Letter: Petition only serves a single special interest

Asit Panwala’s recent (Feb. 15) editorial, “City Hasn’t Learned on Hotel Issue,” contains a number of inaccuracies, and deserves rebuttal.

Panwala claims that the city council’s recent decision to support the construction of two hotels at Madrone Village is reminiscent of its decision four years ago to rezone industrial land to accommodate a hotel, and that the city is now trying to subvert the will of the voters by responding to a new petition circulated by Panwala opposing the Madrone Village project.

Neither is true. Unlike the previous project, Madrone Village is already zoned for commercial use. In 2006, Toeniskoetter Development was granted commercial and retail approval for Madrone Village; in 2008, Phase One of that retail development was completed and opened for business. The adjacent area, slated for Phase Two, has been for sale ever since. However, no grocery, retail anchor or “big box” store has agreed to build and operate at that location.

Moreover, no “out of town” developer has received any “handouts” in this transaction. One MMP partner is a longtime Bay Area resident. And Toeniskoetter Development has been in Morgan Hill for more than 30 years, bringing in over 50 businesses, including some of the city’s largest employers. Contrary to Panwala’s assertion, MMP Properties paid fair market value for the property—remember, no other credible offer was ever received during the past 10 years—and received no city subsidies exclusive to this project.

Earlier this year, the Morgan Hill City Council, based on extensive study from its economic development staff and a unanimous recommendation from the Planning Commission, voted unanimously to amend the commercial zoning for Madrone Village to include hotel use. This ruling was in keeping with the city’s Economic Blueprint, a plan developed in 2017 with input from more than 400 residents, businesses and community leaders committed to improving Morgan Hill’s economic prosperity and vitality. The Blueprint identified a substantial unmet demand for high-quality upscale and upper midscale hotel rooms.

Let’s face it: the Morgan Hill Hotel Coalition’s proposed referendum against the city council’s decision only benefits the existing hotels in the coalition. The Coalition does not want Morgan Hill to benefit from new and upper mid-market hotels that will bring new jobs and business to the city. The delay in construction simply allows Panwala and his group to enjoy “sold-out” nights at their hotels, while the city is deprived of voter-approved Transient Occupancy Taxes of up to $800,000 per year, and Morgan Hill restaurants and shops miss out on potential patrons.

While Panwala asserts that the city is interfering with the right to referendum, it is actually Panwala and his coalition who are exploiting the referendum process for the benefit of one family at the expense of the residents and voters of Morgan Hill. Don’t let one family disrupt a project that will benefit all residents. Don’t sign that petition.

Kapil Nanda, MMP Properties

Brad Krouskup, Toeniskoetter Development

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