Government / Politics

SJB council approves final housing element

Other actions include a timetable for rescinding the cannabis ban and selecting Mary Edge as mayor.
Mary Edge leads the council meeting as the new San Juan Bautista mayor. Photo by Noe Magaña.
Mary Edge leads the council meeting as the new San Juan Bautista mayor. Photo by Noe Magaña.

The San Juan Bautista City Council unanimously approved the fifth cycle of its housing element at its Dec. 17 meeting. The council also rescinded the city’s ban on cannabis operations, and selected Councilwoman Mary Edge as next year’s mayor (sitting council members make a selection every year).

California has required housing elements—portions of a city or county general plan that serve as guides for development procedures—since 1969. Because San Juan Bautista was out of compliance, the state required the city to complete two four-year housing elements (a fourth and fifth cycle). The city contracted with EMC Planning on Jan. 4 to draft two housing elements after planner Todd Kennedy discovered that the city had been out of compliance since 2015. The council approved the fourth cycle on Oct. 8.

Richard James with EMC Planning said the housing element included minor changes compared to the first. Among those changes were additional information on public workshops; new analysis and information on Assembly Bill 2162, which requires supportive housing where multi-family homes and mixed-use are permitted; new analysis and information on Senate Bill 35, which exempts qualifying affordable housing from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); and updated zoning code to reflect state requirements on four housing programs:

  • Supportive housing—which is similar to assisted living for adults who cannot live independently.
  • Low-barrier navigation centers—centers that provide a variety of services allowed in mixed-use and multi-family zones.
  • SB 35 permit streamlining for low income housing. If San Juan Bautista does not meet its Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) number of 41 total units, the state would streamline development applications by exempting CEQA requirements.
  • Providing reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities.

San Juan Bautista has four years to meet the RHNA number of 41 units, which include 16 units of low to very low income, eight for moderate income, and 17 for above moderate income.

James said the city has a year to revise its zoning ordinance to reflect state mandates for these programs. He also clarified that it is not up to the city to develop, as they only approve applications.

“Obviously that’s something that is out of control of the council because you don’t apply and get permits for housing yourselves,” James said. “The hope is for some builder that comes in and sees the opportunity here in San Juan Bautista and builds those houses.”

Cannabis ban

When the council adopted city cannabis rules and regulations last month, they approved a first reading on Dec. 17 to rescind the cannabis ban put in place in 2011. 

Councilmember Dan De Vries said the city implemented the ban as a way to stop all cannabis activity while the city worked out an ordinance. 

“It was always planned that it would stay in place until the very last piece of the puzzle came in, which happened when you passed the resolution to do rules and regs,” said city attorney Deborah Mall. She added that 30 days after the second reading, which is set for next month, the ban will be rescinded. The City Council will discuss the cannabis tax rate in January.

San Juan Bautista resident and chair of the city strategic committee Mandisa Snodey said rescinding the ban was a long time coming.

“I wholeheartedly disagree with the fact that we banned a plant that is proven medicinal value,” Snodey said. 

Council elects Mary Edge 2020 mayor

The council unanimously approved all but two items at the Dec. 17 meeting: the selection of next year’s mayor and vice mayor.

The majority voted in favor of Edge as the mayor for 2020, with council members Dan De Vries and John Freeman opposed. The same split selected Councilwoman Leslie Jordan as next year’s vice mayor, which took place after a failed vote to put Freeman in the position (Edge, Jordan and Mayor Cesar Flores voted no).

Before switching seats on the dias, Flores thanked the public for their support during his year as mayor.

“It’s challenging, but it’s our town. That’s the beauty about it,” Flores said. 


Other related BenitoLink articles: 

San Juan Bautista approves one of two housing elements

SJB planners yet to choose affordable housing site

SJB housing element workshop narrows down potential sites for rezoning

San Juan Bautista does not comply and Hollister under review for state housing requirements

SJB Planning Commission chooses firm to update housing element

San Juan Bautista approves rules for cannabis facilities

San Juan Bautista City Council holds first reading of cannabis ordinance

San Juan Bautista City Council considers cannabis tax

San Juan Bautista residents speak out on proposed cannabis ordinance

San Juan Bautista Council Members Introduce Cannabis Ordinance Draft.



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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.