Santa Clara County completed its most recent comprehensive update of its General Plan in 1994, during which the County introduced new policies supportive of the cities', establishing long term urban growth boundaries, or UGBs. These policies proposed that UGBs be established by cities in cooperation the County and in furtherance of long-standing, joint growth management policies of the County, cities and LAFCO, the Local Agency Formation Commission. In concept, long term UGBs would augment the use of short-term (5-10 year) Urban Service Area boundaries, or USAs, in effect since the mid-1970s, to help the cities, LAFCO, and the County better manage urban development patterns over a long term time horizon. Lands placed inside UGBs would ultimately become eligible for urbanization in accordance with the city's' policies and ordinances governing the timing and location of development. Lands outside UGBs would clearly be delineated for open space and agricultural uses, as well as low density, non-urban levels of residential use.
The first city to initiate proceedings to establish a formally adopted UGB in Santa Clara County was the City of Morgan Hill. Ultimately, the City amended its General Plan to establish its UGB in October 1996, after a joint planning study and evaluation with the County of Santa Clara Planning Office. The principal goals of the UGB for Morgan Hill are to further implement existing City policy to ensure compact urban growth patterns and infill development, while also enabling the city to provide and maintain urban infrastructure in a cost-effective manner. An additional goal of the UGB and countywide growth management policy in general is to preserve the natural resources of non-urbanized lands outside cities.
At present, the City is undertaking its first comprehensive general plan update since the adoption of the UGB. Little expansion of the UGB is proposed, reinforcing the policies and preferences of the city for infill development to accommodate its long term growth needs. For more information, contact Bill Shoe, at the County of Santa Clara Planning Office at (408) 299-5749 or bill.shoe(at)pln.sccgov.org.