Monday, April 30, 2007

Your Three Minutes Are Up...

Is three minutes really enough to address concerns regarding a project such as the Cabrillo Business Park to the Goleta City Council? Staff and the applicant have more than three minutes to represent their cases to Council, however, the public is limited to three minutes (usually) when there are enough people that want to speak on the subject.

So, is three minutes really enough?

Goleta Valley Voice Roundup - 4/27

Front Page:
Forces collide in push for quick change
Potential changes to creek maintenance standards, coastal bluff setbacks and big box development policies are on the city planners’ priority list for the General Plan. Labeled “fast-track,” the 12 proposed amendments handed in by staff allow for more flexibility in the plan, a notion decried by slow-growth residents and encouraged by the business community and development interests.

News Briefs:
In Brief

  • Sarvis to lead campaign for United Way
  • UCSB chills, wins
  • Phetteplace elected Elks Exalted Ruler
  • Green Award Nominations
  • Grand Jury applications

Sheriff's Blotter
  • Hot tip: Don't bring your stash to jail
  • Caught on tape
  • That'll do it
  • Stinking drunk
  • The holy hookup
  • When 'day' turned to night
  • Two of a kind
  • Dudettes!
  • You talkin' to me?
  • Smash and grab

Viewpoint:
Letters to the Editor
  • The Church of Tiger Woods
  • Time for the next revolution

Community:
Goleta Scrapbook: At 133 degrees, valley became the Hell Land
Famous for its temperate climate, the Goleta Valley was nonetheless the site of North America’s only simoon, a scorching hot wind that took the temperature to 133 degrees in the middle of the 19th century.

Business:
Strictly Local: An artisan with feet firmly planted.
If Ray Hale comes into the room with his eyes downcast, don’t be surprised: flooring is his business, and with more than 20 years in the field, it’s likely that he put in the floor you’re standing on.

Other articles at at the Goleta Valley Voice website.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Goleta to Weigh Large Business Park Proposal

Santa Barbara Newsroom
By Tom Schultz
April 28, 2007

The Goleta City Council on Monday will consider a proposal to add 12 buildings to a business park that sits on 92 acres in the heart of the city.

Sares Regis Group hopes to greatly expand its Cabrillo Business Park at 6767 Hollister Avenue and Los Carneros Road, a property formerly home to Delco, which decades ago was a major regional employer.

At 956,000 total square feet, it would be the largest such park in Santa Barbara County.

Years in the making, the project if approved would bring new jobs and millions of dollars in new tax revenue to the city, along with enhanced wetlands, roadway improvements along Los Carneros and public access to onsite recreation areas, according to Goleta Planning Director Steve Chase.

It would also eat up existing open space — in particular, an area used to test the Lunar Rover during the Apollo space race. Delco was a big Cold War employer, an anchor of the research and development defense industry that helped build suburban Goleta.

"I think it's a good project," Mayor Jean Blois said Friday, adding that plans to unfold the project in nine phases of construction over a decade were a key component.

"It's better than having it all at once," she said, describing a phased approach as less disruptive to the city while allowing plenty of time to build up the necessary infrastructure to support the project.

Originally submitted to Santa Barbara County before Goleta incorporated in early 2002, plans for the project languished as the city got its footing — a process that continues as Goleta works on its first general plan for growth. The project complies with the plan as currently written.

While detractors wonder if the proposal is too massive for Goleta and threatens to negatively impact traffic congestion, backers say it will help strengthen the local economy.

The property is currently developed with two screened storage areas and nine buildings utilized for a variety of functions including research and development, office, manufacturing and industrial activities totaling 326,490 square feet, according to a city report.

These buildings are located on approximately 20 acres of the site’s northwest corner and approximately 10 acres of the site’s southeast corner. They range in size from approximately 4,000 square feet to 113,330 square feet, officials say.

The project would retain seven of nine existing buildings and screened storage areas on the property, remove two buildings, and build 12 new structures. The two buildings to be removed — the Flight Physics Control Building, and the Flight Physics Range Building — total 84,808 square feet. The buildings that would be retained, dating from the 1950s and 1960s and subject to varying degrees of remodeling, total 241,682 square feet, according to the city.

Proposed new structures would total approximately 714,600 square feet, including 540,000 square feet of office and research and development uses, and 174,600 square feet of self-storage. Approximately 10,000 square feet would be used for on-site services such as a coffee shop, delicatessen, ATM or cleaners.

"The proposed architecture may be characterized as contemporary international, emphasizing rectilinear building shapes with strong horizontal lines," Mr. Chase wrote in a recent report. "Proposed one-story buildings would have a maximum height of 20 feet, and the two-story buildings would have a maximum height of 35 feet. Mechanical screening would extend 3 feet above the structures and would be designed to obscure equipment including air conditioners, heaters, and other ventilation from view. Maximum building heights would be 35 feet to the top of screen, and 32 feet to top of the structure."

Vehicles would access the site via three spots on Hollister Avenue and two driveways on Los Carneros Road.

A bike path would cut through the site and bicycle racks would be located at each building location. In addition, bicycle lockers and shower facilities would be included. Upgrade and relocation of a bus stop along Hollister Avenue and installation of two bus stops on Los Carneros Road are also proposed.

Parking would include 1,054 existing spaces and 1,163 new spaces for a project total of 2,217 parking spaces.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Community Post: Goleta Chamber April Business After-Hours Mixer

Join Chamber members and guests this Wednesday, April 25th, 5pm to 7pm, for the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours Mixer. Enjoy music, great food, and fantastic networking.

This month's BAH, hosted by the Glen Annie Golf Course located at 405 Glen Annie Rd., will be held tomorrow on their beautiful patio area. The forecast is a sunny 70º, beautiful weather for an outdoor mixer. Do not miss out on this one-of-a-kind experience, the great networking opportunity, and your chance to meet more of your fellow Chamber members.

Walk-ins are welcome.
If possible, attendees are encouraged to RSVP by emailing mailto:anna@GoletaValley.com?Subject=BAH or phoning (805) 967-2500.
Cost to attend is $5 for members, and $10 for guests.

Planning Commission Gives I.V. Master Plan Another Month

Santa Barbara Independent
By Drew Mackie
April 23, 2007

Planning Commission Gives I.V. Master Plan Another Month
Potential Renovation Plans to Be Revisited May 23

One more month—that's how long the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission decided to let the fate of the Isla Vista Master Plan hang in the balance. The process, which has already taken years to come this far, will be revisited by the commission at its meeting on the tentative date of May 23 before its proponents and opponents will know whether to cheer or jeer. Because two of the five members of the Planning Commission were out sick at a meeting this morning, the rest of the commission said they felt they were not ready to give the Master Plan to go-ahead to the County Board of Supervisors, which will give the plan the final review before giving it a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

Today's meeting, for which the commission had allotted six hours, ended after just two hours. And although concerned I.V. residents and business owners were present to re-explain why the Master Plan will either save or destroy the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County near UCSB, the overall turnout was noticeably smaller than previous meetings on the subject. Commission Chair C. Michael Cooney himself admitted that he expected a larger turnout. If the commission had put the matter to a vote, today's meeting would have marked the last opportunity for public comment.

