On Wednesday, December 5, the Santa Clara County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) rejected an application by the City of Morgan Hill to sprawl on to agricultural land outside their existing urban service area. This decision protects one of the largest areas of contiguous farmland remaining near the city.
Greenbelt Alliance attended the meeting and urged LAFCO Commissioners to support their staff’s recommendation to deny the application to develop into the Southeast Quadrant (SEQ) of Morgan Hill. The applicants sought to annex land for a new private high school.
Supporters of the sprawl proposal outnumbered smart-growth advocates two-to-one during the public comment period. Even so, the annexation proposal failed 5-2 with only Supervisor Mike Wasserman and Santa Clara Valley Water District Director John Varela voting in support of continued sprawl in the SEQ.
LAFCO decided to deny the application based on a variety of factors. The simplest reason is that there is still enough acreage within Morgan Hill’s existing boundaries to accommodate a new school, making the expansion totally unnecessary. There were also concerns about violating California state law by altering the urban service area, the cost to the City of Morgan Hill for extending infrastructure into the newly annexed area, and the City’s need to prioritize public schools.
Despite being denied multiple times, including just two years ago, the City continued to push for this destructive and unnecessary project. The community, however, has clearly voiced its desire to retain agriculture around the city and incentivize infill development in lieu of sprawl.
For over a decade, Greenbelt Alliance, Committee for Green Foothills, and our allies have worked with these passionate community advocates to build a better, smarter future for Morgan Hill.
Thanks to the continued efforts of our coalition, the threat of unnecessary development has once again been kept at bay. We hope Morgan Hill and its new City Council work together with stakeholders to protect their open space.