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Builder’s Remedy

Builder’s Remedy

Builder's Remedy - high rise apartment buildingAbout thirty percent of Bay Area cities and towns do not have housing plans approved by the state. With this being the case, the Builder’s Remedy can be used in those municipalities to force projects through that the community does not want, or which violate zoning laws or CCRs (Covenants, Codes, and Restrictions). This also means that neighbors may object, but it will be ineffective in derailing the project.

Los Gatos does not have an approved housing plan right now

Los Gatos is one of those communities without an approved housing plan, which we can see online at the Housing Element Compliance Report – please note the screenshot below, which I just took. .


Why the Builder's Remedy can be used: image of Los Gatos and the Housing Element Compliance Report as of 9-1-2023


Los Gatos Housing Element – Public Commentary Period

Los Gatos Housing Element – Public Commentary Period

Town of Los Gatos Housing Element LogoIf you want a say in shaping the blueprint of Los Gatos’ future, now is your opportunity to comment on the Housing Element.

If you’re reading this article, you probably live or work in Los Gatos and have a real interest in it’s future. Like much of California, Los Gatos has been in a housing shortage for decades. The Housing Element will determine how to meet the needs of the Town’s future, and engagement from locals will help direct how it meets the needs of the community.

Every 8 years the state requires each municipality to create a plan for future development, especially housing development, to meet the needs of current and future populations (read about it on the Town’s page on the General Plan). Back in March we shared information about one of the first community meetings on the Town of Los Gatos Housing element. As of late August 2022, the first draft has been published and is in the public review and commentary period.

To view the plan draft, visit There you can find a copy of the plan as well as a timeline, scheduled public events, sign up for email updates, and even submit commentary on some of the selected sites. Read to the end of this article for a quick list of ways to engage, including in-person and virtual opportunities to ask Town staff questions about the plan.

Affordable Housing In Los Gatos

For this planning cycle, it has been determined that Los Gatos needs to increase housing by 1,993 units. Nearly 58% of that has been allocated to moderate and above moderate income housing and the other 42% is allocated lower income household. We need all of those homes!


Los Gatos homes: class and land use

When scouring the MLS for properties to view,  Los Gatos home buyers would be wise to pay attention to the property class and land use data. A few years back, I discussed a little on this topic with this article: Is that Los Gatos house or townhouse actually a condo? Today I want to focus on the MLS information that Los Gatos home buyers are viewing online, and what to look for to understand these issues better. I’ve taken screen shots from the MLS, so what you see will appear differently on other portals, but the info should be present somewhere on the page if it shows up in our local MLS.

Getting the best info on class and land use data means getting it from a local MLS

First, our MLS,, cooperates with other MLS organizations around the state. Often, though, when info comes into our system from an outside one, some info is dropped. That can be very frustrating. The most obvious one is the days on market or DOM – it is blank when it’s an out of area MLS entry. Today I was looking for examples of property class, meaning what kind of structure is it, and the land use to share here when I found this one, below:


Class and land use - Land use blank with TH - not MLS Listings


Normally you will find info on the “class” which means the building type, such as a single family  home (if detached, a house, if attached, a duet home), a townhouse, a condominium, a duplex / triplex / fourplex, etc.  Also there should be land use – is it a condo, a PUD, or a single family home? (With condos and townhomes, there’s also a line for “ownership type.)

In the photo above, “Land use” is blank. Not helpful for a home buyer! This one was from a entry. When that happens, you may want to make note of the info you could not find so you remember to chase it down later.

Most, however, will include the land use information, such as the next one:


Land use - townhouse in condo ownership


Many of the townhouses in Los Gatos and nearby are held in condo ownership. That means you do not own the land under the unit, even though it is a townhouse. The owner of this kind of property owns the interior space between the walls and the floor and the ceiling.   The Home Owner’s Association (HOA) has responsibility for the exterior of the structure, the roof, etc. The attic may or may not be community property. In some cases, there is a shared, open attic over all the units. In those cases, only one unit will have an opening to get into the attic.


What's happening with the North 40 in Los Gatos?

On Tuesday evening, the Los Gatos Town Council took a look at the North 40 development proposal. Needless to say, with this being the last large open space in town, what to do next is controversial. A couple of developers have ideas on what should be there – but the townsfolk aren’t really in accord. There are concerns about traffic, over crowding at schools which are already struggling, plus the concern about the simple fact of disappearing open space.