Those who did show, however, voiced the range of opinions typically heard at meetings addressing redevelopment in I.V. Among them, Dianne Conn, a boardmember of the Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District (IVRPD) and longtime I.V. resident, spoke from her personal experience with the community. On the subject of a parking plan—which had been part of the Master Plan until a vote by the California Coastal Commission nixed it altogether—Conn said that planners must look into the necessity of accommodating I.V.'s residents and their cars. "I don't think that will go away," she said. "When [UCSB dorm complex] Manzanita opened, it shifted parking down a full block," she said. Conn said she felt freshmen and sophomores at UCSB should be prohibited from bringing cars to school. Conn also noted that planners should pay more attention to rehabilitating the parts of I.V. farthest from UCSB, which she described as being mostly former summer homes now inhabited by eight to ten people. Janet Stitch, an I.V. resident since 1999, said she questioned the wisdom of making El Colegio Road—one of the main arteries into UCSB and the only one leading into I.V.—vary from four lanes to two lanes and back to four lanes over the course of its one-mile stretch, citing the many traffic jams that already exist on the road. To this, I.V. Master Plan Deputy Director Jamie Goldstein noted that the brief bottleneck was more a result of funding restraints than anything else.

Community Post: SB's First Anti-Bullying Youth Summit - April 28

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact;
Lisa Thomas Macrum, M.A. – Event Director
Director-Youth Outreach Programs
Youth & Family Services Branch
Channel Islands YMCA
55 Hitchcock Way Suite 101
Santa Barbara, Ca. 93105
805-569-1103 ext. 11
www.youthoutreachciymca.org


Empowering Youth to Create Change ~ Anti-Bullying Youth Summit
Saturday, April 28th 8:00 – 1:30
Inside the Santa Barbara Courthouse

Youth Outreach Programs-Channel Islands YMCA and Assets for Santa Barbara Youth Coalition (a 38 member strong community coalition dedicated to our youth) are proud to present Santa Barbara County ’s First Anti-Bullying Youth Summit—Empowering Youth to Create Change. This event is part of a six month Anti-Bullying campaign at four Santa Barbara School District secondary schools. All S.B. County teens are invited to the Youth Summit and there will be presentations from the 4 schools that are participating in the anti-bullying project. Our work focuses on prevention as well as intervention which is essential and enhanced in combination with our collaborating coalition member’s services providing a highly comprehensive program. The Mayor, Chief of Police, Superintendent & Assistant Superintendent of S.B. School district have dedicated their day to interact with teens. We expect over 100 youth in attendance (not including the many educators and adults whom will also be in attendance). Through out the day attendees will be invited to participate in the creation of a community mural led by students from the Visual Arts and Design Academy from SB High School. Hundreds of art pieces from the Building Bridges: Bringing our Community Together through Art Project will be on display as well as stories of bullying. Student attendees will create an action plan for their schools. We are thrilled to facilitate our community to come together for our youth and to offer an empowering event to inspire our future leaders to be change agents.

Building Bridges – Bringing Our Community Together through Art
A 2 to 3 month outreach into schools grades 5-12. Youth are given an intimate and personal insight into someone very different from a handwritten survey completed by a diverse member of our community. People from retirement homes, sober living homes, juvenile hall centers and homeless shelters complete surveys about their lives, interests, adventures, profound experiences and mentorship experiences. Intermediary mentors transfer the surveys to youth. Students create a piece of art made specifically for the person from the information given on the survey. Attached to the art is a hand written letter of caring also created by the student. This program fosters tolerance, awareness, understanding through art. The presentation of the art pieces and letters of caring is documented by video and pictures which are shared with students providing an opportunity for them to see the impact that they had on the person they created the art for. Youth express feeling self-worth, empowerment and compassion because they made a difference for someone else. The recipients are given a special piece of art with a personally crafted handwritten letter that reminds them daily that they are valued and cared about by a youth in their community.

Community Mural Project
To be created on site at SB County’s first Anti-Bullying Youth Summit With the mentorship of a professional artist, Colin Gray, Santa Barbara High School students in the VADA (Visual Arts and Design Academy ) will help design and lead the creation of a community mural in which all Youth Summit participants are invited to contribute to. The theme will be “Community Coming Together, Respect, Caring, Embracing our Youth”. Students will learn about local community serving nonprofit agencies and decide which agency to give the mural to. At reception in May the mural will be presented to the chosen agency. The mural will be created by over 100 members of our community and be a visual representation of our coming together to embrace our youth!


Our presenting sponsor; The Wood Claeyssens Foundation
Current co-sponsors
S.B. County Workforce Investment Board, City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation, Hutton Foundation, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Pacific Beverage, Earl Warren Show Grounds, United Way of Santa Barbara, Sarah Miller McCune, Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, Sun Ray Properties, and the Santa Barbara Independent.

Schedule for the day can be found by clicking here.

Years in the Making, Old Town Inn and Condos Almost Done

Santa Barbara Newsroom
By Tom Schultz
April 24, 2007

A new Hollister Avenue hotel, touted as an important piece of a years-long push to revitalize Old Town Goleta with new housing and business, will open sometime in July, according to the city.

The 98-room Old Town Hampton Inn could be finished by July 4 — just in time to capture revenue in connection with the national holiday, Goleta Planning Director Steve Chase said Monday.

"The best way to characterize this is attempts are being made," he said. "We are getting pretty close. This is a big deal. I'm glad to see this is coming along."

With scaffolding still surrounding the unfinishd building, crews on Monday banged away under a bright sun. It appeared as though most of the windows were installed. The exterior was not yet painted.

Located at 5665 Hollister Ave., the hotel at the intersection of Hollister and Kinman avenues will total 54,000 square feet and include 1,000 square feet for retail-commercial purposes, according to plans.

To the rear, 37 condos are under construction as part of a separate project approved along with the hotel in 2004 by the City Council. The condos, to be known as the Willow Creek Townhomes, will total 59,000 square feet.

The city expects to conduct a series of routine inspections in the next few weeks, Mr. Chase said. "There's a whole series of compliance matters."

The project was approved in large part to breathe new economic life into Old Town, an area of Goleta with rundown facades and flooding issues, two key areas being considered in efforts to improve the area.

Officials say they expect Goleta to reap millions annually in tax revenue once occupancy begins. An estimate of just how much was not available Monday.

The most densely populated area of Goleta, a city of 30,000 residents, Old Town dates back decades and features mostly mom-and-pop shops.

The inn project was not without controversy. Some residents questioned its location sandwiched between a car dealership and a school bus maintenance yard.

Others told officials the project might exacerbate traffic problems along Hollister Avenue.

Traffic safety was on the mind of Randy Rosness, exectutive director of the Goleta Valley Community Center, which is located two doors down from the project.

The center regularly hosts dance classes and other activities for children, and welcomes an estimated 350,000 visitors a year.

Rosness said Monday he had met with developers and was confident that traffic issues had been addressed by builders and the city.

