The Hollister City Council members give a thumbs up or thumbs down to vote on changes for the General Plan. Photo by Monserrat Solis.
The Hollister City Council members give a thumbs up or thumbs down to vote on changes for the General Plan. Photo by Monserrat Solis.

Hollister City Council adopted changes by consensus to the city’s draft General Plan 2040 that will be submitted to the state by Dec. 31. Among the updates made Sept. 11 were expansion of the sphere of influence and changes in residential land use.

The General Plan’s purpose is to direct and coordinate future planning decisions within the city for the next 20 years.

The City Council agreed to extend the city’s sphere of influence, or power to affect development outside the city limits, by 1,819 acres including areas north of Buena Vista Road, north of Union Road and in East Hollister.

Some areas in Hollister had their land use designation changed from high density development to medium density, including Buena Vista Road, Chappell Road and Santa Ana Road. The designation for Glenmore Drive was changed from high to low density.

High density residential areas might offer multi level apartments while medium density residential areas include duplexes, townhomes or walk-up apartments.

Meridian Road, identified as a special planning area, was changed from residential estate, generally considered low density for single-family homes, to a mix of medium and high density.

Other items the council voted to approve include:

  • A 1-to-1 preservation ratio, requiring the preservation of one acre of agricultural land for every acre of agricultural land used for non-agricultural purposes.
  • Lowering the inclusionary housing ordinance, which sets the amount of affordable to low-income housing developments, from 20% to 15%.

The council also agreed to direct staff to conduct a study to consider adopting a fee for public art in lieu of approving a 1% building tax for public art on new development projects. The study will be presented to the council for a discussion at a future date.

Dane Nabal, a fourth-generation landowner in the city, spoke in support of the changes.

“By including us in the sphere of influence, it gives us the ability to potentially make the decision for basically our property and our community in the next 20 years, whether it be a high school or proposed home,” Nabal said during public comment.

Some residents expressed doubts about the changes.

Carly Robles said she believed the council was not considering infrastructure, traffic, water, sewer and other city resources.

Robles reminded the council and public that there was a drought last year, which forced residents to reduce their water usage. And now residents will have to share that water usage with new developments.

“We had to cut back the use of our water and you want to give our water away to other housing developments already,” she said. “You’re putting the horse before the carriage.”

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Monserrat Solis covers San Benito County for BenitoLink as part of the California Local News Fellowship with UC Berkeley. A San Fernando Valley native, she's written for the Southern California News Group,...