LAFCO Sues City of Gilroy over Proposed Housing Development

The city of Gilroy broke the law when it approved the annexation of 721 acres of farmland for a planned 4000-home development, the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) alleged in a lawsuit Wednesday.

The suit against the South County municipality, which was filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, contends that the Dec. 7 approval, introduced by then-councilman Perry Woodward and approved on a 4-3 vote, was “improper” and that “Gilroy violated CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act) in numerous ways.”

Woodward was named mayor on Jan. 4 following ex-mayor Don Gage’s resignation.

Perry Woodward was named mayor of

Perry Woodward was named mayor of Gilroy after a surprising resignation by Don Gage.

The suit contends that “Gilroy failed to identify and adequately analyze” impacts on water supply and police and fire services. The pleadings also note that the “site consists of largely prime agricultural land and that the City wants to include these lands in its [Urban Service Area] even as the City has substantial amounts of land within its current boundaries that are vacant or underutilized.”

The agency asks the court “to set aside certification of the EIR,” to rescind all actions related to its approval and reimburse the state-mandated county agency’s costs. “LAFCO has incurred and will incur substantial attorneys' fees and litigation costs because of Respondents’ unlawful acts. ...LAFCO is entitled to be reimbursed for its attorneys' fees and costs.”

Mayor Woodward downplayed the seriousness of the suit. “We will work with LAFCO to make sure their concerns are addressed,” he said. “When you have two public agencies, they will work together to find common ground.”

The project’s lead developer is Skip Spiering, who has taken Woodward out on duck hunting expeditions.

LAFCO members include Gilroy councilmember Cat Tucker, the current chair, county supervisors Mike Wasserman and Ken Yeager, Morgan Hill attorney Susan Vicklund Wilson, San Jose councilmember Johnny Khamis, open space district commissioner Sequoia Hall and water district board member Linda Lezotte. County supervisor Cindy Chavez just stepped aside as a commissioner but remains an alternate.

Between the 721-acre plan and other contemplated developments, the population of Gilroy would increase from 57,723 to 120,637, according to a 2014 study by San Jose-based Hexagon Transportation Consultants. Hexagon projects that morning rush hour trips on Highway 101 would nearly double from 20,438 to 39,763.

12 Comments

  1. Even though Gilroy Councilmember Cat Tucker is the LAFCO Chair, she didn’t attend the special LAFCO meeting at which they decided to sue. Vice-Chair Wasserman presided and alternate Commissioner Tara Martin-Milius, a Sunnyvale Councilmember, voted in her place.

  2. Perry Woodward is a complete sleaze Dan. After being brutally assaulted Perry defended my attacker AND LOST.

    What really bugged me about this is it just seemed like something too lowly for an elected official to even get involved in. Why would Perry take on a case that in the police and everyone else’s mind was open and shut? Who does things like that?

    Perry should you read this; What other motivation other than a big pile of money would make you do this? What motivation would make you stand there trying to accuse me of lying about the whole incident? Why would you say things like, “OH MR CORTESE WAS BLOCKING THEIR EXIT! THEY HAD TO FIGHT THEIR WAY OUT!” Really dude? Seriously?

    You sir have some serious ethics issues. I hope you never have to be nearly blacked out after being assaulted, with the only thought on your mind being your kids. Because it is a really crappy place to be.

    Dan, this guy doesn’t care about anything but money. I agree with everything you wrote in regards to how this will affect traffic, and I piss and moan about this happening to San Jose… So I feel you there.

    If you ever want to start a “repeal Perry Committee”, I’m down to drive to Gilroy every spare minute I have to oust this joker. He’s got no respect for truth from my dealings with him, therefore he has no business being an elected official.

    He is in my opinion, complete and utter scum, and the picture of what gives lawyers a bad name.

    • In Dan’s earlier story about the 721 acres linked to above, he describes Mayor Woodward as a “San Jose land use attorney”. Are you saying he also does criminal defense? Every criminal defendant is entitled to legal representation. It can be a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. At least you didn’t have to pay a lawyer to prosecute your case. Seems like you got some kind of justice. This is how our adversarial legal system works. I’m starting to question your civic understanding.

      • Certainly everyone deserves a defense, I understand how this works. Yet every lawyer also has a choice to say, “No” to a case. An elected official lawyer should have said “No”. There’s 1000’s of other lawyers out there.

