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Residents object to infill building project next to homes

Despite objections of nearby residents, the Hollister Planning Commission approved a tentative map and conditional use permit for a 12-unit development.
Travis Segura, and other residents, said the triplex would drive down property values. Photo by John Chadwell.
Abraham Prado said the project met low-density requirements and the state mandate for mixed-use housing. Photo by John Chadwell.
Some residents said they didn't notice the three large signs posted around the project site.
The 2.1-acre site is intended to finish out the existing neighborhood. The single-family home on the site will remain. Google Earth photo.
The project sits next to Gabian Hills Elementary School.
There will be 11 single-family houses and a triplex on the site.
The planning commission feels the design of the triplex will fit in with the neighborhood.

Even when city planners and local developer Kraig Klauer seemingly did everything by the book—using infills for new construction and providing rentals—NIMBYs, or not in my backyard, showed up at the May 27 Hollister Planning Commission meeting as residents voiced their opposition to the development.

Klauer’s (Councilman Karson Klauer is his son) project asked for approval of a tentative map and conditional use permit for the development, a 2.181-acre lot for 11 single-family homes and a triplex at 811 Santa Ana Road, next to Gabilan Hills Elementary School.

Abraham Prado, associate planner in the city planning department, said the lots were consistent with a low-density or R1 zoning. Concerning the triplex, he reminded the commissioners that Hollister received a Certified Housing Element, and as part of its approval, there were numerous meetings to discuss the city’s housing needs, including affordable, rental, and special-needs housing.

“One of the housing requirements that was lacking in Hollister is the need for rental housing,” Prado said. “The zoning allows for a variation in lot sizes to allow for homes such as these, which is, in this case, a triplex that will allow for the possibility of a rental.”

After explaining the minutia of what went into approving the project, Prado told the commission this was the first project to fall under a new city ordinance that requires the developer to place an ad in the newspaper and post signs announcing the proposed project. He said the project was considered a priority infill development that was finishing off an existing subdivision consistent with land-use policies according to the general plan, and it would preserve and enhance the character of the existing residential neighborhood.

Planning Commissioner Carol Lenoir complimented Klauer for the design of the development, particularly the triplex, and called it “a very gentle infill development for the existing neighborhood.”

Resident Travis Segura, among others, did not agree with Lenoir. And contrary to normal practice at a public meeting that discourages those on the dais from responding to public comments from residents, a lively debate escalated between Segura and Lenoir as others in the audience joined in and voiced their displeasure.

Segura questioned the timing and placement of signs, which are required, along with announcements in the newspaper and letters in English and Spanish to residents within 300 feet of future developments.

“We had no idea there were existing plans,” Segura said. “Nothing in the mail. That’s a concern to me because when things like this are happening we’d like to know so we can speak on them.”

Lenoir asked if Segura received a “300-foot notice” in the mail. Segura and several others in the audience said they hadn’t. Prado, the associate planner, insisted the notice had been mailed 10 days prior to the May 27 meeting.

Segura said it sounded like discussions concerning the project had been going on for some time prior to the meeting. Lenoir told him that was true and that Klauer had acted within the law. Lenoir said she couldn’t believe no one received the 300-foot notice. Several audience members chimed in that they knew nothing until the sign (there are actually three) appeared.

Segura conceded the need for rental properties, but not in a single-family home area. He questioned the need for the triplex. Lenoir said again that state law mandated mixed housing had to be built and it is good for the community.

“We’ve got to create rentals and we’re going to do it,” Lenoir said. When Segura challenged her that it looked like the city was just checking off a requirement with the triplex, she said several rentals had been approved in other areas and told him, “You’re lucky you have that little unit that looks like a single-family unit.”

Every time a commissioner gave the official position on why choices were made, residents shouted their frustrations. One instance a resident would say they understood the housing problem, while in the next they objected to everything from a lack of notice, bulldozer noise, dust, and the triplex. When Lenoir maintained residents wouldn’t even notice the triplex, some responded that housing prices would go down immediately.

“Whether the council [sic] thinks we’re not [going to notice], we are," Segura said, adding that in his six years living in town traffic has increased and there are more cars parked along the streets. "We’ve been living there and we’re going to see the difference."

Lenoir said he should have known because his street is not a cul-de-sac it would eventually “punch through.” She told him that if he was worried about traffic he should have bought his house on a cul-de-sac. When he addressed noise and dust, Lenoir had a ready answer.

“They’ll do the best the can, but if I said there won’t be any noise, that would be a lie,” Lenoir said. “Somebody had to listen to your house being built.”

The commission unanimously passed the resolution. The developer now has two years to bring back a final map and within that time can request an additional year. 


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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 Ken Dunn (kenneth) on

Planners get paid to plan, if you want a better future, get better planners. Ones that care about you as much as their paycheck. That means you have to put in the time to find better people with less arrogance to plan your communities, or you will get the same crap you've been getting. Have regular community meetings to suss out the rats. Make sure that each house within 3000 ft. of a development site gets a hand-delivered note of their intentions right from the beginning. The 300 ft. radius now used is an insult that says,"we don't really care what you think, cause we are better than you." 300 ft. is barely 3 houses, and is almost nothing. Many of our houses were built one at a time not hundreds or thousands at a time like the lunacy of today. The only thing certain is that if you sit by and don't get active today, the planners and developers will have left  town with your money and left you with a steaming mass of crowded sprawl to call home. Vote in slow-growth advocates like Sandy Swint, etc. And find others who care more about quality, rather than quantity of life.

