Agriculture

Councilman wants colleagues to take a stand against Measure J

Raymond Friend seeks resolution saying council opposes Measure J; mayor wants input from experts first

Hollister City Councilman Raymond Friend on Monday said that he wants city staff to write a resolution putting the council on record as opposing Measure J, which if approved in November would prohibit hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and related gas and oil extraction activities. The measure would also prohibit other "high-intensity petroleum operations," including acid well stimulation and cyclic steam injection as well as prohibit any new gas or oil drilling activity in areas of the county zoned for residential or rural land use.

Friend's suggestion came during the council reports section, so no vote or action was taken. However, Mayor Ignacio Velasquez said that in order for the council to take an official position on the measure, he would "want to have experts here that are unbiased." He said he'd want to "get full answers from them" because it has "become such an emotionally-charged issue in the community."

"If we could find experts on both sides that can state facts, I'd be supportive of" having the council consider taking a position on the mesaure. Click here for a description of the ballot measure.

In other council discussion:

– City Manager William Avera said he is working on having a city manager's Facebook page "soon." Other local officials, such as Hollister Police Chief David Westrick and Hollister Police Chief Mike O'Connor have Facebook accounts on which they post updates about their professional lives.

– Avera also said the city hopes "to have a new and improved, updated (city) website launching shortly" and that he would come to council with proposed costs of the update.

– City crews are continuing their cleanup of soundwalls, finishing work along Union Road in the next couple of days, followed by a cleanup of Beverly Drive in Sunnyslope Village followed by Airline Highway in the next couple of weeks.

– The council on Sept. 22 will hold a 5 p.m. study session to discuss an extension of the city's contract with Recology for garbage and recycling services as well as a report from Jeff Cattaneo of the San Benito County Water District on reclaimed water. The session will also include discussion of a proposed city employee retirement resignation incentive program.

Adam Breen

Adam Breen has been a San Benito County resident since 1980 and graduated from Sacred Heart School and San Benito High School before earning a bachelor's degree from California State University, Fresno. A father of two sons, Adam has taught newspaper, English and yearbook at SBHS for the past decade, after six years as a magazine editor for Santa Clara University. He previously was editor of the Hollister Free Lance and content director for BenitoLink.