The City of Hollister is drawing up a proposed agreement for the 400 block that would include no reserved parking spaces for the Community Foundation and potentially a higher price for a private developer.
That direction came at last week’s Hollister City Council meeting after a lengthy discussion about the proposal to set aside parking spots in the city-owned Briggs Building parking garage for the developer and Community Foundation for San Benito County.
Developer Del Curto Brothers and the foundation have partnered on the project to build on the open 400 block of San Benito Street. They came to an agreement with the city on the mixed-use development in mid-2017 that will include commercial space, condominiums and the new Philanthropic Center overseen by the foundation and used by various local nonprofits.
Previous Hollister City Council members, before three new members joined the council after the election, were deadlocked in November on a proposal to allocate city-owned Briggs Building parking spaces for $15 per month each. Council members at the time voted 2-2 on the matter, with Mayor Ignacio Velazquez absent from the meeting. The two council members in opposition — Jim Gillio and Karson Klauer — wanted staff to go back and research costs related to issuing those parking spaces before a possible approval.
With Council Members Marty Richman and Honor Spencer taking over for Gillio and Klauer, respectively, it opened up the discussion and the possibility for changes to the deal. Velazquez recused himself from the discussion since he owns The Vault building next to the open lot.
In the end, however, the new council last Tuesday directed staff to prepare an agreement that would exclude any reserved parking spaces for the foundation and calculate a “fair share” cost for condo users. The foundation had been proposing to set aside 20 spaces for its use with the condo developer requesting 24 parking spots. That’s from a total of 143 spaces in the Briggs Building, according to city planning official Mary Paxton.
Paxton mentioned how the city was proposing to have the Del Curto Brothers pay the pro-rated maintenance costs along with any additional costs for security necessities.
After Paxton’s presentation, Community Foundation for San Benito County Executive Director Gary Byrne spoke. He noted how the nonprofit organization did not see the parking reservation as essential but that it wanted to reserve those 20 spots in order to be the best neighbor possible, by motivating people to use the often vacant garage.
“No, we do not need dedicated spots at all,” Byrne said.
While most council members agreed with the approach to draw up a contract to have the condo developer pay for spots and leave out the foundation, District 2 Councilman Rolan Resendiz was against it. He has been an outspoken critic of plans to develop the 400 block and suggested the Briggs Building consideration should have waited at least a year – to follow established protocol – before coming back before the council after the November denial.
“I don’t agree with this project. I never have,” Resendiz said. “I think the public’s getting a raw deal.”
District 4 Councilman Marty Richman disagreed on Resendiz’s contention about the year-long delay and argued it wasn’t applicable because the proposal had changed since November, when there was consideration to leave the Briggs Building locked at night.
“It appears to me that the proposal now is to leave the parking garage open 24 hours a day,” Richman said. “And that is a substantial change.”
Byrne, meanwhile, reiterated the foundation wants to be a good neighbor while noting how the new mixed-use development will add foot traffic to the downtown area.
“Of course it’s going to have an impact,” Byrne said. “It’s going to have a big impact.”