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 a bold leader like myself who’s serious about slowing the pace of single-family housing growth, at least until San Benito County drastically improves local traffic infrastructure.
That’s the message I repeatedly hear from local voters during my campaign for District 2 supervisor in San Benito County. The strength of public opinion against the current pace of housing growth has reaffirmed that I’m taking the right position for two reasons:
Slowing growth is the only responsible direction for San Benito County considering that our severely inadequate roads will only get worse with a continued population spike, and I strongly believe elected officials should listen to the people they represent when making policy decisions.
In my estimation, housing growth and road repairs are by far the two top concerns among local residents. In our commuter-heavy population, people are tired of ever-increasing congestion on our two-lane highways leading in and out of town. They are fed up with a rise in reckless driving habits by motorists lacking patience. They feel hopeless toward leadership while seeing more and more new-home construction despite strong public opinion against the disturbing trend.
Residents in District 2 can make a difference this March by supporting my campaign for county supervisor. I am wholeheartedly committed to slowing the pace of housing growth—at least until Highways 25 and 156 are expanded and traffic circulation vastly improves—and I have a specific proposal to get the job done.
I am, in fact, the only candidate in the race for District 2 supervisor who has released a detailed, public plan to slow the pace of single-family housing growth. Some candidates are ignoring the most significant local topic altogether—the pace of housing growth – and you can make your own conclusions why that’s the case.
My plan includes the following:
- Implement a 1% annual cap on new, single-family housing growth in unincorporated San Benito County. That amounts to roughly 75 new homes per year with a measured, fair application process for the allocations.
- Exempt multifamily, affordable, senior and farm worker housing from the annual cap so the county can continue providing these much-needed categories and meet state requirements.
- Increase the mandate for such “inclusionary” categories in proposed subdivisions from 15% to 20% of units.
- Eliminate the option for developers to pay “in-lieu of” fees—which amount to payoffs allowing builders to forego construction of the aforementioned inclusionary/affordable housing categories that are most needed in San Benito County. The only exception for the fees would be very small developments because it’s mathematically unrealistic to require inclusionary units in those.
Keep in mind whether you’re anti-growth or pro-growth: With or without my proposed cap, there are thousands of approved homes already in the entitlement phase locally, which means we’re going to see some level of growth in the coming years either way.
My plan will, however, pump the brakes on this continued, unfettered path while preventing prospects for more mega-developments—often called master-planned communities by savvy marketers—from moving forward. It will also give priority to developers who are willing to invest in affordable and multifamily housing.
State leaders, meanwhile, continue trying to force communities like San Benito County into rubber stamping any and all housing development whether or not it’s good for the local community. Led by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the state has been promoting over-generalized policies that limit local control on the most local issue imaginable: how a community grows, looks and feels for generations to come.
I find it quite curious how the state could possibly take such a position, and Hollister is a perfect example why it makes no sense. Just 17 years ago, the same state issued a moratorium against all housing in the city for six years due to—you guessed it—inadequate infrastructure to keep pace with rapid growth. At the time the state recognized that unfettered growth, without adequate consideration of infrastructure upgrades, is a dangerous proposition.
Now it’s lumping all communities together in its push for more housing while failing to recognize that not every city or county has the same ability to handle such growth.
That said, I’d also like to see San Benito County get on an aggressive track toward improving local traffic infrastructure.
If elected, I will stay on top of Caltrans to ensure the Highway 156 expansion remains on track with its expected groundbreaking next summer and two-year project schedule.
Perhaps more significant on the matter, I will push to fast track the current schedule for the Highway 25 expansion. It is currently set for completion in eight years. With the Measure G sales tax approved and funneling road-repair funds over the next 30 years, I will lead efforts to pursue financing options to fast track the Highway 25 expansion and get it finished sooner than later.
Expanding Highway 25 will lead to greater economic development opportunities, and less time on the roads for commuters and others.