Open Space Element
1. MAJOR SUBDIVISIONS OR INTENSE DEVELOPMENT SHALL NOT BE ALLOWED WITHIN POTENTIAL HABITAT: of federal or state listed rare, threatened, or endangered plant or animal species until said development(s) prepares habitat plans for the species unless an interim measure has been taken to mitigate the effect of development.
2. MAINTAIN CORRIDORS FOR HABITAT: In rural areas, road and development sites shall be designed to maintain habitat connectivity with a system of corridors for wildlife or plant species and avoiding fragmentation of open space areas.
3. MITIGATION FOR WETLAND DEVELOPMENT: Development shall be sited to avoid encroachment on wetlands. Mitigation shall be required for any development proposals that have the potential to reduce wetland habitat from primary or secondary effects of the development.
4. AVOID LOSS OF HABITAT FROM OTHER MITIGATION MEASURES: Mitigation measures to reduce other environmental hazards (e.g., fire hazard, flood hazard, soil erosion) shall not be acceptable if they will significantly degrade existing habitat, riparian areas, or isolate habitat.
5. STIMULATE REGENERATION OF OAK WOODLAND COMMUNITIES: Through a combination of the habitat conservation plan, interagency coordination, and development review procedures, the County will promote the restoration, restocking, and protection of oak woodland habitat on public and private lands in the county.
6. EXOTIC PLANTS AND ANIMALS: It is the policy of the County to work with state, federal, and local agencies and land owners to develop programs to reduce the destruction of plant and animal life and habitat caused by invasive plants and animals.
7. GRADING, EROSION, AND NATIVE TREE REMOVAL: It is the policy of the County to minimize erosion resulting from grading and cutting and native tree removal for all development proposals.
8. DEVELOPMENT IN DRAINAGE BASINS: It is the County’s polity to minimize development/uses within drainage basins that could alter the path of water courses and impede groundwater recharge.
9. WATER QUALITY IMPROVEMENT: It is the policy of the County to cooperate with the Regional Water Quality Control Board to improve water quality problems identified for the county, to maintain water quality on all drainage, and to develop policies and programs for the protection and enhancement of habitat for fish on major tributaries to the Pajaro River (San Benito River, Pacheco Creek) and water quality in the Silver Creek watershed.
10. AIR QUALITY: The County recognizes air as a natural resource and will strive to maintain air quality through proper land use planning. It shall be the County’s policy to utilize land use and transportation controls for the protection and enhancement of air quality. Finally, it will be the County’s policy to review public and private development proposals in light of possible recreational and open space potential.
11. OPEN SPACE ZONING: It will be the County’s continuing policy to enact a series of zoning ordinances designed to protect the natural resources of San Benito County.
12. DIRECT DEVELOPMENT TO URBAN AREAS: It will be the County’s policy to apply land use controls to ensure that only non-urban uses are located beyond Spheres of Influence and Urban Reserve Areas, except for specific areas designated Rural / Urban, Area of Special Study, Residential Commercial, or Industrial on the General Plan Land Use Map.
13. SPECIFIC PLAN REQUIREMENTS: It will be the County’s policy to require specific plans for small, large, new or expanding communities that are not incorporated which would clearly identify centers of urban growth and land uses within these areas.
15. OPEN SPACE OVERLAY DISTRICT: The County will enforce the intended purpose of the Open Space (OS) District of the county by using the Zoning Ordinance to protect and preserve the rural landscape and implement open space policies for public health, safety and welfare, continued agricultural uses, scenic viewscape preservation including scenic highways corridors, park and recreation uses, conservation of natural resources, the containment and definition of limits to urbanization, and the preservation of natural habitat for threatened and/or endangered plant and animal species.
16. OPEN SPACE AROUND CITIES: It is the County’s policy to preserve a rural atmosphere by directing population growth and public service extensions to infill development and avoiding leapfrog growth.
17. RIDGELINE DEVELOPMENT: To preserve the rural character of the area, new development shall be directed away from the horizon through the use of building envelopes and integration of building architecture into the contour of the horizon.
18. PROTECT RURAL ATMOSPHERE AND NATURAL RESOURCES: General Plan Amendments, Specific Plans, Area Plans, and Areas of Special Study that result in a net increase in general plan buildout (Table 1 of the Land Use Element), shall include methods to conserve open space for natural resources including agriculture, wildlife habitat, and water (e.g., conservation easements and/or other similar resource protection measures). Proposed development areas shall also include measures to protect resources onsite and contiguous to the project with the use of clustering, conservation easements, and other similar programs.
19. NATURAL RESOURCES PROTECTION: The County recognizes the need for both conservation and development of natural resources, and recognizes that the utilization of these natural resources, if not properly managed, can lead to their loss. It will be the County’s policy to protect, wherever possible, watersheds, creeks and rivers, soil, and mineral resources through the enactment of appropriate legislative vehicles.
