The city of Morgan Hill has a rich and historical legacy of community and family. It provides a unique respite in the middle of a bustling Silicon Valley. Surrounded and powered by tech companies, Morgan Hill has become a welcome breath for people to raise their families and make Morgan Hill their forever home. Over the last 70 years, West Hills Community Church has been a witness to and a part of the growth and development of Morgan Hill.
As the city has developed and grown, our services to the city and the general community has grown. In practice we serve locally inside the church through various ministries and outside the church walls in our community. West Hills Community Church offers training space for the Fire Department, provides Chaplaincy for the Police Department, free after school programs, food distribution to those in need, and more. We continue to look for ways to serve so Morgan Hill and the South Valley can continue to thrive.
Due to the recent changes to the zoning of our property, we are seeking the approval of the attached Planned Development (PD) as recommended from Morgan Hill Planning Department. The planned development for our property connects to a core part of who we are and what we do. Continuing operations and facility improvements are critical to our continued functioning in support our broader community now and in the years to come.
Below are the answers to the questions about West Hills’ commitment and benefit to the Morgan Hill Community, our current activities, and potential future uses of the property.
Commitment and Benefit to the Morgan Hill Community
West Hills Community Church is committed to continuing to serve and bring benefits to the
Morgan Hill community.
As detailed in a recent study, The Economic Halo Effect of Historic Sacred Places, churches positively impact direct areas of prime concern to elected officials, philanthropists, and community leaders: supporting childhood education, local job support, and neighborhood development through arts, and food distribution. The impact occurs both directly through programs and indirectly through activities and our church family.
Our programs attract significant volunteer support contributing thousands of hours annually and allows residents to work together for a common cause. Beyond the volunteer work, access to the property for non-religious programs (civil engagement, etc.) and functions benefit the Morgan Hill Community as a whole.
Below are some of the ways West Hills serves and benefits Morgan Hill and the South Valley.
Greater Morgan Hill Community Impact
West Hills Community Church goes beyond service for just our church families. Our partnership with emergency services helps provide support and backup locations to those on the front lines.
Morgan Hill Police Department Chaplaincy
Our senior pastor, Mike Burchfield is the lead chaplain for the Morgan Hill Police Department. He is involved with all aspects of chaplain support for the police department, including providing leadership and participating in practical support of the law enforcement community.
Morgan Hill Police Department Training Support
West Hills provides our facility free of charge to the police department for multiple training purposes, such as K9 training programs.
Cal Fire (CDF) Training
The Cal Fire department (CDF) has access and uses our church parking lot for training purposes and staging drills free of charge. This gives access to wild lands above the property while providing the space needed for emergency operations.
Morgan Hill Back-up Emergency Operations Center
West Hills Community Church’s relationship and location is an important backup to these services because it’s the highest and safest location in the city. The church is both a storage and main facility for the Morgan Hill Back-Up Emergency Operations Center (EOC). In the event of a significant emergency, both the storage unit and our facilities are activated to support critical emergency operations for our local community.
CPR Training / Certification
West Hills provides CPR and first aid training events to our church community. These certifications are beneficial to both our church and local community as individuals are trained to respond to practical emergencies wherever they may occur.
Our activities bring in people weekly and in periodic events, from all around the South Bay. After our events, people often stay to engage in activities in the parks, eat at restaurants, and shop at local stores. Regular attendants and periodic events at West Hills help us to employ people who live, work, and play in the area.
West Hills directly contributes to the Morgan Hill economy
West Hills is a 501(c)(3) entity that employs 8 full time people who work out of our Morgan Hill office. We also have 10 part time employees who provide childcare in support of various church programs. Total payroll for individuals working out of our Morgan Hill office is $654K per year, 76% of which is paid to individuals living in Morgan Hill.
Our annual contract and service expenditures are $517K of which 36% is paid to or through entities and individuals located in Morgan Hill.
On an average Sunday, an estimated 400 people participate in church activities, 25% of which are from outside of Morgan Hill but who have opportunity to be served by restaurants and other Morgan Hill businesses.
In addition to Sunday services, approximately 300 people participate in various programs during the week at the Morgan Hill location.
Social Benefits & Community Engagements for Families
West Hills provides many practical services to people of the local community as well as families in our church that strengthen relationships, improve life skills, and provide possible interventions during times of crisis. These activities have a practical benefit in the Morgan Hill community by relieving stress from community resources.
We support people inside and outside of our church community who are navigating unemployment and underemployment. This takes several forms including providing short term financial assistance, encouragement during the search process, and coaching for evaluating options and pursuing opportunities.
