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COMMUNITY OPINION: Let’s Get Back to Hometown California

Hollister Vice Mayor Marty Richman says to welcome new residents, not scapegoat them.

This community opinion was contributed by Hollister Vice Mayor Marty Richman. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.

Our official city seal is a rendition of the iconic clocktower at the corner of Fourth and San Benito Streets, the word “Hollister”, the year of establishment (1872) and words, “Hometown California.” We need to get back to the attitude that made Hollister “Hometown California” for so many.

It’s significant that the seal does not just say hometown; the word hometown by itself means the place you were born, where you grew up, or where you reside. To me the term “Hometown California” means more, a place where you will be welcome – where you will be invited to make it your personal hometown in every way even of you were not born or grew up here. We are inviting you to adopt Hollister as your own.

There is no question that change is stressful and some people have a very difficult time adjusting to new situations because sometimes they only see the negatives. This problem has been exacerbated because the rate of change is increasing and, simultaneously, the world is shrinking – change often comes from farther and farther away.

The reaction often results in scapegoating, blaming the elements of change, especially the new residents, for every problem. Crime is one of the primary areas of scapegoating. A recent article about the arrest of an armed suspect drew the immediate comment that it was the result of all the “new people” moving in. It turned out that the suspect was a long-time resident not to mention that Hollister has always had its fair share of crime, including violent crime.

If you’re crawling along Highway 25 there is no way to know that the other drivers are new residents. After all, as job availability and compensation grew in Santa Clara County more and more of those born and raised here took to commuting; oh, by the way, why are you on the road? “If you’re stuck in traffic you are traffic.”

The new populations in Hollister and San Benito County are our neighbors, for the most part they are just like those who have been here for decades or even generations, they are just trying to do the best they can for themselves and their families. They are no more or less responsible for crime, the state’s housing crisis or transportation ills than we are.

We need to welcome them and truly make Hollister and its surroundings Hometown California for all our residents.

-Marty Richman, Hollister City Council Member, District 4



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Marty Richman (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. You can follow Marty Richman on twitter @Marty_Richman. Marty and his wife, Joyce, have been residents of Hollister since 1996.


I’ve said over and over once someone takes up residency here they’re part of “us”. I had the pleasure of serving many new residents through planning and public works. Some really cool people with good ideas and volunteerism have moved here. I think anyone who lives in Hollister, regardless of how long, should be accepted as equals. I know I consider them to be. 

Submitted by (Kenneth Dunn) on

The boat is full.

Submitted by (Kenneth Dunn) on

Marty's a heck of a good guy and I hope he knows that sprawl comes in at at least 2 forms, Insprawl and Outsprawl. I distinctly remember him saying  that he hates Sprawl.  He knows that Sprawl causes all the problems that nobody wants: overcrowding, crime, pollution, stress, destruction of food-growing land, and much, much more. The good news is that Thousands of towns all over the U.S. are begging, crying, screaming, for more population. So why are we trying to pack everyone into Hollister? Because somebody is making money off it, at the expense of our quality of life. I've asked a question several times that none of our wise leaders have responded to, so I'll ask it again and see if our all-knowing towers of wisdom have the stuff it takes to answer it. What is the acceptable percentage of  food-growing land that we should destroy by installing more MacMansions or other types of housing? It should be a very easy question to answer, just a number anywhere between 0 and 100. Another good question is why does no one answer this easy question? There have been lots of other responses, but curiously nothing on this one. Any intelligent answer would be appreciated and respected.

Ken. thanks for the kind words.  These are two different classes of issues. 

Class A are those related to growth; growth rate, how big should we get, what kind is good, what kind is bad, how to prevent the hated sprawl, etc.

Class B is how we treat people.  No matter how things go down on Class A, it makes no sense to take our disappointment or anger out on the people who just want to find a good place to live and take advantage of the opportunity they get; it's not their fault.

As you may know any prime farmland that is given over to development has to be mitigated by putting the same amount of land in a trust in perpetuity.  Wildlife mitigation has essentially the same.  I don't know if the land going into trust has to be the "jurisdiction" as the land lost.  That's good.

We recently worked on a soon-to-be-approved (probably 2 months) new Master Park Plan and impact fee update that will increase the park requirements from the current 4 acres per 1,000 population to at least 5 acres per 1,000 population for new developments.  It's important to note that the actual existing parkland in the city is only a little over 2.1 acres per 1,000 population.  So, on a practical level this new requirement is really a huge increase.

I'm working to increase the densities and affordability by building more multi-family and townhomes and fewer single family homes.

I can't answer your question. I'm not trying to plead innocence as some previously approved items are a problem, but I believe county developments around the edge of the city are the biggest threat to sprawl.

Marty Richman, Hollister City Council Dist 4   


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