My 20-plus years of experience representing the citizens of Morgan Hill has taught me many valuable lessons, and there is one that really stands out: Morgan Hill people don’t like taxes and won’t support tax measures. Yet our great city faces many financial challenges—funding an adequate number of police officers, maintaining our infrastructure and fully funding our pension liabilities are three that immediately come to mind.
Your elected city council has done a very good job of identifying and beginning to implement funding alternatives for increasing municipal income.
The strategy is built around economic development. Our outstanding Economic Development staff at city hall spent over a year developing a “Blueprint” aimed at maximizing city income from economic expansion. They’ve now had over a year of implementing specific tasks identified in the Blueprint and they are making outstanding progress on the identified action items.
We always want to get maximum citizen participation and buy-in when developing plans and we were fortunate to get strong input on the Blueprint, including many of the folks considered “thought leaders” in Morgan Hill. It was completed to the total satisfaction of those involved and sailed through approval at the planning commission and city council.
The Blueprint identifies four areas of economic pursuit: Innovation and Manufacturing, Retail, Tourism and Medical. For tourism, the Blueprint establishes that the current inventory of 900 rooms is inadequate for today’s demand and needs to be increased for visitors, whether they be tourists or employees from new businesses. To enable expansion, zoning changes are required.
It also established the need for some of our existing hotels to be upgraded and modernized.
Based on how widely our Economic Blueprint was accepted, I believe the community is supportive of the actions identified in it.
A group of hotel owners has now started a petition for a ballot measure to potentially reverse the unanimous council approval of a zoning change needed to enable two identified and committed hotels to build in the most logical spot for them. If successful, the resulting delay will be costly in many ways.
I’ve asked through social media that citizens not sign the petition and am repeating that request here. Please support our city’s economic development direction to achieve much needed increased revenues (from visitors, not from us!) and allow the construction to go forward in a timely manner.
While I wish that I could tell you that economic development will solve all our funding needs, I cannot. Additional funding sources are needed, and I strongly encourage your participation and support in identifying and implementing solutions.
Morgan Hill, former mayor