On Oct. 19, the Hollister City Council unanimously approved a parklet program along San Benito Street, as well as the transformation of the road into a one-way traffic flow. The program—enacted to assist businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic while beautifying downtown—will allow participating businesses to receive $7,500 for a parklet of less than 15 linear feet and up to $15,000 for a parklet that is greater than 15 linear feet. The total cost of the program will not exceed $230,000.
To fund the parklet program, the city authorized the use of $80,000 from Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds, and San Benito County committed another $150,000 from its own CARES Act funds.
The council also authorized the city manager to accept any additional grant funding from other sources, such as bicycle grant funding for bike lanes or bike parking. In addition to that, council members approved an additional $15,000 to be taken from the general fund to build a city-owned parklet for community promotions.
Because of the time-sensitive nature of the project under the CARES Act, work will begin Oct. 26 with an estimated completion date of Nov. 3.
The city initiated a survey of downtown businesses and the community to come up with a plan to move forward with a parklet program, and hired Kimley Horn and Associates to produce conceptual layouts and perform the necessary traffic analysis.
According to City Manager Brett Miller, businesses will construct their own parklets using designs approved by the city, and once they’re completed the city will reimburse them not to exceed $15,000.
“In order to receive reimbursements, the parklets need to be completed by Nov. 15,” Miller said. “Upon submittal of invoices, businesses will receive their reimbursements.”
San Benito Street will be transformed from a two-way street to one-way southbound route from Fourth Street to South Street, and parallel parking spaces will be changed to diagonal parking. The street will also be designed to be more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. San Juan Bautista has taken similar steps with their parklets and transformation of Third Street.
As part of the parklet program, $150,000 from the Transportation Development Act fund will be used to cover design and improvement costs for traffic calming and beautification. The project includes a variety of changes to San Benito Street:
- Northbound traffic on San Benito Street will be detoured to the east and west at South Street.
- One existing lane between Fourth and South streets will be closed to allow for parklets. One-way traffic flow will be southbound only in this area.
- San Benito Street between South and Hawkins streets will be designed for two-way traffic with a parklet. Northbound traffic on San Benito Street will be detoured to the east and west onto South Street.
- New stop signs will be installed at the intersections of San Benito and Sixth streets, as well as San Benito and Seventh streets.
After a year-long pilot period, businesses on San Benito Street will pay an annual parking spot fee of $425 per spot. For those unable or uninterested in constructing a parklet, they can apply to have table service on the sidewalk for an annual fee of $100. Additional fees include an annual renewal/inspection fee of $125; encroachment permit of $285; a non-refundable application fee of $150; and a planning department inspection and plan check fee of $400.
In an effort to mitigate costs for Hollister and San Juan Bautista associated with COVID-19, a memorandum of understanding was drawn up between the county and two cities in which the county will commit $193,333 ($150,000 to Hollister and $43,333 to San Juan Bautista) in one-time funds to assist businesses and specifically target the downtown regions in their outdoor operations with the objective of offering immediate financial assistance to ensure outdoor facility readiness for the fall and winter months.
During a special meeting on Oct. 21, the council authorized Mayor Ignacio Velazquez to execute a sole-sourced contract with American Asphalt Repair & Resurfacing for the slurry seal and re-striping of San Benito Street at a cost of $117,876.
On Oct. 13, the state downgraded San Benito County’s risk level related to COVID-19. So while San Benito Street is undergoing the beautification changes, restaurants, personal care services and retail stores are permitted to open indoors with restrictions.
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