We did it! On March 11, the Santa Clara County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) struck down the City of Morgan Hill’s proposal to expand its boundaries and annex an area known as the Southeast Quadrant—236 acres of nearby farmland.
Greenbelt Alliance began fighting this ill-conceived effort over 10 years ago. Had the annexation been approved, the Southeast Quadrant would have been lost forever to suburban development. Even worse, it would have set an alarming precedent for agriculture throughout the region by allowing development on active farmland. The Santa Clara County LAFCo’s decision to reject Morgan Hill’s sprawl proposal is a huge victory for Bay Area farming and ranching and our local food culture.
Together with Committee for Green Foothills and others, we spent months educating the LAFCo commissioners about the many problems with Morgan Hill’s proposal. Several of the most critical issues were:
- Unnecessary loss and fragmentation of important agricultural lands
- Failure to conform with Santa Clara County’s and LAFCo’s agricultural policies
- Overlooked impacts on habitat, water, climate, and other environmental effects
- Ineffective and infeasible mitigation measures
- A deficient local planning process with limited opportunities for public input
The Santa Clara County LAFCo’s decision to reject Morgan Hill’s sprawl proposal is a huge victory for Bay Area farming and ranching and our local food culture.
From 1984 to 2010, Morgan Hill lost over 3,700 acres of farmland to urban and low-density development. On top of that, Morgan Hill has nearly 100 years-worth of vacant lands to develop on within its city limits. Protecting the Southeast Quadrant’s 236 acres may not seem like much, but each effort to pave over a farm or a ranch adds up and threatens the viability of local agriculture. This was an important win for Morgan Hill and the whole Bay Area.
And the decisive vote by LAFCo commissioners in Santa Clara County to protect these lands should serve as an example for every county with agricultural and natural lands at risk of sprawl.
We’d like to extend a big thank you—and congratulations—to Committee for Green Foothills for helping us make this win possible. We are also grateful for the legal support provided by Chatten-Brown & Carstens LLP. And thank you to all of our supporters who took action to influence the Santa Clara County LAFCo commissioners on this important vote.
This win is a prime example of how local governments can help farms and ranches. Learn more about tools and strategies that can be employed to support Bay Area agriculture in our new report, HomeGrown.
Photo: Adam Garcia ©