I am not personally endorsing this proposal because I have not studied it; there is a lot more to any proposed development than the number and type of units, locations, etc.  However, I believe your response leaves a lot to be desired.  First, an infill development is the opposite of sprawl - sprawl comes from leapfrog development.  This is a small project and includes some high-density, which is also the opposite of sprawl and tends to be more affordable units.

The Planning Commission, which consists of five citizens nominated by the Mayor and four members of the City Council, are not planners.  They are all long-time residents many of whom worked for the city or served in elected office.  They approved of this project unanimously - who would you have do it?

While I agree with some of your complaints in general, this might a good project (the devil is in the details). To use this as an example of a bad project makes no sense unless one supports a total moratorium in which case all projects are bad projects.

Marty Richman

Submitted by Ken Dunn (kenneth) on

High density, as in the sardine effect, and sprawl, as in the MacMansion effect are similar in the respect that growing numbers of people don't like either of them. There is solid reasoning behind the push-back against population overgrowth, many folks feel pressure against their personal space when the population gets too crowded. Some don't feel it and can't understand that it is part of human nature, but it should be taken seriously as it can manifest itself in very negative ways. I believe we all studied this in psychology but some of us didn't get it, but it is quite true. The ones who make money off growth will say anything to try and minimize the negativity of the problem. Nothing new here, some will do or say anything to increase the size of their pocket-book.

In case you're wondering where that point of personal space invasion is, it's when people start pushing back, as in now.

Submitted by (Frank Ramsey) on

This proposal seems completely reasonable. If Homeowners are truly worried about property values they should be more concerned with the large housing bubble ready to pop in California. If there was anything to worry about it would be that inadequate parking would be provided for the triplex but that seems to be taken care of. No-Growth advocates like Sandy Swint will business from Hollister to Salinas or Gilroy. Growth doesn't have to be slow. Just well thought out.

Submitted by Ken Dunn (kenneth) on

Please help me with this, is Hollister on a massive housing build for a market that you claim is about to have a major collapse? If this is true, we will be left with a gruesome economy and tons of empty buildings, like a much bigger version of the housing bubble we've seen in the recent past. I hope this is not what you're saying cause the ripples of that incident were felt all over the world. Please correct me if I'm wrong. That cannot possibly be smart planning, and sounds like a good argument for slow-growth.

Submitted by (Frank Ramsey) on

California and most of the United States is on pace for a housing collapse similar to that of the mid 00's. There are many economic factors to indicate this. The most simple is that home prices have risen drastically vs. salaries. Current home prices are much to high for regular families to afford them. I cant say exactly how gruesome the economy will get or how many empty homes we will see but in general I believe that is where we are heading. I think in the next 10-20 years CA will be much different then the one we know now. I would agree it is not caused by smart planning. But again I am saying smart growth doesn't necessarily have to be slow growth. It just takes competent leaders with proven good judgment. 

Submitted by Ken Dunn (kenneth) on

Do you have someone in mind? The growing opinion is that Hollister and SBC are getting uglier by the day with an ocean of close-packed 2-story MacMansions thoroughly destroying the skyline and views that once were so nice in SBC. I think you are mistaken about Ms. Swint, she doesn't seem to be for no growth, but does appear to be more thoughtful, as you suggest we need. We'd love to hear from your candidate. Can we agree that Growth also doesn't have to be fast? Folks that prefer fast growth are generally focused on money, rather than quality of life, which is usually where the slower-growth folks are thinking, and to label them as property-value focused  is another misnomer. It amazes me the way that dollar-centric folks believe that everyone thinks like them when they are so wrong. Some people just don't like sprawl and overcrowding, it's just that simple.

Can you provide evidence that Ms. Swint is in favor of zero-growth? Thanks much.


Submitted by (Frank Ramsey) on

I do not have someone in mind and in hindsight feel it was unfair to criticize Sandy Swint. Maybe Sandy Swint is different and I am unfairly admonishing her. I am tired of the local bunch of leaders we see in San Benito an Monterey County mostly advocates of "slow-growth" and somehow involved in the ag industry. Living my almost my whole life in these parts I realize why this is, but it is tired cliche. I too love the beautiful views and scenic landscape but have come to realize that this area if forced by the decisions of other local cities and counties in the Bay Area. There is no stopping the influx of growth. I am not advocating rolling over and just building sprawl, but we have to get over the idea that we can somehow postpone the inevitable. We need to use the circumstances to our advantage and play the cards we are dealt. Let me assure you I am in no way "dollar-centric" I too strive for a high quality of life. The fact of the matter is that due to our proximity to the Bay Area there is very little we can do to put off the much needed growth. I just think we should be extremely efficient in how we move forward. Just slowing things down isn't going to make them better, there are many more factors to it. I dont think our arguments are that different, just some ineffective communication on my part.

Submitted by Ken Dunn (kenneth) on

I'm reminded that the human growth cycle seems to be, populate and build as much as possible until a catastrophe wipes most of the people and housing out, then you start again until the process repeats itself, without ever learning that better planning could save a lot of the misery and destruction. The problem might be that asking humans to plan ahead may be too much. For example, we are in the process of building a big city on top of a major earthquake fault, what could possibly go wrong with that?

Submitted by (Frank Ramsey) on


People are not cardboard cutouts, their desires are complex.  Of course too many of those desires are driven by what others think and by what's hot as defined by advertising, trends, or friends many of which cater to extremes (my statement is gluten free).

Many people have a lifestyle defined in their minds and that's hard to change.  Want to live near the beach?  Be prepared for massive traffic jams during the beach season.  The seasons come, the jams come, people STILL want to live there.

Marty Richman 

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