Morgan Hill's Southeast Quadrant

Huge Win for Agriculture in Morgan Hill 10 Years in the Making

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 ©

3 Comments on “Huge Win for Agriculture in Morgan Hill 10 Years in the Making

  1. Congrats to all! The South County has always been such a tough area to protect since that flat ag land is just so tempting to develop! The fight to keep the remaining ag land in place has been going on for a LONG time!

  2. This victory is wonderful but it is a continuing battle. We need better policies and stronger laws. Since 1984 the Bay Area lost over 200,000 acres of prime AG land. Every hour of every day 50 acres is lost in the USA to development. We must stop growing out but learn to grow up. Gilroy is continuing with its assault on our AG lands. In 2050 we will need to produce 50% from all existing farmland to feed a growing world wide population. How do we do that if we continue to pave over existing farmland. Add to this problem the drought effects of climate change and we have even less land. In the last year alone tens of thousands of acres in California’s Central Valley were taken out of production. Our future and that or our children remain at great risk if our policies do not change.

    • Hi Mark,

      Thank you for your wonderful comment. You are certainly correct that the recent history of the Bay Area has been defined by the loss of prime agricultural lands. I would also like to direct you toward Greenbelt Alliance’s Homegrown Report (, where we identified the creative tools and strategies that are working around the Bay Area and beyond to support local agriculture.

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