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December 4, 2023

Opinion: Mayor playing ‘bait and switch’ with moratorium topic

Contributed by Marty Richman, who represents District 4 on the Hollister City Council

Hollister’s Mayor Ignacio Velazquez is playing a dangerous game of bait and switch with the city’s residents. His latest is a senseless call for a city building moratorium hot on the heels of the new and expensive city park master plan we both supported. With a building moratorium, there is no funding for the new park plan and he knows it, but he is hoping the voters can’t connect the dots.

The capital costs for the parks alone would run $18 million to $20 million over 10 years, not to mention the cost of maintenance. The only way we could reasonably fund that program is with developer fees and district taxes paid by the new homes from 10 years of planned growth.

Why not just stay where we are on parks? The reason is our current facilities are inadequate.  Our new standard is at least 5 acres of park per 1,000 residents; the old standard was 4 acres, but the actual availability is only just over 2 acres. We are at least 55 percent short of the new city standard with 70 ball teams trying to play at Veterans Memorial Park.

We cannot have development pay for existing deficiencies, but the new standard will bring in more than $13,000 per basic housing unit in park and recreation impact fees and the annual Community Facilities District taxes that will help pay for ongoing maintenance.

Other major capital projects such as road improvements are also funded to a great extent by developer fees – for instance, a Zone 2 traffic impact fees of approximately $19,000 per basic housing unit. New homes pay about 20 years’ worth of traffic impact fees in advance.

New development pays their fair share and, sometimes, like the parks, their share under new standards is a lot more than the old standards. They also fund existing public bonds, reducing the cost to the other rate payers.

The mayor wants credit for a new, lavish park plan and planned improvements to the transportation network, but at the same time he wants the political support of the no-growth lobby by proposing a building moratorium he knows he’s not going to get because it would cripple all those other plans; that’s too clever by half.  

If he did get a moratorium, he’d live to regret it and so would we all.

Not to worry, Mr. Mayor. I believe the majority of the City Council will once again vote to save the city from the consequences of your continuing irresponsible political games.

The real danger is that some other local politicians are adopting the same tactics and some day we may have to pay for those selecting politics over policy.

File photo: Marty Richman