Hollister’s Master Planner

If he’s not

the man

with a master plan, he will be soon.
During the next year, Bill Card will draft the

blueprint

of Hollister’s future
– the General Plan update.
If he’s not “the man” with a master plan, he will be soon.

During the next year, Bill Card will draft the “blueprint” of Hollister’s future – the General Plan update.

As the city’s community development director, Card heads the planning department and will write the top policy document on growth.

“I’m the man,” he said, referring sarcastically to his sole reign over the novel-thick doctrine.

It’s no small task for the “general” of the General Plan, who also worked on the last update in 1995. At that time, Card served as a planner under former Community Development Director Ray Hetherington, who recently retired after 21 years on the job.

Now it’s Card’s turn. And instead of facing the assignment alone, he has dismissed the notion of him owning sole authority.

On top of hiring a planning consultant for the project this week, Card said another deserving entity will help determine the city’s development future – the public.

“One of my concerns during the last one (1995) was a lack of community participation,” he said.

Card’s vision of public outreach includes a steering committee and town hall-type meetings, where people can voice opinions directly to him and other city officials.

“I want to make it more of a multi-cultural experience than it has been,” he said.

Card doesn’t blame citizens for a lack of previous involvement. Most residents just don’t realize the General Plan’s significance, he said.

“In the past, it really hasn’t been explained well,” he said. “Joe Blow public doesn’t really know.”

By state law, a General Plan requires seven elements and lays out the city’s future development through policy statements.

According to esteemed Urban Planner William Fulton in his book “Guide to California Planning,” a General Plan should hold a vision of a community’s future and identify “hopes and aspirations.”

The courts often refer to general plans as “constitutions” of development, Card said.

Although each element holds equal standing during the planning process, Card said, two of them – housing and land use – are “drivers” of the General Plan.

“The land use element designates land use issues, and the housing element is basically the city’s plan to provide housing to all income sectors,” he said.

Additionally, state law allows “optional elements,” an opportunity for cities to show their creative sides.

Card plans to do just that.

He talked of a unique “City Design” element, in which people in each neighborhood would choose a distinct personality for its sector of town.

“You empower people in their own neighborhood to decide what the neighborhood should look like,” he said.

A city design element would accommodate Hollister’s wide diversity of demographic groups, many of which are historically under-served, he said. For instance, Silicon Valley commuters previously lacked input because of that group’s scarce availability during the work week.

This time around Card is committed to work flexibly to accommodate the entire community, even if it means Saturday or Sunday meetings.

“If that means going to church after they get out, then that’s what we’ll do,” he said.

Card said he’s just the facilitator – the organizer. He serves as a biographer writing an outline of Hollister’s future.

“It’s really their plan, not mine,” he said.

That doesn’t mean Card won’t take pride in the finished product. He’s a Hollister citizen, too.

“Updating the General Plan is going to be a positive experience for the city,” he said.

For now, though, he’s concentrating on step one – generating interest from the public. Card expressed ideas for a newsletter, televised meetings, mailers and bilingual reports.

Overall, Card demands an expanded level of communication between the people and planning department.

“As time goes by and we actually get into the process, I think there’s going to be a lot of interest,” Card said. “It’s really something that the citizens need to be a part of.”

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