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New measure’s campaign coming together

Natalie Everett

 

Measure H is now Measure A.

The city’s downtown redevelopment measure that would put 500 residential units in the 18-block area surrounding Monterey Road between Dunne and Main avenues has a new letter, and a new Political Action Committee to support it.

Measure H, which failed by 10 votes in November, didn’t have an organized campaign to support it. But proponents, from the Morgan Hill Downtown Association to the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce, are applying that lesson learned this time around.

In February, the Morgan Hill City Council approved a city election on the state’s special ballot May 19, to try again for the measure, which would exempt 500 residential units in the downtown from the city’s strict growth control ordinance while maintaining the population cap.

Councilmembers see the measure as the linchpin to their vision of a bustling downtown, which includes mixed-use housing with retail or offices on the ground floor and residences above, and approved spending an estimated $133,000 to try for voter approval in May.

The Morgan Hill Downtown Association Board of Directors approved the creation of the Committee for Measure A, said Jorge Briones, the association’s executive director. Former mayor Dennis Kennedy is the chair of the committee.

“I think we were complacent,” Kennedy said of Measure H. “We took it for granted that there would not be opposition to it.”

Kennedy said that, based on his conversations with community members, the measure was addled by the city’s complicated growth control system. Residents just didn’t know how the 500 units would fit into the existing population cap regulations. Residents thought the 500 units were above and beyond the system’s 48,000 population cap, it’s not; developers thought it would take housing allocations away from them, and it doesn’t; and others thought the 500 units would be low-income, and, while they’ll be smaller units and therefore presumably affordable to first-home buyers and young professionals, they’re not subsidized, Kennedy said.

“Measure A will help to make the downtown alive and vibrant,” he said.

Briones said there is no conflict of interest between association staff campaigning for Measure A and the city’s funding of the association. According to state election law, a city government cannot donate money to a campaign — even one that its elected officials placed on the ballot.

“They’re completely separate from what our contract to operate a main street program with the city is for,” Briones said. “The committee is its own standalone (operation), with its own bank account for campaign contributions to go into and expenditure to go out from.”

Briones said the Greenbelt Alliance, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the downtown Property Based Improvement District board have all endorsed Measure A. A South County Realtors Association endorsement was pending at press time.

The association will host a community meeting to answer questions and address residents and business owners’ concerns about the measure from 6:30 to 8 p.m. March 26 at Hot Java, 17400 Monterey St. #1B.

This article was originally published in the Morgan Hill Times.

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