Housing / Land Use

Gavilan College and housing developments seek connection to city’s septic system

City council members say they support Gavilan but not the other two housing projects.

The plan to hook up a septic system between Hollister and the future Gavilan College campus has been halted over concerns that nearby housing projects would also be connected as part of the deal. 

At the Jan. 18 Hollister City Council meeting, Mayor Ignacio Velasquez said that while he supported the new campus, he could not support the hookup plan as it would allow two housing projects surrounding the proposed campus on the corner of Fairview and Highway 25 to also connect to the city’s system. The other council members did not support or oppose the issue during the meeting as they only asked questions. 

“We have to plan wisely and I wish you luck on this to do it as a standalone,” Velasquez said, “but the issue of providing sewer service for hundreds of additional homes just set this way back and I can’t support something like that.” 

Gavilan project and construction manager Damon Felice and developers Mark Frankel and Bill Lee had asked the council to consider connecting the projects to the city. 

“We are currently designing a septic system on the site,” said Felice, president of Felice Consulting Services. “The college at one time had an agreement with the city to tie into the city sewer through Cielo Vista, on the backside of Roberts Ranch, but that is no longer the case.”

He also said construction is scheduled to begin in November. It was slated to begin in 2020 when Measure X, a bond to fund several projects including the new campus, was passed in 2018. 

The first phase of Gavilan’s San Benito County campus includes constructing a maintenance and operations building, as well as portable classrooms for labs and career technical education. Felice said current plans for the campus include 150 parking spots and EV charging stations. The 35,000-square-foot building will also have a learning resource center, cafeteria and community room. 

Gavilan President Kathleen Rose told the San Benito County Business Council in May 2018 that additional plans for the Gavilan College campus would require more funding, including additional bonds.

The item presented to the council was informational only and did not require an approval or decision at the time of the meeting.  

Felice told the council the new septic system is not ideal, but because the campus is outside Hollister’s city limits, it’s “the only thing that we can do right now unless the city allows us to tie into their infrastructure.”

Frankle spoke on behalf of Fairview Corners LLC, saying its project plans on building 189 homes on the property’s 60 acres off of Fairview Road, across from Cielo Vista, and adjacent to the proposed Gavilan site starting in November.

Lee said his project of 141 homes on approximately 28 acres was approved in 2020 with the goal of providing young families in San Benito County with affordable housing.

“The goal is not to build 3,000-square-foot monster mansions on our project,” Lee said. “We are building a park on-site, we are building bike lanes on site, and we are also building a crossing across Fairview Road—a flashing beacon crosswalk—so that residents who are from there and from Gavilan can all interconnect and safely get across Fairview into the Roberts ranch neighborhood.”

Lee told the council he had received a letter from the city of Hollister saying it had accepted the sewer affluent to his proposed site, as long as it was properly engineered. 

“When Roberts Ranch was built and went through final map approval, they were required to up-size their pipes, to accept the affluent from Gavilan College to Dividend Homes and from my personal project,” Lee said. “We are not in the sphere of influence, it is a county project, and so our understanding was that when the sewer plant was built, it was intended to be a reasonable plant. It is operated and controlled by the city at this point.”

Velasquez, along with Councilmembers Tim Burns, Rick Perez and Rolan Resendiz, raised concerns about plans for security on the Gavilan campus. 

Felice said the campus would be equipped with keyless entry, which would also allow the whole campus to be locked down at once with an FOB card in emergencies, and that the property would maintain its barbed-wire fencing around the borders along Airline Highway and Fairview Road. 

As for further security measures, Felice said, “That is not a question for me as a project manager.” 

At Hollister Police Chief Carlos Reynoso’s request, Felice told the council he would reach out to San Benito County Sheriff Eric Taylor to collaborate on the fencing and security surrounding the campus. 

“I think, probably, you have a bunch of supporters of the Gavilan campus [from the council] if you want support of the Gavilan campus,” Velasquez said. However, Velasquez continued to express concern about the housing developments near the campus. 

“I am not here to speak on behalf of the developers, I am just here to talk about Gavilan,” Felice said. “Gavilan is looking for a Gavilan sewer, that’s all I’m here for.

The discussion ended with no direction given to staff.


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Jenny Mendolla Arbizu

Jenny is a Hollister native who resides in her hometown with her husband and son. She is a graduate of San Benito High School, and received her BA in Literature from UC Santa Cruz and MA in Education from San Jose State University. Jenny is a former elementary school teacher and has written for the Hollister Freelance, San Benito and South Valley magazines. She enjoys bringing informative and educational news to San Benito County, as well as spotlighting local community members and businesses. On any given day, she can be found performing with SBSC, singing with the Hollister VFW, or working out at Cold Storage CrossFit.