The San Juan Bautista City Council approved a new contract for private security services at its July 16 meeting, in addition to sending a letter opposing Highway 101 commercial nodes to the San Benito County Board of Supervisors and allowing cannabis facilities within city industrial zoning districts.
After discovering the city was working with Level 1 Private Security of Aromas without an agreement, council members approved a three-year contract with an increase of 75 cents per year for each category of the hourly services starting on July 1. The city approved a $110,000 budget for private security this fiscal year, City Manager Don Reynolds said. The previous one-year contract with Level 1 expired on May 3.
Reynolds said staff and Level 1 personnel believed they were under a three-year contract. However, the city found that was not the case after the council directed staff to revise contract to allow additional patrol hours during the budget process, according to the meeting agenda packet.
The new contract allows Level 1 staff to use pepper spray as a defensive weapon, according to the agenda packet. A copy of the contract was not included in the agenda packet.
“The city’s insurance carrier does not allow the use of batons or tasers,” Reynolds said.
The agenda packet also states the new contract does not bind the city to contract with Level 1 for all events within San Juan Bautista.
“Level 1 Private Security will provide monitoring of all properties designated by the City and within city limits,” according to the city website.
Highway 101 commercial nodes
Council members unanimously approved sending a three-page letter to the San Benito County Board of Supervisors voicing the city’s opposition to the zoning change of four commercial nodes along Highway 101. Councilman Dan De Vries recused himself as he represents the property owners.
The letter was sent in response to the San Benito County Planning Commission decision on May 15 to change the zoning of four nodes along Highway 101 to Regional Commercial (C-3). The four nodes are known as Betabel, Route 129/Searle Road, Rocks Ranch and Livestock 101. The county hopes the nodes will bring new businesses that attract motorists on Highway 101 as a way to increase revenue.
The letter states the council’s concerns regarding traffic, water supplies, changing landscape and a loss of revenue for San Juan Bautista.
San Benito County Planning Commissioner Valerie Egland and San Juan Bautista Community Business Association member Bob Quaid urged the council not to send the letter.
Egland, who is also a candidate for the District 2 seat of the Board of Supervisors along with San Juan Bautista Councilman John Freeman, local journalist Kollin Kosmicki and San Benito County Democratic Central Committee District 2 member Wayne Norton, said she was saddened to learn of the council’s stance.
“I believe that the city of San Juan is reducing its future possibilities as far as tourists and economic growth go,” Egland said.
Contrary to the position other residents took at the June 18 meeting, Egland and Quaid said the commercial node developments would bring more tourism into San Benito County.
“For us to oppose them before we know what’s going in those nodes, I think we’re being a little bit short-sighted in our thinking,” Quaid said. He added that at the June 18 meeting, a number of the speakers were from Aromas and not San Juan Bautista residents.
Emily Renzel spoke against the commercial nodes and said it’s not the right place for that type of zoning because all the billboards and signs would take away the scenery for motorists. She said that while commercial developments should be centered in Hollister to draw people into the county, San Juan Bautista should be marketed differently.
“Why not advertise that San Juan is a special, unusual place rather than the usual?” she asked.
With little discussion, the council approved the first reading amending the city municipal code to allow cannabis facilities, including testing, in industrial zones with a conditional use permit.
City Planner Todd Kennedy said the code did not address the provision of land use for such facilities. The item was heard and approved by the San Juan Bautista Planning Commission on June 4.
According to the San Juan Bautista zoning map, there are three industrial zones within the city. One is between Old Stagecoach Road and the Salinas Highway. The other two are separated by San Juan Hollister Road near Mission Vineyard Road.
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