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January 28, 2023

Letter: Sign the initiative to preserve San Benito County

The problem with excess housing remains. Unlike Monopoly—where we can slide the pieces back into the box, fold the board game, lid the whole and store the box—we cannot remove large expensive houses and herd the cattle back onto grazing land. We cannot replace two-story houses, on square lots bordered by rectangular streets with linear rows of carrots, lettuces, onions or garlic. We cannot go back.

We can learn from the past. For instance, many if not most new people moving here are departing San Jose. They are fleeing traffic congestion, noise, smog and crowded shopping. They crave openness. They want to see plenty of blue sky. They rejoice to see actual growing fields sprouting fans of green. This seems like freedom to them. They crave less traffic, less people and less congestion. They do not crave more restaurants. They love waking up to quiet. They crave looking at growing fields and blossoming trees. So let’s look at what is at stake here.

The Number One economy in San Benito County is agriculture. Agriculture, with all its support industries and suppliers, is big business. We should be serious about preserving our big business, our fertile land resources, our clean air and water. A current misunderstood movement threatens these very precious assets. This movement is known as “Sprawl.”

Sprawl under another name is known as “Nodes.” In the 21st century, better building is “up” not “out” or “in” city spaces—not “empty” spaces. Services for nodes make taxpayer provided city services like water, roads, garbage, police and fire more expensive and less efficient because of distances. Sales taxes from Nodes are shared with other entities making them not fully available locally. Workforce traveling is also expensive and affordable housing is unavailable.

Voters in Napa and Sonoma Counties have chosen to preserve their vineyards and open space and still thrive economically. Voters in Ventura County have accomplished the same preserving their strawberry agriculture and thriving economy. We can do the same by signing a current initiative. Let’s become a unique Hollister not another “sprawl” city. 

Mary Zanger


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