The County further recognizes the inherent conflict between the development and utilization of some natural resources (e.g., minerals, agriculture) and the urban or suburban development of surrounding properties. Therefore, the development of land near potential or natural resources will be reviewed by the County for its possible compatibility with the extraction, removal, processing, or other utilization of that natural resource. Conversely, applications for the development of mineral extraction or other natural resources will be reviewed for their compatibility with existing and planned uses on surrounding properties.
20. SIGNIFICANT MINERAL RESOURCES: It is the policy of the County to recognize areas classified as Mineral Resource Zone 2 (MRZ-2) or Scientific Zone (SZ) pursuant to the Guidelines for Classification and Designation of Mineral Lands as mineral resources of statewide and regional significance. Strategies shall be developed to protect these mineral resources from premature development incompatible with mining.
21. LIMIT ADVERSE EFFECTS OF MINING ON INFRASTRUCTURE: The structural integrity and hydraulic capacity of bridges, pipelines or other structures in the river shall not be affected by new or expanding sand and gravel mining operations in the floodplain of the San Benito River or Tres Pinos Creek.
22. RECLAMATION FOR MINING: Require mining operators to implement reclamation programs to restore land for alternative uses consistent with the General Plan Land Use Map, policies for wildlife, flood, and erosion, and the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1975 with amendments.
23. AVOID LAND USE CONFLICTS: The County policy should be to assign compatible land uses adjacent to agricultural lands and selected mineral resource lands to ensure their protection. The County should encourage the use of the Williamson Act as well as agricultural zoning and other legislative means to preserve large agricultural open space areas.
24. FLOOD PLAIN AND AGRICULTURAL AREAS: Where there is a coincidence of high agricultural productivity and 100-year flood plain / groundwater recharge area the land should be retained in agriculture to serve dual open space functions.
25. LEGISLATIVE METHODS TO PROTECT AGRICULTURE AND RURAL IDENTITY: It is the County’s policy to use the Williamson Act, agricultural zoning, and legislative means, where appropriate, to preserve agricultural resources, maintain a rural identity, and and to define and shape the urban form. Residential growth should be directed to where services are already provided and to the least productive agricultural lands.
26. SUPPORT AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY: It is the policy of the County to promote and support the location of new agriculture related business and industry and support programs that promote local agricultural products and increase marketing opportunities.
27. OPTIONS FOR ESTATE PLANNING: It is the policy of the County to recognize that there are financial options to farmers / ranchers for estate planning purposes such as land trusts.
28. MAINTAIN VIABLE SIZES FOR AGRICULTURE: It shall be the policy of the County to assure that units of land which are suitable for agricultural purposes are maintained.
29. ENERGY CONSERVATION: It will be the County’s policy to encourage the use of energy efficient design in new construction.
30. WATER QUALITY FROM DEVELOPMENT: It is the policy of the County to require development projects that could contribute to the contamination and/or degradation of groundwater quality to be redesigned to avoid significant impacts.
31. WASTEWATER TREATMENT: Wastewater treatment systems shall be designed to ensure the long term protection of groundwater resources in San Benito County. Septic systems shall be limited to areas where sewer services are not available and where it can be demonstrated that septic systems will not contaminate groundwater. Every effort should be made in developing and existing developed areas to reduce the use of septic systems in favor of domestic wastewater treatment. Domestic wastewater treatment systems shall be required to use tertiary wastewater treatment as defined by Title 22.
32. GROUNDWATER STUDIES FOR NEW DEVELOPMENT: To prevent overdrafting in San Benito County, a groundwater development plan shall be required for appropriate new development proposals.
33. WATER CONSERVATION: To ensure more efficient use of groundwater resources it will be the policy of the County to require conservation of water resources in the County and encourage interagency conservation to develop policies and programs for the protection and enhancement of habitat for fish on major tributaries to to the Pajaro River (San Benito River, Pacheco Creek).
34. EVIDENCE WATER QUALITY AND QUANTITY FOR DEVELOPMENT: Approval of new developments shall not be allowed without evidence of adequate water quality and quantity.
35. HAZARDOUS WASTE AND WASTE SOURCE REDUCTION: It is the policy of the County to implement the short-, mid-, and long-range goals and objectives outlined in the County of San Benito Final Source Reduction and Recycling Element and Household Hazardous waste Element of 1992 or any future amendments.
36. HAZARDOUS WASTE MANAGEMENT PLAN: It is the policy of the County to implement the goals and objectives and policies of the San Benito County Hazardous Waste Management Plan, Volume I, July 1989.
