Improving the downtown Monterey Road corridor is a good idea for
everyone in the entire community
On the positive side, new businesses continue to locate there, and the county courthouse promises to bring increased and regular foot traffic.
On the negative side, some businesses struggle and empty storefronts dot the downtown’s main drag. With the upcoming move of Book-Smart to Second Street, a key anchor location will be empty.
Changing downtown from struggling to vital will take a multi-pronged approach. Approving a downtown property-based improvement tax district is an important first step. Now that the city has voted to participate, we hope all downtown property owners will agree to pay into the district to beautify and strengthen the city’s core.
Such a district, where the downtown property owners agree to tax themselves to fund the Morgan Hill Downtown Association and capital improvements, is a step in the right direction.
Without such a district, the downtown association will fold and the merchants will be left without a guiding force.
But establishing a downtown assessment district is just the first step.
To succeed, downtown needs people. The best way to accomplish that is through higher density and mixed-use projects in the downtown. Given its proximity to public transit, such projects make a lot of economic, planning and environmental sense.
City officials should amend Measure C so that higher density, mixed-use projects for downtown development get preferential treatment.
A vital downtown isn’t just good for downtown merchants, it’s good for our entire community.
Finally, some Redevelopment Agency funding should be used to create a cohesive plan for Morgan Hill’s downtown. Here’s a use of RDA funds that doesn’t create an operating expense. Instead, done well, it should help to increase the city’s tax revenue in the long run by helping to increase sales in the city center.
City officials, downtown merchants and property owners, and Morgan Hill residents need to take a big-picture view of downtown and implement multiple changes that complement each other and move the community toward the goal of a vital, vibrant downtown.