"I think it's going to be a nice project," Rosness said. "I hope it will work well."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Goleta's Plan Evolves

Santa Barbara Daily Sound
By Colby Frazier
April 28, 2007

In a public hearing last night, the Goleta City Council took the second step to begin making changes to the city's General Plan.

The council was advised by Steve Chase, planning and environmental services director, to begin whittling down nearly 200 proposed amendments to the General Plan that were submitted by community members since the amendment process was officially initiated by the council on March 5.

At the forefront of the changes is the General Plan's 55 percent inclusionary housing rate, which would require all new construction to classify this percentage as affordable.

Other possible changes vary in diversity from tinkering with floor area ratios and setback for new and remodeled structures and changing the current language in the General Plan that uses the word shall, to should.

This section of the General Plan is known as "the housing element," and was turned down by the California Department of Housing and Community Development last month.

While many of the public comments were in favor of swift amendments to the General Plan, several others were opposed to such changes and a proposed "Fast Track" that some amendments might take if eventually approved.

Chase said council needs to specify what amendments would require a "tweak" and be put on a "Fast Track," and others that would require a full modification.

"You are proposing an extremely costly process that is not in the best interest of this city," said Barbara Massey during public comment. It's "greed in it's finest form."

Chase said amendments should be dealt with by a two-pronged process. The first prong would include changes that could take as long as 18 months and cost as much as $200,000, while the second prong would take about six months and cost the city $50,000.

Kristen Amyx, president and CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce told the council she supported the majority of the changes and urged them to continue moving forward.

"The General Plan should in fact be more general," Amyx said.

Such changes were a large part of the three newest council members' campaigns and Eric Onnen wasn't shy about making his intentions clear.

"We made a commitment when we took office," said Onnen. That the changes would be made "as expeditiously as we could and I think we have to fulfill that commitment."

The council will continue the discussion of amendments in public workshops as well as future council meetings.

Supervisors Approve Contested Homes on North Patterson

Santa Barbara Newsroom
By Barney McManigal
April 18, 2007

County supervisors on Tuesday unanimously cleared a six-home project on North Patterson Avenue that divided neighbors and revealed the strong resistance builders face in the Goleta Valley -- even with smaller-scale projects.

The Board of Supervisors approved landowner Terri Hourigan’s plan to build homes ranging from 4,200- to 4,800-square-feet on a six-acre plot that some residents call the street’s “crown jewel.”

While the project slated for 1118 Patterson Ave. would come in well under the maximum housing density -- of about three homes per acre -- allowed under the law -- neighbors voiced concerns about traffic, safety and the long-term impacts of growth. Until supervisors cast their votes Tuesday, the Hourigan property was restricted to agricultural uses.

A hodge-podge of housing tracts, mini-malls and scattered farm plots, the unincorporated area between Santa Barbara and Goleta has generated some of the most bitter debates over land-use in a region suffering from intense growing pains.

Describing the project as “piece-meal” planning, several residents requested delays that would allow planners and the community to gauge the impact of all future growth.

Jack Armstrong, a member of the Coalition for Sensible Planning, said officials should wait until the county updates the area’s growth blueprint, which fell out of date when Goleta became a city in 2002. The county plans to finish the update later this year or next.

“You should postpone this project until a comprehensive Goleta Valley Community Plan is completed,” Armstrong said.

But at least one supervisor publicly resisted that idea, saying it could lead to legal troubles down the road.

“That would be tantamount to suggesting a moratorium on building,” said Supervisor Joe Centeno, who has generally voiced strong support for community plan efforts.

Several neighbors praised the project and lamented the red tape Hourigan has faced since she unveiled it in 2001. Overall, she has spent about $600,000 in preparation costs, said Laura Bridley, the land-use consultant representing Hourigan.

Budget hawk Andy Caldwell blasted officials for taking six years to approve a project that he said should have received a permit over-the-counter.

The Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business spokesman also took aim at supervisors for not maximizing housing densities on the property to help the county comply with a state mandate for new growth.

“They could have built double -- and probably should have built double -- the number of houses here,” Caldwell said. “The people in the South County need to get a life and get real.”

Besides issues involving the development itself, a major concern of project critics was the need for a stop sign at the corner of Patterson and Camino Meleno. After hearing from several speakers, supervisors agreed to direct the Public Works Department to install the traffic stop.

Supervisor Janet Wolf, the area's representative, called the project a good compromise between diverse interests on both sides.

“One of the reasons it worked out is the response from the neighbors,” said Wolf, who described the property as “very beautiful.”

“When you have that, it’s beneficial.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Goleta Council Initiates General Plan Review

Santa Barbara Newsroom
By Tom Schultz
April 17, 2007

Faced with a growing list of suggestions for amending a key growth plan, the Goleta City Council late Monday chose to study numerous proposed revisions — and in doing so stoked a public debate that could last more than a year.

In two 4-1 votes, a council majority that took over in December agreed to analyze and consider a chunk of close to 200 total proposed changes to the city's first general plan, which was approved by a previous majority in October.

Faced with a growing list of suggestions for amending a key growth plan, the Goleta City Council late Monday chose to study numerous proposed revisions — and in doing so stoked a public debate that could last more than a year.

In two 4-1 votes, a council majority that took over in December agreed to analyze and consider a chunk of close to 200 total proposed changes to the city's first general plan, which was approved by a previous majority in October. This brings a series of workshops and hearings that could stretch into late 2008, officials said.

With the future look and function of the city in the balance, more proposals may be added to this review list in coming weeks. Some of the suggestions come from city staff members, others from residents and interests groups, or developers seeking more flexibility for specific projects.

The prospect of a major general plan overhaul drew an overflow crowd of more than 100 people to City Hall for a meeting cut short at 10 p.m. Some described the current plan, Goleta's first, as sufficient. Others appeared ready to send it to the paper shredder.

Approving the upcoming review "doesn't mean we, or I, support every single item," Councilman Roger Aceves said toward the end of the hearing. "There's a lot of stuff here that the public may or may not want, but we are not going to know until we start to talk about it."

At issue is how to build on some of the last remaining vacant lands in Goleta, or redevelop across the city of 30,000 residents.

Councilwoman Jonny Wallis, the only elected official left to vote for the original plan, opposed taking it in a vast new direction.

She said a majority of the proposals "make mush" of the original framework, suggesting Goleta would become a dumping ground for new construction.

On the other side were council members elected to office on a promise of change.

"The idea is these items may be able to move through," Counclman Eric Onnen said. "We are not adopting them at this point. We are further studying them. We made a committment to do that as expeditiously as we could."

Among a dozen items that could wind up on a "fast track" review -- a process that would not bring environmental impact reports, officials say -- the city will study amending the plan to allow for new regional commercial centers and eased setback rules for structures along coastal bluffs.

Other items approved for study that would likely go through an environmental impact analysis include the easing of wetland or other environmental standards to provide more flexibility in project design. Supporters of such moves say environmental protections can be maintained by offsetting habitat destruction with habitat creation elsewhere, while opponents say they fear the loss of valued open space.

Overall, its supporters largely see the current general plan as a tool for preserving Goleta as is while adding housing for workers along Hollister Avenue and other sites. Critics say internal inconsistencies, rigid language and unworkable strategies are key problems with the plan that threaten economic vitality and new home construction for the middle class.

