One Los Gatos - A Community Together
On June 18, 2019 the Town Council of Los Gatos voted to annex 24 unincorporated county pockets (see "Island Annexation Maps") into the Town of Los Gatos. With the Council having adopted annexation staff is now working with our counterparts at the County and the Local Agency Formation Commission to receive a Certificate of Completion and an effective date for annexation. The effective date for annexation is anticipated to be no later than August 31, 2019.
Most County residents will notice very little change in their day to day lives. Annexation does not change property valuation assessments, where children go to school, or fire protection services. Where residents will notice a difference, is in enhanced resources for road maintenance and the higher service level coverage provided by the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department. In addition, a comparison of property tax bills for island residents versus a Town of Los Gatos resident indicate that newly annexed residents can anticipate a slightly lower tax bill.
Prior to the effective date of annexation the Town will mailnew resident information to our County residents welcoming them to the Town andproviding lots of helpful information about Town services. This Annexation website is intended to provide information about the annexation process, the benefits of annexation, and answer some frequently asked questions.
Town of Los Gatos Annexation Timeline
On February 5, 2019, the Town Council of Los Gatos by unanimous vote directed staff to initiate the streamlined annexation process of multiple unincorporated islands. Senate Bill 1266 created the streamlined process which allows cities/towns to annex unincorporated “islands" that are 150 acres or less, and that meet certain criteria, without requiring protest hearings or elections.
For more information about the Town Council action of February 5, 2019 please see item #9 of the Town Council Agenda: https://granicus_production_attachments.s3.amazonaws.com/losgatos/371eba55ea16077c87775a30c044dd4b0.pdf
On June 4, 2019, the Los Gatos Town Council held a public hearing, considered public testimony, and unanimously voted to approve a resolution initiating the annexation of 308 unincorporated parcels within 24 unincorporated urban islands. In addition, the Town Council set June 18, 2019 as the public hearing date for final consideration of annexation pursuant to sections 56757 and 56375.3 of the California Government Code.
For more information about the Town Council action of June 4, 2019 please see page 335 of the Town Council Agenda: https://d3n9y02raazwpg.cloudfront.net/losgatos/63fcc4fc-227b-4cfa-99ff-9e5fa76e9c01-f104c635-5485-42d8-b79c-acfdde6444e2-1559683710.pdf
On June 18, 2019, the Los Gatos Town Council held a public hearing, considered public testimony, and unanimously voted to approve a resolution making determinations and ordering annexation of certain urbanunincorporated islands within the Tow of Los Gatos Urban Service Area pursuantto sections 56757 and 56375.3 of the California Government Code.
For more information about the Town Council action of June 18, 2019 please see item 17 of the Town Council Agenda: https://granicus_production_attachments.s3.amazonaws.com/losgatos/8f7b6b3ef0fefe18deb1851575f31c9c0.pdf
Introduction to Annexation and State Streamlined Process
On February 5, 2019, the Los Gatos Town Council directed staff to initiate the streamlined annexation process for multiple unincorporated islands. An urban unincorporated island (or pocket) is unincorporated land that is located within a city/town Urban Service Area (USA). Even though these islands are completely or substantially surrounded by the Town, they were under the jurisdiction of the County, which was responsible for providing basic municipal services.
The Town of Los Gatos currently has 30 urban islands of various sizes within the valley floor and hillsides of the Town. Twenty-four of the thirty urban islands were recently considered for annexation. The twenty-four islands consist of 308 residential parcels covering approximately 116 acres in total. Unincorporated islands in Santa Clara County are a result of past development patterns dating back to the 1950s and 1960s, when much of Santa Clara Valley was predominately agricultural and cities were expanding rapidly. Since the early 1970s, it has been the policy and practice of the County and cities throughout Santa Clara County that urban development should occur only within cities, and unincorporated islands should be annexed into their surrounding cities so urban services and facilities can be provided and maintained more efficiently. The continued existence of these unincorporated islands creates problems for the Town, the County, island residents, adjacent Town residents, and the various agencies responsible for providing services and facilities to these areas.
Recognizing the inefficiencies associated with the continued existence of urban islands, the California State Legislature took action and passed special legislation in 2001 that made it easier for local governments to annex small urban islands within their jurisdictions that were 75 acres or less. The legislation was further revised in 2005 (Government Code Section 56375.3) to allow for a streamlined process for the annexation of islands less than 150 acres in size. The streamlined annexation process requires a public noticing period and adoption of a resolution by the Town Council of Los Gatos in-lieu of an election.
