Gilroy Residents Start Petition Opposing Proposed 4,000-Home Development - NBC Bay Area
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Gilroy Residents Start Petition Opposing Proposed 4,000-Home Development

Gilroy residents have started an online petition to stop a proposed housing development of at least 4,000 homes approved by the city on Monday. Ryann Vargas reports. (Published Friday, Dec. 11, 2015)

Gilroy residents have started an online petition to stop a proposed housing development of at least 4,000 homes approved by the city on Monday.

Over 1,550 residents have signed.

"We’re hoping to show the city council that the people are upset that our voices weren’t heard," said Sandie Silva, who helped start the petition.

Those who have signed the petition say too much housing is being developed without regard to public impact.

"Our roads in the county are two lane roads and they get so packed up in the mornings going to school, going to work," said Jenny Mosher, a five-year Gilroy resident. "We’re not against growth, it just needs to be on a smaller basis."

The Urban Service Area amendment would add 3,996 residential units on 721 acres in Gilroy, encompassing land North to Fitzgerald Avenue, East of Santa Teresa Boulevard, West of Monterey road, and North and South of Day Road. Fifteen hundred of those units would be an active adult community. The project isn't expected to be built for at least 10 years.

Map shows where the proposed homes would go.
Photo credit: City of Gilroy

Some residents argue housing developments continue to devour prime farmland, which is a major industry for the city. They say not enough jobs are being created to balance housing growth.

City councilman Roland Velasco says 3,150 houses are under construction right now or in the pipeline to be constructed over the next few years.

"Everybody that’s living here ends up getting on 101, clogging freeways, and driving north. It begins to impact our quality of life," said Councilman Velasco.

Yet Gilroy Mayor Don Gage, says housing is a "necessary evil" to bring more jobs to the city. Gage, who will retire at the end of this month, provided the split vote in favor of the housing development.

"You can’t expect companies to come down here and build in Gilroy and not have a place for their employees to live," said Mayor Gage. "People want to work where they live and if they don’t have the appropriate amenities and selections, they’re not going to come."

The Gilroy police and fire departments reported a new firehouse and office space would be needed to man the new area. Gilroy Unified School District says a new elementary school would need to be built.

The city planning commission voted unanimously 7-0 against the project, yet the city council approved the project with a 4-3 vote.

The proposed area for the project is county land, and the landowners are under contract with developers. The next step is for the city to ask the Santa Clara Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) for approval.

"Once LAFCO passes it on day one, the current council or a future council could start annexing this land into city limits. That’s what we’re afraid of," said Councilmember Velasco.

If annexed into the city, the city would have to provide fire, police, street maintenance and other services. A staff report expects that could cost the city $1.2 million, with projection for increase.

In addition to the petition, some residents have emailed LAFCO directly to voice opposition to the project. They hope the petition and emails will persuade LAFCO not to approve the project.

"Gilroy is a small town, it’s known for being a small town," said Silva. "We would like to keep it a small town."

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