Business leaders and affordable housing advocates supportive of a new direction have offered changes to the plan in testimony and writing.

Jennifer McGovern, coordinator of the Goleta Housing Leadership Council, urged change Monday in order to expand the housing market for middle income wage earners. She told the council that Goleta has seen no meaningful housing production in years.

"We have a critical shortage," she said. "We shouldn't have to wait."

On the other side, neighborhood preservationists increasingly guard against wholesale revisions.

Connie Hannah, representing the local League of Women Voters branch, said changes to the plan are not warranted.

She told the councilmembers they should expect a battle over "the ridiculous list of changes" they are considering.

"They totally change the quality of life. . . Your time in office will go much more smoothly if you don't take this radical approach, but try to work gradually with the whole community."

Councilmen Onnen, Aceves and Michael Bennett, all elected in November, have been generally supportive of a new direction for the general plan along with Mayor Jean Blois, a councilwoman since Goleta formed in 2002.

The looming recommendations include lowering affordable housing requirements at certain sites. Bacara Resort & Spa could find it easier to grow, and would-be developers of Bishop Ranch might have a shot at putting housing on fallow farmland along Highway 101 between Los Carneros and Glen Annie roads.

Hovering in the background are a series of lawsuits launched last fall against the city by landowners and business advocates who describe the original plan as legally flawed. Talk of settling these disputes still percolates among involved parties.

Whether changes might spark even more lawsuits is an open question.

A key and likely change could come to the housing policy.

In a March 19 letter to City Hall, the state Department of Housing and Community Development rejected for a third time the plan's important housing element, stating it "continues to require significant revisions to comply with state housing law.

"For example," according to the agency, "the element still does not adequately demonstrate the projected residential densities and build-out capacities on the identified sites (for new housing) can be realistically achieved."

While not stating so specifically, that passage was widely interpreted as targeting the plan's so-called "inclusionary" housing policy requiring that 55 percent of all units in new projects along sections of the Hollister Avenue corridor be affordable.

Builders and affordable housing advocates say that level of inclusion defies market forces, rendering project proposals financially infeasible. It appears as though the new council majority aims to decrease the level to around 25 percent.

Wallis appears ready to hold the line at 55 percent. It's a tool, she has said, to ensure Goleta gets the workforce housing it needs.

By law, a city or county can only amend its general plan once a quarter, or four times annually. In Goleta, the council may consider a raft of changes all at once, or perhaps groups of them in a series of decisions.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Monday, April 16 - Goleta City Council Meeting - General Plan

As was requested by a reader, and was in the works...

The Goleta City Council will be holding a meeting Monday, April 16. The specific item of interest on their agenda is the "Public Hearing to Initiate General Plan Amendments".

Here is the link to the agenda and associated documents.

So, make sure to get out and make your voice heard on this issue. Otherwise, do not sit back and whine afterwards when you disagree with whatever direction the council decides to take with this important document if you haven't made the effort to be heard.

Can't make it to the meeting? Well, you're in luck. You've obviously got an internet connection, so use your email account...

City Hall Main Phone Number: 805-961-7500
City Hall Fax Number: 805-685-2635

Jean Blois, Mayor - jblois@cityofgoleta.org
Michael Bennett, Mayor Pro Tempore - mbennett@cityofgoleta.org
Roger Aceves, Councilmember - raceves@cityofgoleta.org
Eric Onnen, Councilmember - eonnen@cityofgoleta.org
Jonny Wallis, Councilmember - jwallis@cityofgoleta.org

Staff:
Steve Chase, Director of Planning and Environmental Services
Phone: 805-961-7540
Fax: 805-685-2635
Email: schase@cityofgoleta.org

New Future for Goleta at the Heart of Monday Hearing

Santa Barbara Newsroom
By Tom Schultz
April 14, 2007

Following their campaign pledge to ease key planning rules across Goleta, newly elected City Council members are the driving force behind a raft of recommended policy revisions up for debate starting Monday.

In a hearing at City Hall, the council will discuss several proposed changes to a growth plan passed in October, including provisions that could spur new building. Some of the suggestions come from city staff members, others from residents and interests groups, or developers seeking more flexibility for specific projects.

"The purpose of this public hearing is to sort out all of the requests," according to a recent report by Planning Director Steve Chase.

If given the go-ahead, the review effort could cost an estimated $250,000 and take a year-and-a-half to finish, Chase said.

The spate of changes could affect the area for years to come. Land-use standards in the city's general plan will directly affect how Goleta will look and function for decades.
Councilmen Eric Onnen, Michael Bennett and Roger Aceves, all elected in November, are generally supportive of a new direction for the general plan along with Mayor Jean Blois, a councilwoman since Goleta formed in 2002.
In October, an erstwhile majority of longtime council members approved the city's first plan for traffic, noise, housing and other concerns one month before voters removed most of them from office.
Councilwoman Jonny Wallis is the last member to remain of that old majority, which included Councilman Jack Hawxhurst and Councilwomen Cynthia Brock and Margaret Connell. Wallis can expect an uphill battle preserving strategies approved in the original plan.

Onnen called the new proposals, which have formally bubbled to the surface in recent weeks, "just an amazing amount of data."

"Obviously, I'm thrilled that we have all these items on the table," he said Friday. "Obviously, they won't all come to the general plan at the same time. Some of the items are going to be easy, and some of them will require more. We've got a lot of work to do. It's going to be pretty time-consuming."

The recommendations include lowering affordable housing requirements at certain sites, softening restrictions on commercial development and easing language governing environmental protections. Bacara Resort & Spa could find it easier to grow, and would-be developers of Bishop Ranch might have a shot at putting housing on fallow farmland along Highway 101 between Los Carneros and Glen Annie roads.

Some changes would likely fall under a "fast track" schedule to unfold in the next three to six months at an estimated cost of $50,000, while others would take more in-depth review measuring their impacts on the environment at a cost of up to $200,000, Chase wrote, adding the latter could take nine to 18 months to complete.

The fundamental question at hand is an easy one. What, if anything, in the current plan should stay or go? But that’s where the simplicity ends.

While Wallis and other supporters largely see the current general plan as a tool for preserving Goleta as is, while adding some housing for workers, critics say internal inconsistencies, rigid language and unworkable strategies are key problems that threaten economic vitality and new home construction for the middle class.

Business leaders and affordable housing advocates supportive of a new direction have offered changes to the plan in testimony and writing.

On the other side, slow-growth advocates increasingly guard against wholesale revisions.

Hovering in the background are a series of lawsuits launched last fall against the city by landowners and business advocates who describe the original plan as legally flawed. Talk of settling these disputes still percolates among involved parties.

A key and likely change could come to housing policy.

In a March 19 letter to City Hall, the state Department of Housing and Community Development rejected for a third time the plan’s important housing element, stating it "continues to require significant revisions to comply with state housing law.”

“For example,” according to the agency, “the element still does not adequately demonstrate the projected residential densities and build-out capacities on the identified sites (for new housing) can be realistically achieved.”

