This community opinion was contributed by San Benito County Supervisor Anthony Botelho. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.
Honorable Sam Farr,
Thank you for speaking with me in regard to Measure K. I have always felt you have a genuine concern for San Benito County, and as a county supervisor I thank you for that. Many of the concerns of the environment and valuable agriculture resources are my priority as well, as I worked closely with our consultants and planning staff in the development of our C-3 Zoning Ordinance. With this ordinance, the county has a unique opportunity of preserving a lot of open space and environmental habitat, but also generate some much-needed highway tax revenue for improved public safety and fixing our roads. As you are very aware, San Benito County struggles with having adequate revenue. We believe having a very restrictive Commercial Zoning Ordinance for the 101 corridor is just one “iron in the fire” to better serve the entire county, while preserving open space.
Ordinance 991 is unique in several ways. First, it calls each of the “nodes” to have a “specific design,” that we hope blends into the area in which they are located. A project application must be submitted with the full build-out of the development (Master Plan), in which the public can review and express any idea or concern. We wanted this to avoid piecemealing of the project and compatibility with the area. As you read the County’s ordinance, you will see there are many environmental issues that an application needs to take into account from signage, vegetative plans, and lighting that preserves our dark sky. I don’t think any of our neighboring counties have taken on these issues as we have.
Let’s be clear, San Benito County is not interested in any residential development in this area. Yes, a proposal can be made for restricted workforce housing, but not for single family homes. San Benito County needs sales tax and TOT tax revenues, not additional housing. Housing is not a good compatible use next to Highway Commercial areas. Secondly, this zoning is to provide services and information to the traveling public on Hwy 101. Monterey and Santa Clara counties do a great job in capturing revenue, so this zoning will not increase traffic on the 101, of which is already there. San Benito County is broke for a reason, and it’s time we change that, but with smart planning.
Sadly, PORC has been misleading people on the intent of the zoning ordinance. The areas which are designated in each “node” allows for the majority of the balance of the properties to be maintained as open space. I would love to show you first hand what is going to be allowed. The areas are not as pristine as described by PORC, but it can be with this zoning ordinance. If Measure K fails, San Benito County will face a hardship in that we maintain the reputation as being unfriendly to businesses, cannot provide local jobs, and not capable to create the necessary tax revenue to support our local governmental services.
Supervisor Anthony Botelho, San Benito County