City making progress on number of projects in 2015, Tate says
Construction of parking garage, downtown development coming this year
Published in the February 18-March 3, 2015 issue of Morgan Hill Life
By Staff Report
Morgan Hill Mayor Steve Tate seems to be everywhere in our community. Whether it’s helping local kids through the Rotary Interact program, or involvement in local government activities on the city and at Santa Clara County meetings, Tate stays active to maintain Morgan Hill’s quality of life for everyone.
Tate will be giving his state of the city speech at the City Council Chamber 7 p.m. Feb. 19 where he will discuss various issues regarding Morgan Hill’s downtown, recreation, city budget and youth activities. Morgan Hill Life asked Tate to tell readers why he stays so active as the city’s mayor.
You are very involved with youth programs in the city and local schools such as the Youth Action Council, the Rotary’s Interact Club, and the El Toro Boy & Girl’s Club Clubhouse. Why is it important for you to encourage youth leadership?
Morgan Hill is a very family-friendly community that very much values their youth. As mayor I believe one of my responsibilities is to reflect and promote our community values. And I love kids!
The city of Morgan Hill is active in environmental and energy issues, implementing projects such as the solar panels and LED street lighting. What actions might the city take in 2015 to promote energy efficiency and environmental leadership?
We’re going to do a recycled water study. We will promote clean energy through property-assessed financing and also by potentially being part of a network of cities offering clean energy through a Community Choice Aggregation program. We recently approved a study on enhancing solid waste diversion, financed by Recology.
Preserving as much agriculture as possible and planting more trees are also important goals. We updated our Environmental Agenda in December and it contains many other planned programs and projects.
The funding of infrastructure (such as our streets and buildings) will be a priority issue for the council in 2015. Why is this important for you and how will the city provide funding for the infrastructure moving forward?
Funding the maintenance of our infrastructure is a key focus this year. We have identified an unfunded need of about $6 million total, $5 million for our roads. Without maintenance, our roads will continue to deteriorate and become increasingly more expensive to fix, so the earlier we solve the problem, the better. The funding source is yet to be determined. We will be doing a lot of public engagement on this topic in order to determine feasible funding alternatives.
The drought will have an impact on the city budget as citizens use less water to conserve this resource. What are some of the strategies to meet the budget shortfall (due to less water usage)?
Our residents are doing a fantastic job conserving water (thank you). We are truly leaders in that regard. However, since we bill water based on usage, we are collecting substantially less revenue which is endangering our ability to maintain the system that delivers water to your tap.
We know the drought will continue even if we get substantially more rain, and we will be taking even more steps to reduce consumption, further exacerbating the funding problem. Rate studies will have to be undertaken and we are investigating (and very open to input on) other potential funding strategies.
The downtown development will have several projects that need to be completed by the end of 2015. What leadership is the city providing to meet the deadline and maintain quality of the city’s downtown scene?
Public outreach and engagement has been and will be a keystone in our strategy to maintain that quality.
We are using just about every conceivable resource to communicate our plans and to solicit feedback on any needed changes. We have assigned a very senior, experienced engineer to oversee and provide project management. Because Huntington Station is adjacent to the new parking garage, we have and will continue regular meetings with them and make adjustments as needed to minimize impacts, and we will deploy similar strategies for all downtown construction projects going forward through 2015 and beyond. The council is committed to completing all of the projects this year while minimizing the impact to our businesses and downtown visitors.
The Southeast Quadrant is a continuing priority in 2015. What is the city’s position in relation to the SEQ and explain the city’s vision for proceeding with the SEQ this year?
Our goals are to preserve as much viable agriculture as possible; to keep inactive ag and all non-developed land as open space by enabling sports, recreation and leisure uses; and to allow construction of a private Catholic high school close to the Highway 101/Tenant interchange.
Because the owners of ag land currently in the county have development rights, we’ve worked many years to develop a plan that preserves those lands as ag. Though we originally thought it would be best to bring those ag lands into the city, we are very open to keeping them in the county if our goals can be achieved.
Recently, we were in danger of losing the high school and some of the potential sports-recreation-leisure land if we hadn’t acted on those designations, so we took those actions at our last council meeting. There are four houses under construction now on large county parcels in the ag preservation area, demonstrating the loss of ag land we have tried to avoid.
Moving forward, we are continuing to work with the county, LAFCO (Local Area Formation Committee), and other regulating agencies on gaining their approval on plans that will advance the council’s agricultural preservation and land use goals.
You are known for your active involvement in nonprofit organizations such as the Rotary Club of Morgan Hill, the Interact Clubs at Central and Oakwood high schools, Leadership Morgan Hill, United Way, Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley and its El Toro Clubhouse, and The Housing Trust of Silicon Valley. Why do you enjoy working with these organizations and why is it important for you personally to be involved?
Being mayor is not a full time job, but I need to be occupied full time.
What better way is there than working with these great organizations that are doing important work to improve lives in our own MH community and regionally?