Late into Monday’s marathon Hollister City Council meeting was the chance for many of the residents of the county’s Bonnie View Road to lobby to keep the road a dead end. City, county, confused? Don’t be, you're going to see a lot more of this in the future.
Bonnie View is a sliver of a county street located east of El Toro Drive that runs north straight as an arrow for nearly four-tenths of a mile from Sunnyslope Road to nowhere; it dead ends against what was, until recently, an undeveloped property.
Like other county islands, Bonnie View Road was essentially surrounded by city property after the adjacent land was annexed as an infill project. The road is narrow and there are no real curbs or sidewalks even though the approximately 40 existing homes were built more to suburban, than rural, density. The chip seal is in very bad condition and residents tell of how they “fix” the potholes by pouring dirt into them.
Despite that they want to keep it exactly like it is, especially the dead end, but they can’t. One speaker said, “We don’t bother the county or the city and they don’t bother us” and another called it “our little piece of heaven.”
Progress, in the form a new development, has come to the adjacent area squeezed between the two county islands that should have been annexed into Hollister long ago except that no one – not the county, city or residents – wants to pay the bill to bring them up to city standards which could include ridding them of their septic systems.
Decades of bad planning has resulted in uncounted numbers of incomplete and/or blocked public streets. The city wants the developer to connect the 21-unit single family residential development to Bonnie View Road. The residents are desperately looking for a way to keep that from happening.
They fear that eliminating the dead end and improving the road would mean getting some through traffic and losing the pothole-enforced unofficial speed limit, a quick walking pace, that allows kids to play in the street and vehicle suspensions to survive the trip. No doubt that is what will happen; neither the county nor the city can afford to appease residents who want to, effectively, privatize the public right of way because that’s what everyone wants and it’s one of the main reasons our road network operates so poorly.
The best answer – there is no perfect one – is to fix the road well both technically and esthetically and install speed humps to prevent it from becoming the Bonnie View Dragstrip, but just like annexation no one wants to pay the bill.
This situation is a perfect example of the lack of integrated planning between San Benito County and the City of Hollister and failure to get those extra benefits we need in exchange for permission to develop.
San Benito County and Hollister should have put this burden on the developer who reaps the benefit, but it’s too late for that now, so the view from Bonnie View is bleak.