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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