ARE WE GOING TO LET THIS FOREVER CHANGE THE FABRIC OF OUR CITY?
Imagine 3 massive distribution centers with a combined total of more than 2 million square feet, hundreds of loading docks active 24/7, and the possibility of 5,000 truck trips per day, all at the gateway of Morgan Hill?
This will be our future if we don't act now!
What is happening to the Morgan Hill we all know and love?
Often called the hidden gem of Silicon Valley, Morgan Hill has long been known for its pastoral valley and hillsides, quaint downtown, and friendly tight-knit neighborhoods. Although we’ve quickly evolved from a rustic ranch region into a high-tech bedroom community, our small-town charm has not been lost, even as our population has grown to over 45,000 residents.
We also now enjoy a vibrant downtown with a variety of culinary options and entertainment venues. Annual events like Taste of Morgan Hill and holiday parades help give us a sense of community. And, the abundance of year-round recreation activities make our city both family friendly and a popular destination for visitors as well.
If you check out City of Morgan Hill’s page to Welcome New Residents, you’ll find several short videos featuring our fun and unique lifestyle here. As residents and business owners interviewed tell us,“you gotta love it”.
What you will not see there is Morgan Hill’s dirty little secret. As it turns out, some of our city leaders, in their quest to solve a growing budget crisis, are now on a fast track to turning this peaceful, picturesque place we call home into a "city of industry". Imagine the maze of massive concrete walls, truck traffic, and harmful pollution that will destroy our quality of life and ruin our small-town charm if we become the distribution hub of Silicon Valley.
Lets not lose what we treasure most about our city
If we continue to allocate land to large-scale distribution projects in our city, these enormous buildings will become an eyesore against the dwindling natural landscape of our beautiful, but narrow, valley. Our placid views will be marred by vast industrial sprawl. Even worse are the traffic, air and noise pollution that will intensify if these high-volume distribution centers are completed.
The first known project, Trammell Crow's Morgan Hill Technology Park, was discovered as many residents on social media started chatting about the sheer magnitude of this new development off Cochrane Rd, and comparing it to the negligible number of residents who were actually notified of these plans. Was someone trying to keep this project under wraps considering a massive 1 million sq. ft. facility with 192 loading docks, 300 big rig parking spaces, and 24/7 operations, would likely be a nightmare for hundreds of households in the northeast corner of the city?
In a matter of months, the community was in an uproar again, this time over another .5 million sq. ft. distribution center with 56 loading docks for the Shoe Palace Expansion Project on the opposite side of the freeway. The enormous concrete tilt-up walls appeared to pop up out of nowhere and comments on social media went viral. Residents were angry to learn this first-of-its-kind development was essentially mishandled by the city: very few households were notified; a full environmental impact report was not completed; it was never submitted for review to the planning commission or city council; in fact, if was signed off by just ONE person on city staff. Citizens are understandably upset; it takes more time and effort just to get a simple residential permit from our planning division.
Now we're noticing even more distribution center projects in the works, including a build-to-suit project that is part of the Butterfield Technology Park. While this is some distance from the other larger distribution projects, it is still part of the northern district of our city with Cochrane Road as the primary access to Hwy 101 for all 3 projects. As residents know, the Cochrane corridor is already at maximum capacity during peak traffic hours in today's environment.
Our community has been voicing concerns about these projects for many months now. Despite our city council representatives repeatedly saying “no one wants a distribution center here”, we recently learned that an underhanded tactic has been in the works all along. According to a "Letter of Interest" submitted to City Metro, city planners envision "last mile production and distribution" as a key industry for Morgan Hill. As the Priority Production Area (PPA) map below indicates, there is potential for even more distribution activities throughout our city.
This is the WRONG solution for Morgan Hill! We understand distribution is a necessary part of an e-commerce economy. The big issue is irresponsible placement of these facilities close to homes, schools, and existing traffic zones.
We've researched the negative effects these facilities have on cities like our own. Just look at So-Cal’s Inland Empire. Neighborhoods are forever ruined by decision-makers spellbound by the dollar signs projected by developers. Now they have huge industrial warehouses dwarfing residential areas, horrible roadways, and a steady flow of lawsuits from residents suffering from cancer and other serious health issues. We've also highlighted some of the best news and government articles regarding effects on infrastructure, environment and economics to back up our assertion that these projects will have a serious detrimental impact on our community.
After looking closely at plans and potential impacts, we believe these projects defy all principles of responsible growth here. Furthermore, they are not consistent with the long-term General Plan for growth in our city. The Morgan Hill General Plan, Zoning Code, and Economic Blueprint represent endless hours of work by residents of our city. We want city leaders to show by action, not just words, that these guiding documents are respected and followed.
We understand that Morgan Hill has a growing budget crisis, like many other cities today. But how is it acceptable to sell the soul of our city in an effort to balance the books? There are more suitable and safer land uses that also provide economic benefit to our city. We should focus our efforts on companies that will maximize job growth in our city. There are businesses in Silicon Valley seeking to move or expand as well. Why not present that opportunity here in Morgan Hill where the land is more affordable and homes are too? Read more about our communications with City of Morgan Hill and what we want city leaders to do to fine tune their efforts to preserve our quality of life for years to come. Also learn more about how MHRGC is taking action to save our community.
Distribution centers explained
We have learned a great deal about distribution centers, also called high cube warehouses, logistics facilities, fulfillment centers, trucking hubs, delivery stations, and other names.
To many of us, the visible difference between a warehouse and a distribution center is not easily apparent. While they might appear similar on the outside, there’s a vast difference in the internal operations and responsibilities each are meant to fulfill in the logistics industry.
A warehouse is a commercial building used for long term storage of goods by manufacturers, wholesalers, and transport businesses. These large plain buildings are typically located in industrial areas. They have service doors and docks to load and unload goods, but that’s usually the extent of the activity that goes on in a warehouse.
By comparison, a distribution center (DC) is a more specialized building designed for short term storage, fast intake, and rapid shipment of goods by retailers and wholesalers to another location or directly to consumers. Distribution centers require more technology as an integral part of the order fulfillment process for e-commerce companies. These buildings vary in size and are usually located within easy access to main highways, allowing transport trucks to drop off and pick up items more efficiently.
Because of the dynamic nature of its operations, a distribution center also has more unique building requirements including clear interior heights, dock density, cross-docking and other design specifications geared for distribution.
While the difference in function seems clear between a warehouse and distribution center, people in the logistics industry continue to use the terms interchangeably, causing confusion when the terms also get mixed up in government documents and news articles read by the public.
And last mile distribution adds another element of complexity. Most distribution centers are part of a large distribution network and competition between e-commerce companies for faster delivery is heating up, driving some to invest in smaller distribution centers in major metro areas. See Understanding the Role of Last-Mile Distribution and Warehousing.
With the cost of land in Morgan Hill substantially less than San Jose and other cities north, it is clear why developers would target our city for last mile distribution to serve all of Silicon Valley. Can you imagine? Hundreds of big rig trucks transporting goods into the distribution centers and thousands of delivery trucks going out to surrounding cities to deliver those goods - all day, every day!