WE DID IT!!! Thank you Morgan Hill Community!!!
Despite major challenges of the pandemic, volunteers collected more than 3,500 signatures from Morgan Hill registered voters by January 5, 2021, an estimated 110% of the number needed to qualify the Responsible Growth for Morgan Hill Initiative for a future ballot.
On March 3, 2021 City Council unanimously agreed to certify the initiative; however, they also directed City Staff to conduct an impact study and to engage in discussions with MHRGC to reach a compromise on policy changes that can accomplish a shared goal of prohibiting distribution centers while reducing potential impacts to existing businesses. With a quick turnaround on March 25, 2021, MHRGC and City Staff unveiled a joint proposal at an online Town Hall Meeting. The resulting new ordinance is currently a work-in-progress.
TOGETHER we can ensure that Morgan Hill remains a family-friendly community. TOGETHER we can further foster Morgan Hill as a great place to work and live. TOGETHER we can preserve our small-town character and unique quality of life for generations to come.
Responsible Growth For Morgan Hill Initiative
An Overview of the "Responsible Growth for Morgan Hill" Initiative
What this Initiative will do, if enacted: The intent of the proposed initiative is to allow responsible growth for job-generating land use in our City, consistent with the Morgan Hill General Plan, Zoning Code, and Economic Blueprint. This straight forward proposal would amend Morgan Hill Zoning Code to:
1) Define a Fulfillment Center, also known as a Distribution Center, and prohibit future developments of this type in the City of Morgan Hill. Our City’s current Zoning Code contains outdated land use definitions related to warehousing and distribution. These definitions have not kept pace with the evolution of e-commerce or the rapidly changing distribution industry. Our Initiative updates these definitions to distinguish the characteristics of a Fulfillment Center from traditional “Warehouse and Distribution” associated with manufacturing or storage buildings that already exist in Morgan Hill today. We also consulted with local businesses and developers on these proposed changes, and we were careful not to jeopardize Zoning Code that encourages advanced manufacturing, research and development, traditional manufacturing with warehousing, or other businesses that could thrive in Morgan Hill and bring higher-paying jobs to our city.
2) Define a Large-Scale Development and change the review and decision-making authority for administering the Zoning Code to allow residents to have a voice in deciding whether Large-Scale Development projects are permitted in the City of Morgan Hill. All future Large-Scale Development projects would go to Morgan Hill’s Planning Commission for review and final decision. This ensures that a one-person administrative approval, like what was done for the large-scale Shoe Palace Expansion project, will never happen again in our City.
This Initiative represents COMMON SENSE CHANGE that residents want. Every member of the City Council is on public record saying they don’t want more Distribution Centers to be built in our City. They can put their words into action by adopting this Responsible Growth for Morgan Hill Initiative. We encourage you to read the full text of our Initiative.
How the City assigns an official Title and Summary: After filing the Initiative with the City of Morgan Hill on July 15, 2020, the City Attorney assigned an official Title and Summary which you will see in the Initiative Petition used for gathering signatures. We were hoping the City Attorney would assign the simple title we had suggested, Responsible Growth for Morgan Hill Initiative, as it accurately represents the intent and effect of the proposed changes. The official title assigned, however, is 35 words long so we will continue to use Responsible Growth for Morgan Hill Initiative to simplify communications.
How the Initiative is made public: After we received Title and Summary, we were required to publish a filing notice in the Morgan Hill Times prior to gathering signatures.
How changes proposed by the Initiative can get enacted: The most expeditious route to enact the proposed Zoning Code amendments is for the City Council to place our Initiative on a City Council meeting agenda for discussion. Any City Council member can make this request. The Council could then ask City Staff to analyze the Initiative either ‘as-is’ or with recommended changes. The Council could then choose to approve a City-written Ordinance that would essentially adopt the amendments proposed by this Initiative. MHRGC welcomes the opportunity to participate in this process, along with the residents of Morgan Hill, as this would serve the best interest of the community.
We will work to gather signatures as efficiently as possible regardless of what the City decides to do. If the City chooses not to consider our Initiative, or a corresponding Ordinance fails to win City Council approval, then they will ultimately still have to take action when the required number of signatures is collected and validated. At that time, City Council must then vote to either adopt the Initiative as-is or place it on a future election ballot where the voters of Morgan Hill will decide.
How you can help:
1. E-mail your City Council representative to tell them you support the Responsible Growth for Morgan Hill Initiative and their action to adopt this Initiative through a City Council vote.