While not stating so specifically, that passage was widely interpreted as targeting the plan’s so-called “inclusionary” housing policy requiring that 55 percent of all units in new projects along sections of the Hollister Avenue corridor be affordable.

Builders and affordable housing advocates say that level of inclusion defies market forces, rendering project proposals financially infeasible. It appears as though the new council majority aims to decrease the level to around 25 percent.

That might suit landowners such as John and Jana Price, who control nearly 9 acres at 6868 Cortona Drive. They want to put 132 residential units mixed with a recreational field, community center and deli at the site, and seek to include about 20 percent affordable housing, according to their agent, Harwood White.

"We look forward to working with council and staff to massage the general plan," White said in a March 5 letter to the city.

Wallis appears ready to hold the line at 55 percent. It’s a tool, she said, to ensure Goleta gets the workforce housing it needs.

By law, a city or county can only amend its general plan once a quarter, or four times annually. In Goleta, the council may consider a raft of changes all at once, or perhaps groups of them in a series of decisions.

Among suggested changes, the council would replace the word “shall” with “should” in more than a dozen passages to provide general rather than absolute policy direction.

For example, a line stating that “approvals of all new development shall require adherence to high environmental standards and the preservation and protection of environmental resources” would change, under the proposal.

Opponents of change have raised concerns about the unfolding process remaining open to the public. They praised the level of community input received for the plan approved last year.

“The (original general plan) process that got us here involved, I don’t know, a hundred meetings with hundreds of comments,” Wallis said recently. “I don’t want those to be lost. ... It would be a shame to lose that.”

On Friday, Councilman Bennett characterized the unfolding process as "so far so good."

"As always, the devil is in the details," Bennett said. He said the estimated fiscal costs of the changes to the city did not seem exorbitant.

"We're keeping our word," Bennett said. "We didn't run for office and go a different direction. We are keeping our minds open to all the stakeholders."

"I'm just really happy," he said. "Things are working as they should."

City of Goleta - Environmental Reviews

Currently posted are:

Village at Los Carneros Draft EIR
The Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Village at Los Carneros Residential Project has been released. The proposed project is located at 1 S. Los Carneros Road, on Lots 2 and 5 of the Raytheon/Campus Pointe Specific Plan Area.

A public hearing on the Draft EIR will be held by the City Council on Monday, May 7 at 6pm.

The public comment period on the Draft EIR begins on March 26 and will end on May 9 at 5:30pm.

Costco Gasoline Station - Draft Supplemental EIR
The Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report for the Costco Gasoline Station Project has been released. The proposed project is located at 7095 Marketplace Drive, Goleta, California.

A public hearing on the Draft SEIR will be held by the City Council on Monday, May 21 at 6pm.

The public comment period on the Draft SEIR begins on April 9 and will end on May 24 at 5:30pm.

Goleta Chamber: General Plan Amendment Meeting

An email from the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce:

When: Monday, April 16th, 6:00 pm
What: City Council Meeting on Amending the General Plan
Where: City Council Chambers, 130 Cremona Drive, Goleta

All Chamber Members [All members of the community, really] are requested to attend. Please come stand up - or speak up - for changes to the General Plan. Our City Council needs our support and input while making this important decision. The General Plan still needs much work to become a workable, legally defensible document that improves the living and business conditions within our City.

Thank you for your support. Please attend, notify your employees and neighbors, and we'll see you there.

Extreme(?) Makeover: Goleta Valley Voice Edition

Well by now you have surely walked to your driveway, and either picked up the copy of the newly redesigned Goleta Valley Voice, or you have left it on your driveway, only to run over it when backing the car out.

So, for those that actually picked it up and flipped through it, what are your thoughts? Good, bad, ugly?

I'll have the Weekly Roundup: Goleta Valley Voice posted up later on, for those who don't want to get their hands dirty.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Goleta Branch Library is a Busy Library

The Goleta Branch Library serves a population of about 90,000, many more than the population of the City of Goleta.

In the fiscal year ending June 2006 the Goleta Library checked out 564,695 items. That’s a lot of items for a library that serves around 90,000 people.

The reference desk deals with about 24,000 questions a year. That includes phone calls and helping people who come into the library. The number doesn’t include questions like “Has my requested book come in yet?”

If the library doesn’t have the book, DVD, etc. that you want you can place a hold through the online catalog. You can even do this at home and after library hours. The Goleta Library filled 27,471 holds in 2006. If the Black Gold system to which Goleta belongs doesn’t have what you want you can request an interlibrary loan from outside the BG system.

That and more from the LibraryAlly Blog.

Airport Construction Approved; Work to Begin in Late April

Santa Barbara Newsroom

SANTA BARBARA, April 10, 2007 -- The City Council on Tuesday approved nearly $14 million worth of construction work to realign a taxiway and lengthen the main runway at the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport.

The bulk of the work will be done by Granite Construction. The Federation Aviation Administration is footing the majority of the bill through grants; the city will contribute just 5 percent of the cost.

Beginning May 7, the airport will close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. to accomodate construction crews. The project is expected to be complete in October.

-- Melissa Evans

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Alumnus of The Gevirtz School Named Goleta's Teacher of the Year

Brent Elder, a Special Education teacher at Kellogg Elementary School, will receive Goleta’s Teacher of the Year Award. Elder, a graduate of the UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School, works in an Autism Special Day Class. “This award is a great honor to the collective efforts our education team has put into the students in Goleta,” Elder says. “This recognition speaks volumes for the district’s desire to include all students regardless of their abilities. I am honored and proud to teach in Goleta.”

Elder graduated from the Teacher Education Program at the Gevirtz School in 2004 with an emphasis in special education (a Preliminary Level I Education Specialist: Moderate/Severe Credential). At the Kellogg School he works collaboratively with the Koegel Autism Center to transition children with autism from his class into general education classrooms and create programs for students to interact with their typically developing peers on the playground.

Born in Hemet, CA, Elder attended UC Santa Barbara as an undergraduate, earning degrees in psychology and art history in 2002. He worked in the Devereux education department where his boss approached him about getting a teaching credential/masters with their financial support. Although he began classes in the moderate/severe credential program at CSUN extension at CSU Channel Islands, he transferred to UCSB’s Teacher Education Program in June 2003. Currently in addition to his teaching position in Goleta, Elder is enrolled in the Level 2 moderate/severe program at CSUN under the direction of Dr. June Downing.

Full Press Release

The Clock Ticking, Yardi Seeks Worker Housing

Santa Barbara Newsroom
By Tom Schultz
April 9, 2007

An 11th-hour request by company officials Monday has set the stage for the addition of employee housing to an Old Town Goleta project that's been years in the making.

Yardi Systems Inc. is now on track for a construction time extension that could bring up to 50 homes in addition to office space on property near the Santa Barbara Airport.

At a hearing before the City Council, company officials said that without worker housing it would be difficult to recruit and retain employees.

In a 5-0 vote, the City Council agreed to engage Yardi officials in a new round of project review. The council set a May 7 hearing to consider amendments to an approved 2001 development plan currently governing construction at the site near the Santa Barbara Airport.

“We have had some issues with recruiting and retaining employees,” Gordon Morrell, Yardi executive vice president and chief operating officer, told the council.

