Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Big Squeeze

Coming soon: High density development. Can this be a good thing for the community of Los Gatos? It certainly seems like a great idea to locate a high density residential development near public transit.
The Los Gatos Planning Commission has recommended that the historic Thrash House, better known as Emmanuel Convalescent Hospital be renovated by the Santa Clara Development Company who also want to build a 19-home subdivision on the surrounding property.

Three homes built prior to 1941, would be torn down along with the more recently constructed hospital building that sits at the corner of Los Gatos Boulevard and Caldwell Avenue. Eyesore comes to mind as you drive by, but the current state of this neighborhood is due in part to the lack of accessibility or parking. No doubt any attention to this blighted area (by local standards) could improve the condition of the neighborhood and would improve property values.

Depending upon what the last three years of due diligence looks like, a really interesting development could be beneficial, but the traffic and parking nightmares of 19 new homes in this neighborhood seems best described:shoe-horned. The data contained within the 2006 study shows the subdivision would generate less traffic than the convalescent home and hospital. What the study doesn't show is a true representation of traffic density represented by an additional19 homes each with multiple vehicles, making multiple trips on the boulevard during normal transit times. Without a specific snapshot of traffic, it will be impossible to assess the impact.

The bigger the development the bigger the impact to infrastructure. Typically communities that seek to assess the true snapshot of a planned community require an EIR (Environmental Impact Review.) As the name implies, it is a thorough review using independent data that gives the town an unbiased look at what to potentially expect. At the moment this in depth analysis doesn't exist at this time. It should.

How do we get the town planners and council to require this type of scrutinty and detail? Ask for it. Due diligence should be a pre requiste for any project, not just an idea.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I reside in this neighborhood. As much as we hate the look of the current buildings the idea of 19 new homes is hard to imagine. Can the town be serious about this type of density.