3. Subscribe to this our website to receive periodic updates on the progress of our initiative petition.
FAQs About the Responsible Growth for Morgan Hill Initiative
1. Why does the Initiative use the term Fulfillment Center rather than Distribution Center? The most common term for these facilities is “Distribution Center”, also labeled as Fulfillment Center, E-commerce Center, Logistics Center, Parcel Hub, Cold Storage Facility, High Cube Warehouse, Last-Mile Distribution Facility, and many other names that describe these specialized facilities. “Fulfillment Center” was selected for the purpose of this ordinance rather than “Distribution Center” because the Morgan Hill Zoning Code already contains the defined term “Warehouse and Distribution Facility”. It was determined that allowing Distribution Facility and Distribution Center to refer to two different types of land uses in the zoning code would create unnecessary confusion. Therefore, Fulfillment Center is used to represent all related facilities.
2. How are Large-Scale Development and Fulfillment Center defined? A very simple overview of changes to the Zoning Code:
Large-Scale Development is any development that proposes construction of more than 75,000 square feet of new floor area; or a new building or addition that is more than 35 feet in height.
Fulfillment Center is a building that has a floor area of more than 75,000 square feet, a clear ceiling height of 24 feet or greater and more than one dock-high door per 25,000 square feet of floor area. Fulfillment Centers are prohibited everywhere in the City of Morgan Hill. This Initiative promotes quality job generating development such as advanced manufacturing, research and development, and engineering facilities by providing the flexibility of 1 dock-high door per 25,000 square feet of floor area and by not limiting grade-level doors.
3. When will the changes in the Initiative become effective? If the City Council does not adopt and approve an Ordinance to enact the proposed changes the Initiative will become effective after it is placed on a ballot and voters approve it with a 50% plus 1 majority.
4. How many signatures are required on the Initiative petition? To qualify for a ballot, 10% (approximately 2,600) of Morgan Hill registered voters must sign the petition. Once the requisite number of signatures is obtained, City Council must take formal action where they can either approve the Initiative or present it to the voters on a ballot.
5. How can we safely gather signatures with COVID-19? When the Initiative petition is ready for signature gathering, we will utilize a two prong approach, adhering to County and State Health Orders: (a) a Safe-Signing Station for in-person signatures and (b) a Print and Mail from Home option. We have a documented COVID-19 safety plan and completed the necessary paper work from the County to gather signatures in person. We also discussed the in person signature-gathering process with the Morgan Hill Police Department and confirmed our approach and safety precautions are appropriate.
6. Why can’t people sign the Initiative petition electronically? In light of restrictions in place due to COVID-19, the Morgan Hill Responsible Growth Coalition did reach out to County and State election representatives and were informed that no special accommodations have been made at this time for the Initiative signature gathering process. All signatures must be “wet”, which means physically signed by the registered voter with a pen (DocuSign, scanned images of signatures, copies and faxes are not allowed).
7. Will this Initiative do anything about the massive distribution center built for the Shoe Palace Expansion Project? There was tremendous public outcry when the Shoe Palace Expansion project delivered a Distribution Center to our community without most residents knowing anything about it in advance. While this Initiative does not have direct bearing on the Shoe Palace Fulfillment Center this Initiative prevents a similar ‘process’ from ever happening again. Any large-scale project must be reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission which includes required notice of a public hearing.
8. How does the Initiative impact the proposed Morgan Hill Technology Center (MHTC) project? The proposed Trammell Crow Morgan Hill Technology Center (MHTC) development is 1,040,000 square feet with 124 dock high doors and a building height of up to 55 feet. As defined in the initiative, the buildings shown in the proposed site plan are Fulfillment Centers because:
All buildings are larger than 75,000 square feet
There is more than 1 dock high door per every 25,000 square feet. The proposed MHTC has 1 dock high door per every 8,387 square feet)
Building clear ceiling heights exceed 24 feet
The proposed MHTC would be prohibited only if the initiative or an adopted City Ordinance becomes effective before the City Council were to approve the project. Trammell Crow would need to revise their design to better represent an R&D or Advanced Manufacturing Facility. As a point of reference, Paramit, the Advanced Manufacturing Company here in Morgan Hill, has four dock doors for approximately 150,000 square foot facility (ratio of 1 dock door for every 37,500 square feet)
9. What happens if the Trammell Crow Development or another similar project is approved by City Council before the Initiative is adopted? If the City Council approves the currently proposed MHTC development, we will file a Referendum petition. The process is similar to what happens with an initiative. The petition would have to be signed by 10% of registered voters which would then require the City Council to either repeal the ordinance (i.e. the approval of Trammel Crow's requested Zoning and General Plan changes) or submit it to the voters at a regular or special election. If a majority of voters do not vote in favor of the approved ordinance, it does not become effective (i.e. it is repealed) and cannot be considered again for a period of one year. Trammell Crow would not be able to proceed with the MHTC project as currently proposed. A successful Referendum campaign will allow the voters of Morgan Hill the opportunity to vote on the Responsible Growth for Morgan Hill Initiative.