This column was contributed by Kollin Kosmicki, who is running for San Benito County Supervisor District 2. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.
It’s time for San Benito County to correct a prior mishap and rename the entirety of Highway 25 as Pinnacles National Park Highway.
It’s also time for our community to fully take advantage of Pinnacles and move ahead on a marketing campaign that brands San Benito County as “Home of Pinnacles National Park.”
These common-sense ideas would significantly boost the county’s economic and tourism prospects.
In 2013 when Pinnacles National Monument became a national park, there was broad consensus for the name change to Highway 25, also known as Airline Highway and Bolsa Road in certain portions. State legislators were carrying forward a bill to make the change to Pinnacles National Park Highway and doing so with broad support from all levels of government.
It seemed like an obvious plus for the county and a simple way to promote the new national park at the time. But when former Supervisor Jerry Muenzer heard complaints from south county residents with a stubborn disdain for Pinnacles, the county backed off its support of the change.
That was a sad outcome on multiple levels, but there’s no reason why we can’t revisit the issue and finally right this obvious wrong.
Just about every leader and political candidate talks about the need to promote Pinnacles National Park and San Benito County as a gateway to the park. But it’s disingenuous to express support for the national park and also remain unwilling to make a simple change like renaming the highway for promotional purposes.
We were very fortunate that former Congressman Sam Farr, a great champion for the environment and San Benito County as a whole, co-authored a bill with former Senator Barbara Boxer to designate Pinnacles as a national park in 2013. Now it’s time to finally make amends and show how much we appreciate the designation, despite dissent from a very small minority of residents in southern San Benito County who left us all collectively humiliated.
Since 2013, Soledad has wisely nabbed the title as “Gateway to Pinnacles National Park” and is reaping benefits. According to Farr at a No on Measure K town hall Wednesday night in Hollister, it has led to economic prospects in Soledad—such as hotels and restaurant opportunities—despite the fact that the most visited attractions in Pinnacles are on the eastern side of the park in San Benito County.
I’m wholeheartedly behind Farr’s continuous support of San Benito County as a tourist destination. I’m committed to making sure we show our gratitude for his bold leadership and start to finally take advantage of the national park status he spearheaded.
I’m also thankful that Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez broached the topic of Pinnacles National Park Highway at Wednesday’s town hall, along with the absurdity of opposition to the highway name change. Velazquez rightfully supported the highway name change and was part of the Hollister council that endorsed—at the very least—changing the highway name in the city’s jurisdiction.
He and other city leaders did their part. Now it’s time for the county to do the same.
San Benito County must get its economic development act together with a strong marketing plan for tourism that focuses on Pinnacles National Park and other tourist attractions—as opposed to pursuing nearly a million square feet of gas stations, truck stops, hotels, housing and shopping centers along Highway 101.
If elected, I will propose the county brand itself as “Home of Pinnacles National Park”—and that we finally follow through by renaming the entirety of Highway 25 as Pinnacles National Park Highway.