West Hills Food Ministry
West Hills partners with Trader Joe’s and United Christian Fellowship to distribute food to those in need in Morgan Hill and the surrounding area. This partnership meets a practical need for the economically challenged by providing produce, bread, and a variety of food given free of charge.
Serving 100 households on a weekly basis, we currently have a number of food distribution points. We distribute from West Hills, Park Place EAH Housing, Beth-el Church, and other pickups for a small group of church families that occur on private properties.
In our alignment to Morgan Hill’s Sustainable Project, any food that is past the expiration is used in partnerships with local agriculture, reducing the amount that would have otherwise been in landfills.
After School Kids Connection
West Hills currently operates two, free After School Children’s Programs supporting approximately 100 children and their 75 families in our public school system including Jackson Academy of Math & Music and El Toro Health & Science Academy. These programs provide a safe environment for children to learn about the Bible while providing parents support in the form of safe, intentional child supervision.
Park Place Community Events
In 2016, West Hills Community Church began a relationship with the youth residing at Park Place EAH Housing (formerly Village Avante) to initiate a neighborhood community resource option. Today, this has evolved to more regular activities that engage the whole family, provide rent relief, and food distribution.
Benevolence and Social Services Referrals
West Hills staff and volunteers respond to a wide variety of social needs in our community. Often this is provided to people from the Morgan Hill community or transiting through Morgan Hill who contact the church seeking financial help. In addition to financial help such as emergency rent assistance, we also connect people with various local social services including those for food, housing, substance abuse, and domestic violence.
Our annual benevolence contributions to people who contact or drop in to the church seeking help is $7K.
West Hills has a long history of welcoming people of all abilities and their families. We have a vital connection to the disability community through both leaders and congregants who have children with significant disabilities including autism and Down Syndrome.
Our commitment to providing for people of all abilities is a personal one. Our pastors on staff have children with disabilities including down syndrome, autism, seizure disorder, cerebral palsy and a significant heart defect.
We have a practical approach to supporting the disability community by working closely with families and individuals to make accommodations in our various programs. This can include ensuring wheelchair access to a program or providing a buddy to help a child with a disability participate in a children’s program.
We have developed working relationships with Joni and Friends and the Silicon Valley Down Syndrome Network that supports families with disabilities and includes activities such as providing space for special events, offering respite events for parents and providing leadership and volunteers an annual family camp for families living with disability.
Foster Care and Adoption Support
Foster care, adoption and family preservation have been an important part of West Hills for many years. Our pastors and 12 families in our congregation are, or have been, adoptive parents and Santa Clara County foster parents.
It is a personal value to our leadership that we provide practical support for adoptive and foster families in our community. This support includes being a church partner of Help One Child (who meets on a regular basis at the church) providing a network for mutual support and making our facility available for training and seminars.
We have developed a relationship with Lifesong for Orphans to manage our adoption fund. To date, this fund has contributed $22K to 3 adoptions and has funds available for additional adoptions.
Domestic Violence Intervention and Prevention
West Hills provides a safe place for people to disclose abuse and explore options. We take the safety of families very seriously. Depending on the nature of the situation, we also partner with the police and local domestic violence organizations where they can access additional support including safe housing resources.
Budget Coaching and Mentoring
West Hills provides budget coaching and counseling to people in our church and local community at no charge. We help people assess their financial challenges and explore options and strategies to address current struggles and plan for future financial sustainability. These interactions include learning new skills as well as referrals to social and legal resources based on needs.
Marriage and Parenting Coaching, Mentoring, and Spiritual care
West Hills provides pastoral counseling and mentoring to people in our church and local community at no charge. We help people address their relational and parenting challenges in a manner that strengthens marriages and families.
Divorce Prevention and Post-divorce Support
We regularly meet with people who are experiencing distress in their marriages, providing them counsel, coaching and input in how to navigate the unique aspects of their situation. This input can include skills to strengthen or preserve a marriage such as conflict resolution, communication and referral to other resources and services. For those going through the divorce process, we walk with them during the process helping with childcare and emotional support during court dates and other stressful process points.
Serious Illness Patient / Family Support
Cancer, stroke and other serious illnesses are a significant challenge to families in our community. We support individuals and families experiencing serious illness by providing hope and encouragement during their individual journeys, helping them think through family and financial difficulties, and referring them to community, state and federal resources. We provide ongoing support through recovery or end of life issues, and also provide grief care for families who lose a loved one.
We are typically the first to know someone is dying and there all the way through the process.
- Being in the doctor’s office when someone is being told they or a loved one has a life-threatening condition.
- Meeting regularly with the family and the individual as they grapple with what it means to die.
- Helping to plan and hold the memorial.
