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September 29, 2023

‘Slower growth’ gains another vote on council

Newly elected member also vows for road repairs

Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez has a task each year to ask the councilmembers to bring him their top item they want to see accomplished, along with several other ideas or issues in their districts.

Rick Perez mentioned during his campaign that he’s in favor of “smart growth,” which is a term that Velazquez has used several times.  

“The voters made it very clear this time that they support the idea of a smarter, slower growth,” Perez said. “They don’t want to see rapid growth; they want to see a better plan.”

Rick Perez

The newly elected councilman for District 1 is in favor of having new development projects come into the city but he had a feeling that Measure N wasn’t something that the voters had intended. He called the Strada Verde project a “small city” alongside Highway 25 that would’ve brought unwanted traffic to Hollister. 

“Anything that’s going to bring in the potential of more housing, whether it’s perceived or actual housing that’s coming in, it’s really not going to go over well in Hollister, that’s my belief,” Perez said.

The city has been behind at least a decade when it comes to infrastructure improvements and some community members don’t want to see more housing development until the roads are updated, according to Perez. He noted that the Highway 25 expansion project won’t be done for another 10 years and the new Highway 156 expansion will be done in approximately four years.

Still, Perez has high hopes that there will be more retail in the future, especially with the new parklet project on San Benito Street. 

“We have to find a new way to bring revenue in,” he said.

Velazquez knows that the newly elected councilman for District 1 is highly involved in his neighborhood and it’s important for Perez to get a good grounding in his area.

On the top of his list, Perez wants to create a program that will have the city help property owners pay for half of the costs for sidewalk repairs. 

The city has been working on trying to get both the roads and sidewalks repaired for quite some time. Velazquez is in favor of putting together a new “sidewalk program” but the sidewalks are handled by the property owners.

“It’s just difficult to make that work, but we’ll see what we can do to make it be more of a partnership between the property owner and the city to get some of these sidewalks fixed,” he said. 

Velazquez claims that they finally have funding this year and the city should be spending between $5 million and $6 million on infrastructure. There’s a list of roads that the city will be following including those in both districts 1 and 2.

The city is going through the process of making up the general plan that will lay out the future growth of Hollister, according to Velazquez. He also wanted to remind everyone to be aware that at the end of the day there’s still a budget, which means they have to be careful not to overspend.

“If we all keep chipping away at those things we’re going to get there,” he said. 

For now, Velazquez wants to step back and try to implement higher impact fees wherever they need them and adjust some other fees.

“Let’s look at how we’re going to grow in the future and make sure we’re not just jumping ahead, just building everywhere without consideration to all of the other impacts,” he said.

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