Ballot Measure Seeks to Empower San Benito Voters

Photo credit: Ken Lund, flickr

In November, San Benito County voters have a chance to change the way land use decisions are made in the county. A new initiative to help protect rural, agricultural, and rangelands will be on the ballot. Green Foothills has endorsed this ballot measure, and we will be working with Campaign to Protect San Benito, the local community group leading the effort, to get the measure passed.

This initiative, entitled “Empower Voters to Make Land Use Decisions,” will require voter approval for development proposals that would change the land use designation of parcels that are currently designated as rural, agricultural, or rangeland. This would provide a level of protection for the county’s open space and agricultural land, by requiring voter approval before the land can be rezoned for development.

The initiative would also remove commercial zoning from four nodes along Highway 101. These nodes are located in a critical wildlife corridor, and are also within the Tribal Cultural Landscape of Juristac, an area sacred to the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band.

Protecting San Benito County for the Benefit of All

As the fastest growing county in California, San Benito has experienced increasing development pressure in recent years, and many residents have become concerned with the rate at which rural, agricultural, and rangelands are being destroyed. This initiative would give residents a say in how the county develops. It would provide the opportunity to protect open space and agricultural land, as well as the county’s biological and cultural resources. It would encourage infill development (building within cities rather than sprawling across the countryside). It would allow residents to determine the future of San Benito.

Removing Harmful Commercial Nodes

The ballot initiative will also remove four of sixteen “commercial nodes,” areas specifically designated in San Benito’s General Plan for commercial development. The four nodes the initiative would remove are located along Highway 101 in an area that is a key wildlife corridor, meaning it is an essential pathway for animals moving between the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west and the Gabilan Mountains to the southeast. Movement between these mountain ranges is essential for wildlife so they can find mates and avoid inbreeding. Adding commercial activity to this area would make a dangerous journey even more difficult for wildlife. Removing these four nodes from the county’s development plans would help protect the region’s ecology.

How You Can Help

Do you want to get involved in this campaign? We will need volunteers to talk to community members, make phone calls, and help to get the word out about the ballot initiative. If you’re interested, email Jessica at [email protected].

Do you have friends in San Benito County who would like to receive updates about this topic? Send them this article and suggest they sign up for Green Foothills’ e-newsletter at

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