Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | January 19, 2004

Does Gilroy need a Timex or a Rolex?

It’s time again for a periodic review of the puh-lease factor – and this time two local current events made my roll my eyes and caused me to utter a dramatic, two-syllable “please.”

First on the list is Gilroy Ford dealer Scott Lynch of Bob Lynch Ford and his ongoing lawsuit to prevent a new Ford store from opening in Morgan Hill. Not content to sue the city of Morgan Hill, a couple of city departments and the new dealership’s owners on what seem to my non-legally trained mind to be highly dubious claims, Lynch has individually named the city’s seven planning commissioners and five city councilmembers in his suit. He even listed Hedy Chang, the lone councilmember to vote as he desired – against allowing the dealership to open in Morgan Hill.


The Morgan Hill Ford dealership will be run by Tim Paulus and is planned for Condit Road near East Dunne Avenue. It will be about 12 miles away from Bob Lynch Ford in Gilroy.

Lynch’s suit alleges unfair competition, challenges zoning waivers and questions the city’s decision not to require an environmental impact report for the project.

At least I can nod vigorously in agreement with architect Charles Weston, one of the planning commissioners who found his name added to Lynch’s litigation:

“It’s too bad Scott Lynch can’t think of anything more creative than to try to eliminate the competition,” Weston told reporter Carol Holzgrafe. “He could lower his prices, buy property in a better location or even improve his service.”


Councilmen Bob Dillon and Russ Valiquette’s “fact-finding” mission to Morgan Hill to learn about its modestly priced police station proposal sure seemed like a desperate attempt to justify spending nearly triple what Gilroy’s neighbor is paying for a new cop shop.

I mean, puh-lease, $9.45 million versus (so far) $26.7 million?

(And before the Gilroy Police Department’s Assistant Chief Lanny Brown writes in to dispute my figures, the Gilroy station, according to my calculations, is 2.8253968 times more expensive than the Morgan Hill station. Pardon me if I round to ‘nearly 3.’)

Reporter Eric Leins’ story says one problem the councilmen pointed to is that Morgan Hill will take over a building that will need serious retrofitting. So? That work will be done before the MHPD moves into the building, and the price tag is dramatically lower than Gilroy’s plan: Building a new police station on a site that is so unfit for that purpose that it requires an expensive parking facility to make it usable.

Here’s another thing I just don’t understand: The need to have Gilroy’s police station and City Hall located together on a “civic center” campus, seemingly at any cost. Morgan Hill’s police station isn’t next door to City Hall now, and it won’t be when it moves. Morgan Hill’s new community center, where the recreation department is located, isn’t near City Hall, and neither is the city’s public works department. It all works out fine.

It’s more important that the police station is located where police have easy access to come and go for calls and where it won’t be an imposition on residents and businesses. The industrial park location Morgan Hill has chosen, besides having an attractive price, offers those advantages as well.

Then there are the timeline advantages, which mean that Morgan Hill will have a new station this summer, while the Gilroy police can look forward to moving sometime in 2007.

As a Morgan Hill taxpayer, I’m glad the city’s not spending lots of money on a new police station. I’d much rather they spend big bucks on a new or expanded library, a facility my family – and thousands of other Morgan Hill residents – uses regularly.

I’ve been to the current Morgan Hill police station; it’s overcrowded, and I agree that the city needs a new facility. The sensibly priced station the city is planning will serve the MHPD’s needs.

The only person I’ve heard predict problems for the new Morgan Hill police station, suspiciously, is Valiquette. (“They already realize they’re going to have headaches with it,” he said.) Call me cynical, but I’m a little doubtful about pronouncements on the MHPD’s plans from one of the Gilroy councilmen who thinks a $26.7-million cop shop is “a good deal.”

Comparing Morgan Hill and Gilroy’s police station plans is comparing “apples to oranges” Councilmen Dillon and Valiquette?


It’s more like comparing a Timex to a Rolex, OshKosh to Oilily, or a Buick to a Bentley.



  1. […] written columns about controversial topics – from same-sex marriage to stem cell research to police station price tags to an overreacting sheriff’s deputy – I’ve often felt that I’m preaching to the choir and […]

  2. Agreed!

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