The area between North Chappell Road and Highway 25 where the city has a plan for eventual buildout known as the Everglen Major Subdivision. Photo by Robert Eliason.
The area between North Chappell Road and Highway 25 where the city has a plan for eventual buildout known as the Everglen Major Subdivision. Photo by Robert Eliason.

Previous Hollister draft 2040 General Plan articles are listed below

With California setting goals to increase the number of new housing units to keep up with the state’s growth, agricultural regions such as Hollister are equally committed to preserving the open space, farmland and natural environment in and around the city, according to the Hollister draft General Plan, which serves as the city’s blueprint for growth. This would include preventing these lands from being used for residential or industrial development or any use that would be incompatible with long-term agricultural production.

The San Benito Valley, which includes Hollister, is considered by the state as prime agricultural land with sections of it designated by the State Department of Conservation as Prime Farmland, Farmland of State Importance, and Unique Farmland and holding it as protected by the California Environmental Quality Act.

The plan notes the remarkable diversity of crops grown in the county, including wine grapes, row crops such as spinach, lettuce, broccoli, celery, and tomatoes, orchard crops like apples,

walnuts, cherries, and apricot trees, and field crops including grains, hay, nursery plants, and seeds. 

According to the 2021 Crop Report, the latest report available, San Benito County’s gross value of agricultural production was over $341 million.

The plan states that with the county supplying countries around the world with food, the preservation of agricultural land is critical to the local economy and outlines various policies that will retain and protect these land uses.

Preserve and protect open space and the natural environment for all to enjoy 

The plan offers actions that are aimed at maintaining the natural environment including the following policies:

The plan encourages the preservation of open spaces as well as public access to those spaces via the creation of pedestrian pathways in appropriate areas where it will not interfere with wildlife habitat areas. Extending utilities into open spaces would be discouraged, and buffer zones would be created to create harmony between developments and open spaces.    

The use of open space areas would be secondary to the preservation of open space. Developments would be required to minimize paved areas and maximize natural landscaping. Private open spaces would be under the same restrictions, limiting ornamental landscaping, paving, and fences.  

Open space management would include planning appropriate access points, parking areas and trail extensions. Degraded and eroded areas would be restored, and activities harmful to open spaces, including illegal camping, recreation, or interference with wildlife would be forbidden.

Open Space And Agriculture designations around Hollister. Courtesy of CA Dept. of Agriculture.
Open Space And Agriculture designations around Hollister. Courtesy of CA Dept. of Agriculture.

Preserve viable agricultural activities and lands

The plan calls for agricultural land to be protected by enacting the following policies:

All new developments that used land previously zoned as agricultural would be required to provide mitigation in the form of twice as much agricultural land being set aside and permanently preserved. A 200-foot buffer would be required between developments and adjoining agricultural land and would either pay fees to the city to maintain that buffer or require homeowner’s associations to do the work.

The buffers would be used for compatible agricultural projects, landscaping, open space, or recreational uses. They may include fences, greenbelts, or berms and will protect the maximum amount of farmable land. Developers would be required to inform home buyers in projects near agricultural areas of any hazards associated with pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals used in cultivation.

The city would encourage future developments in San Benito County within the Hollister Planning Area to be focused on areas designated in the plan as a means of preserving open space. Prime and unique farmlands in particular would be earmarked for protection from developing. An urban growth boundary would be established to designate areas that will not be considered for development but rather be used for agriculture, parks, open space or public facilities.

According to the General Plan website, comments on the draft plan should be submitted by Aug. 7 so the City Council can consider community input when providing direction on the draft plans.

The City Council has a scheduled meeting on that date. The website adds that following the review of the draft plans, there will be a formal adoption process in the fall and comments will also be accepted at that time.

The city also has a website dedicated to the General Plan update, which includes the draft documents and scheduled events. It can be found here.

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