State Streamlined Process Public Noticing
The streamlined annexation process requires two public hearings; therefore, the Town Council conducted two public hearings to consider island annexation. The first Council meeting considered adoption of a “Resolution to Initiate Annexation” of island properties. Since the Resolution was adopted, a second public hearing was held to consider adoption of a “Resolution to Approve Annexation.” Both public hearings took place during Town of Los Gatos Council meetings at Town Hall (110 East Main Street).
- Tuesday June 4, 2019 – Public hearing to initiate annexation: Town Council holds first public hearing to initiate annexation by resolution and set the date for the second public hearing.
- Tuesday June 18, 2019 – Public hearing to approve annexation: Town Council holds the second public hearing to consider the annexation and adopts a resolution making findings pursuant to State Government Code 56757 and 56375.3, which provides for annexation without protest and election requirements.
In addition to the mandated public hearings, staff implemented a multitude of additional outreach measures. The outreach to the unincorporated County pocket residents and the Los Gatos community at large included the following:
Mailed a courtesy letter to all 308 island households informing them of the Council’s initial February 5 direction;
Launched an annexation webpage, including frequently asked questions and maps of the islands being considered;
Held a courtesy community meeting for island residents to answer questions and provide annexation information;
Published hearing notices in both the San Jose Mercury News and the Los Gatos Weekly;
Sent public hearing notification postcards to island residents, registered voters residing within islands, residents within a 300-foot buffer zone of the islands, and registered voters within a 300-foot buffer zone of an island;
2,643 cards were sent for the June 4, 2019 Public Hearing
2,643 cards were sent for the June 18, 2019 Public Hearing
Publicized these Town Council public hearings in the Town’s “What’s New” email notification blast;
Responded to individual resident phone calls and e-mails;
Annexation Legislative and Policy Summary
California State Legislation
In 2001 the California State Legislature enacted special legislation which made it easier for local governments to annex small urban islands within their jurisdictions that were 75 acres or less. The legislation was further revised in 2005 (Government Code Section 56375.3) to allow for a streamlined process for the annexation of islands less than 150 acres in size. The streamlined annexation process allows cities to annex property without protest or election requirements.
Santa Clara County Supports Annexation
The annexation of urban pockets implements longstanding, county-wide policies stating that urban development should occur within cities which are responsible for planning and providing services within their Urban Service Areas. These basic urban development policies were agreed to by the County, the 15 cities, and the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) over 35 years ago. Ever since, the policies have provided the fundamental framework for land use relationships between the County and the 15 cities. The 1994 County General Plan reiterates the County's policy that unincorporated pockets should eventually be annexed to their surrounding cities. Given the relatively small sizes and scattered locations, it is no longer feasible for the County to efficiently provide the remaining pockets with the same levels of urban services and infrastructure maintenance routinely provided by their surrounding cities.
The County also supports annexation of pockets because provision of urban services in Santa Clara County is primarily a city/town responsibility. Cities/towns and counties generally exist for very different purposes. Cities/towns are the units of government primarily responsible for planning for and providing services and facilities to urban/suburban areas. The vast majority of the Town’s efforts and budgets are used to perform these functions. Counties, by comparison, exist primarily to provide various health services, human services, and law and justice services. The overwhelming majority of the County's budget is used for these purposes. Providing urban services to neighborhoods is a diminishing County role.
Residents of unincorporated urban pockets should understand that there is little likelihood that urban services and infrastructure serving their neighborhoods will ever improve significantly as long as they remain unincorporated. As the pockets continue to decline as a percentage of County population and it becomes increasingly more inefficient for the County to serve the remaining pockets, it becomes less likely that the County will allocate substantially increased resources to provide improved services and facilities to the pockets especially since they can be provided more efficiently by the surrounding cities/towns.
Town of Los Gatos Annexation Policy
The Town of Los Gatos adopted General Plan 2020 established Policy LU-3.1 which encourages the annexation of unincorporated islands into the Town.