It’s a refrain that has filled board rooms, economic forecasts and government chambers up and down the South Coast in recent years, as housing costs have soared. Morrell said that Yardi might incorporate up to 50 new homes, including perhaps 10 rental units.
“This is a very, very rough number,” Morrell said. “We are very new at this.”
Yardi employees would get first priority for the new homes, according to the company.

On Monday, all five council members appeared sympathetic and several complimented Yardi on its effort to expand employer-sponsored housing for workers.

“This is a vital thing we need to consider, housing for our employees,” Mayor Jean Blois said.

Councilman Michael Bennett said the city and Yardi had nothing to lose by exploring their options. The project might help Yardi stay local, he said.

“This is an opportunity for us to be flexible,” Bennett said.

Councilman Eric Onnen suggested that a long extension could be a problem and said he hoped the city would pressure the company to finish in a reasonable stretch of time.

The coming months could bring a clear test of how the council members who were elected last November may handle the design review questions — the size, bulk and scale of projects and how many units to include — that haunt Goleta politics week after week.

Yardi's request came formally in a Thursday letter to the city, which had first learned of the idea about two weeks ago, according to Planning Director Steve Chase.

As currently approved, the Yardi project along South Fairview Avenue near Ekwill Street would add a 73,000-square-foot office building to properties that already hold a 60,800-square-foot workplace and a 108,000 square-foot office building.

Before the extension, the construction of Yardi's third and newest building was slated to begin before Oct. 23 to satisfy terms of the original project approval. Santa Barbara County signed off on the project before Goleta incorporated in 2002.

The third round of construction might have started in a couple of weeks, Morrell said.

“We are that close,” he said. “Our preference, however, is to take care of what we consider the real need.”

While supportive of working with Yardi, Councilwoman Jonny Wallis suggested that a degree of caution was warranted.

Choosing between housing and space for high-paying jobs could prove tricky, she said. Wallis said that adding housing should not get in the way of the expansion of nearby industrial areas.

“We have to be careful,” said Wallis, who lives in Old Town. “Let’s get the issues on the table."

Monday, April 9, 2007

Rescue Team Saves Man Off Goleta Beach

KCOY (Video)
4/9/07

GOLETA - A team of firefighters and police rescued a man who got into trouble Monday off Goleta Beach.

Investigators say the man was in a boat when he started having problems.

Then, they say the man got into the water himself, but got stranded.

Crews found him about a quarter-mile offshore.

They say he was disoriented and was suffering from hypothermia.

Paramedics took him to the hospital for treatment.

Santa Barbara Newsroom

SWIMMER RESCUED AT GOLETA BEACH

GOLETA, April 9, 2007 — A disoriented swimmer suffering from hypothermia
was rescued Monday a quarter-mile off the west end of Goleta Beach County Park,
officials said.

The unidentified man was hauled ashore at 5:13 p.m. by a team of 10 Santa
Barbara County firefighters who used a rescue watercraft, according to
authorities who took the man via ambulance to Cottage Hospital.

The UCSB Police Department assisted in the rescue.

- Tom Schultz

Sunday, April 8, 2007

In The Backyard: Goleta House Fire

KSBY


Another Central Coast home goes up in smoke.

It happened around 8 this morning
[April 7] on Capellina Way in Goleta. Firefighters were able to put out the blaze in less than half an hour.

The single family residence was badly damaged by the flames. Damages are estimated at 40-thousand dollars.

Luckily no one was home at the time of the incidence.

Close To Home: House Fire Displaces UCSB Students

KEYT (KEY News reporter Regina Ruiz has more: Video)

Easter weekend is off to a rocky start for 13 UCSB students. They don't have a place to live after their Isla Vista home caught fire. But, officials say it could have been worse if a one of the roommates hadn't used a fire extinguisher.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

SB City Council to Vote On Final Funding for Airport Safety Project

From Scott Steepleton in the Santa Barbara News-Press today:

Nearly $16 million in construction, management and monitoring costs for the final phase in bringing Santa Barbara Municipal Airport into FAA safety compliance will be voted on Tuesday by the Santa Barbara City Council.

The bulk of the money, about $12.8 million, will go to Granite Construction to realign a taxiway and relocate the main runway.


For the complete article, click here to visit the News-Press (subscription required).

Goleta Residents May See Change in Water Rates

From a 'Staff Report' in the Santa Barbara News-Press today:

The cost of getting water could be going up sixfold for major water users in Goleta.

For those at the other end of the spectrum, the cost could be cut in half.

On May 22, the Goleta Water District will hold a public hearing on changes to what's called the water meter charge, listed on the bill as the Basic Service Charge.

The meeting will start at 7pm at the Goleta Union School District Office, located at 401 N. Fairview Avenue in Goleta.

For the complete article, click here to visit the News-Press (subscription required).

Goleta Valley Voice Roundup - 4/06

Front Page:
Council backs plans for creek
Long-awaited improvements to San Jose Creek’s capacity took another step towards fruition Monday as the Goleta City Council took a look at the Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration/Environmental Assessment document for the project.

News Briefs:
In Brief


  • City looks at proposed Measure D projects
  • Two UCSB programs deemed among best
  • Reservations due for Goleta's Finest
  • Fund designates $1 million for scholarships

Sheriff's Blotter


  • High-octane java
  • Dude, missing something?
  • Empties gone missing
  • For nasty threats, press 1
  • Loitering for malt liquor
  • Another sore loser
  • Genius at work
  • Genius at work, part 2
  • Juvenile prank carries heavy penalty
  • Executive decision

Viewpoint:
The Duckpond: Itching to save San Jose Creek
I love creeks and have the scars to prove it. They’re on my left side, where middle age and gravity are trying to grow a love handle. I earned them the summer I caught chicken pox, measles and poison oak at the same time. The exact sequence of my afflictions escapes me, but I do remember that nothing could keep me out of San Pedro Creek, which ran behind our house on Valdez Avenue.

Community:
Local Currents: A month of activities for women
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center’s campaign, “Tools for Change: Building Lives Free From Sexual Violence,” kicks off a host of events:

The Daytripper: A station to another time
Is the Goleta Depot just another whistle stop between Los Angeles and San Francisco? You’ll be surprised at all the history the rails that run through Goleta have to tell. Goleta was on the route the Southern Pacific Railroad Co. would go through as it began constructing the Los Angeles to San Francisco Coastal Line.

Goleta Scrapbook: First in the foothills; last in pioneer skills
Who can name the first homesteader to lay claim to land in the Goleta Valley? Was it Catlett? Nope. Lillard? Close, but no.

Other articles at at the Goleta Valley Voice website.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Goleta Valley Voice... New and Improved!?

When you wander down the driveway in the morning, and pick up your copy of the Goleta Valley Voice, you'll notice an "Extra! Coming next Friday, April 13 the all new and improved Goleta Valley Voice" flyer.

The flyer goes on to state:

"Your news for & about the Goleta good land!"

