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New developments in Hollister could add nearly 200 homes

The Hollister Planning Commission recently approved tentative maps for two new developments that could add around 200 homes and apartments within city limits.
Working with city staff, the developer moved the park and enlarged it.
The proposed site for the development on Buena Vista Road is north of Calaveras Elementary School and adjacent to Gibson Farms. Photo: Google Earth.

The Hollister Planning Commission recently approved tentative maps and conditional use permits for two building projects that, if eventually approved by the city council, could add around 200 single-family homes, duets, and apartments within the city.

The commission looked favorably on the two projects because they both included multi-family units and apartments. The developers have up to two years to return with engineering maps, according to Development Services Director Bryan Swanson. That time can be extended, if needed.

One development that will be located at 1040 South Street consists of 25 single-family homes and three multi-family homes, along with four apartments. The second, much larger development, is a 25.72-acre plot on the north side of Buena Vista Road, west of Miller Road on land formerly owned by Fernando Gonzalez. The land is next to Gibson Farms’ walnut orchard.

Doug Ledeboer, developer of the Buena Vista Road project and the Mirabella project directly across the street, described Hollister as the ideal city for his type of projects that price between $450,000 and $650,000. Ledeboer said for the past three years he has worked with city staff and elected officials on the projects to determine where the city wanted to grow.

“We continue to hear about the affordability of homes,” Ledeboer said, adding that according to the city’s general plan, there are priority areas where growth was desired and he searched for parcels that filled those requirements. “We were looking for a medium-density site that would be more affordable by design that was located within your priority growth areas.”

Ledeboer reminded planning commissioners that the property had already been pre-zoned and annexed into the city. He also said the three-year processes benefited the design of the project, particularly the size and location of a park. At the beginning of the process the park was smaller and located in the center of the project, he said. Now it is almost twice as large and situated on the western border. By placing it there, Ledeboer said it now has the potential for a regional park, should another development be built to the west.

Ledeboer said there would be 144 single-family lots and 26 duet units. While duets and duplexes seem similar, they differ in that if a person buys a duplex they buy both units, but each side of a duet is sold separately and is considered an attached, single-family home. There will be 18 different configurations, Ledeboer said.

Pinnacle Strategy President Victor Gomez commented on a few modifications that the city staff was asking of the developer in order for his project to move forward. He said he spoke to Mark Gibson about his walnut orchard and was told Gibson intended to keep the agriculture business operating even if located next to a housing development.

“We do have concerns with full-street improvements,” Gomez said of the city’s requirement to build out Miller Road, which separates the development and the farm. “You will tap into [Mark Gibson’s] revenue and agricultural use, so we caution you to take that into consideration on these full-street improvements. He will be using heavy equipment, and if you have a sidewalk and landscaped frontage on that side of the road, it could have an impact there, as well as on Westside Road.”

Local architect and Planning Commissioner David Huboi said he was pleased by the size of the park compared to the overall development, particularly because it might one day be extended into a regional park. He also commented that he thought the designs of the duets were exceptional.

Commissioner Carol Lenoir joked that she did not have to use the word “ugly” once regarding the architectural designs. She said if the engineering department is satisfied with the traffic circulation design of the project she would go along with it, and added that three years ago she would have voted against it because it was located on the north side of Buena Vista.

“I understand the city led you down the path that we’re going to develop on that side and you got rezoned and annexed, so I’ve got to consider the project,” Lenoir said. “I’ve come to realize it’s probably going to happen, so we want to do the best we can. Moving forward, I’m making it known now I’d like to see a master plan of that area because I’m concerned about the circulation.”

There is no need to build out the entire Westside Road north of the development, Lenoir said, because there is only farmland there now. If the road were built and sat idle for the next 10 years, it would only deteriorate if not used and maintained, she said.

Huboi asked if children presently used Miller Road to go to Calaveras Elementary School. Abraham Prado with the city’s development services department told him that there is no development on Miller so far, and the likelihood of the Gibson property being developed was an unknown, but the property east of it could be annexed.

