When it comes to development decisions, the future is now. Hollister’s development and planning departments regularly make recommendations and the City Council makes irrevocable decisions that may not come to fruition for decades; therefore, today’s decisions must contain provisions that protect against changing circumstances of the coming tomorrows.
Developers need a degree of certainty in their business, but too often critical timing decisions on execution are left wholly in their hands and/or those of third parties. That can leave the city, as now, to absorb all the impacts in compressed form. Hollister must implement adequate controls and strategies to fulfill its obligations to the residents – growing at a reasonably predictable rate that can be absorbed and sustained with public infrastructure.
The city manager has argued, on occasion, that the total count of residences and ultimate impacts would come out the same in the end. But considering only that is like arguing the impacts on the Oroville Dam would be the equal if the same amount of water comes at a trickle, a small amount over a long time, or as a flood, a lot of water in a short time.
The City Council is dealing with two recent examples of problematic decisions neither of which foresaw changes of markets or policies. The details are not important — the fact that the city has not adopted formal policies, including those with the county, to smooth the growth rate and digest the impacts is the essential issue.
No one can predict, precisely, how impacts will work out; the time factor allows for evaluation and adjustment as things go along.
The polices need to be flexible enough to cut the highest peaks and fill in the lowest valleys created by market forces. This is not an argument for growth control, but the effective use of the time factor. As the City Manager points out, the counts will be the same in the end; the difference will be how we get there and that makes all the difference in the world.