The discussion about growth in our town has been a constant in every council I have served. I am a strong supporter of limiting the number of houses to be built each year. As a community we support residential growth control, as evidenced by the passage of voter-approved measures controlling growth. I have supported every growth control measure in Morgan Hill. In 2016, I was a co-author of Measure S which passed with 77% of the vote. Through Measure S, we were able to lower the number of annual building allotments to a maximum of 215, the strongest growth control measure we have ever passed.
The struggle we face now are the mandates coming down from the State of California. California has passed new laws that suspend our local Growth Control limits and make our growth caps moot and unenforceable until 2025.
As a proponent of controlled-growth, I have been advocating in Sacramento with our state elected officials for more local authority when it comes to housing approvals. In addition, I have been developing practices for holding our local developers accountable for impacts that growth brings to our community, including updated impact fees.
Growth is also about more than just houses. Morgan Hill has become an attractive area for private investment in industrial, job creating opportunities as well. We have long had a robust economic development program to encourage more industrial and commercial investment in Morgan Hill. These opportunities can bring good-paying jobs and a stronger tax base for our community. However, we need to get it right. The recent Shoe Palace building (under construction today) has brought a lot of concern about the size of industrial buildings and the use. Will larger buildings bring more truck traffic? I share these concerns. Here are my ideas that I have taken to the City Council:
The City should develop a new ordinance on Development Standards. Using good planning principles, we need to develop community-wide standards on massing (sizes) of buildings and limiting large-truck traffic.
Planned Unit Developments – PUD’s – City Council needs to review the PUD for the Morgan Hill Business Park. This is the General Plan and zoning designation that allowed the Shoe Palace building. This PUD should be reviewed for relevance today, and possible re-zoning. (Other PUD’s in our General Plan should also be reviewed).
City Council needs to review the Development Agreement on property designated as Industrial along Butterfield at Jarvis. A public understanding of what is allowed to be built in the current Development Agreement is important. I have also asked for, and will encourage my colleagues to support, including Planning Commission review of any site and design plans along with this Development Agreement.
Covid-19/Shelter-In-Place/Public Health Order
Rebuild our economy and help local businesses re-open safely. I have led our council’s discussion on relaxing regulations and helping businesses open safely. I brought discussions and ideas to the council that have led to the adoption of temporary policies that allowed our restaurants to use outdoor, public spaces for service. And, most importantly, we were ready when the state and county gave our businesses the authority to begin outdoor service.
In early April when it became apparent the shelter-in-place would last for a long time, I drafted an Economic Recovery and Re-Opening plan that I shared with members of the community. I developed ideas on how the City could be a partner with businesses to prepare to re-open and provide public spaces to allow outdoor operations, cutting bureaucracy and red tape. With a lot of input from the business community, this plan was largely adopted by the council as our economic strategy to recovery.
Equity within our community
Recent social movements in reaction to the death of George Floyd have caused me to challenge my own implicit biases. I have taken some time to learn more and try to understand what equity really means. Fortunately, I work very closely with the Chief Diversity Officer for the corporation I work for. He has provided me resources to learn more about implicit bias and why we all have them.
As a result, I have developed ideas on Diversity and Inclusion principals that the city could adopt. I have provided these to the City Manager. My hope is they will be framed in a way that works for the culture of our workforce and provide a framework for an environment that invites more diversity in promotions and hiring while not sacrificing anything in talent.
I support limited growth for our community. Some growth is inevitable and can be positive. But, it has to be correct for our community and the vision we have. I support limited housing that addresses the needs of all income levels. Diversity of housing brings a more diverse community – something we should all support.
Public safety is the number one job of local government. I supported the police budget and fire budget presented to the Council. And, I would like to find additional resources to reinstate programs like the Parent Project, National Night Out and others.
At the same time, I recognize the severity of the public dialogue going on across the country. I do not support “de-fund the police” – Morgan Hill has historically been an underfunded police department, but I do support the idea of resources from the County and the City used together to create a Community Navigation Team that addresses the issues that do not need a uniformed presence. I support a thoughtful process to “re-think” what public safety means in Morgan Hill, what our needs are and how to address them – but I do not support shrinking the number of officers in the Morgan Hill Police Department, including School Resource Officers.
Protect open space and agricultural resources
I have always supported the protection of Open Space and Agricultural resources in and around Morgan Hill. I support Morgan Hill’s Agricultural Lands Preservation Program that has preserved dozens of acres of agricultural lands in and around Morgan Hill. And, I support charging impact fees to developers in our community to fund the program. I support using zoning and other tools to protect areas in our Urban Growth Boundary from the pressures of urban growth.
This is not an exhaustive list of issues our community faces. So please feel free to send me your questions and thoughts. I'll be happy to address the issues you raise as best I can.