I. LAND USE AND PLANNING

  1. The project site is designated by the Town of Los Gatos as "light industrial" and the zoning designation is Controlled Manufacturing (CM). The Town of Los Gatos General Plan does not exclude utilities such as the proposed substation and the land use intensity of a substation would be below that described within the General Plan for light industrial uses. The Town of Los Gatos zoning ordinance (4.74.020) does not specifically include a utility substation use as a permitted use in the CM zone. Conditionally permitted uses within the CM zone, as specified under zoning ordinances 4.74.030 and 5.20.205, include a "public utility service yard, station, [and] transmission lines. . ."

    Discretionary approval of the project is held solely by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) as provided under General Order No. 131-D. The permitting of the substation is governed by state statutes that assign lead agency authority to the California Public Utilities Commission. CPUC General Order No. 131-D establishes that local jurisdictions acting pursuant to local authority are preempted from regulating electric power line projects, distribution lines, substations, or electric facilities constructed by public utilities subject to the CPUC's jurisdiction. Therefore, the Town of Los Gatos does not have discretionary permitting authority over the substation project. The Town of Los Gatos has requested that the project receive discretionary approvals from the City for both a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and Architectural and Site Approvals. These approvals are not required by the CPUC. However, under provisions of General Order No. 131-D, PG&E is encouraged to seek resolution of land use issues with the Town of Los Gatos. In the event that resolution of land use conflicts cannot be achieved, either party to the dispute may file a notice of such with the CPUC, and a hearing shall be held on the matter within 30 days of receipt of the notice.

    Although the project does not require compliance with the Town's discretionary permitting procedures as noted, the proposed substation improvements would not conflict with the Town of Los Gatos land use or zoning designations. The Vasona substation site has been owned by PG&E since 1973 and has been designated for use as a substation since that time. PG&E intends to submit materials to comply with applicable Town ministerial permits, including: building permit, grading permit, and encroachment permit (including construction-related traffic plans).
  1. Please see response to item I.a., above. In addition, the project would be consistent with the Town of Los Gatos Community Design Element policy 13.4.2., which states "Promote visual continuity through tree planting, consistent use of low shrubs and ground cover, and removal of visually disruptive elements on major streets," (Los Gatos, 1994). The project site has existing trees and shrubs that border the site on Winchester Boulevard. The trees and shrubs are mature and were planted when wall and fencing improvements were installed in 1976. The vegetation provides visual screening of the site from public views along Winchester Boulevard and from the residential area to the east. These landscaping elements would be retained without change.
  1. The substation site is located on the east side of Winchester Boulevard, just north of Lark Avenue. Uses immediately adjacent (within 500 feet) of the site include (PG&E, 1997a; ESA, 1997):

In the wider area surrounding the site and vicinity are a combination of residential, commercial, recreational and other urban uses.

Portions of the site are currently being leased out to a contract tree trimming company. The tree trimming company has some temporary office trailers and equipment on the site. PG&E also uses the site for equipment storage. Excluding existing fencing and transmission lines on the site, the project site currently has no permanent building improvements.

The substation project would result in a net reduction of land use intensity as the tree trimming company would not operate there following project installation (Masuoka, 1997). The substation would be a land use consistent with the designated industrial use for the site.

  1. The project site is vacant land and is not used for agriculture. Because the site was graded and compacted in 1976, no agricultural soils remain. The surrounding area is urbanized. Therefore, the project would not affect agricultural resources or operations.
  1. The project site has existed in its current parcel configuration since 1981, and the existing transmission lines that transverse the site were constructed in 1959. The proposed substation and some of the new poles would be built within the existing property's boundaries. Replacement of existing off-site poles and construction of the underground distribution line in the road would not would not disrupt or divide the physical arrangement of an established community. The location of the existing power lines would not be changed by the project.
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