The San Juan Road overpass across Highway 101. The red circle is where a protest rally will take place on July 19 at 4:45 p.m. Image provided by PORC.
The San Juan Road overpass across Highway 101. The red circle is where a protest rally will take place on July 19 at 4:45 p.m. Image provided by PORC.

Information provided by Preserve Our Rural Communities.

A protest rally against a proposed commercial development on Highway 101 near Aromas and San Juan Bautista is set to take place on Friday, July 19.

The protest relates to the San Benito County Planning Commission’s decision on May 15 to approve zoning changes to four nodes along Highway 101 totaling around 326.5 acres. The four nodes are known as Betabel, Route 129/Searle Road, Rocks Ranch and Livestock 101. The proposals for Rocks Ranch range from a 100-plus-room hotel to a Great Wolf Lodge water park and resort.

Preserve Our Rural Communities (PORC), a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group based in San Benito County and Monterey, will hold a press conference and rally at 4:45 p.m. next to the San Juan Road overpass that spans Highway 101, according to a recent press release. The release said that a group of 40-50 protesters will gather at the driveway to Rocks Ranch, where San Juan Road turns toward the Red Barn. After the press conference, the group expects to march to the San Juan Road overpass carrying protest signs.

“The San Benito County Planning Commissioners have given the green light to commercial developments that will dramatically degrade the beautiful Hwy (sic) 101 corridor between Gilroy and Prunedale,” PORC spokesperson Andy Hsia-Coron said in the release. “For some extra tax revenue, they are willing to sacrifice the quality of life of local residents, endanger our water supply and environment, and worsen the traffic for travelers and commuters. We hope the County Supervisors won’t ratify the Commissioners’ disasterous (sic) decision.”

The change to Regional Commercial (C-3) Zoning District is meant to spur new business, including hotels, to attract motorists traveling on Highway 101. The changes will go before the San Benito County Board of Supervisors at a future meeting for final approval.

At its June 18 meeting, the San Juan Bautista City Council voted 4-0 to direct the acting city attorney to draft a letter opposing the commercial nodes. Councilman Dan De Vries recused himself from the vote because he represents the property owners.

According to the release, PORC has retained a land use attorney named Mark Wolfe who is prepared to take legal action against the county if the Board of Supervisors make a final decision to rezone and open the door to commercial development.

From the release:

PORC is an all-volunteer group of local residents from Aromas, San Juan Bautista, Prunedale and Hollister who have united to oppose commercial developments along the scenic Hwy 101 corridor. We believe that the proposed developments will negatively impact our water, traffic, environment and quality of life. The Aromas aquifers are in severe overdraft. Many neigborhoods have lost their wells and had to hook up to Aromas Water District at great expense. Traffic on Hwy 101 is already congested during commute hours and weekends. Hence, local residents fear that additional development would significantly worsten the traffic on Hwy 101 and surrounding roads. We are disturbed that the County is ignoring these and other impacts.

 For more information, see or PORC’s Facebook page.