- Provision of meals during periods of extreme illness or mourning.
- Pastoral counseling as people process through death or referral to Grief Share.
Social Benefits and Community Engagements for Individuals
Suicide Intervention and Prevention
West Hills is a first responder to people in our church and local community who are in crisis. We interact with people’s realities, build hope and explore options in ways that deescalate the crisis and help build solutions. We also work with local resources depending on the needs of the situation. We most often work with police and medical professionals as we are usually dealing with an active situation requiring immediate intervention.
We provide care for elderly members of our community in the form of visitation in their homes, scheduled social events and pastoral counseling for their emotional and practical needs. Pastoral counseling can include things like grief and reconciliation as well as helping assess budget, end of life planning and health care concerns. We also provide practical assistance for things like home repairs and transportation.
Sexual Addiction Support
Sexual addiction is a significant destructive force in our local community. We provide support groups for those seeking to change the role that destructive sexual patterns play in their lives. We also provide individuals and couples coaching, mentoring and spiritual care to help navigate this difficult and painful reality. As part of this process, we also make referrals to other resources including specialized support groups and helpful materials.
Children / Youth Support
West Hills supports youth in our local community through our junior and senior high school programs that align with many of Morgan Hill’s Developmental Assets including religious community, positive family communication, positive peer influence, equality and social justice, restraint, interpersonal competence, peaceful conflict resolution, sense of purpose and more. The diversity of programs that we offer meet children on every step of their journey and help guide them into a healthy adulthood.
Vacation Bible School
Each summer West Hills provides a weeklong bible program that serves over 200 children in our local community. This program provides fun activities and a safe environment for 20 hours during a week, supporting parents seeking a safe, supervised environment for children while they are out of school during the summer.
West Hills supports youth in our local community through our junior and senior high school programs that align with many of Morgan Hill’s Developmental Assets.
Our services include weekly youth groups, summer and winter camp opportunities and individual mentoring and support as students navigate their unique life challenges. Additionally, we connect with families to help them more effectively parent youth during their particular life stage and struggles.
American Heritage Girls
West Hills provides space for American Heritage Girls, an organization that supports girls and young women in our community to develop both character and practical life skills. Our local troop supports approximately 70 young women and their families.
West Hills seeks to faithfully use our property to support both our church congregation and local community. West Hills has engaged in these activities for many years and intends to continue them into the future.
This application for a Planned Development (PD) is critical to our ability to continue our ministry activities now and into the future as we support our congregation and the broader Morgan Hill community.
Below is a list of our current activities at our Morgan Hill campus.
West Hills has two Sunday services on Sunday mornings at 9am and 10:45am. Staff and volunteers are typically at our facility between 6am and 1pm to prepare for these services and to close up the facility afterward.
We typically have 400 adults & children on our campus for Sunday Services.
West Hills has a 10:45 Sunday Family Service and recently launched a Thursday mid-week community group. This group as grown to steadily represent a portion of the Spanish speaking population in Morgan Hill.
West Hills has a youth group for junior and senior high school students on Tuesday nights from 6:30pm–9pm. Staff and volunteers are typically on campus between 4pm and 10pm to prepare for the group and close the facility afterward.
We typically have approximately 60 students participate.
West Hills has various small men’s groups meeting during the week. These groups are individually small, typically having under 20 participants.
Women’s Bible Study
West Hills has a woman’s Bible study on Wednesdays from 9am–11am. Approximately 30 women participate and childcare is provided.
Mothering By Heart
West Hills has a support group for mothers with young children that meets twice a month on Mondays from 9am–11am. Approximately 30 women participate and childcare is provided.
West Hills offers special services for Good Friday and Christmas Eve. Typically, these events are in the late afternoon or early evening and are attended by approximately 200 people.
West Hills periodically is used for wedding services supporting members a few times during the year. Although days can vary, weddings typically happen on Saturdays and have less than 200 people.
Funerals / Memorial Service
West Hills periodically is used for funerals and memorials supporting members a few times during the year. Although days can vary, these services typically happen on Saturdays and have less than 100 people.
West Hills sponsors special evening events approximately 10 times a year. These events include activities such as children’s musicals, vacation bible school and special worship and teaching. These events are typically attended by approximately 200 people.
West Hills provides our facility for outside groups that are connected to our ministry areas. These groups typically focus on Christian education and children’s programs.
These groups typically meet during weekdays prior to 6pm and range in size from approximately 30 to 150 people depending on the program.
West Hills working with a local grocery store provides free food to our local community. These distributions typically happen on Saturday mornings and support approximately 30 families.
