Government / Politics

Del Webb pulls out of San Juan Oaks project, Supervisor Botelho blames Fish & Wildlife

San Juan Oaks general manager said another developer will be sought to build housing near the golf course
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The Del Webb project at San Juan Oaks Golf Club that was greenlit by county supervisors last November, has been terminated, according to spokesperson, Jacque Petroulakis, of the PulteGroup, the parent company of Del Webb, and the largest home builder in the country.

In a terse statement, Petroulakis wrote to BenitoLink Tuesday evening, July 12: “PulteGroup has made the business decision to not proceed with plans to build a proposed Del Webb community in Hollister known as San Juan Oaks. The company continues to actively build new communities in Northern California and beyond, but we have no other details to share at this time.”

At first, Supervisor Anthony Botelho, whose district the project would be in, told BenitoLink that he had not heard anything regarding the 1,100-home project possibly being at risk. However, on July 13 he admitted that he had previously spoken to Scott Fuller, manager of the San Juan Oaks Golf Club, about the issue that, at the time, was still in negotiations, so he did not know when it would be appropriate to disclose what he knew.

Early in the morning of July 13, Botelho claimed in a text message that the state’s Fish and Wildlife Agency was to blame for the shutdown of the project.

“The State of California has a runaway, horrible Department of Fish and Wildlife that has done irreparable harm to San Benito County,” he wrote. “They’re an agency that takes their duties to extremes that is beyond reason and without common sense.”

When asked to be specific about what the issue was, he responded: “The mitigation for a lizard that lives in a squirrel hole was absorbant (sic) and truly ridiculous. The harm caused cannot be measured.”

Botelho continued that even though Fuller might be angry with him for saying anything about the project, he thought it was important for people to know why it was canceled so, “…we can force change for when a new project developer does and will come in.”

Botelho said the situation obviously changed very rapidly, because only a week ago he was told that negotiations were still ongoing. He indicated, though, that not all is lost.

“There are potentially other adult-living developers that are interested in that project,” he added, “and it will work out in time, I am also told. We just need to jump down and step on Fish and Wildlife a bit.”

Asked if he intends to do anything officially, Botelho responded: “Supervisor (Jerry) Muenzer and I had a meeting with Senator (Anthony) Canella (R-Ceres, 12th Senate District) before the horse show (June 23). It was before I even knew of this problem. Jerry expressed frustration about F&W on a different project to the Senator. I intended to get more information, and damned right I intend to protest this state-of-affairs the county has with this runaway state agency that thinks they control land use policies in our county.”

As stated in the Nov. 3, 2015 BenitoLink story, the San Juan Oaks project was forecast as “revenue neutral,” in that it was a project to generate $2 million in annual revenue when completed in five to six years, compared to approximately $1.09 million in county expenditures.

In answer to BenitoLink, Fuller responded by email: "San Juan Oaks Golf Club confirms that PulteGroup has decided to not proceed with plans to build the proposed Del Webb community at San Juan Oaks. Any questions regarding this decision should be directed to PulteGroup. For its part, San Juan Oaks will now seek another high quality company to develop the approved active adult community at San Juan Oaks." 

John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a BenitoLink reporter and an author. He has many years experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God's Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime that are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]