37. DEVELOPMENT POLICY FOR HAZARDOUS AREAS: It will be the policy of the County to limit densities in areas that are environmentally hazardous (fault, landslides / erosion, hillsides over 30% slope, flood plains) to levels that are acceptable for public health and safety for citizens and property. It is the County’s policy to apply zoning categories and scenic easement easements for the protection of environmentally hazardous or aesthetically valuable resources.
38. DEVELOPMENT OF EXISTING HAZARDOUS LOTS: It is the policy of the County to prohibit new development on existing lots of record which are entirely located within hazardous areas (slopes greater than or equal to 30%, flood plain, landslide hazard, fault, unstable or erosive soils) unless no alternative exists.
39. RESTRICT CREATION OF NEW LOTS IN HAZARDOUS AREAS: It is the policy of the County to prohibit new subdivision or lot line adjustments that will create new lots located entirely within hazardous areas (slopes greater than or equal to 30%, 100-year flood plain, landslide / erosion hazard, fault zone).
40. DEVELOPMENT IN STATE RESPONSIBILITY AREAS: All new development shall be required to conform to the standards and recommendations for applicable fire protection agency to an acceptable fire protection risk level (CDF, County, incorporated city).
41. FIRE SAFETY: New development will not e allowed where access is a fire safety risk.
42. FLOOD HAZARD: One of the County’s prime responsibilities is for the health, safety and welfare of its citizens and property. Because the County recognizes the inherent dangers of construction or development within a flood prone area, it shall be the County’s policy to discourage development within areas identified as potential flood hazard areas. Furthermore, it is the County’s policy to protect and preserve the 100-year flood plain on the most recently adopted FEMA maps or other maps as wetland resources, watersheds, and tributaries as natural resources for water supply, groundwater recharge, riparian habitat, and fishes.
43. REDUCE EFFECTS OF FLOODING FROM DEVELOPMENT: It is the County’s policy to take measures to reduce potential effects of flooding from new development and encourage flood control improvements.
44. RECLAMATION OF JOHN SMITH ROAD LANDFILL: Continue to cooperate with the City of Hollister for the reclamation of the John Smith Hazardous Disposal site.
45. PRIVATE RECREATION FACILITIES: It will be the County’s policy to utilize land use ordinances to encourage land owners to provide private recreational facilities and open space areas. It will also be the County’s policy to allow for an economic return on land while it is being utilized as open space.
46. COUNTY AND CITY BIKE PLANS: It will be the County’s policy to require new development to provide easements for trails / bikeways identified in the City of Hollister Parks and Recreation Master Plan and to be consistent with the San Benito County Bike Plan.
47. PARKS MASTER PLAN: Develop a county-wide parks master plan to identify long-range recreational needs of the county, potential trail corridors, and areas for potential recreational tourist services / programs.
48. PARK FUNDING: Provide the optimum level of cost effectiveness and public use level at each park, recognizing that each facility has a different mission and a unique set of operating conditions associated with the natural or other available resources.
49. PRIVATE EQUESTRIAN TRAILS: While recognizing that rural residential development is often used to board horses, the ability of the County to finance the acquisition, maintenance and liability associated with lengthy equestrian trails is expected to be limited. Therefore it is policy to promote the establishment and maintenance of private onsite walking / equestrian trails in rural residential areas to meet the needs of this type of land use.
50. HISTORIC STRUCTURES: It shall be the policy of the County to preserve the historic character of the communities of Tres Pinos and New Idria.
51. COMPATIBILITY WITH HISTORIC STRUCTURES: It is the policy of the County to integrate architectural styles of new development with existing architecture (e.g., Saint Francis Retreat Etc) and to protect existing historic structures.
52. NATIVE AMERICAN AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESOURCES: It is the policy of the County to recognize the value of Native American, archaeological, and paleontological resources.
53. MITIGATION FOR DEVELOPMENT: Mitigation for development proposals where Native American, archaeological, and paleontological resources exist shall be guided by the need to provide equitable resolution for rights of the free exercise of religion, the rights of individual property owners, and the rights of the state and counties to regulate land use.
54. PROHIBIT UNAUTHORIZED GRADING OF RESOURCES: It is the policy of the County to prohibit unauthorized grading, collection, or degradation of Native American, archaeological, or paleontological resources.
55. RECREATION AND OPEN SPACE – PROVIDE FOR RECREATION: It shall be the County’s policy to acquire, develop, operate, and maintain a comprehensive space system of open space land uses and recreational facilities to provide for the low intensity trails, picnicking, informal sports, park benches, and active recreational needs (sports fields for youth and adult league play) of the county population.
56. RATIO OF PARKS TO POPULATION: Recreational facilities for existing and new development in the unincorporated areas of the County shall be provided to meet the needs of the population based on a ratio of five acres of park land per 1000 persons.