Housing / Land Use

Fate of Hollister’s Stonebridge subdivision rests on density amendments

City Council to vote on the future of the 100-unit project.

A housing development nearing approval in June decelerated to a cautious pace when density issues were raised by Hollister Planning Commission, but if proposed zoning amendments are approved, building could get underway soon, pending City Council approval.

The Stonebridge subdivision at 1070 Buena Vista Road in Hollister, is slated to provide 100 single-family lots on 9.33 acres. However, Hollister Planning Commissioner David Huboi said there was no reference in either testimony or staff reports regarding the number of affordable units among the 100 lots available. 

Image from the agenda packet.
Image from the agenda packet.

The project is on a parcel that was annexed into Hollister in 2020. It went before the Hollister Planning Commission on June 23. It was at this meeting the Planning Commission raised the question of net density versus gross density. This prompted an Aug. 4 study session, which found a way forward with the project.

Initially, calculations were based on a net density acreage, and did not include the secondary roads in its calculations, Planning Commissioner Huboi noted.

A tentative map with housing lot numbers was drafted at the study session which showed all proposed roads to be either secondary or internal roads. It also included bulb-outs—half-moon-shaped concrete curbs that jut into the roadway forcing motorists to reduce their speed—for traffic calming, along with 10-foot-wide lanes between the bulb-outs. 

Interim Planning Manager Eva Kelly said, “Our code does not contain what’s in the net density calculations and what’s not in it. It was previously calculated at 11.2 homes per acre but that calculation is based on not including the secondary roads.”

The Planning Commission could accept those calculations or could say net density needs to be calculated by subtracting all roads, she said. And this could potentially change the density. 

“This project is calculated to 10.7 dwelling units per acre of gross density,” said Kelly. “So, it’s consistent with the eight to 12 units per acre allowed in the medium density overlay.”

The Hollister City Council would have to adopt a General Plan amendment to change the zoning designation, according to Kelly. She added that if the city does not adopt the amendment (based on gross density calculation), the Stonebridge Project will have to come back before the Planning Commission. 

The project was approved with a tentative map under net density rules in June. It was resubmitted at the study session with amendments that redefine density based upon gross acreage. 

An alternative for the project could be a considered under a net density calculation, but it must be one that is consistent with the new planning and zoning amendments when the final map is recorded, or the new map will be voided. 

The project does not include any public open space such as parks. All maintenance will be the responsibility of the Homeowners Association, according to Planning Commission staff. 

Planning Commission staff recommended approval of the tentative map proposed at the June 23 meeting.

Huboi said he agreed with the staff recommendations and added, “these planned unit developments will allow for less square footage than the standard single-family unit house of 5,000 square feet lot size.

“By doing planned unit developments you get flexibility based on design,” he said. “You’re looking to protect the character of the neighborhood. It encourages affordability, with smaller floor plans. But not so small where rooms are broken up into cramped rooms where you feel like you’re getting claustrophobic.” 

Stonebridge homes lot sizes will range from 2,600 to 3,430 square feet. “I’m glad we are finally getting this cleared up,” said Huboi. “I understand the reason for a new General Plan. Hopefully the update will be complete by spring 2023. Zoning amendment changes get with the spirit of the discussions we’ve had on gross density. We are looking at ways to increase density in the downtown area. We’ll have further acreage with a new General Plan, once we adopt it in accordance with staff estimates.”

 

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William Roller