Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki talks with residents at San Juan Day. Photo courtesy of Kollin Kosmicki.
Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki talks with residents at San Juan Day. Photo courtesy of Kollin Kosmicki.

This column was contributed by San Benito County Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors. BenitoLink invites all community members to share their ideas and opinions. By registering as a BenitoLink user in the top right corner of our home page and agreeing to follow our Terms of Use, you can write counter opinions or share your insights on current issues.


I have released the latest monthly newsletter detailing my activities as District 2 supervisor and those of the San Benito County Board. Please provide feedback by email at or on my cell phone at (831) 207-0077. Sign up to receive the newsletter by email here:


Countywide flavored tobacco ban approved:

Supervisors unanimously approved an ordinance to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products and single-use electronic cigarettes countywide along with fines for businesses that violate the new law. The Intergovernmental Committee ‒ of which I am a member along with other officials from the county, cities and schools ‒ had unanimously recommended the ban to the board. San Benito County has a relatively high flavored tobacco usage rate among teens.  


County library to receive $11.7 million grant for connectivity:

Head Librarian Nora Conte announced San Benito County received notice we will receive an $11.7 million state grant to improve broadband connectivity and technology. This is part of a monumental year for the San Benito County Free Library, which was awarded a grant to put in a library kiosk near the Southside Road migrant camp while the county is awaiting word on a $5 million to $10 million state grant application to expand the downtown library. I have been supportive of all these efforts and was a key player pushing forward the expansion concept as opposed to building a second library that would have cost $40 million to $60 million. 


County announces $2.4 million grant for Regional Park:

It was announced San Benito County is receiving a $2.4 million state grant to help fund the new Riverview Regional Park near San Benito High School. This park will include an array of amenities and will eventually be a cornerstone attraction for our community. The county has started the first phase of the project. The grant was a crucial element of moving forward on this project, while the county has set aside significant park impact fee funds as well. Supervisors also approved a contract with Wallace Group to perform design and engineering services for Phase 2A of the Riverview Regional Park in the amount of $451,000 covered by the approved Park Impact Funds. 


Towing policy to address illegally parked, abandoned vehicles:

Supervisors updated the towing policy for illegally parked and abandoned vehicles. This will include procedures regarding the correct process to have a vehicle impounded. The policy outlines the proper handling and procedures that employees should take before having the vehicle towed and make a reasonable effort to notify the vehicle owner it is subject to removal. This is part of our efforts to prevent longstanding encampments and stop people from illegally parking or leaving abandoned vehicles in places like the riverbed. Authorities last week red-tagged several vehicles on San Juan Hollister Road that had been parked there, creating an encampment environment, since last spring. 


Landfill expansion EIR comment period extended:

Supervisors in a 3-2 vote approved extending the 45-day comment period for the John Smith Road Landfill expansion proposal EIR by one week, extending the deadline for EIR comments from Aug. 29 to Sept. 6. Chairman Peter Hernandez and I voted against the extension. I underscored how extending the deadline creates scheduling complications and puts the county at serious risk of not having the expansion decision this year under the current board, which has been working on this project since I took office in early 2021. I also contended that extending it by one week (there was consideration for 15-day or 30-day extensions) serves no real purpose and may actually alienate those who wanted an extension. Additionally, I noted how the county is going well above minimum requirements to ensure the public can share input such as two town halls that are not mandated, sending notifications to more residents than required, and doing an abundance of outreach on the proposed expansion on traditional and social media outlets. Residents can find the EIR documents here:


EIR review period open for Betabel project:

Officials announced the draft EIR had been released for the proposed Betabel Road development project. That public comment period ends Sept. 6. Residents can find those EIR documents and learn how to comment here:


Trical buffer zone initiative placed on November ballot:

Supervisors certified the initiative petition for voters in November to decide whether to establish a 3.5-mile development buffer around the Trical facility off Highway 25. Supporters garnered enough signatures to place it on the ballot. Supervisors had two choices: We could either adopt the measure outright or send it to the ballot. This item relates to the Strada Verde development proposal and would prohibit development in the buffer area, with initiative proponents trying to stop the project that is within this buffer. 


Board sets aside ARPA funds for library, homeless shelter, IT, parks:

Supervisors approved the recommended budget with just over $7 million remaining in American Rescue Plan Act funds. The budget included setting aside $3 million for a homeless shelter expansion, $2.5 million for the library expansion and $1 million for information technology needs. This was along with previously approved allocations of $350,000 to ADA bathroom upgrades and roof construction at the Veterans Memorial Park and $250,000 to ADA bathroom upgrades and roof construction at the Historical Park. Additionally, with over $200,000 in remaining funds, supervisors agreed to bring back my request to hire a marketing firm to develop a campaign to brand San Benito County as “Home of Pinnacles National Park” and supervisors agreed to allocate $100,000 to the sheriff’s office for much-needed repeaters in vehicles. 


Water conservation proclamation adopted:

Supervisors approved a proclamation 4-1 urging all San Benito County residents and businesses to adopt water conservation practices to reduce water usage. Chairman Peter Hernandez voted against the proclamation while citing potential fines attached to it. Water Resources Association official Shawn Novack made the presentation and underscored how the agency prioritizes education over financial penalties. He noted there have been no citations issued to this point. 


