San Benito County has released its draft of the 2023-31 housing element and is seeking input from county residents during the month-long public review period. The housing element draft document is available for review online and at the San Benito County Resource Management Agency in Hollister.

Residents can submit comments on any part of the draft document via mail, email, or through an online portal. The public review period opened May 10 and ends June 9.

“The purpose of these requirements is to develop an understanding of the existing and projected housing needs within the community and to set forth policies, programs and schedules that promote preservation, improvement and development of diverse types and costs of housing throughout San Benito County,” said an email statement by Kimley-Horn.

Kimley-Horn is a land use consulting firm contracted by the county to help planning staff develop the housing element.

The housing element is a component of a regional government’s General Plan drafted to address the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) requirements. RHNA is the name given to the process by which the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) determines the amount of housing needed to be built during an eight-year period. 

All cities and counties in California are required to draft a document showing how these governments will plan for the building of the target housing numbers outlined by RHNA. The 2023-2031 period is the sixth cycle since the practice was first enacted in 1969.

San Benito County staff first embarked on the process in September 2022, holding multiple community workshops with residents, and study sessions with the county board of supervisors the last year-and-a-half.

The sixth cycle RHNA assessment requires the county to plan to build a total of 754 new housing units between 2023-2031. The units are broken down by income categories based on the area’s average median income (AMI), which in San Benito County is $140,200 for a family of four, according to the HCD’s 2023 income limits.

While the sixth cycle total housing unit requirements are lower than those of the last RHNA cycle (837 units), the number of very-low, low and moderate income units required increased for this cycle.

Constraints in future housing

The housing element also takes into account some of the challenges the county faces in trying to reach the RHNA goals. According to the draft document, the county faces constraints in the creation of more housing due to land cost and construction costs; zoning restrictions and standards and strains on infrastructure.

The infrastructure has been raised in the past by residents and elected officials that advocate for “slow growth” in the county. The draft housing element highlights that “dry utilities” like electricity, internet and cable service may be insufficient.

“While PG&E supplies the County with electrical and gas power, the volume of electrical supply

being provided to the Hollister Substation may be insufficient to meet the needs of new

Developments,” reads the document.

Additionally, the already-strained water and sewer capacity for the region will be a factor. To address the water supply constraints, the county acknowledges that “the future demands may require additional sourcing and interagency coordination.”

Wastewater infrastructure is another concern, particularly for the City of Hollister, which faces capacity issues and requires upgrades for the Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The draft document goes on to say that “[in] San Benito County, the lack of public water and sewer poses a potentially significant constraint in the development of housing and these factors often determine housing availability.” 

To see and provide comments for the public review draft of the 2023-2031 San Benito County housing element visit

Residents can also submit comments via mail to: Abraham Prado, Director of Planning and Building; County of San Benito Resource Management Agency; 2301 Technology Parkway, Hollister CA 95023. 

Comments can be submitted via email at [email protected] and by e-form at

By the numbers

The county’s draft housing element calls for the following new housing development needs from now through 2031:

Very low income (less than 50% of household area median income): 246 homes

Low income: (51-80% of AMI): 198 homes

Moderate income (81-120% of AMI): 103 homes

Above moderate income: 207 homes

Total: 754 homes

Source: San Benito County

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