In what supporters say is a dual win for the voice of the people, two local measures on the Nov. 8 ballot for the City of Morgan Hill hold a commanding lead in the vote count, according to unofficial results.
Yes on Measure A, which prohibits “buildings with characteristics that could be used for new storage and distribution uses” in the city limits, has garnered 71% of the votes counted so far, according to results posted to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters’ office late Tuesday night. About 29%, or 2,445 of the ballots counted, voted No on Measure A.
Measure B, which requires a future vote of the people if the council wants to enact a lane reduction on Monterey Road, holds an even more commanding lead. As of Tuesday night, Yes votes on Measure B accounted for about 76% or 6,447 of the ballots counted.
Supporters of both measures say they are not surprised by the results posted so far, as they align with known public sentiment in Morgan Hill.
Measure B proponent Armando Benavides—who led the effort to collect more than 3,500 signatures earlier this year to place the measure on the Nov. 8 ballot—said he knew long before Election Day that the community was concerned about city officials’ ongoing efforts to reduce Monterey Road through downtown to two lanes.
“People expressed their will that they want to have some say in it,” Benavides said. “It was a really good outcome. We’re really pleased. The results show that people were really interested in the outcome of that measure.”
City officials have discussed the concept of narrowing Monterey Road from Dunne to Main avenues since before they tried it on a trial basis in 2015. Although the concept seeks to improve traffic safety and make the downtown more visitor-friendly, it has been met with sustained vocal opposition from many residents.
Measure A also resulted from a citizens initiative push by a local group known as Morgan Hill Responsible Growth Coalition. The group collected thousands of signatures in 2021, prompting the city council to certify the petition placing the item on the ballot.
After the growth coalition submitted its petition, the council enacted its own ordinance prohibiting distribution and fulfillment centers in Morgan Hill with unanimous approval from the five-member body. The council and coalition then made a compromise resulting in the language of Measure A as it appeared on the Nov. 8 ballot.
City Councilmember Rene Spring, who was one of the signers of arguments in favor of both Measure A and B, said it was no secret to him that the vast majority of Morgan Hill’s voting residents don’t want to live next to more distribution centers, which have been criticized for the noise, traffic and other impacts they bring to their surroundings.
“I’m extremely happy and thankful the residents so strongly support those measures,” Spring said. “I’m also very grateful for all the residents who are so engaged and collecting signatures.”
And although Spring said both citizen-driven measure efforts—and their results—reflect a growing sense that Morgan Hill’s elected officials are not listening to their constituents, he is not bothered by the direct involvement of the voters.
“It’s another check and balance, and at the end of the day, it’s the voters who have a final say if they want,” Spring said. “It is a tool of democracy. Whether or not I agree with those measures doesn’t matter.”
Measure A upholds the council’s ordinance banning distribution centers. Specifically prohibited in the city limits are any new buildings “that have 75,000 or more square feet of floor area, ceiling heights of more than 34 feet, AND more than 1 truck loading dock per 25,000 square feet,” says the text of Measure A.