The Morgan Hill City Council recently certified an environmental study and approved permits for a 269-home development at the southwest corner of Mission View and Half roads. The city’s planning commission had recommended the project’s approval at a previous meeting.
Known as Crosswinds, the project is proposed by Dividend Homes on a 33-acre parcel. The project will be built in three phases, with the first phase consisting of 94 homes, according to the developer.
The site is across Half Road from the rear side of Live Oak High School’s campus, and is surrounded by currently vacant properties. The proposed Crosswinds property is “mostly undeveloped” with grassland and inactive agricultural fields, says a city staff report.
The city council at the June 21 meeting unanimously approved the certification of an Environmental Impact Report, but not without voicing concerns about the potential “significant and unavoidable” impacts of the project related to traffic and agricultural resources.
The council also approved Crosswinds’ vesting tentative map and design permit.
The Morgan Hill Planning Commission voted to recommend the same approvals at its May 23 meeting.
Council member Marilyn Librers said, despite the concerns, Dividend Homes’ history of dependable and high-quality construction in Morgan Hill is encouraging.
“Our city is going to grow whether we like it or not. Why not go with a dependable developer who puts out a good product and will listen to our concerns…and build what we need, instead of leaving a patch of weeds there for someone who could come in and build something a lot less quality,” Librers said June 21.
Crosswinds is another in a recent long line of development proposals known as “SB330 projects” in Morgan Hill, referring to an emergency housing law approved by the state legislature in 2019. That law overrides Morgan Hill’s decades-old housing control program and makes it easier for developers to gain residential building permits from local authorities.
“My frustration is with regards to the process,” Council member Rene Spring said. “We have a process but we can’t really say no. If we say no, (we’ll see) a lawsuit.”
By certifying an EIR that cites significant and unavoidable impacts, the council also had to approve a “statement of overriding considerations” that declares the public benefits of the project outweigh the potential impacts. In response to a question from the public, City Attorney Don Larkin said that in Crosswinds’ case, the overriding public benefit is that approving the project would keep the city in compliance with SB330, thus staving off costly penalties for Morgan Hill’s taxpayers.
The significant impact on agriculture cited in the EIR has to do with the fact that the 33-acre Crosswinds parcel includes 16 acres of prime farmland on top of which Dividend plans to build. To mitigate the impact, Dividend has agreed to pay for the permanent preservation of an equal acreage of farmland elsewhere in the state.
City staff noted that the farmland within the Crosswinds project area has not been actively farmed for many years.
The EIR also found that the 269 new homes on the site would result in transportation impacts related to the likely vast increase in “vehicle miles traveled” in the area surrounding the development, according to city staff.
To partially mitigate the transportation impact, the developer will be required to provide annual public transportation passes for the new Crosswinds residents. The developer will also make a financial contribution to MoGo, the city’s on-demand rideshare service.
A variety of styles of homes is proposed at Crosswinds—specifically 56 single family houses, 64 duets and 149 condominiums, according to city staff. Fifteen percent of the units are designated as affordable housing.
“The project would include recreational areas including a clubhouse, pool, children’s play area, and barbeque/picnic areas,” says a city staff report. “The project would also include pedestrian paths, and landscaping, including trees and lawn areas.”
Dividend Homes applied for the project in June 2022, and since then has completed an environmental impact report and an impact mitigation program.