Monterey Corridor: Form-Base Code

The Morgan Hill 2035 General Plan, adopted in July 2016, envisions the transformation of the Monterey Road corridor north and south of Downtown from its current predominantly strip commercial character to a vibrant mixed-use corridor that encourages walking and biking with buildings fronting onto the street and a range of commercial and office uses located close to new and existing residential development. It's been determined in a 2017 Monterey Corridor Market Analysis Report that a Form-Based Code is the most effective in realizing the General Plan’s vision for the Monterey Road corridor.

What is a Form-Based Code? 

The City has been awarded $160,000 from the 2019 Planning Grants Program from the State of California, Department of Housing and Community Development, to develop a Form-Based Code for the Monterey Road Corridor. On March 4, 2020, the City Council approved a Consultant Agreement with Lisa Wise Consulting, Inc. (LWC) to prepare the Monterey Corridor Form-Based Code.

City Council Hearing

The Morgan Hill City Council conducted a public hearing on August 23, 2023 approving the draft Monterey Corridor Form-Based Code; and on September 6, 2023 the City Council adopted Ordinance 2348 establishing the Monterey Corridor Form-Based Code as Chapter 18.29 of the Municipal Code. To view the City Council August 23, 2023 meeting and materials, please visit the Agenda Portal.

Planning Commission Hearing

The Morgan Hill Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on July 25, 2023, and made a recommendation to the City Council to approve the Monterey Corridor Form-Based Code. To view the Planning Commission meeting and materials, please visit the Agenda Portal.

Community Meeting

A hybrid community meeting regarding the Monterey Corridor Form-Based Code was held on July 19, 2023, to update residents, business/property owners, and developers of the most recent version of the draft Form-Based Code and to receive input from the public. 

Public Hearing Draft

Links to the Draft Monterey Corridor Form-Based Code and Regulating Plan are provided below, with each document's description.

  • Draft Monterey Corridor Form-Based Code: The Monterey Corridor Form-Based Code establishes development standards that are objective and implement the community vision, emphasizing pedestrian-oriented building form and streamlined housing development with an appropriate mix of uses. Regulations and standards in a Form-Based Code are presented graphically in simple diagrams and photographs as well as supplemental text. While Form-Based Codes focus on an intended physical form, they also regulate use by allowing a mix of appropriate land uses chosen to ensure compatibility among different contexts and the intended physical form of the area. The standards ultimately shape the relationship between building facades and the public realm (i.e., the public and private space between buildings), the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another, and the scale and type of blocks.
  • Draft Monterey Corridor Form-Based Regulating Plan: A Regulating Plan functions like a zoning map, assigning form-based zoning districts to specific lots.

Planning Commission Workshops

On April 13, 2021, the Planning Commission held a second workshop to discuss, review and provide input on the Draft Monterey Corridor Form-Based Code. View the workshop materials and video.

On September 8, 2020, the Planning Commission held a workshop regarding what is a Form-Based Code as well as progress towards the development of the Monterey Corridor Form-Based Code. View the workshop materials and video.


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Contact Information

For additional information, contact Principal Planner Adam Paszkowski via email or call 408- 310-4635.

Informational Handouts

  • Impediments and Recommendations Memo: The Impediments and Recommendations Memo provides an overview of state legislation and form-based codes, highlights policy direction related to form-based codes, assesses relevant standards in the existing Zoning Code, evaluates impediments to achieving the vision and objectives of the General Plan, and presents recommendations for the most effective form-based code approach.


After reviewing the Priority Development Area Extension and the study area established in the Monterey Corridor Market Analysis, LWC proposes a slightly adjusted Form-Based Code Study Area to account for existing contexts and more effectively implement desired development patterns along Monterey Road (please refer to the below figure). The proposed boundary generally includes parcels adjacent to Monterey Road within the City limit, excluding the Downtown Specific Plan Area and parcels south of Watsonville Road.

Proposed FBC Boundary

What is a Form-Based Code?

A form-based code (FBC) is a place-based planning approach that promotes walkable, compact, mixed-use urban environments over suburban sprawl and is a forward-looking alternative to a conventional zoning code. The Form-Based Code Institute (FBCI) defines an FBC as a “land development regulation that fosters predictable results and a high-quality public realm by using the physical form of a place (rather than separation of uses) as the organizing principle for the code.”

An FBC can address the relationship between the building façade and public realm, form and mass of buildings in relation to one another, and the scale and types of streets and blocks. Regulations and standards in an FBC are usually presented in tables and graphics alongside supplemental text. The standards vary in intensity based on each form-based zone. The form-based zones are mapped on a Regulating Plan, a document similar to a zoning map.

FBCs are now being utilized by cities, towns, and counties across the country as communities like Morgan Hill desire vibrant, mixed-use areas where residents can live, work, and play within close walking distance. For the Monterey Corridor, an FBC can establish objective development standards that implement community visions, emphasizing pedestrian-oriented building form and efficient housing development with an appropriate mix of uses.

FBCs differ from conventional zoning codes in terms of the process by which they are prepared, the substance of the standards they contain, how those standards are presented, the mechanism by which ­they are implemented, and the built form they produce. In summary, an FBC is a transformative regulatory tool used to implement a community’s vision for how it should look and feel, holistically shaping the urban environment through a set of objective standards.