Editorial: Mayor Tate’s State of City talk addresses sustainability
Published in the March 1 – 14, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life
At the city council’s Jan. 27-28 retreat, elected officials and city staff decided their main goal for 2017 would be creating a vision for a “more sustainable Morgan Hill.” That objective was reflected in the theme of the State of the City address given by Mayor Steve Tate Feb. 21.
In his talk, Tate hit some of the highlights of the city’s goals for this year. Public safety, as always, is the No. 1 priority, and he described the new master plan Police Chief David Swing and Fire Chief Derek Witmer prepared to provide a foundation for future policy decisions to enhance the city’s public safety. Tate also brought up the issue of downtown parking, mentioning that the downtown garage opened last year has had an impact on the parking availability. But more often than not, it is not being used by the public as much as it could be.
Tate also described the Economic Blueprint that the city’s Economic Development Director Edith Ramirez is preparing with the main goal of long-term economic sustainability for Morgan Hill by developing a framework that will inform policy and investment decisions. With a primary goal of attracting jobs and business investment in our community, the Economic Blueprint will guide the city’s efforts for the next five to 10 years.
On a day when U.S. 101’s northbound lanes in Morgan Hill were closed due to major flooding from the release of water from Anderson Reservoir caused by the winter storms overfilling the reservoir, the mayor talked about flood control initiatives for Morgan Hill. The city, he said, is making “great progress” with working with the Santa Clara Valley Water District in getting funding for the project that stretches back to the 1950s.
The mayor also brought up the topic of the legalization of marijuana by state voters last year and how the city will deal with its impact for the South Valley region. The city will look at other regions to see how they deal with marijuana’s new legality and how it affects society.
Last year’s State of the City address focused on what Tate called “44 rocks” of development for the city’s vision. These are reflected in the city council’s ongoing priorities of enhancing public safety, protecting the environment, maintaining fiscal responsibility, supporting youth, seniors and the entire community, fostering a positive organizational culture, preserving and cultivating public trust and preserving our cultural heritage. Many of the goals set in 2016 have been accomplished or are well on the way to being achieved, Tate said. Others such as improving communications between the city and citizens will be on-going endeavors.
Tate said that in 2017, the rocks have been changed into “five boulders” with the strategic priorities focused on: the California High-Speed Rail’s impact on Morgan Hill, inclusiveness of residents, infrastructure maintenance and improvement, enhancing local telecommunications, and building regional initiatives.
With HSR, Tate said the city is working with Sacramento representatives Sen. Bill Monning and Assemblywoman Anna Caballero to convince the California High-Speed Rail Authority to build the tracks along the U.S. 101 corridor and make sure the multi-billion dollar statewide project has a minimal impact on the quality of life in Morgan Hill.
The priority of increasing inconclusiveness is part of enhancing the sustainability of a social consciousness in Morgan Hill and getting involvement by everyone in the community and celebrating the fact that we are a community.
With the infrastructure priority, the city faces millions of dollars in funding gaps. The county’s Measure B initiative passed in November will help alleviate that by providing $800,000 for road improvement. But it’s not nearly enough for the required $5 million a year needed to fix the roads and maintain streets and sewers.
“I think it’s a quality of life issue. It’s a reputation of your community issue,” Tate said in his address. “When someone comes down here and drives down the roads and hits six or seven potholes, it just is not a good image for the community. We want that part of the community to shine like so many other parts.”
Telecommunications is another “very important” priority for the city this year that can enhance the city’s reputation for economic development. The city will collaborate with the private sector to explore plans on how to provide residents and businesses with faster, more reliable access to telecom services as well as wireless connectivity. It will continue discussions with broadband providers, public utilities and others service providers to develop an implementation plan for growing the telecommunications infrastructure.
“Telecommunications is very important. We want to develop economically, we want to bring new businesses here,” Tate said. “Maybe the first or second question they’ll ask is: how’s your broadband? How much work can I get done? It’s just becoming such a critical issue I think we need to focus on it.”