Cattle graze along Best Road outside Hollister. Photo: Tarmo Hannula.

The San Benito County Board of Supervisors voted this week to commision a report on the possible impacts of a new land use initiative expected to appear on the ballot in November. 

This marks the first action the board of supervisors has taken on the initiative, which has yet to be verified by the county elections department.

If passed by voters, the Empower Voters to Make Land Use Decisions Initiative would amend the county’s General Plan to bring decisions on the redesignation of uses for unincorporated county lands to a vote of the people.

Once the initiative is certified by the office of the San Benito County Clerk-Recorder’s Elections Department, the board of supervisors has the authority to either adopt the initiative/measure as is and implement it as a county ordinance; submit the measure to voters in the next statewide election to be held no sooner than 88 days after the certification; or commission an impact report before taking any further action.

Under California Election Code Section 9111, the board of supervisors can spend no more than $50,000 on an impact report that addresses the following:

  • Fiscal impacts
  • Effect on internal consistency with general and specific plans, housing element and zoning
  • Effect on land use and ability to meet regional housing needs
  • Impact on infrastructure funding including transportation, schools, parks and open space
  • Impact on ability to attract business and employment
  • And any matters requested by the board of supervisors.

The report must be presented to the board no later than 30 days after the initiative is certified by the county elections department.

San Benito County Chief Deputy Clerk-Recorder Ana De Castro Maquiz said in an interview on May 7 that the elections department has 30 days to release the results of the signature verification process for the initiative’s signatures, but that she expected to finish the tally by mid-May.

Proponents of the Empower Voters initiative submitted a total of 3,476 signatures, according to their own estimates, out of the required minimum of 1,958.

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