        Perry dragged my case out for 2 years and took it to a Jury trial. Why didn’t he give his client sane advice like, “Take the deal, you’ll get crushed in trial.” Because like a louse to a teat, completely devoid of any character or morality he wanted to suck his client for as much as he could.

        Had he won, it would have made me culpable for the comments I made online about the case. To be willing to throw someone under the bus because you have a shady, violent client with deep pockets is shameful. People have been saying the same thing about Rich Robinson lately, so I don’t see much difference.

        • “like a louse to a teat”? Aren’t you mixing metaphors? Lice go for the head or the crotch. Dependent mammal babies go for mamma’s teat.

          • Very interesting that you want to bring up biology. Just watched a David Attenborough documentary on how mammals evolved. Before nipples we just secreted milk from our skin.

  3. Santa Clara County LAFCO has a staff of three—an executive officer, an analyst, and a clerk. So, the executive director manages exactly two people. According to its website, the salary and benefits for these three folks combined for 2015 was $466,755! It paid out another $100,000 exactly in consultant services; $58,000 to its law firm, which is based in Riverside; and $15,000 for travel (by whom, to where? This is a county commission). Total expenditures were $767,543, but its total revenue was a mere $33,000, consisting of $30,000 in application fees and $3,000 in interest. Taxpayers pick up the significant difference. How about we make LAFCO self-supporting by raising application fees to cover its entire operating budget?

    • Excellent work again, JMO.

      Most of us lack the knowledge or attention span to dig out the numbers on how much government things really cost and the sordid, shabby details of how they spend taxpayer money.

      To politicians and government bureaucrats, $767,543 is really just $0.0007 BILLION dollars It’s just “rounding error” or “budget dust”. What are the yokels squawking about? Don’t they know this is just fifteen seconds worth of legislative deliberation. It’s just a “bat of the eye” toward some special interest group to make them go away so we can go on to the next fifteen seconds and spending another few decimal fractions of our billion dollar budget.

      Average household income in the U.S. in 2014 as $51,939. Average per capita income was $26,964.

      So, the buzzards in government just sneezed away the entire yearly income of 15 households or 30 individual taxpayers on an “executive officer, an analyst, and a clerk” to do . . . what? Sue other parts of the government.

      HELL YES I’M ANGRY!

  4. In addition to fire and water supply problems with this proposed development as I understand it, is its location in the West Branch Llagas Creek floodplain, just upstream of SCVWD’s flood control channel. Improper development here would displace floodplain water and impervious surfaces would create additional run-off, perhaps exceeding channel flood caring capacity downstream. A review of the Llagas Creek Flood Control Project EIR (circa 1980) will illucidate this issue. Gilroy residents downstream of this proposed development if implemented with out significant mitigation could find them themselves placed back into flood insurance requirements to address the induced flooding issues. Other development presently occurring in Gilroy within the Uvas Creek Watershed appears potentially problematic as no induced flooding mitigation is visible at this point. Discharging induced flood flows to points downstream such as the Soap Lake area without adequate mitigation could induce flooding to downstream communities including the City of Watsonville and Town of Pajaro where levees are presently inadequate, only providing 8-Year level of flood protection. Any induced flooding could reduce this level of protection even further. From what I can see the responsible agency to regulate such induced flooding is the Pajaro River Watershed Flood Protection Authority, and it appears from review of their Board of Directors Meeting Agendas they are not involved with review of urban development induced flooding issues. If flooding occurs again as it did in Watsonville in 1995, their efface of their programs to address such issues will be in question, and perhaps accountable for loss of life and the tens of millions of dollars in damage.

    • > If flooding occurs again as it did in Watsonville in 1995, their efface of their programs to address such issues will be in question, and perhaps accountable for loss of life and the tens of millions of dollars in damage.

      Or not.

      Lots and lots of “could of”, “maybe’s”, “perhaps”, “appears”, etc. etc, etc.

      Speculation on top of speculation..

      Obama says we should be worrying about global warming..

  5. All I have to say is that Gilroy needs to make decisions for Gilroy. LAFCO is over reaching their boundary illegally and they will be sued if they continue to do so. LAFCO commission is made up of majority San Jose politicians who could care less about South County and make decisions because there is no way to recall or replace them. Good for Gilroy for standing up for themselves.