Letter: Referendum is your constitutional right

The right to referendum is a Constitutional right to ensure that local government doesn’t favor the interests of a powerful few at the expense of the majority. Last week, Kapil Nanda and Brad Krouskup, who would benefit financially from the rezoning at Madrone Village, wrote to complain about the petition for referendum while misleading you about the facts. They have hired teams of people to follow signature gatherers and prevent them for talking to you. Only one side is afraid of holding an election. You should ask yourself why.

Nanda and Krouskup argued that their land is already zoned for commercial use. If so, why do they need to ask the city for a zoning change? They asked because the current zoning does NOT allow hotel use. Instead, it permits the land to be used for a much-needed upscale grocery store or other retail use. No one is entitled to have their land rezoned for another use simply because it benefits them. That is why we have zoning laws.

Krouskup insists he is not receiving a “handout,” but he admitted in a Morgan Hill Times article published Feb. 20 that the “lower price” of land was justified because he was bringing “nice” hotels. Krouskup also shared with the Planning Commission that he is selling the land to an out-of-town developer for $14.75 per square foot. (Planning Commission Meeting, Dec. 11, 2018; 2:17:20-2:19:00). So, he actually isn’t the one building the hotels.

More importantly, the market value for commercial land zoned for hotel use is about $24 a square foot. For example, run a Google search for 16275 Condit Road. In this case, the out-of-town hotel developers, whom Krouskup and Nanda are selling to, will receive a windfall of $1.7 million dollars. Have you noticed that we have not heard from the buyers in this debate?

The “nice” hotels that the out-of-town developers will bring are a Home 2 Suites and a Fairfield Inn. They are not upscale. Neither will have conference room space. Tech companies will not appear in Morgan Hill because of these hotels.

More importantly, Krouskup’s argument that the city will gain more in tax revenue is wrong. Our hotels have an average occupancy of 70 percent, and rooms are available nearly every night of the year. The new hotels will only pull away guests from other hotels, so the city will receive the same amount in transient tax as before. Remember, we have Hilton Garden Inn opening on Cochrane, and a boutique hotel, the Granada, opening downtown. How many more hotel rooms does Morgan Hill need? Do you believe that we need 200 more hotel rooms even after the Hilton Garden Inn and Granada are built? Rezoning this land will only lead to an oversupply of hotel rooms, and harm locally owned businesses.

Nanda and Krouskup wrote that you should accept the decisions of the Planning Commission and City Council. However, when city council members questioned whether there was demand for these extra rooms, Krouskup failed to provide any studies to support his position.  (City Council Meeting, Jan. 23, 2019, at 2:25:00-2:28:00). At the planning commission meeting, one of the commissioners conceded that these hotels are “repetitive,” and do not “add any new type of value to what we have.” (Planning Commission, Dec. 11, 2019, 2:52:10-2:53:00).

You have the Constitutional right to vote on whether or not you wish to see more development. I only wish to see our democratic process respected, and not frustrated by a developer who cares more about making money, and hired teams of people to interfere with that process.

Asit Panwala

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