And the coming soon part:

  • Goleta Neighborhood Forum
  • Goleta School News Briefs
  • Goleta Volunteer Close-ups

And there is even a "celebration" planned... you can meet the staff of the Valley Voice, pick up your copy of the "all NEW Valley Voice" and have coffee and donuts. At the bottom of the flyer, you'll notice a large space taken with "To advertise in the Valley Voice..."

One has to wonder, in light of the recent (lack of) local coverage by the SB News-Press (owned by Ampersand Publishing, LLC, which also owns the Goleta Valley Voice), if they will actually be able to accomplish local coverage of the Goleta Valley. Have they tapped out all the advertising dollars in Santa Barbara?

The 'news' they report on is no longer news when it hits the driveway, as other local media outlets have long since covered the Monday Council meetings, Tuesday Planning Agency meetings, etc.

Wonder what spurred this move...

Thoughts? Comments?

Close To Home: UCSB Woos Record Number of Prospective Freshmen

Santa Barbara Newsroom
By Tom Schultz and Rob Kuznia
April 5, 2007

A record number of freshman admission offers were made for the coming fall quarter at UCSB, giving seniors across the country a serious decision to ponder as high school graduation nears, the school announced Thursday.

A total of 22,168 admission letters were sent in mid-March, with university officials anticipating 4,200 yes responses. If that many offers are in fact accepted by a May 1 deadline, it would be the largest freshman class in campus history by about 100 students.


Complete story at the Santa Barbara Newsroom.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Mobile Home Rent Control and More on the San Jose Creek Project

Santa Barbara Independent
April 5, 2007

After winning a grueling court battle last year to defend its mobile home rent control ordinance, Goleta now faces a second bout over the same issue with Rancho Mobile Home Park owner Daniel Guggenheim, who aims to convert the park into condominiums. Other owners across the state are pursuing the same strategy, which critics characterize as a loophole to avoid complying with local rent control ordinances. Goleta’s City Council unanimously voted to lobby in favor of two bills that would close such loopholes.


The Goleta City Council rejected bids from numerous petitioners to make San José Creek – which periodically floods the Hollister business corridor – more trout-friendly. Environmentalists had hoped to combine a flood control project with state-of-the-art, fish-friendly technology – possibly diverting the creek and restoring its natural bottom. Citing 10-year timelines for that project, councilmembers voted unanimously to approve the draft Environmental Impact Report as written and begin construction next spring on a $14 million project that will deepen the creek to allow more water under the Hollister Avenue bridge.

Indy's Quote of the Week Comes From City of Goleta Employee

This week's Quote of the Week at the Santa Barbara Independent comes from City of Goleta Management Analyst Kirsten Deshler beginning a presentation to the City Council.

Three thousand bills were introduced in the Legislature as of February; we won’t go over all of them.

Fierce Debate Brewing In Goleta Planning Fray

Santa Barbara Newsroom
By Tom Schultz
April 5, 2007

Of all the big issues to hit City Hall since Goleta formed in 2002, the battle over a key planning framework seems to always be boiling on the front burner.

A majority of longtime council members approved the city's first general plan for traffic, noise, housing and other concerns in October, a month before voters removed most of those folks from office.

Now a new council majority is in charge, and it's setting the stage to dramatically amend a wide range of policies that barely began — yet critically impact — the community.

The fundamental question at hand is an easy one. What, if anything, in the plan will stay or go?

But that’s where the simplicity ends.

While its supporters largely see the general plan as a tool for preserving Goleta as is, critics say internal inconsistencies, rigid language and unworkable policies are key problems that threaten economic vitality and new home construction for middle class workers across the city.

Business leaders and affordable housing advocates supportive of a new direction are offering changes to the plan in testimony and writing.

On the other side, slow-growth advocates increasingly guard against wholesale revisions.

MEETING THIS MONTH

This comes as both camps gear up for an April 16 meeting, one aimed at framing and initiating a series of new public hearings expected to exacerbate debate in the coming months.

Hovering in the background are a series of lawsuits launched last fall against the city by landowners and business interests, alleging the past council violated state laws designed to ensure the environmental quality and an appropriate review of the plan. Talk of settling these disputes still percolates among involved parties.

Already, city staff members have offered a slate of proposed changes that could alter environmental standards and make new development easier to accomplish, or bring new commercial centers to the area.

“We have had more than 100 days and an opportunity to test the general plan against the 40 or some odd current planning projects that are currently in our quiver,” Steve Chase, Goleta planning director, said recently. “We have been looking at those projects and how they line up."

In some cases, the plan may impede success, he said. “That has influenced our thinking."

Changing the plan “should be a really positive thing,” Councilman Eric Onnen said. “Not to say there won’t be conflict."

“Obviously there are those who believe that the general plan is perfect as it stands -- a relative, in my opinion, minority -- but they are very vocal,” he said.

Bacara Resort & Spa, Sandpiper Golf Course and the would-be developers of Bishop Ranch were among parties opposed to the general plan as written by the last council. All have begun lobbying for future changes that could make development on those respective properties easier.

HOUSING A BIG FACTOR

Among the dissatisfied is Jennifer McGovern, coordinator of the Goleta Housing Leadership Council. The organization advocates for the construction of workforce housing, and has championed efforts to rework one general plan section in particular, an element rejected last month for a third time by state regulators. "I think what's been initiated by the new council is very productive."

In a March 19 letter to City Hall, the state Department of Housing and Community Development rejected for a third time the plan’s important housing element, stating it "continues to require significant revisions to comply with state housing law.”

“For example,” according to the agency, “the element still does not adequately demonstrate the projected residential densities and buildout capacities on the identified sites (for new housing) can be realistically achieved.”

While not stating so specifically, that passage was widely interpreted as targeting the plan’s so-called “inclusionary” housing policy requiring that 55 percent of all units in new projects along sections of the Hollister Avenue corridor be affordable.

McGovern and builders say that level of inclusion defies market forces, rendering project proposals financially infeasible. Based on campaign promises, it appears as though the new council majority, which includes Onnen, aims to decrease the level to around 25 percent.

“You have to have a housing element that’s workable,” McGovern said. “Not one designed by the former council to make sure development didn’t happen.”

Councilwoman Jonny Wallis, the last holdover from the old majority, paints a different picture.

“The council obviously wants to make some changes,” she said. “Some of those changes are getting considered because of lawsuits. There’s nothing wrong with considering what is brought to us by way of lawsuits. A general plan is, of course, a flexible document.”

Still, “We should consider what we want for the city of Goleta in the long term,” she said, citing controlled growth among her goals.

Wallis appears ready to hold the line at 55 percent. It’s a tool, she said, to ensure Goleta gets the workforce housing it needs.

“It’s important to remember that not all of Goleta is covered by the 55 percent,” she said. “I will look to see if the council is sensitive to the whole of Goleta and residents, or favoring big land users.”

“The (original general plan) process that got us here involved, I don’t know, a hundred meetings with hundreds of comments,” Wallis said. “I don’t want those to be lost. . . It would be a shame to lose that.”

Councilman Roger Aceves said it’s a good time for fine tuning, with the city also restructuring its Design Review Board and creating a strategic plan.

“I want people to know that nothing has been decided,” he said. “It’s going to take months to properly vet public comment and allow staff to do their work.”

