Video: Points of view expressed by Rishi Kumar at the Saratoga Housing Element city council meeting of January 20th
Find all of my blogs on the topic of Saratoga’s Housing Element here.
Based on what has transpired on the city council over the last few weeks in relation to the Housing Element - we are on a path to a huge train wreck. We need a plan like the one I suggest below that brings Saratoga together - that our city council can follow to get out of the mess we are in today. We have seemingly followed a path over the last year that has divided our city, pitted neighbors against neighbors, while showcasing no vision, no plan, while completely discarding the fundamentals of urban planning. I am still puzzled how we altogether missed adding the school sites and the church sites, that would alleviate the city’s burden of new housing sites, into consideration after a year on this; it is now part of my recommended plan below.
We have a year left to submit this to the state, and we can still right this ship with some common sense thinking.
I don’t believe anyone in Silicon Valley is against housing. But pragmatic thinkers that we are, we believe it has to be done right! When politicians sell out to real-estate developers, nasty things happen. California is in a perfect storm that is bringing real-estate groups from Texas - who are rubbing their hands with glee based on what is going on in California (real story).
Here is my plan to bring together our Housing Element and bring Saratoga together: Given that our city has a mandate to adopt a Housing Element - however flawed it may be - we have to explore options. My site list should include the complete list that our staff or PC have evaluated in the past, along with what our neighbors have recommended.
Let us do a data-driven approach, applying the fundamentals of a proper urban plan approach - not an emotional one. The consistent theme expressed by our neighbors at the prior housing element meetings - December 14, January 10, January 19 and January 20 - was the need for a FAIR and EVEN distribution of sites throughout Saratoga. Fairness in our process is as important as transparency! To do the job right, the Council needs to consider ALL possible sites.
Our city staff should present a list of ALL possible sites (including all city owned property) making sure that we consider all sites that have been proposed via public input or considered in the past over the last year - I made this explicit request at the last meeting. This list should be evaluated on specific grading criteria in a way that would provide us a final score for each site such as:
Please educate yourself about the facts on my Managed Growth page.
I need your help to steer our housing element back on track. I have been saying for weeks that we should slow down as we are far ahead in the Housing Element timeline compared to other cities, yet we continue forging ahead fast and furious without a kosher plan.
Can you please help?
Please click on this link and follow the Call to Action - it will take you a minute. Take the time to read the complete recommendation though.
Can you and I team up to salvage this?
Saratoga makes a wrong turn now and our very future is in jeopardy - we are dealing with a monumental crisis. We need to make good choices here.
If you click the link above, you will find the following:
Highlighting below a few words from our neighbors expressed based on their observation with the housing element progression
I didn’t support the above approach for reasons stated below:
BE ADVISED, HOWEVER: Although we should give this our best effort, AT THE END OF THE DAY, Saratoga as we know it now, will be fundamentally changed by the implementation of these ill-conceived laws, and not for the better.
BE ALSO ADVISED THAT The RHNA numbers have been set up for Saratoga to fail: Should we follow the herd based on an ill-conceived Sacramento push that is turning over the state to land-developers. There is no way Saratoga will have built the required 1700 housing units in 8 years, when we barely built 200 in the last 8 years. We will fail the housing element test at the midpoint i.e 2026. What then? The land-developers swoop in - armed with the SB-35 legislation - to operate with gay abandon, claim any and all properties - including the Village - within our city circumventing city council jurisdiction. We ain’t seen nothing yet.
I am afraid our current path continues our train wreck. We need a better approach - and seemingly no one on the council has the appetite to consider other options.
Our city council needs to do right thing for our citizens and protect the future of our city and our citizens! But we need the help of each of our neighbors. Everyone!
Visit our city website https://www.saratoga.ca.us/housing for the housing element details.