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November 26, 2022

Machado, Madigan tapped for planning commission

Supervisors Pat Loe and Reb Monaco must meet board’s
approval
By TRACIE CONE
Pinnacle Staff Writer
Next to supervisors, they have the biggest say in determining
how San Benito County will grow
– maybe bigger, since it’s the recommendations of those
appointed officials on which the elected board depends.
Next to supervisors, they have the biggest say in determining how San Benito County will grow – maybe bigger, since it’s the recommendations of those appointed officials on which the elected board depends.

San Benito County’s two new supervisors named their planning commissioners this week, one a slow-growth proponent familiar in local political circles, the other a relative newcomer touted for his level-headedness.

Dennis Madigan, a member of the county fair board who moved to Ridgemark three years ago, is the choice of Reb Monaco, who replaces Ron Rodrigues in District 4.

Gordon Machado, the appointee of Supervisor-elect Pat Loe, is a former Hollister city council member who was active with her in 1990’s Measures L and M, the failed initiatives that would have curtailed Hollister’s rapid growth.

They take office Jan. 15. The commission faces a few controversial issues over the coming year, including appeals of a denied plan to build in the hills over San Juan Bautista, a possible county ordinance banning ridge-top development and many issues regarding roads and transportation.

Loe, who was retiring Supervisor Rita Bowling’s planning commissioner before seeking the District 3 seat, said she chose Machado because they share beliefs about growth.

“We have to have services in place before we can grow,” Loe said. “We have very similar beliefs on growth issues.”

The two worked so closely on Measures L and M that many erroneously thought the letters stood for Loe and Machado. The growth caps that would have kept the rate of Hollister’s growth in line with the state’s failed under heavily financed opposition from developers.

“At one time, he would have been a controversial choice, but not now,” said Loe, referring to a turnaround in local attitudes toward growth. “Just the other day I was wondering what the county would look like today if those measures had passed.”

Machado is a member of the Hazel Hawkins Hospital Board, but attorneys have ruled there is no conflict because the hospital is in the city.

“I figured one day,” said Machado, “that people would realize what we were talking about, but I never figured I’d be in a majority.”

Loe’s choice of Machado ends speculation that she might have tapped Bowling, who at one time considered swapping seats had her health been better.

Machado was also active in the Measure A campaign that raised a half-cent sales taxes for highway improvements, including the Highway 156 bypass, and extensions of Union Road and San Benito Street.

The planning commission has been at the forefront of major policy shifts over the past two years, including approval of a 1 percent county growth cap and the voting down of the massive Paicines Ranch project, already 10 years into the planning process.

“If you adhere to the General Plan without getting involved in the politics, it shouldn’t be that hard,” Machado said. “John O’Brien told me way back when that you could never consider who the developer is or what they’re proposing. Take all of that out of there and look at it for exactly what they’re doing to the county.”

Monaco said he chose Madigan, who deals in mining equipment around the world, for his work ethic. It doesn’t hurt, Monaco added, that his commissioner is a relative newcomer.

“Being a newer resident, he doesn’t carry some of the baggage,” Monaco said.

Madigan, was appointed by Gov. Gray Davis to be a member of the 33rd Agricultural District Fair Board. He also is a member of the county historical society.

Monaco says his choice is neither pro-growth nor anti-growth, “but he’ll be looking at managed growth beneficial to the community.”

“I look forward,” Madigan said, “to working hard for the community.”

The selections must be approved by a majority of the board of supervisors, which meets Jan. 7 to consider the appointments.

Staff Report
A staff member edited this provided article.

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