At stake Tuesday night was the Environmental Impact Report, which had to be approved for the project to move ahead.

As the EIR was not well supported, a motion was made to delay the decision while more information was gathered and that motion passed 3-2. Read more on the San Jose Mercury News website (at least for now – the articles do not stay up forever).

Have you voted on your preferences for the North 40 yet?

June 30, 2011

Just a couple more days to do this and it only takes about two minutes – if you haven’t provided your feedback yet, the town wants to hear from you!  What type of architectural style would be most appropriate in the “North 40”?  If you’re new here, this is the last, large open space in Los Gatos.  It is nearly 40 acres and is bounded by Los Gatos Boulevard, Lark Avenue, Highway 17 and Highway 85.  Please be heard – how should look when it’s developed over the next few years?

If you’re a resident of Los Gatos, please take a few moments to answer the 33 question survey on your preferences for the North 40.  The survey closes in early July, so don’t wait!

Dittos Lane, Los Gatos: Best Little Whorehouse That Never Opened – Soon to be Low Income Housing?

February 02, 2011

Old sign for 20 Dittos Lane "Alpine Chalet" along Main Street (near the El Camino Real Bell) in Los Gatos Land use is always a big deal in Los Gatos. Right now, a controversy at the forefront is what to do with 20 Dittos Lane. The town wants to put 32 units, low income housing, on a site that is presently zoned for 5 single family homes (previously rejected was an application to put 6 homes there). Public review and comment will happen on February 4, 2011, at 5pm (see link above).

Neighbors don’t seem to object to the low income angle (it’s well understood that we need more affordable housing) but the density is at issue. The “lane” is no wider than a driveway in most areas, so it’s questionable how all these people will come and go from the proposed one and two bedroom apartments.

Where is Dittos Lane?

Dittos Lane is tucked away between the Penthouse Apartments complex and the Los Gatos Creek and Highway 17 off of Main Street (see map of Dittos Lane here). If you climb up College Avenue, close to Main, you’d be looking down on Dittos Lane. Easy to miss, the entrance to it looks just like a driveway. It is a lush but very noisy location.

Pillar near entrance to Dittos Lane in Los Gatos. Clearly it was once an elegant spot!The 1.5 acre property was, until recently, the setting of a very run down old building that seems to have been originally intended as a brothel. I had heard this rumor (actually had been told it had functioned as a “house of ill repute”) but while checking my facts I found that Alastair Dallas stated in his book, “Los Gatos Observed” that Ed Ditto sold the property to a San Francisco group which built a lovely estate and yard and planned to make it into a brothel (page 60 – find the book affordably priced at our local Border’s). However, the idea became known and apparently that derailed the business venture. (That said, there were other such operations in town, as you you might imagine.)

Back in June I snapped a few pics, which I’ll share here today. The dilapidated structure was bulldozed maybe a week or two later.

The house at 20 Dittos Lane, Los Gatos, which has since been demolished.

The little road which is Dittos Lane was a little bit creepy the day we drove back there. Part of the ambiance was due to the decay of the place generally. The weeds were enormous, they had covered over some of the nicer elements of the place. A dog was loose. “No Trespassing” signs were littered about – both stuck to the stop sign and strewn about the ground. It was far from inviting. (You can view an image of the site post-demolition – with orange netting for proposed building location – on the Inside Los Gatos site.)

Stop sign on Dittos Lane, Los Gatos. Not welcoming!Redevelopment? It’s overdue, I’m afraid. What must have been a grand and glorious site in its day had been allowed to decay and become a blight.

Low income housing seems like a great idea. Having peered down the road, though, I don’t see putting 32 units of any kind along this lane, though. The street’s not wide enough, from what I saw, and the land’s just not that big.

Let’s see what happens on Thursday.



On March 9th, the town planners rejected the apartment complex proposed for Dittos Lane after hearing from many neighbors, residents and busienss owners. It seems virtually unanimous that Los Gatans want affordable housing, but the density is the #1 issue. Apparently, too, the plan was in conflict with several points of the Los Gatos General Plan.

What’s next? On April 4th it will go to the Los Gatos Town Council, albeit without the backing of the planning commission.