Los Gatos council pushes forward on equity, diversity plan

Los Gatos staff will start work on a tangible plan to bolster the town’s efforts to become more welcoming and inclusive following a series of racially motivated events.

Town council voted unanimously Tuesday to develop a Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) plan that sets goals and lays out changes for the town to be more inclusive.

This effort comes after council was verbally attacked by a far right group that made racist and homophobic statements during council meetings, and after anti-Semitic graffiti was found at the Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center in Los Gatos during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

The town voted last summer to pay two consultant groups, American Leadership Forum Silicon Valley Insights (ALFI) and ReadySet, to develop the JEDI report, which audited the town’s current policies and procedures and surveyed residents.

“In the past year and a half, with racial justice issues at the forefront of national and local conversations, the town has taken a more holistic approach to JEDI work,” an August 2021 staff report read.

From there, the groups pinpointed key changes the town should consider, like developing more affordable housing, engaging with youth groups and creating ongoing engagement and safe spaces, working with school districts and youth and building more affordable housing.

Now, ALFI and town staff will develop a plan with specific short- and long-term goals, action items, metrics and timelines for the town to make the suggested changes. The plan will also create town definitions for inclusivity, belonging and other terms.

“I think we might accomplish more together if we have a common sense of where we’re going, and that’s really the fundamental reason for the recommendation,” town manager Laurel Prevetti said. “So that way we can make ourselves accountable on these efforts, work with the community to define what do we mean by diversity, equity, inclusion in Los Gatos, and how we get there.”

The staff report showed residents were supportive of developing the plan and wanted Los Gatos to be an “inclusive town.”

Kylie Clark, who serves on the planning commission, said developing affordable housing was an important element in equity in Los Gatos.

“Above all, housing was the No. 1 need when it comes to genuinely making our town more inclusive, welcoming and diverse,” Clark said. “It is futile to plan to embrace other cultures, races and income levels if they are not able to live in Los Gatos.”

Council members were in agreement that having a plan with action items would have the most impact in the community.

“I really think for this effort to have impact and value on the community is to be less about raising awareness and more about achievable actions,” Councilmember Matthew Hudes said.

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