As I write to you amid the gloomy pall cast by our smoke-filled, otherworldly skies, I have to wonder what is next.
Though Los Gatos was fortunate to escape the direct ravages of the CZU Lightning Complex fire, its effects linger, and the need for the Town to do everything possible to prepare for wildfire becomes more evident. This year, the Council has already taken a number of affirmative steps to promote fire safety, including incorporating County Fire recommendations pertaining to Wildland-Urban Interface fire zones – such as the new requirement for 100 feet of defensible space around residences – into our Ordinances, and by identifying and enhancing evacuation routes - as by eliminating street parking on those routes where it could interfere with emergency access. Please join this effort by doing what you can to keep our Town fire-safe. Most importantly, please stay informed. Safety alerts, maps, and current information can all be found on the Town website. Look for the banner headline on fire safety.
With fire season also comes the renewed possibility of PGE Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). Though PGE has upgraded its system to allow for more discrete coverage and placement of shutoffs, PSPS events could still be the source of power outages in Town. In our new work-at-home/school-at-home virtual world, these are far more than an inconvenience, and the Town is in close contact with PGE to monitor any rolling blackouts or PSPS plans in an effort if not to avoid them altogether, at least to minimize their length and geographic coverage.
Still, there are two more encouraging pieces of news I can share. First, as part of its Becoming a More Inclusive Community initiative, the Town hosted the first of three community listening events on September 8th. The session, focused on policing, featured a presentation and responses to questions from Chief Pete Decena about training, practices, demographics and statistics relating to our police department. Suggested changes to the Town’s policing structure will be discussed at tomorrow’s Town Council meeting, beginning at 7 p.m. on Zoom. Two additional sessions, focusing on Affordable Housing and Community Culture, will be convened on September 29 and in early October. Please check the Town’s website and “What’s New?” for updates.
Secondly, as you may have read, California has moved to a color-coded tier system in determining which businesses and activities may or may not open under COVID-19 health Orders. Santa Clara County has recently moved into the “Red” Zone (the second-least severe) which has allowed some expanded opportunities for retail and restaurants, while also allowing salons and some exercise facilities to open on a limited basis. Outdoor dining, curbside pick-up, and other now-familiar amenities will continue as Los Gatos looks toward economic recovery. Hopefully, if we can all keep up the good health habits that have become second nature to us now, we can move toward fewer restrictions as winter arrives and the ability to do business inside becomes more important.
Finally, ballots will arrive in the next few weeks for the November election. This year, three Council seats and 2 local initiatives are at issue. I urge each of you to learn all you can about the candidates, and about the pros and cons of the proposed ballot measures – read Candidate statements and go to websites (election information is available on the Town website), read arguments for and against the initiatives, look for virtual debates, information sessions and Q and As, rather than relying solely on social media or word of mouth. Your vote can shape Los Gatos for years to come, so please make it an informed and independent one. Though no one will knock on your door this year, campaigning will still occur – as only 2020 can bring it to you.
Hang in there Los Gatos. It takes a Town.
Marcia JensenLos Gatos Mayor