A conceptual plan for the Strada Verde Innovation Park shows the scope of the project. Submitted drawing
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A report by the San Benito County Auditor showed that the county and school districts stand to make millions in taxes if the proposed Strada Verde Innovation Park is fully built out.

Meanwhile, county officials remain at odds over a consultant’s report outlining potential issues with the project.

Voters in November will consider a master plan for the 2,777-acre Strada Verde Innovation Park, known as Measure N on the Nov. 3 ballot, which would consist of automotive testing facilities, an e-commerce center, a park and other facilities located between highways 25 and 101.

County Auditor Joe Paul Gonzalez’s fiscal report, filed Aug. 18, stated that the county would receive more than $50 million in impact fees and other taxes throughout construction of the project, while the county’s Measure G roads fund would receive roughly $6.6 million.

The project is also expected to generate $26.4 million annually in taxes, with property tax revenue spread out across various local agencies, including $10.7 million to the county and $6.3 million to the Aromas-San Juan Unified School District. County costs to service the project are estimated at $2.8 million annually.

“This will be a game-changer for San Benito County, particularly our local schools,” said Margie Barrios, a former county supervisor and Hollister School District trustee.

Another report on Strada Verde has been met with concern by the county, with some officials contending that it is biased against the project.

Per election code, the county is required to issue a report on potential impacts of an initiative within 30 days of certifying the petition.

The county entered into an agreement with EMC Planning Group and Applied Development Economics to draft the report.

But the way the report presented the potential issues drew the ire of some county supervisors as well as the county counsel, who suggested the authors were biased and attempting to influence voters to reject the proposal.

The two parties agreed to meet on Aug. 19 to work out their differences on the report so it could be finalized, but were unable to reach an agreement, according to County Counsel Barbara Thompson. The report, released Aug. 20, includes an errata outlining the county counsel’s concerns.

“On August 20, 2020, EMC reaffirmed its belief that the report is unbiased, and is legally and factually correct,” Thompson wrote in the errata. “EMC declined to make any changes to the report that was presented on August 17, 2020, despite a lengthy meeting on August 19 and briefly this morning, in an attempt to resolve the differences as directed by the Board of Supervisors at its meeting on August 18, 2020.”

To view the errata and EMC’s report, visit cosb.us/home/showdocument?id=5679.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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