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CAMPAIGN 2018: Hollister Mayoral race

As many Central Coast cities look to expand, the debate in Hollister is over whether to slow their development down. Home are sprouting up from construction sites, clogging traffic in and out of the city.

Hollister has boomed by nearly four thousand residents since 2010 – a nearly 11 percent increase, which is the largest among all similar sized cities in San Benito, Monterey, and Santa Cruz Counties.

Current Mayor, and candidate, Ignacio Velazquez says “this is probably the most critical time we’ve ever had.”

The growth just about all happened under his watch. Velazquez is fighting for a 4th term in office, and says he’s been doing all he can to fight it, but is constantly outvoted by the city council.

“We stay the same pattern of just allowing the mistakes to continue. And that’s what the developers want. They can make their money and then leave town and we’re stuck with the bill,” Velaquez tells KION.

He hopes his re-election and a new council would allow him to charge proper impact fees on developers, and focus not on building new homes, but improving Hollister’s services, and attracting tourism.

More hotels, more restaurants, more shops,” Velazquez said. “All we have to do is invite the people to come spend time with us. Spend their money here and then go home when they’re done. That’s what we should be spending their money on. Not building more homes.”

Velazquez calls one his opponents a favorite of developers, but Gordon Machado agrees things are progressing too quickly, and expansion needs to be brought under control.

“You match all your amenities with the amount of growth you have. So be sure sewer, water, roads, police, fire, are all balanced with growth rate,” Machado said.

Machado is a former Hollister Mayor and council member.

People are piling into the city, meaning cars are stuck bumper to bumper. Machado’s plan focuses on bringing jobs to Hollister, encouraging people to live and work in the city instead of heading to Silicon Valley.

“Knowledge of who is commuting in the morning, where are they commuting to, and what their expertise is, and recruit other industries based on what we already have here.”

Keith Snow has challenged Velazquez in every election and is back in the race this year. While Velazquez says he’s been fighting growth, Snow says the mayor is responsible for making the growth worse.

“Services should be provided for the people. And they don’t do that,” Snow said.

The former civil engineer wants a city shakeup. He says Hollister is spending too much on city projects, especially with out of state companies, and it needs to show down.
“Every contract they make, us taxpayers pay for it,” Snow said. “Management of our city – I want to reorganize it. And re-coordinate it.”

The growth debate is deja vu all over again for Hollister. The city experienced another growth spurt a couple decades ago, growing by about 15 thousand residents between 1990 and 2000.

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