The city’s blueprint for the future
– the General Plan update – is one step closer to fruition.
The city’s blueprint for the future – the General Plan update – is one step closer to fruition.

Community Development Director Bill Card proposed a budget of more than $500,00 for the planned 12-month project during Monday’s City Council meeting and was given permission to move forward. The next step occurs March 3 when the $518,685 budget will be on the Council agenda for final approval.

The General Plan is the city’s top policy document on growth. It includes seven main items that lay out future development for Hollister. The last time city officials updated the plan was in 1995.

Council’s endorsement Monday was essentially an oral commitment to Moore, Iacofano, Goltsman, Inc. – the planning firm that prepared the proposal. After interviewing five firms in November, Card and his staff selected MIG as the preferred consultant.

The city has collected more than $537,000 in General Plan fees since 1996, so the entire estimated cost of the 2003 update is currently funded. However, Council members questioned Card to ensure the city would receive its money’s worth.

“How do we have a fair and logical conclusion that they (MIG) are charging us a fair and appropriate price?” Councilman Tony Bruscia asked.

Card said he called officials in other Central Coast cities – which also recently updated General Plans – to make price comparisons. The costs for those cities’ updates ranged from $400,000 to $600,000, he said.

“It really kind of depended on how deep their program is going to be or how far-reaching it was going to be,” Card said.

If the Council approves the proposal for the 2003 update in three weeks, some of Hollister’s high-end costs would come from a process that includes a steering committee and community workshops – which will essentially be town hall meetings.

Card said the reason for choosing MIG was its emphasis on such public involvement.

The most expensive aspects of a General Plan are the environmental and traffic reviews, Card said.

“It’s sort of subjective on what the value of this is, because it’s a community outreach program, and I think the result of going through the planning process is that more people in the community will be aware of what the city does,” Card said

The 1995 update cost the city $423,000 (in 1990 dollars), according to a staff report. Card said the larger price tag in 2003 was because of several state mandates, including an Environmental Impact Report and completion of the Housing Element by the end of the year.

Aside from housing and land use elements, which Card called the “drivers of the plan,” the General Plan includes five other main components and an optional element.

According to plans for a city design element, residents in each neighborhood would be prone to choose a distinct personality for their sector of the city, according to Card.

The budget proposal from MIG initially arrived on Card’s desk with a cost of more than $650,000. Card and his staff rejected that offer and asked the firm to postpone some studies and meetings to a later date.

“Everything to meet the legal requirement is in there,” Card said.

The city has not set any deadlines for the plan yet. If the Council approves the proposal March 3, Card said his staff would then begin a more precise scheduling process.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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