Hecker Pass attracts more retail, housing

NEIGHBORS COMPLAIN OF NEW GROWTH ALLOWED IN PLAN

A San Jose developer will be seeking city approval this year for restaurants, retail shops, residences and a winery building near Hecker Pass Road.

The Gilroy Planning Commision and City Council will review the application from Hecker Pass Commercial LLC for final approval with the next several months.

Developer Skip Spiering’s plan will use a portion of a 6-acre property designated as “Agri-tourist commercial” in the city’s Hecker Pass Specific Plan written more than 10 years ago.

Hecker Pass Commercial hopes to get approval to use the ground floor of two of three buildings for commercial use while the second floor will be 22 one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartments, designed as live/work space. The winery will feature a tasting room, but the building will also be used for production and storage.

Live/work residential units are designed to mix living space with workspace for small businesses, entrepreneurs, or artists. The 22 apartments will range between 600 to 800 square feet each, all on the second story.

EMC Planning Group LLC, an environmental consulting firm out of Monterey, submitted an environmental mitigation report to the city on Aug. 30, 2017, and determined that the Hecker Pass Commercial Project, “will not have any significant impacts on the environment,” and, “is a logical component of the existing land use of this area.”

Residents have raised concerns that the project does not conform with the environmental intention of the Hecker Pass Specific Plan, which has designated the Hecker Pass area as “The Jewel of Gilroy.” Residents have also raised concerns over increased traffic on residential streets, and that Meritage Homes did not notify them of the project when they bought their homes.

“My husband and I decided to buy our home from Meritage because of the beautiful and peaceful location here, but even after several inquiries during the buying process, we were never told that commercial traffic would come on the street in front of our home,” said Rosie Sanborn, a concerned homeowner near the development.

Spiering has met with concerned homeowners nearby, but their worries remain.

“We would have loved to have the entrance off Hecker Pass Road, but between the city and Caltrans, we can’t do that,” Spiering said. “The plan was always to use the Two Oak Lane entrance. The first reaction is, ‘it’s going to be right on my driveway.’ That’s not going to happen. There won’t be that much traffic.”

Hecker Pass Road, which the Hecker Pass Specific Plan deems to a gateway to the city, itself poses a challenge for the development.

“They don’t like access off the highway; you would need 400 feet each way for acceleration and deceleration lanes,” Spiering said. “That would wipe out about 15 to over 20 trees, but that’s what you would need because of the speed limit there.”

The full findings of the report are available at http://www.cityofgilroy.org/298/Development-Activity-Projects. The Hecker Pass Specific Plan is also available at https://www.cityofgilroy.org/277/Hecker-Pass-Specific-Plan.

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