The first project to be exempt from Morgan Hill’s voter-approved housing ordinance will soon move forward.
The Morgan Hill Apartments project by Danville-based Braddock and Logan consists of 389 units of rental housing and a three-acre park on the north side of town.
The project is part of the proposed Butterfield Technology Park, which would add 600,000 square feet of industrial space in the Morgan Hill Ranch Business Park, located between Monterey Road and Butterfield Boulevard, south of Jarvis Drive and north of Digital Drive. The project sits on about 25 acres of the site’s 58 master planned acres.
According to city officials, a notice was mailed out on Feb. 21 to 380 property owners within 600 feet of the project, informing them that the city’s community development director would authorize the design permit for the apartment project. A grading permit is also currently being reviewed.
The Morgan Hill Apartments is the “first of many larger housing projects that the city will be required to approve,” city officials stated in a press release, due to California’s Housing Accountability Act and Senate Bill 330, also known as the “Housing Crisis Act of 2019.”
SB 330 allows unlimited residential permits and expedites permit processes, regardless of a local municipality’s individual restrictions. It limits public review of housing projects, subjective local design requirements and certain parking requirements, according to the city.
The law, which took effect on Jan. 1, will suspend the City of Morgan Hill’s Measure S ordinance, which extended the city’s Residential Development Control System. The measure, which was approved by 77 percent of voters in 2016 and limits annual housing construction to no more than 215 units, is now rendered moot and unenforceable until 2025.
In 2018, the former developer of the project, MWest, sued the city under the State Housing Accountability Act to allow the project to move forward in a single phase after not being awarded sufficient allocations to build the project through the RDCS.
The Santa Clara County Superior Court ruled that the Housing Accountability Act preempts Morgan Hill’s ordinance, and ordered the city to approve MWest’s application within 60 days.
MWest has since sold the property to Braddock and Logan.
The RDCS has been in place in Morgan Hill since the 1970s, and has been renewed by the voters multiple times since then. The original intent of the RDCS is to keep residential growth in Morgan Hill at a controllable pace by setting periodic population caps or, in the 2016 version, annual housing construction limits.
A key trait of the RDCS is the requirement that interested developers must compete for the limited number of annual housing allotments. But due to the superior court’s decision and the passage of SB 330, Braddock and Logan will not have to compete for allotments for the 389-unit Morgan Hill Apartments; and the developer will be allowed to build all the units in a single phase, according to city staff.
The citizens group Morgan Hill Responsible Growth Coalition, which has frequently spoken out against the proposed Morgan Hill Technology Park near the interchange of Highway 101 and Cochrane Road, is raising concerns over the industrial portion of the Butterfield Technology Park. The group has said conceptual plans appear to show “another distribution center in the works.”
“We clearly have a misalignment between what citizens of Morgan Hill desire and what city planners are steamrolling through,” the group posted on its Facebook page. “We need to stop this nonsense before distribution centers turn Morgan Hill into the ‘city of industry.’”
On March 4, the Morgan Hill City Council, through its consent calendar, approved an agreement for the overall project, which requires the developer to construct improvements such as roads and other miscellaneous public infrastructure, valued at $2.6 million.
For information about Morgan Hill Apartments, visit morgan-hill.ca.gov/1959/Morgan-Hill-Apartments.