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May 21, 2022

Community Board: Supervisors must represent all constituents

No matter where supervisors end up locating a permanent homeless shelter in San Benito County, it is clear that government officials initially pushed through the consideration with little interest in getting input from residents near the previously chosen Southside Road location.
In February, the county board initially considered and selected the Southside Road site. Curiously, supervisors that day heard a lot from residents who would have been affected by other locations under consideration, such as one near San Felipe Road and its social services, but not much from the neighbors of the Southside Road locale.
Why is that, we wonder? Why does it seem like business and agriculture interests always get priority over homeowners? Why would the county even consider placing a permanent shelter on the far outskirts of town, a good distance from the downtown core and all the social services homeless residents will need at county-operated offices along San Felipe Road? Why would taxpayers want to foot the bill for thousands of bus trips to and from the shelter once it is operating?
These are all valid questions that, unfortunately, didn’t get much evaluation the first time around because the county didn’t do anything to publicize its efforts in choosing a homeless shelter site, except, of course, to the influential few who were ready and able to defend their turf in February.
There is a troubling trend on the county board with transparency—and the affinity to rush through potentially controversial decisions or steer them in certain ways—which we’ve witnessed now regarding the homeless shelter location and proposed ban against outdoor cultivation of medicinal marijuana.
County supervisors on these issues of utmost importance to homeowners, businesses and everyone else paying taxes must stop acting like professional politicians and start truly considering impacts on every last one of the people whom they are there to represent. After all, government at its roots is about representation, not egos and personal agendas.
As for a final decision: If affected parties can’t compromise, then the environmental review will balance considerations in a cost-benefit analysis. The final consideration, however, should include a long-term analysis of such costs—both fiscal and environmental—as bus trips to and from the Southside site.
The Community Insight Board is an independent panel of volunteers who meet and discuss local issues.

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