Business / Economy

OPINION: Historical development rates don’t matter, only today and tomorrow

This is the second in a series of articles about residential development in the City of Hollister

The Hollister City Council’s discussions on development always seem to wander away from the key issue – management. Future impacts do not change based on historical residential development rates; they act on whatever is going to be here when they hit which can be a very long time into the future. That’s why extreme peaks and valleys as so problematic.

Historically, we’ve had both high and low residential development rates caused by macro influences such as the housing market and the overall economy, and micro issues such as the growth control ordinance and the failure of the wastewater plant.

The historical average is a poor measure because when you stretch or compress the time factor, the impacts have different effects.

The best answer for the city is a planned future development rate applied in a relatively steady manner, not averaged from huge swings. That gives us time to adjust to the new situations. By failing to regulate this critical factor we leave it all to outside influences, which is the worst possible answer.

The housing market is key to any management equation. We can offer incentives or remove disincentives to stimulate a slow market and manage the rate of development in phases so we are not flooded in a good market. However, if we wait to implement a management plan until we notice the swings, we’ll always be too late; we need to have a plan in place because the market can move a lot faster than our administrative process.

Related issues are the associated mitigations such as road connections; we should not wait decades for a road improvement or essential connection just because a developer is not building right now. Why not let the developer finish the roads in advance in exchange for time extensions on the use of allocations? That requires a well thought-out development agreement.

Allocations are valuable public assets, we should not let someone sit on them for 20 years until times are just right for them, even if, collectively, it’s not right for us.

Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about the mistakes we made two decades ago, but we should not make those same mistakes again.

Marty Richman

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Marty (Martin G.) spent his teen years in northern New Jersey. He served more than 22 years on active military duty, mostly in Europe, and is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4, Nuclear Weapons Technical Officer. Marty then worked 25 years in various engineering and management positions in the electronics and energetic materials industries supporting the communications, computer, aerospace, defense and automotive sectors. He is a graduate, summa cum laude, from The College of Hard Knocks, among his numerous awards and accomplishments. He was a regular weekly Op/Ed columnist and feature writer for The Hollister Free Lance for seven years and a member of its editorial board for five years. Marty is a frequent commentator and contributor to BenitoLink on a wide variety of local, state, national and international subjects.   Marty was elected to represent the City of Hollister District 4 on the City Council in November, 2018. Marty and his wife, Joyce, have been residents of Hollister since 1996.