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Morgan Hill
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March 4, 2021

Election: Measure S wins by a landslide

The City of Morgan Hill’s long-standing growth control policy was never under threat of dying at the polls Nov. 8, as Measure S was resoundingly supported by 77 percent of those who cast ballots.
Measure S extends the city’s Residential Development Control System to 2035, with a population cap of 58,200 for that year. The current RDCS expires in 2020.
Some supporters at Nov. 8 election parties around town were surprised at the overwhelming support, as a vocal group of residents—and some candidates for local office—pushed for its defeat.
“Morgan Hill has a great history of the people voting to retain growth control,” said Councilman Gordon Siebert, who attended Councilwoman Marilyn Librers’ election night campaign event at Ladera Grill restaurant. “It keeps Morgan Hill the kind of community we’ve all grown to love.”
Even those who opposed Measure S liked one of its chief provisions, new to the ordinance that was first passed by Morgan Hill voters in 1977: it allows the council to reduce the annual number of housing allotments below the 215 maximum, any year they choose to. This provision was included in Measure S to prevent the kind of spikes in housing activity that have occurred over the last three years or so, as developers have regained financing lost during the recession to build homes they were allocated during the crash.
Housing construction in Morgan Hill ground nearly to a halt during the 2009-10 recession.
One of the most vocal opponents of Measure S was Rene Spring, a planning commissioner who won his bid for the city council Nov. 8. He likes the fact the council can lower the annual housing maximum, but there are other aspects of the RDCS update he thinks the city can do without.
“I would prefer we straighten out the flaws before we (renew) it for 20 more years,” Spring said the night of Nov. 8, as the election results started rolling in. “We all want growth control—that was never disputed. We just said we could do better.”
Mayor Steve Tate, who won his Nov. 8 bid for re-election, said he was “thrilled” with the Measure S results. He has touted the measure as not only continuing the city’s growth control traditions, but also “improving” them.
“I understand there is a ‘slow-the-growth’ faction that doesn’t agree with what we’re doing. I think people in Morgan Hill treasure what Morgan Hill is, but it’s going to change over the years, and it’s got to,” Tate said, attempting to explain why the city can’t abruptly halt growth or slow it down too dramatically, as some residents have preferred.
Councilman Larry Carr, another re-election victor Nov. 8, said lowering the number of annual housing allotments is something he wants the council to address “right away” after the Measure S results.
“I’m so pleased that voters (supported Measure S), so we can actually begin implementing it, lowering the number of allocations every year, and doing the good parts of what we are trying to accomplish,” Carr said.
Morgan Hill resident Veronica Ramos said Measure S was one of the most important issues on the Nov. 8 ballot just outside City Hall, where she voted.
“I don’t want Morgan Hill to get bigger,” said Veronica Ramos, who voted around lunchtime at City Hall on Peak Avenue. “That’s why we moved here 14 years ago.”
Chris Monack, also of Morgan Hill, has been active on social media and at city council meetings trying to explain the good and bad parts of Measure S to voters. He has been a frequent critic of the process and rationale by which the council placed Measure S on the ballot and came up with the population and housing numbers contained within it.
“I feel the City fell short in its goal of community engagement,” Monack wrote in an email Nov. 8. “I believe more people living in Morgan Hill are aware of what growth control is and what it means, where it comes from, and how it affects them personally. I will take my share of credit for doing what the City failed to do in that respect – I got the community more involved.”
Monack added he was “disappointed” at the attitude of some Measure S proponents—including that of some city officials—who “directly and indirectly labeled members of the community as misinformed and uneducated” if they opposed the measure.

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