Keep These Priorities in Mind in 2006

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2006 promises to be a challenging year for the city of Hollister
and the larger South Valley community,with many debates, problems
and opportunities to tempt us from keeping our focus on our
priorities.
2006 promises to be a challenging year for the city of Hollister and the larger South Valley community,with many debates, problems and opportunities to tempt us from keeping our focus on our priorities.

Thus, as 2006 begins, here are our priorities for Hollister and the region:

n Progress on the building moratorium – Since 2002, the building moratorium – in effect since a 15 million gallon sewer spill – has been strangling Hollister’s economy. Shops are closing, housing prices are climbing and the chances of attracting business and industry to provide jobs and tax revenue are slim. City and San Benito County Water District leaders say they have made progress in getting a new sewer plant online, but the deadline for lifting the moratorium recently was pushed back until late 2007.

Still, after years of mistrust and acrimony, the city and the water district are working well together to see the project come to fruition. This year, we would like to see a lot more progress – solidifying a wastewater disposal plan and awarding the contract to build the new plant would be great – to give us all faith that the moratorium will come an end in 2007.

n Revitalizing downtown – Our downtown is packed with potential, and it’s important to build on that because a vibrant city center is to a community’s spirit and identity. The Highway 25 bypass – slated to begin this summer – will take speeding traffic off of San Benito Street making it a much friendlier environment for those who want to stroll through the area without fear of being mowed down. And, let’s keep the focus on improving downtown by continuing to find new and innovative ways to attract visitors, residents and businesses to the heart of Hollister.

n Curbing gang violence – After a rash of gang-related shootings, it’s obvious we need to do more to combat gang crime. There have some promising beginnings with the district attorney enacting a policy against plea bargaining for gang and gun crime and the county and the city working together to hash out a plan to create a gang unit to focus on the problem. Still, the Hollister Police Department needs more officers and the City Council must find a way to make it happen.

n Improving public and private transportation – Whether you’re trying to take a bus to a job in Silicon Valley, fighting your way through rush-hour traffic on Highway 101 or commuting on city streets, you know that getting from Point A to Point B is a real quality-of-life issue.

Locally, city officials must continue to find ways to improve traffic snags (the Highway 25 Bypass tops our current list) and safety so that residents can circulate easily. We need to think not just about cars, but about pedestrians, bicyclists, and intra-city public transportation.

We must work with other communities who share our interests to make our voices heard regionally. Not only South Valley residents, but legions of travelers use our highways and thoroughfares. Our officials and residents must keep the pressure on regional leaders to make sure important South Valley projects are fully funded and properly prioritized.

n Thinking regionally – Transportation is just one example of the need for South Valley residents and officials to work together to achieve our common goals. Major projects proposed for South Valley demonstrate the importance of working together on land-use issues as well.

To Hollister’s north, Sargent Ranch will likely be developed if a faction of the Amah Mutsun tribe can gain federal sovereignty recognition. And just inside the county line, developer DMB is making plans for a large master-planned community on 4,500 acres.

These are just a few examples of the need for our city and county leaders to work together to minimize negative impacts and maximize benefits for South Valley.

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