Becoming a More Inclusive Town
Creating a More Inclusive Town
Heidi Owens attended two of the revent Black Lives Matter peaceful protests in the Town of Los Gatos. She was moved by the passion and stories of the speakers. She believes Los Gatos residents have work to become more inclusive toward minorities.
Heidi will request an update to the Town of Los Gatos grant funding matrix to include language that supports improving diversity within the Town. She will propose grant-making to the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce to recruit, retain and support minority-owned businesses. Whether elected or not, Heidi will continue to personally recruit and support candidates to run for School Trustee who are aligned on the issue of racism. The schools need to revise curriculum, provide staff training, and have a zero-tolerance policy toward racist comments or actions. If elected, Heidi will be personally committed to recruiting and appointing people of color to Town of Los Gatos Commissions to serve in leadership roles in representing the public and advising the Council.
Heidi Owens believes the issues of affordable housing and race are inextricably linked together. As an anti-racist, she understands the legacy of systemic racism both nation-wide and on a local level. She will work toward improving the racial and socioeconomic diversity in Los Gatos. Heidi Owens will continue the expansion of affordable housing in Los Gatos for all income levels, modernizing the current Below Market Rate (BMR) housing policy to include moderate, low income, very low income, and extremely low-income tiers. The current policy only includes low income which effectively excludes middle class residents such as teachers and police officers. It also excludes extremely low income residents who are often disabled individuals seeking independent living situations.
She will also work toward an update to the BMR program to include points for minority and LGBTQ applicants. The highest point values awarded in the BMR program are for teachers, seniors, Town employees, public safety employees, and long-time residents at six points for each. Ms. Owens will advocate for the addition of 1 point for candidates who are minorities or LGBTQ. Until recently, Federal law mandated consideration of race in all affordable housing programs that received Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding. This is one area of the law where race is not only a legally-allowed consideration, but race was actually a mandated consideration until Trump dismantled the Obama-era requirement in July 2020.
Heidi Owens supports expansion of the ongoing training for Los Gatos Monte Sereno Police Department (LGMSPD) to ensure the feeling of safety of people of color in the Town of Los Gatos. This type of training is not new, but annual refreshers should be a consideration. Additionally, Heidi supports the expansion of existing programs funded by the Los Gatos Police Foundation to train civilian responders for non-violent calls. She will personally work to help the Foundation in fundraising efforts to support this goal. Chief Decena often speaks about the high level of cooperation between LGMSPD with Santa Clara County Social Services agencies to provide specialized non-police responses to mental health and other non-violent calls. Heidi agrees with this approach and will help make connections between the Town and the County wherever possible.
Heidi has read the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Town and LGMSPD that was agreed upon with the union. She doesn't see any revisions necessary to the MOU. However, there are nineteen police personell policies that are redacted to protect both officer privacy and the investigation function. As a Town Councilwoman, Heidi will ask to review these redacted personnel policies, in particular the "officer invovled shooting" and "stingray" policies to ensure alignment with community expectations around officer accountability and resident's privacy.