Community Opinions

COMMUNITY OPINION: Hollister’s new growth management ordinance

Hollister Councilman Marty Richman writes that the new growth management ordinance satisfies the city's needs and state requirements.

This community opinion was contributed by Hollister Councilman Marty Richman. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.

Recently, the Hollister City Council passed, on a 3-2 vote, a growth management ordinance. For new residential development, it caps the total number of market-rate single-family homes at the larger of 159 per year city-wide or the state allocation. That’s a growth rate of 1.5%.

The two members who voted no wanted lower numbers; Mayor Ignacio Velazquez wanted the cap at 100 and Councilman Rolan Resendiz wanted zero.

I supported 159 because I believe it is a moderate growth rate that would be acceptable to State of California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

About a year ago, the then-city council passed a draconian ordinance with so many unjustified and unsupported charges that it was obviously designed to prevent all residential growth.

Even some who voted for it said it would not pass muster at HCD, and it didn’t. HCD told us in writing and in no uncertain terms that implementation of an ordinance of that type would cause them to look to decertifying our housing element making us ineligible for many types of funding we now use to provide critical services to our population.

Zero would surely put us in the same boat and 100 was far too risky in my opinion; 159 is a reasonable number. State funding is critical to almost all our operations from firefighting to road repair and highway construction.

The previous decision cost us a year without a growth management ordinance. Now some are down playing the effectiveness of the new ordinance because of “all the homes waiting in line.” Everyone knows you can’t apply a rule or law retroactively, to projects approved years ago that have legal entitlements.

It’s hard to believe after all these years, but Hollister still does not have an Inclusionary Housing ordinance to make sure we get a fair share of affordable housing. We need to get going on that too.

According to the Planning Department, the current city council has approved less than 10 homes for new development—not 10 developments, but 10 homes—in nine months. We will be eventually be approving homes under the new cap, that’s what it’s there for, to satisfy our needs and the state’s requirements.

There is a lot of propaganda going around, but those are the facts.


Marty Richman

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Marty (Martin G.) spent his teen years in northern New Jersey. He served more than 22 years on active military duty, mostly in Europe, and is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4, Nuclear Weapons Technical Officer. Marty then worked 25 years in various engineering and management positions in the electronics and energetic materials industries supporting the communications, computer, aerospace, defense and automotive sectors. He is a graduate, summa cum laude, from The College of Hard Knocks, among his numerous awards and accomplishments. He was a regular weekly Op/Ed columnist and feature writer for The Hollister Free Lance for seven years and a member of its editorial board for five years. Marty is a frequent commentator and contributor to BenitoLink on a wide variety of local, state, national and international subjects.   Marty was elected to represent the City of Hollister District 4 on the City Council in November, 2018. Marty and his wife, Joyce, have been residents of Hollister since 1996.