Policy LU-3.1 Cooperate with the County of Santa Clara to encourage the annexation of unincorporated islands into the Town. The Town will not require the installation of curbs, gutters, sidewalks, or street lights as a condition of annexation nor will these improvements be imposed on annexed areas unless the residents of the area request such improvements and are willing to participate in the cost of such improvements. This does not prevent the Town from requiring such improvements as a condition of approval of any zoning or subdivision approval if such conditions are normally made on those items and the improvements would be in keeping with the neighborhood
Benefits of Annexation
Increased Services-Without Increased Taxes
Residents of urban pockets generally receive fewer urban services and reduced infrastructure maintenance compared to the Town residents in neighborhoods surrounding them. While pocket residents pay about the same amount in taxes and fees as their Town neighbors.
Property Tax & Assessed Valuations
Annexation would not increase property taxes nor assessed valuations
Los Gatos maintains an independent Police Department with higher service level coverage than currently provided.
School District boundaries are unaffected by annexation. Children will continue to attend the same schools they currently attend.
The Santa Clara County Fire Department provides service to the Town and the County islands.
In general, the Town has more resources to maintain roads.
Los Gatos maintains a state-of-the-art Town Library.
Currently, homeowners proposing renovations or new construction would need to annex into the Town and pay the required annexation fees. The streamlined annexation process takes care of this requirement, saving property owners time and money.
By annexing into the Town, unincorporated pocket residents will receive increased urban services at little or no increase in cost. The tables below represent a typical property tax bill from a pocket resident as compared to a Los Gatos resident. The primary difference for “Land, Improvements, Personal Property” is the lack of the County Library Retirement assessment for Los Gatos residents. Los Gatos residents pay no assessment for access to our state-of-the-art Library. All other taxes and fees are identical.
TAXES and FEES
Land, Improvements, Personal Property
Santa Clara County Rate
Town of Los Gatos Rate
1% of assessed value
1% of assessed value
County Retirement Levy
CO Bond 2008 Hosp Fac
CO Housing Bond 2016
Comm College Bonds
Elem or Unif Sch Bonds
High School Bonds
Mid Pen Open Space 2014
CO Library Ret
Total Assessed Rates
Land and Improvements
Santa Clara County Rate
Town of Los Gatos Rate
SCVWD-State Water Pro
Total Assessed Rates
Like the table above, the table below compares specific parcel taxes and special assessments between an unincorporated parcel and a Los Gatos parcel. The primary difference between these tax bills is the slightly higher assessment for the West Valley Sanitation District which is offset by the lack of a Santa Clara County Library assessment.. However, the elimination of duplicate garbage and recycling vehicles serving your neighborhood will help to reduce noise and traffic. New Los Gatos residents could also potentially see minor differences in the Santa Clara County Water District’s Safe, Clean Water and Flood Control Debt assessments (under $10 dollars combined). In general, total Parcel Tax and Special Assessment tax bills are anticipated to be slightly lower after annexation.
TAXES and FEES
Parcel Tax/Special Assessments
Santa Clara County Rate
Town of Los Gatos Rate
Los Gatos-Saratoga High SD -Parcel Tax 2016
Santa Clara Valley Water Dist – Safe, Clean Water
Santa Clara County – SCCO Vector Control
Santa Clara County – Mosquito Asmt #2
Santa Clara County – Library JPA
Los Gatos Union School Dist – Measure B
Santa Clara Valley Water Dist – Flood Ctl Debt
West Valley Sanitation Dist – Sewer San/Storm
SF Bay Restoration Auth – Measure AA
Total Parcel Tax/Special Assessments
Greater Influence Over the Future of Your Neighborhood
In addition to improved services, one of the major benefits of annexation is that it will give you, and those who may reside on the property, greater influence over the future quality of life within your neighborhood. Decisions about the future of your neighborhood are made almost entirely by the Los Gatos Town Council, not the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
Property owners in an unincorporated pocket are unable to vote in Town Council elections which ultimately determines the decision-makers who will be making these decisions. They also cannot serve on the Town Council, the Town Planning Commission, or other Town advisory committees whose decisions and advice are shaping the future of the larger community around you. By being annexed into Los Gatos, property owners gain a more effective voice in shaping the future quality of life within their neighborhood.
Annexation Does Not Affect Schools
Annexation into the Town does not affect school district boundaries. Children will continue to attend the same schools as they currently attend.
No Annexation Fees
Since the Town is initiating annexation, there are no annexation fees for pocket residents. If you were to seek to annex your property individually to the Town, or if you were required to annex because you were remodeling/reconstructing your home, you would be required to pay the normal annexation fees. These fees currently total approximately $7,900 for a single parcel, not inclusive of necessary land survey services.