Community Opinions

COMMUNITY OPINION: How candidates fool voters with a slow growth platform

Anne Stickett writes about housing growth in San Benito County.

This community opinion was contributed by Anne Stickett. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.

Many candidates are running on a slow or smart growth platform. Sounds great. It sure does get the votes. It is a big lie.

The Governor declared a housing crisis and signed into law SB330, to encourage home development and prevent communities that try to stop housing growth locally.

People will still move here.

We live next to the biggest employment center in the United States. With high demand and a housing shortage, property there has become really expensive. A small home in San Jose costs over $1M these days.

Bay Area workers have flocked to our community since the 1990s. Homes here cost half what they do there. We can’t keep anyone from moving here, it’s a free country. We used to have a commuter base around 35%; the numbers have swelled to over 70%!

If we don’t keep a decent housing supply, prices will rise. It is the law of supply and demand. In the last two years, home prices are up more than $100,000!

If slow growth candidates could really stop housing growth, what would happen? First, businesses would cease to come here, because they look at housing/population growth—so forget that new store you wanted to see. Home prices will skyrocket. And we will pay more in taxes, since no new business—no new revenue.

You may say great my home value will go up! But what about your kid, can they afford to live here? What about locals working here saving to buy a home? Will they have to move to Los Banos, and commute here? Will that help traffic? Who ends up buying these overpriced homes? You guessed it—more people from the Bay Area. We become even more of a commuter town. Roads suffer. Traffic becomes a bigger nightmare. We pay more and more in taxes and bonds. The cycle continues.

Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? One other thing that slow growth candidates won’t tell you—the housing boom here has to do with the building being slowed, even stopped, for many years. There was a housing moratorium in the early 2000s because we didn’t have enough sewer capacity. Then the real estate bubble/recession happened, so nothing was getting built. Only in the last decade have projects moved forward. We are playing catch up from these older projects that had been on hold for years. In truth, only a few hundred new homes are approved each year.

So how do we get out of this vicious circle?

Collaboration is crucial. City and county officials must work closely together and plan how to keep housing at a moderate level. Just enough, not too much!

Most importantly—we have to bring companies and jobs here! It takes commuters off the road! New companies bring revenues. We really, really need to stop fighting against every business growth project. We are shooting ourselves in the foot. We don’t like the traffic, are upset about roads and infrastructure, and want those fixed first. It is putting the cart before the horse. How can we fix anything without the revenue to do it? And those dollars come from new business. So let’s get off this merry-go-round and get smart! Oh wait, now that is some smart growth for you!

Two candidates who really push the slow growth lie:

Mayor Ignacio Velasquez has made slow growth his main platform for years. He wants to ‘defeat the developers.’ He has created divisiveness, throwing accusations at council members, supervisors, anyone who speaks against him claiming that they are all in developers’ pockets. It is his go-to response. Recently he bragged on video how he is planning to get two new members onto the council this election so he can control the city council. He is well known for this kind of manipulation, appointing himself and Rolan Resendiz to any committee he wants to keep control of. Anyone this man endorses is highly suspect in my book!

The state recently came down hard on and threatened Hollister over a growth control ordinance the City Council approved last fall. The mayor knows he cannot stop growth. But he keeps beating that drum because it gets him reelected.

In my opinion, the mayor is the worst kind of hypocrite. He demonizes developers. Yet he has lined his own pockets for years through his electrical and solar companies working with developers on new homes. Sound unethical? Also, those home developments he despises so much? He bought a new home in one of those developments. Dishonest. Divisive. Unethical.

Candidate Kollin Kosmicki has campaigned on smart growth. He too is known for smearing and mudslinging at supervisors calling them ‘the good old boys.’ Not really sure how he expects to work with other supervisors or county officials after all the nasty statements. Kollin has pledged a 1% growth cap on housing. He states the housing crisis and laws don’t matter, citing the county is rural and exempt. Yet the county’s biggest city, Hollister, is not exempt and as mentioned has come under fire from the state recently. And much of the county building that happens is at the edges of Hollister, and helps Hollister meet state requirements. Does Kollin really believe he will cap growth and the state won’t step in? Not sure if he is dishonest or is just in denial. Or maybe, he just wants to get elected and this is the best way to pander for votes?

It’s clear many of you want no more housing, are tired of traffic and all our woes. But don’t buy into this slow growth lie because it’s what you want to hear. Look for candidates who are honest, who want to work together and come up with real solutions instead of spouting tired buzz words and slogans. Directing the future growth of our community is very complex, and will need people who can work together, not throw accusations around. Most importantly, don’t forget to vote!

Anne Stickett