Becoming an Inclusive Community

A Message From the Mayor 

Today, June 19, 2020, we celebrate and commemorate Juneteenth – the day 155 years ago when Union soldiers marched into Galveston, Texas with the news that the Civil War had ended and slavery was over – more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Then, as now, America moved slowly to recognize and implement the ideal of equal rights for all. Now, with racial justice issues at the forefront of our national and local debate, it is appropriate that on this day Los Gatos launch a dedicated webpage outlining our shared values of diversity and inclusivity.

At Becoming an Inclusive Community, you will find a sample of actions Los Gatos has already taken to realize these values – from the Town’s 2017 Resolution committing to diversity, to its recent Proclamation not only reaffirming that commitment, but taking a strong stand against racial inequality and injustice. You will also find information about training, standards, and expectations for our Police Department – including a commitment to review those standards going forward and report back to the community as outlined in the Mayor’s Pledge to Commit to Action. You will also find a link to a dedicated email through which information, requests, reports, complaints, and simple observations may be shared with the Town. Finally, you will find information about upcoming Town listening events and workshops where we can all come together to listen, learn, and go forward together.

In naming the new webpage Becoming an Inclusive Community, Los Gatos recognizes there is work to do – but in clearly stating our commitment to inclusivity and diversity – the Town is striving to take the steps needed to reach that goal, and we look forward to your participation and guidance in helping us get there.

We are Los Gatos.  We are a diverse community.  We respect the dignity, health, rights, and privacy of all our residents, businesses, and visitors.  We value all our community members, regardless of religion, immigration status, ethnicity, race, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  We strive to ensure all community members feel safe, respected, and comfortable to be themselves and express all aspects of their identities.

Marcia Jensen
Los Gatos Mayor

Welcome

The Town of Los Gatos is committed to inclusivity.  We work proactively to ensure the rights and opportunities of everyone in Town and oppose any attempts to undermine the safety, security, and rights of any members of our community.  The Town promotes equal treatment, equitable distribution of and access to resources, and engagement in issues affecting the lives of residents, workers, and visitors.  The Town does not tolerate discrimination, racial injustice, or police brutality.

Council Actions

In May of 2017, the Town Council reaffirmed a commitment to Los Gatos being a diverse, supportive, equitable, and inclusive community.  The Resolution can be viewed here.

On June 5, 2020, in response to the senseless killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others as a result of discrimination and inequity, the Town affirmed its commitment to stand in solidarity with the black community with the following Proclamation from the Mayor.

Please see the "Community Meetings" section further down this page for additional information on actions the Council has taken in 2020. 

Los Gatos Library - Represent Los Gatos: Oral History Project

The Local History Room of the Los Gatos Library holds a collection of historically valuable documents that help tell the story of the Town of Los Gatos. However, the stories of Black, Indigenous, people of color are underrepresented in this collection. We acknowledge that without the voices of the BIPOC community, it is not possible to paint a complete picture of the history of our town. The Los Gatos Library launched the Represent Los Gatos Oral History Project to fill these gaps in the collection and to allow you to share your own stories, however you would like them to be told. 

We approach this project with the understanding that the history of archives has not been favorable to BIPOC communities, and that BIPOC individuals are rarely invited to tell their own stories. We are asking the community to share their stories so that future generations will have access to a more complete history of our town.

For more information, please email library@losgatosca.gov or visit the Represent Los Gatos: Oral History Project webpage.

Inclusivity and the Police Department 

The Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department’s vision of providing exceptional law enforcement services, building community partnerships, and engaging the community in problem solving demonstrates its commitment to inclusivity.  The ultimate goal of the Police Department is to know each person in our diverse community.  Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Officers and staff are working to foster and strengthen community relationships through partnerships, collaboration, and individual communications.

Because the misconduct of some Police Officers throughout the country has shone a spotlight on the conduct of Police Officers everywhere, it is important that the residents of Los Gatos know that all Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Officers:

  • Wear body cameras, and every police vehicle is equipped with an in-car camera system. Internal Police Department regulations require that all law enforcement interactions be recorded.
  • Participate in mandated anti-racism and anti-profiling training.  In addition, each Officer provided an opportunity to complete additional training to address implicit bias and best practices for fair and impartial policing, with emphasis on an understanding and respect for cultural diversity.
  • Participate in de-escalation and crisis intervention training.
  • Undergo complete background investigations prior to hiring, including an “open source” review of social media posts, and serve an 18-month probation when starting with the Town.
  • Are held accountable through a thorough investigation process for any complaints received regarding any alleged misconduct.
  • Abide by strict use of force procedures, including a review of every use of force.  

Los Gatos is rightly proud of its Police Department and its “guardian” approach to keep the public safe and ensure the public peace.  The Department continuously reviews its policies and procedures to employ the best practices of community policing.  This is critical to establishing and maintaining the public trust.  

In order to better assist the community and help improve interactions with those who have special needs, the Police Department recently launched the Special Needs Awareness Program (SNAP). The Los-Gatos Monte Sereno Police Department’s Use of Force Policy and Oversight can be viewed here.

On June 17, 2020 Los Gatos Mayor Marcia Jensen signed the Obama Foundation’s Mayor Pledge, committing to the following actions:

  • Review Police Department Use of Force Policies.
  • Engage the community by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in the review.
  • Report the findings of the review to the community and seek feedback.
  • Reform the community’s Police Department Use of Force Policies.

