Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez recently sounded the alarm about the pace of growth in the city.
Velazquez at last week’s council meeting on multiple occasions made mention of growth concerns and said the city is growing too fast.
“I’m concerned that we’re growing too quickly and we don’t have the right fees in place or the right plans of what we’re trying to become,” Velazquez said at last week’s council meeting.
In a follow-up interview with the Free Lance, the mayor said he doesn’t want the city of 36,000 people to make the same mistakes as in the past, “where we don’t have a set plan” to deal with growth.
The City of Hollister experienced a state-mandated, six-year building moratorium due to a 15-million-gallon sewer spill in 2002 into the San Benito River bed that was caused by inadequate wastewater infrastructure. The city built a $105 million wastewater plant in order to lift that moratorium.
“My issue is, how does the city and county work together so we’re not just approving 100 here, 200 there, 300 there?” Velazquez said. “Why not plan better?”
Velazquez spoke out in regard to growth in light of recent years with a relative boom of sorts when it comes to homes allocated or built. There are more than 2,800 residential units in the wings in the city alone, according to the Hollister Planning Department’s projects list.
The mayor is particularly concerned about the geography of much of the development, with growth moving outward to places like Fairview Road and less of it occurring at infill locations within city boundaries where more adequate infrastructure is in place. He said approving projects on the outskirts of town will create a “major strain” on Union and Fairview roads, which have become increasingly congested at commute times.
He said the city and county must work together at the intergovernmental committee level soon to plan better for roads and schools with the new homes coming.
He also expressed frustration at his perceptions about the state. He said Sacramento leaders expect cities to build more homes but don’t offer necessary funds to provide needed infrastructure. He alluded to the Highways 156 and 25 projects as necessary to start considering such growth spurts in the city.
Normally, cities and counties use their general plans as blueprints for growth. When asked about using the general plan process to control growth, the mayor pointed out how the city’s document is more than a decade old.
“If you’re going off a plan that’s 10 years ago, it’s a different world,” he said.
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