Get to Work on Ordinances

It has been more than a year since the City of Hollister adopted
its new general plan. A lot of time, work and money went into
developing this document, hailed as a progressive guide for the
city’s future growth.
It has been more than a year since the City of Hollister adopted its new general plan. A lot of time, work and money went into developing this document, hailed as a progressive guide for the city’s future growth.

Of course, we all know that growth in Hollister has been halted by the state-mandated moratorium on new sewer hookups. And we all know that the city is in a tight financial spot due to the failure of Measure R at the polls in November.

But the City Council has been remiss in failing to keep to its own timetable for adopting a needed package of enabling ordinances that will allow for implementation of the general plan.

Without those ordinances, the plan has no teeth. And a toothless general plan will be about as useful as a broken compass in guiding the growth that is sure to occur once the city’s new sewage treatment plant is completed next year and the moratorium is lifted.

Among the general plan implementation measures scheduled for adoption in 2006 were inclusionary housing regulations, a new zoning code, an infill housing land use plan and public service plans. Here we are at the end of January 2007 and so far none of this has been achieved.

The council needs to get to work – pronto – on getting caught up on the work still undone and also begin making progress on the implementation measures that are supposed to be in place by the end of this year. (These include zoning amendments for mobile and manufactured homes, streetscape improvement guidelines and the city’s open space plan.)

The general plan is a blueprint for how we want our city to grow over the next 20 years. One thing we don’t want to see in the future is anything resembling the unchecked building boom that occurred here in the 1990s. Back then, San Benito County was the fastest-growing county in California. In fact, the moratorium that has halted most construction here is the price we’re now paying for having allowed our growth to outpace our infrastructure.

The city’s new general plan was developed with much citizen participation and a considerable investment of city staff time, all facilitated by the Planning Commission and City Council.

The plan’s purpose is to direct and coordinate future planning decisions, as well as to establish the desired character and quality of development in Hollister and the process through which that development will proceed.

The general plan deals with type, location and density of new housing within the city. It deals with community services and facilities, from public schools to police and fire services to parks and recreation. It deals with the services, facilities and infrastructure necessary for the movement of cars and trucks, pedestrians, bicyclists and emergency vehicles in and around Hollister.

While it provides a guide for growth, the plan itself is not municipal law. For it to serve its purpose, the council must adopt new zoning codes, design review regulations and the like. It is these ordinances that make the general plan a true working document that will benefit our community. And we need those ordinances to be in place before we begin growing again.

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