Please see the "Community Meetings" section below for more details on this process.

Community Meetings 

General Plan Advisory Committee Meetings

On July 30, the General Plan Update Advisory Committee (GPAC) held a special meeting to discuss the topics of racial, social, and environmental justice in the General Plan. The GPAC decided by consensus to add a new Racial, Social, and Environmental Justice Element to the General Plan and on October 15, 2020 at 7:00 p.m., the Committee will discuss specific goals, policies, and action items for the new Element.  For more information on the Los Gatos 2040 General Plan Update, including the October 15 meeting report, draft element, and Zoom link, please visit www.LosGatos2040.com. 

Community Workshop #1: Police Practices & Reforms

The Town of Los Gatos is hosting a series of Community Workshops to address issues of racial and social injustice and discuss how Los Gatos can be more welcoming for all.  

The first Workshop regarding Police Department Practices and Potential Reforms occurred on September 8, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. via teleconference.  A panel including the Town Manager, Town Attorney, and Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Chief of Police was available to listen, learn, respond to questions, discuss policy options, and identify specific next steps. 

The Workshop was be facilitated by the Honorable LaDoris Cordell, an American retired judge of the Superior Court of California and former Independent Police Auditor for the City of San Jose, California.  Judge Cordell is an advocate for improving transparency into charges of police misconduct. She is a graduate of Stanford Law School and was the first lawyer to open a law practice in East Palo Alto, a low-income community of color. Judge Cordell was appointed Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at the Stanford Law School, where she helped develop a program to increase minority recruitment. Within a year, Stanford Law School went from last to first place in enrollment of African-American and Hispanic students, among major law schools. She was the first female African-American judge in Northern California and the first female African-American Superior Court judge in Santa Clara County, California.

The full recording of the meeting is available to view on the Town YouTube page.  A written summary of the meeting is available here and and the presentation slides may be viewed here

Community Workshop 1 Police Practices


September 15, 2020 Town Council Meeting

The Town Council unanimously voted to determine a police oversight model, provide increased transparency and public access to police data, utilize non-sworn personnel for non-emergency calls when possible, examine options for providing mental health services, and explore potential modifications to role of the School Resource Officer in consultation with local school districts.  The meeting agenda and reports are available on the Town websiteA full video recording of the Council meeting is available on the Town YouTube page.

Community Workshop #2: Affordable Housing

The Town continued conversations regarding racial and socio-economic diversity with its second Community Workshop which focused on Affordable Housing.  The Workshop took place on September 29, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. via teleconference.  A panel including Associate Executive Director of West Valley Community Services Sujatha Vankatraman, the Town Community Development Director, Town Attorney, and Town Manager were available to listen, learn, answer questions, and discuss important topics such as:

  • What is affordable housing?
  • Why does the Town need to plan for more affordable housing?
  • What does the current housing stock look like?
  • What are the Town’s current programs, laws, and policies to foster affordable housing and can they be improved?
  • How does affordable housing fit into the General Plan?
  • What are the relevant State laws?
  • How do the Town's non-profit partnerships provide housing services?
  • What are some new ideas to provide homes in Los Gatos?

The full recording of the meeting is available to view on the Town YouTube page.  The Community Development Director's presentation slides regarding affordable housing in Los Gatos are available here. The Town Attorney's slide presentation regarding State legislation is available here.  Links to other resources referenced during the Workshop are as follows:

League of California Cities Blueprint for More Housing 2020
West Valley Community Services Website
Town Housing Program Webpage
Hello Housing Website (administrator of the Town's Below Market Price Housing Program)

Community Workshop 2

October 6, 2020 Town Council Meeting

The Town Council unanimously voted to approve a proposed Ordinance to amend the Town Code regarding the Below Market Price Housing Program.  Council also unanimously voted to adopt a proposed Resolution to modify the Below Market Price Housing Program Guidelines with an additional modification to add points for low income applicants.  The meeting agenda and reports are available on the Town website. A full video recording of the Council meeting is available on the Town YouTube page.

Community Workshop #3: Community Culture

What is Los Gatos culture? What is the look and feel of Los Gatos? The Town continued to explore issues of racial, social, and socio-economic justice with the third Community Workshop addressing the topic of Community Culture. All were invited to share experiences, perspectives, and motivations for working toward a more inclusive Los Gatos. The workshop was opened by Mayor Marcia Jensen, facilitated by Town Council Member Marico Sayoc, and a community panel was available to listen, learn, share, and discuss. The panel included Rabbi of Congregation Shir Hadash Melanie Aron and Los Gatos High School student Nika Sabouri.  Attendees split into smaller groups using Zoom Breakout Rooms for more in-depth discussions regarding social change and how Los Gatos can be more welcoming for all.  

A full video recording of the Workshop is available on the Town YouTube page and the slides regarding Los Gatos demographics can be viewed here. A transcript of the live chat typed during the Workshop is available here and the results of the poll questions can be viewed here

Community Workshop 3 Community Culture

Connect with Us

We want to hear your thoughts! Do you have concerns, experiences, questions, or ideas regarding how Los Gatos can be more welcoming for all?  Let us know by sending an email to Community@losgatosca.gov.

Conversely, if you experience, witness, or need to report any inappropriate behavior by Town or Police Department staff please email Community@losgatosca.gov.  The Town will conduct an investigation and take appropriate steps to address any improper behavior.