Government / Politics

San Juan Bautista fills Urban Growth Boundary Committee

Council candidate Jackie Morris-Lopez selected for public-at-large seat.

With a 4-1 vote, the San Juan Bautista City Council rounded out its Urban Growth Boundary Committee by approving resident and council candidate Jackie Morris-Lopez as the public-at-large member at its Aug. 25 meeting. The urban growth boundary, if established, would limit where new development could take place within the city. 

“I am very excited and looking forward to participating on this Committee as it maps out the boundaries for urban growth in San Juan Bautista and ultimately protects the natural beauty of our area,” Morris-Lopez told BenitoLink. “This is important to me being a life-long resident of San Juan Bautista to create real boundaries of clearly designated areas for growth and those for natural beauty and green belts.”

San Juan Bautista has not adopted an urban growth boundary or a sphere of influence since it updated its General Plan in 2015. The sphere of influence is the area in which the city could have input about new development outside the city limits. Without it, San Benito County could potentially approve projects up to San Juan Bautista’s city limits.

Councilman Dan De Vries voted “no,” as he supported postponing the decision to fill the vacant public-at-large seat until after the Nov. 3 election, since Morris-Lopez is also running for one of two open council seats.

“Hypothetically we could have three council members on the ad hoc committee, no planning commissioners and no public people,” De Vries said. “And I don’t think that’s the constituency that we want.”

The committee is made up of De Vries, Mayor Mary Edge, and planning commissioners Luis Matchain and Scott Freels, who is also a council candidate. 

The remaining council members, however, supported Morris-Lopez to represent the public on the UGB committee until the election and to deal with the committee’s membership after the election if need be.

Councilwoman Leslie Jordan said if Morris-Lopez wasn’t elected, the committee would have continuity by having her take on the role now. Councilman John Freeman, who is seeking reelection, agreed with Jordan and said the committee needed to get going now and not wait until December. 

The council appointed Morris-Lopez to the committee following De Vries’ motion to continue the item until after the election, which failed because of a lack of support. 

Resident Cara Vonk had previously submitted an application to be considered for the UGB committee, but City Manager Don Reynolds announced on Aug. 18 she had withdrawn.

The city has discussed adopting an urban growth boundary since Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) Executive Director Bill Nicholson informed the City Council on March 17 that the city did not have one, and that it also lacked a sphere of influence.

Though San Juan Buatista’s General Plan shows a sphere of influence, the map was never sent to LAFCO for adoption.

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Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.