Planning and Administration
West Hills operates an office that is open Monday–Thursday, 9am–5pm. We have 8 employees based out of the Morgan Hill office.
West Hills leaders typically meet two times a month at the Morgan Hill facility. These meetings are typically at 6am or 6pm and include less than 20 people.
Proposed Additional Future Uses Of Property
West Hills will continue to focus on the areas listed in the Current Activities section of this document into the future. Our application for a Planned Development (PD) is critical to both our current and future service to our congregation and the Morgan Hill Community. We also recognize a responsibility to steward our property for the future good of our church and local community. Our location in Morgan Hill provides us with potential opportunities we would like to leave open to consideration for the future.
Proposed potential additional utilizations of our property are as follows:
Day Care / Preschool Center
A proposed day care and preschool would use church facilities to support families seeking safe childcare for working parents. There are no current plans to implement such use now, but we would like the option to consider in the future. Per the new zoning, we would request a Conditional Use Permit.
A proposed private school for K-12 would use church facilities during the week to provide an education alternative for parents in our church and local community seeking a quality religious education. There are no current plans to implement such use now, but we would like the option to consider in the future. Per the new zoning, we would request a Conditional Use Permit.
El Toro Trail System
West Hills Community Church is open to discussion with the City of Morgan Hill to find a mutually beneficial solution for community use to the El Toro Trail System. This solution should meet our community’s needs while addressing important factors such as, but not limited to, trail location, liability, maintenance, parking, safety, impact on church operations and other long-term considerations.
Telecommunications / Wireless Support
Subject to the needs of our local community and emerging wireless technologies, West Hills would consider leasing space to service providers for cell antennas or other technologies subject to reasonable agreements and City / County requirements. This would have a practical benefit for our local area by improving connectivity and service access.
It is my experience that the team at West Hills Community Church cares deeply for the Morgan Hill community…
…a dedicated faith-based community that has consistently engaged residents at Park Place…
They really talk to us to see how we are doing and listen to see if there is another way they can help instead of just handing out food.
Planned Development Project Description
West Hills Community Church is located on four lots on the Southwest edge of Morgan Hill. The WHCC property includes one lot that is within the City of Morgan Hill and three adjoining lots that are in Santa Clara County. All the existing buildings and proposed future buildings and parking are on a lot that is within the City limits.
The lot that is within the City has been legally combined into one property with two of the adjacent parcels that are in the County. An existing parking lot is on one of the combined parcels that is in the County as is a portion of an existing storm water pond. The Church offices are in a building on the forth parcel that is within the County and is not part of this proposed Planned Development.
The existing Church facilities are depicted as ‘Phase 1’ on the attached drawings. The existing site improvements include two permanent buildings, three portable buildings, an ‘Upper Parking Lot’, a ‘Lower Parking Lot’, a storm water pond and a driveway from Dewitt Ave. to the existing parking and buildings.
The Church proposes future improvements that would be completed in phases:
A ‘Phase 2’ would keep all the existing buildings, while constructing a new classroom building that will replace the portable classroom later in Phase 3. The new building will be constructed where there are some existing parking spaces. However, there will still be an abundance of parking spaces remaining for the proposed occupancies. Phase 2 will also include landscape and storm drainage as needed for this phase and is appropriate to future phases of development as well as utility improvements including adding the required Fire Water Tank and pump per the fire water requirements.
A ‘Phase 3’ would keep all the existing buildings and the Phase 2 classroom building. A new ‘Upper Parking Lot’ would be constructed to replace the original upper lot. The new Upper Parking Lot with 65 spaces including the required accessible, future electric charging spaces, and accessible future electric charging spaces are to be constructed. The new upper lot combined with the existing Lower Parking Lot would provide the required parking for the buildings at Phase 3. The Green and Red portable buildings are to be removed. The second storm water facility is to be constructed.
A ‘Phase 4’ would keep all the existing buildings, the Phase 2 classroom building, the Phase 3 ‘Upper Parking Lot’, sidewalks, landscape and storm drainage improvements. Phase 4 would add the construction of a new ‘Mid-Level Parking Lot’ area. The new Mid-Level Parking Lot with 30 spaces will also inclucde associated retaining walls. This phase would include stairs to maintain the pathway from the Lower Parking Lot and the buildings. The parking spaces would not be required for the buildings at Phase 4, and so may remain unpaved until needed for Phase 5. Landscaping, walkways and the third and forth storm water facilities will be constructed to suit the requirements of this phase of development.
The New Auditorium, Lobby, Existing Building remodel and the South Patio are to constructed at this phase. The turf area between the new ‘A-1’ and the existing ‘B’ building could be developed as an outdoor play area etc.