housing, both within the town and through the trust.
Youth, Family, Seniors
During the last town election there was much talk about the need for Senior Services, a Senior Center, and a Senior Coordinator. The town has hired a Senior Coordinator who is to identify and develop senior programs and coordinate with other provider organizations. What has not been addressed, however, is the facility out of which these as well as youth-oriented services are to be provided. The Neighborhood Center (designed and built in the 60s) is not efficiently designed to accommodate the needs of the community or senior and youth programs. As your Town Councilman I would support the Civic Center Master Plan Study to maximize the use and flexibility of town facilities, including the development of a new library.
In recent years, the Town Council has supported the development of family-oriented programs, such as the Forth of July Celebration and Film Festival. I believe that programs such as these are excellent ways to bring citizens of all ages together in the spirit of fun and enjoyment. I would strongly support the continuance of these programs, along with the Fiesta de Artes, Tree Lighting celebration, the Children's Holiday Parade, and the new Shakespeare Festival. These are all ways in which people can come together and participate in the spirit of community. However, it can't just stop there. We, as a town, need to identify and develop plans to address the recreational, social, and community needs of young and old alike (such as the new community pool at Los Gatos High School). As your Town Councilman, I will make this a priority.
Lets Make a Difference
Over the years many people have extolled the beauty of Los Gatos. It is a beautiful community, and I feel blessed that I am able to not only live here, but work here as well. While it may not be perfect, and there may be challenges that face us, it is my belief that everything can be overcome through a cooperative effort. In a representative form of government, the elected officials are tasked with carrying out the will of the people. This is a communications process that requires elected officials who are willing to listen and talk to the citizens in every area of the community. I truly care about you and our town, I'm asking you to give me the chance to provide the kind of representation that Los Gatos needs. I'm asking for your vote on November 5th.
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