City rejects sustainable ag efforts
Once again, the City of Morgan Hill has decided not to support sustainable agriculture for county lands that touch the city limits, preferring to annex 65 acres south and east of the Aquatics Center (on Condit Road) to build a private high school. The city council approved the annexation plan at the Sept. 5 meeting. The county’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) will have to approve the annexation.
The parcels east of Murphy Avenue and south of Barrett Avenue down to south of Tennant are rated by the California Department of Conservation to be mostly prime farmland based on 2014 mapping. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Web Soil Survey report for 2017 agrees that the majority of those lands and adjacent county parcels are prime farmland.
These parcels are identified as part of the Agricultural Resource Area in the County Agricultural Preservation Framework, and a realistic plan to have Sustainable Agriculture is being developed by the County Agricultural Preservation Task Force.
Remember that a school is defined as a “sensitive population” and will impose additional regulatory burdens on farmers whose lands are neighbors. One of the city’s A-list decision makers dismissed my concerns about loss of farmland by saying that the city would find mitigation lands elsewhere. Perhaps he is unaware that sustainable agriculture requires contiguous lands for production and infrastructure and fails if all we have are isolated islands (the traditional mitigation approach).
Morgan Hill Mayor Steve Tate has been pushing a private high school to provide a religious education for families in the South County since his State of the City address at the start of the year. He could have the private high school tomorrow if he were willing to have city staff repurpose one of our older partially vacant shopping centers.
A less desirable alternative would be to sell the underused 38 acres of city-owned Outdoor Sports Center land within the city limits north of the Aquatics Center and the 10 acres of county land used for city parking; that would still be preferable to destroying farmland.
This will be a choice between two enviable goals. You can tear down one building to create another one, but you cannot restore farmland once it has been paved over.
Make Sustainable Agriculture the future of South County.
Project threatens ancient tree
Today, Morgan Hill is growing and morphing at such a rapidly accelerating rate that the remnants of our historical past are in danger of being quickly and quietly erased and forgotten.
For example, just outside the center of Morgan Hill, along Monterey Road near Dunne Avenue, there are a couple of rustic, early 20th-century houses slated for demolition. One house, a cobbler’s shop with a white picket fence and a unique garden of flowers and herbs, testifies to a time when leather goods—like shoes and saddles—were precious personal possessions, repaired by a skilled local craftsman instead of just being thrown away.
Both of the diminutive old houses are shaded by a truly magnificent specimen of Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica).
Although the stately cedar tree, planted by a caring hand about a 100 years ago, meets the diameter at breast height (dbh) classification for heritage trees, current ordinances classify it as a non-indigenous species. Thus, the tree will not be protected, no matter how healthy, beautiful or adapted it is to its location.
Today, that cedar still stands tall and proud, quietly growing and thriving. Shall these qualities of continuity be summarily dismissed to make way for just another row of cheap apartments?
We need to better preserve our heritage trees for their aesthetic value and the ecosystem services they provide.
Thanks for work development participation
The Morgan Hill Unified WorkAbility I/Transition Partnership Program office would like to take a moment and thank those business who have opened their doors to our students during the 2017-18 school year. By allowing high school students to work in their establishments, these business are training the workers of tomorrow to learn and practice job skills.
Please patronize these merchants and thank them for giving back to our community. If your business is interested in investing in the youth of Morgan Hill in this way, please email [email protected]
We would like to thank: Baskin Robbins/Santa Teresa Blvd.; Calderon Tires; Centennial Recreation Center; City of Morgan Hill Maintenance Division; George’s Auto Service and Transmissions; Gilroy Gardens; Goodwill of Silicon Valley; Guglielmo Winery; GVA Cafe; House of Meatball; Made in Japan/Europe/USA; Massive Sounds with DJ Guy; Morgan Hill Bowl; Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce; Pronto Auto Repair; Rosy’s at the Beach; San Jose Library/Santa Teresa Branch; Star Gifts; TJ Maxx ; Top Knot Salon; Walgreens; We Dog Care.
MHUSD Job Developer