Commissioner Pauline Valdivia said the development would be good for the area and she was in favor of it.

“Every house is going to be different and it has a lot of character,” Valdivia said. “I support it and I don’t think we should hold it up.”


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John Chadwell (John Chadwell)

John Chadwell is an investigative reporter for BenitoLink. He has many years experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God's Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime that are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to:


Submitted by Tod DuBois (John Galt) on

Development of the North Side is WAY overdue, the city is lopsided to the South - the OPPOSITE side where all the traffic goes! Who planned that?  Development to the North will make downtown actually downtown, balance the city around downtown and bring balance. 

Submitted by (Grant Brians) on

I am saddened that the past decisions of the high-growth city councils are now once again eating the production farmland of our county. Buena Vista Road was supposed to be the absolute North boundary of conversion of our farmland to yet more traffic inducing commuter building, but they breached that line a few years ago. Welcome to yet more gridlock of traffic and revolving door residents who have a low quality of life thanks to the hours spent each week travelling to jobs out of our county. Did anyone notice the cost of these homes? What person working here can afford them? Is not highway 101 jammed from Gilroy north in the morning and afternoon/evening southbound from San Francisco to highway 25? Then highway 25 is slow and go most of the afternoon/evening commute? Building more commuter homes in our county is a lose-lose proposition. Low cost apartments for local workers is a different story....

One additional comment about the "balance" of development. The reason development is not desirable to the North for Hollister is that the remaining high quality farmland that has not already been paved over is immediately to the North of the current subdivisions - i.e Santa Ana Rd. and Buena Vista Rd. This is why whether one likes the development on the hill North of Park Hill, that location is the sole location to the North of the line that is logical for building....

Mr. Brians,

I think that very few people realize just how much in earnings our out-commuters bring into SBC and certainly very few have any idea of how much in earnings in-commuters take out of SBC (the highways go both ways).

In 2016, our out-commuters earned $1.117 BILLION, mostly in Santa Clara County.  That same year in-commuters took $382 million in earnings back to their home counties from SBC. 

Data Source: U.S. Department of Commerce

Marty Richman

Submitted by Tod DuBois (John Galt) on

Mr. Brian's, are you saying you prefer to route traffic thru and around Hollister and keep going South? I'll need to check the maps but way North Hollister is the airport and the swamp, just a tad North is a lot of Santa Clara formation like Park Hill, with a few patches of orchard and some small areas of row crop. The area North of Buena Vista is not very productive, I know some of the orchard family owners and they are shutting down or run hobby operations. So I'm not sure of your source or information or they are sentiments rather than facts. 

From a recent George Will column:

"The [trade war] armistice-before-the-war is good news for farmers, who could use some. USA Today reports that the net income of U.S. farmers has fallen by more than half since 2013, to its lowest point since 2006, the steepest decline since the Depression."

IMHO we are pricing ourselves out of the world food market and most of the reasons start in Washington and Sacramento.  Besides, why should the government prevent a farmer from selling their land at a huge profit when it was that same government that made it impossible to make a living farming in America?

The farmers have to bear some of the blame.  A recent development in Hollister had to bury a large amount of contaminated soil where an orchard previously existed - if the developer did not do it who would?

The U.S. in NOT Ag-centric as it was in the 1930s. 

According to the USDA, "Agriculture, food, and related industries contributed $992 billion to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015, a 5.5-percent share. The output of America's farms contributed $136.7 billion of this sum—about 1 percent of GDP."

Other U.S. Gov source: "In the 1930s farm households accounted for 25 percent of the U.S. population and generated approximately 8 percent of GDP.  Today they account for only 1 percent of the population (25 times lower than in 1930, as a percentage of total population) and generate approximately 1 percent of GDP."

Like it or hate it, more than half the Ag workers are illegal immigrants, and that is the only way many American farmers can even hope to stay competitive in the cheap labor world market.  

Marty Richman

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