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It seems that some people think that there’s nothing worse than to be accused of supporting development in our county. The accusations come in various forms. “You’re in the pocket of the developer” is a tired refrain from some. Or these same people claim that “small cities” are being planned in all kinds of places throughout our county.
The fact that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that any of these claims are true seems to be a minor detail. Or that they’re coming from politicians that have at best a dubious track record with telling the truth. It doesn’t stop the accusations from getting a lot of play on social media. And unfortunately, a certain segment of our population will buy into anything that is said on the internet, no matter whether it’s truthful or even credible.
More important is what these baseless accusations imply: That all development is bad. But does that make any sense? The fact is, development is just like pretty much anything else: it’s not all black or white, good or bad. Some development is beneficial for our county; some is not. And certainly, commercial development is not the same as residential development. But many want to throw it all into the same bucket. Furthermore, it would seem that certain elected officials and residents have starkly different opinions about commercial development, depending on whether it impacts them directly or not.
As a longtime businessperson and short-time county supervisor (leaving at the end of the year), I believe that most, but not all, commercial and industrial development, is good for our community. I recognize that the Cities of Hollister and San Juan Bautista, as well as the county, are businesses like any other, and they rely on revenue to provide the kind of infrastructure and services that we all want.
And just as importantly, commercial development – new businesses – provide much-needed local jobs to our residents, getting some of our commuters off of the roads, potentially allowing a better quality of life for them and a reduction in traffic on Highways 25 and 156.
Should commercial development happen just anywhere in the county? Of course not. Some places make a lot more sense than others. North of downtown Hollister, near the airport and within the various business parks is certainly a good spot for development. But other places make sense as well. At major intersections and along major roadways, like Highway 101 – where there is already built-in traffic and shoppers – is smart planning, and certainly what one sees in virtually every other county in the state.
But certain elected officials, along with the PORC people and the proponents of Measure Q, are trying to tell us that commercial development in the City of Hollister is good, but commercial development on major thoroughfares is bad. How does that make any sense? It doesn’t, except when you consider the reasons why these people are against commercial development in the areas outside of Hollister. It’s clearly self-serving. They’re either in favor of anything that is good for the City of Hollister, but against anything that is more directly beneficial to the county or, in the case of the Aromas-based PORC people, adamantly opposed to any commercial development in their own backyard (along Highway 101), and yet totally silent on anything that happens in Hollister. Did you hear a peep from any of these people when it came to the huge Amazon warehouse?
I’m in support of Amazon coming here. But its arrival clearly shows how inconsistent and hypocritical some people are in our community when it comes to commercial development. The county badly needs increased revenue such as that which comes from the sales tax generated by new businesses in the unincorporated parts of the county. The Amazon facility and other businesses in the airport business parks, although good for the community as a whole, do not help the county’s revenues, as they are all within the city limits of Hollister. Their sales tax revenue goes to the City of Hollister.
And yet, the same people that are fully supportive of these Hollister commercial developments are telling us that a new business on a major thoroughfare like Highway 101 or at the site of other “commercial nodes” identified in the County’s General Plan are bad. If you’re in support of those developments, you’re somehow against everything good in our community. Obviously, that’s ridiculous.
I urge everyone to think about this a bit and consider whether it makes sense to shut out San Benito County from the benefits of new businesses in its unincorporated parts, which is exactly what Measure Q would do. This is a small county and community, and we need to think about what’s best for all of it, not just what’s best for the City of Hollister. Please vote NO on Q.
San Benito County Supervisor, District 4
Long-time resident and businessperson