County’s new PIO introduced:

CAO Ray Espinosa introduced the county’s new Public Information Officer Monica Leon. She recently started with the county after coming from a public affairs role with the Fremont Police Department. She expressed excitement about the opportunity and comes with a breadth of experience in the field. 


County’s new clerk introduced:

The CAO introduced Vanessa Delgado as the new county clerk. Delgado previously served as deputy city clerk. She thanked the county and mentioned a new platform for agendas called Peak that is easier to use for the public. 


Board recognizes Women of the 12th Senate District honorees:

Supervisors approved certificates of recognition for local residents honored by the State Senate District at the recent Women of the 12th Senate District Celebration: Shirley Trevino, Margie Barrios and Lisa Faulkner. 


Supervisors recognize LULAC honoree:

Supervisors presented a certificate of recognition to Elizabeth Zepeda Gonzalez for earning LULAC’s National Woman of the Year. She is the California State deputy director of LULAC. 


Board supports First 5 efforts to establish Community Resiliency Center:

Supervisors approved a resolution supporting the effort of First 5 San Benito effort to establish a Community Resiliency Center in Hollister. 


School Resource Officer contract OK’d:

Supervisors approved a contract with the North County Joint Union School District for a school resource officer. The contract commenced on August 1, 2022 and ends on July 31, 2025. The NCJUSD will pay an amount not to exceed $95,000 per year.


Wildfire prevention strategy discussion requested:

Supervisor Tiffany and I requested the county board take up a serious conversation to brainstorm strategies to prevent wildfires and wildfire disasters in San Benito County. The item will be coming back for a future agenda item. 


Policy for park naming rights requested:

I requested a future county board agenda item to discuss developing a policy for naming rights and/or sponsorship rights for our county parks as a way to generate revenue. Supervisor Tiffany supported my request to bring it back to a future meeting. 


Santana Ranch Park opening:

The county’s new Santana Ranch Community Park opened to the public. My 13-month-old son Tyler and I enjoyed today’s ribbon cutting for the new park. As the county continues expanding its park offerings, this is yet another recreation opportunity for local families. This wonderful new park is located on Santana Ranch Drive behind the school.


San Juan Day:

I was at the inaugural San Juan Day talking with residents throughout the event. Organizers did an amazing job, and thank you so much to Brewery Twenty Five for letting me use their parklet for the event. 


Aromas Day:

I also had a table at the return of Aromas Day after a hiatus since the 2019 event. It was well organized and great to see so many patrons shopping in Aromas. I spoke with residents about local issues throughout the day. 


Fire Wise Community at Rancho Larios:

I appreciated the invitation to last month’s Firewise Committee meeting at the Rancho Larios clubhouse. I lauded this District 2 community for taking proactive steps to protect their neighborhoods, homes and lives. You can learn more about starting a certified Firewise community here:…/Fire…/Wildfire/Firewise-USA


Avenida Cesar Chavez grand opening:

Congratulations to the City of Hollister and the entire community on today’s ribbon cutting for the renamed Avenida Cesar Chavez. It was an honor to attend the ceremony and see so much enthusiasm from local residents.


COG project management firms considered:

As vice chair of the San Benito County COG Board, I was part of a panel interviewing firms vying to oversee project management of the Highway 25 expansion. We narrowed the application list to one firm (negotiations are underway) that will be considered at this month’s COG Board meeting. 


Wildlife crossing explored on 101:

The COG Board at the August meeting learned Caltrans is exploring a potential wildlife crossing project at the intersection of Highway 101 and Rocks Road. This is similar to a project on Highway 17 in Santa Cruz and Highway 101 in Southern California where large culverts run underneath the highways connecting habitat areas. I had several questions and requested a more in-depth presentation at next month’s COG meeting.


Roundabout construction schedule extended:

The COG Board also learned the roundabout project at Highways 25 and 156 is now scheduled for completion in the fall of 2023, no longer the spring of 2023, due to construction delay issues.


Public art projects on horizon:

Another item discussed at the recent COG Board meeting was that Caltrans is working on public art projects at Highway 25 and Meridian Street in Hollister and under the Washington Street bridge in San Juan Bautista. There was also discussion about the potential for public art or a monument sign at the future Bixby Road roundabout on Highway 156, and I advocated for a “Home of Pinnacles National Park” concept. The San Benito Arts Council has been involved in these discussions, which would involve use of Clean California grants.


ARPA funds redistributed:

COG board members approved allocating close to $700,000 in federal ARPA funds to the cities and county for roadwork. The cities are planning to use their portions on pavement rehab and ADA improvement projects, while the county will use its portion to fund reconstruction of Seely Avenue in Aromas. I recommended Seely Avenue repairs in prior board of supervisors deliberations over investing in road repairs. 


Highway 156 expansion begins:

Last but certainly not least, the long-awaited Highway 156 expansion project started Aug. 22 and is set for completion in the spring/summer of 2025. Drivers can expect some delays at the outset of the project.

That is all for this month. Again, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or feedback. 




Kollin Kosmicki is District 2 Supervisor in San Benito County.