WORDS WITH WEIGHT

By law, a city or county can only amend its general plan once a quarter, or four times annually. In Goleta, the council may consider a raft of changes all at once, or perhaps groups of them in a series of decisions.

On March 5, Chase unveiled an extensive matrix of proposed changes – part of a five-step process that by law must occur before any final decisions.

Among those, the council could allow all types of commercial development including large regional commercial centers in areas determined appropriate.

Another suggested change would replace the word “shall” with “should” in more than a dozen passages to provide general rather than absolute policy direction.

For example, a line stating that “approvals of all new development shall require adherence to high environmental standards and the preservation and protection of environmental resources” would change under the proposal.

It’s this same sort of change that could give Bishop Ranch a cracked door to future project hearings. Currently, the general plan states that land zoned for agriculture shall not be converted to other uses. Located between Los Carneros and Glen Annie roads, the fallow farm property spans more than 250 acres.

To Onnen, incorporating non-binding language makes government more responsive to community input and direction, by restricting any council’s ability to act unilaterally against a proposal.

When a council acts like that, he said, "then the only recourse is legal. It should be a public process.”

Other stakeholders see a chipping away at protections designed to keep Goleta neighborhoods flanked by open space.

“I would like to see the City Council reconsider” its direction, resident Bill Shelor said. “A sea change of this magnitude should be thoroughly and thoughtfully vetted. Certainly there are situations where flexibility is desirable similarly there are situations where the policy should be rigid.”

Click here for article source.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

City of Goleta Wants Share of Fees Paid By Oil Companies to County

Excerpt from "County Parks to Benefit from Oil Drilling", Santa Barbara Newsroom:

At least one supervisor criticized a request from the city of Goleta. The city is asking the county to pitch in $350,000 to purchase an acre of land northeast of the Ellwood Mesa area, known as the Doty Property, mostly for the purpose of creating hiking trails.

“I can’t possibly support (it),” said Fourth District Supervisor Joni Gray, who represents Orcutt and the Lompoc Valley. “To pay $350,000 for a little bitty property that’s not even close to the ocean – if it’s that important to the city of Goleta, do a fund-raiser.”

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Old Town Goleta: San Jose Creek and Steelheads

parkparkpark, a reader/commenter at BlogaBarbara, offered up for discussion the San Jose Creek project that the Goleta City Council had on their agenda last night.

In the enlargement nothing will be done to improve steelheads' ability to migrate up San Jose Creek! In earlier incarnations there was going to be a small channel with a natural bottom for steelhead, but that was removed. But now the concrete bottom will be left as is all along South Kellogg, which forms an impenetrable barrier to steelhead.

The project as about to be approved is right out of 1965. 35 years of South Coast environmentalism is being ignored by this undertaking, and the steelhead will suffer.

Further, the City of Goleta has only done a Negative Declaration, not a full EIR on the project.


Click here to read the full post and reader comments at BlogaBarbara.

2007 Easter Bunny Express


The 2007 edition of the Easter Bunny Express (15th Annual), one of the South Coast Railroad Museum's most eagerly-awaited family events, will be held on Saturday, April 7, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Those holding the event's egg-shaped tickets may participate in a variety of activities, including scheduled stops at Wabbit-Twacks Station (to board the museum's miniature train for a 1/3-mile ride around the grounds); Harvey's House (where a cookie and beverage await); Easter-Bunnyville (to meet the Easter Bunny and select an egg surprise); Jack-Rabbit Junction (to enter a drawing for some marvelous gifts); and What's Up Dock (to collect another event souvenir).

Tickets ($4 for adults and children) will be available at the museum during the event until 3:30 p.m.; or they may be purchased in advance during museum hours (Wed.-Sun., 1-4 p.m.).

Hop aboard the Easter Bunny Express on April 7, 2007. It promises to be another hare-raising eggs-perience for the whole family! If it rains on April 7, the event will be moved to the following Saturday (4/14).

Address & Directions:
300 North Los Carneros Road, Goleta, California 93117-1502.

The museum is located about two miles from the Santa Barbara Airport and about one mile from the Goleta train station, which is served by all of Amtrak's San Diegan trains traveling north of Los Angeles.

From downtown Santa Barbara, drive seven miles north on U.S. 101 to the Los Carneros Road exit. Turn right (toward the mountains) and go about 0.2 miles. The museum is on your right (Goleta Depot is the two-story yellow building) and shares the driveway with the fire station.

Close To Home: Work On UCSB East Entrance Gateway Arch May Begin In Late Spring

An artist's conception shows the Henley Gate, with its arch
running across entry and exit lanes, as the final element in
the new East Entrance to campus.



The award-winning design for the campus’s East Entrance will soon have a privately financed, arched gateway to announce the entry, according to Marc Fisher, associate vice chancellor, campus design and facilities. Work on the gateway element will begin around the end of May, if all goes according to a UCSB plan recently approved by the California Coastal Commission.

“The commissioners were highly complimentary of the (gateway) design and of our environmental stewardship (in general),” Fisher reported.

The $2.6 million project, which includes landscaping as well as support pillars and a wall with the University seal and the campus name, was entirely financed by private donors, said Martie Levy, director of capital development. Chief among them were Jeff and Judy Henley, whose name will be on the gateway, Marvel Kirby, Fredric Steck and Kelly LeBrock, and an anonymous donor.

Design credit for the arched gateway is shared among Henley, whose vision it was, Fisher, and architect Charles Woodburn, according to Deedee Ciancola, project manger. Landscape designer Phil Suding was “the prime consultant,” said Ciancola, but many other specialists were required for coming up with the physical structure and lighting elements as well as landscape.

The East Entrance roundabout and road project, which is managed by UCSB engineer Croft Yjader, earlier this year won a Project of the Year Award from the Santa Barbara-Ventura branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Goleta Approves Measure D Outlay

Santa Barbara Newsroom
By Tom Schultz
April 3, 2007

GOLETA -- The City Council on Monday approved a three-year Measure D spending plan that includes more than $1 million in street work.

In a 5-0 vote, the council OK'd a total of more than $1.6 million Measure D spending in 2008, more than $1.7 million in 2009 and nearly $1.8 million in 2010.

Bus lines will get $92,000 next year, $62,000 in 2009 and $63,000 in 2010.

In each year, $100,000 will go to concrete, $275,000 to street trees and medians and $25,000 to paratransit services.

In past years, local agencies considered 5-year blocks of Measure D funding. But an effort to tweak and renew Measure D after 2010 failed last year at the ballot box.

Click here for article.

Goleta Keeps Flood Control On Tap For Old Town

Santa Barbara Newsroom
By Tom Schultz
April 2, 2007

The Goleta City Council late Monday moved a flood control proposal, described by officials as “the highest priority improvement project for the city,” one step closer to groundbreaking.

In a 5-0 vote, the council OK’d findings released last month that a $14 million reconstruction of the lower San Jose Creek channel through Old Town would not have significant negative effects on the environment.

In doing so, council members directed staff managers to add language describing why alternative designs championed by some environmental organizations would not be feasible.

The Goleta City Council late Monday moved a flood control proposal, described by officials as “the highest priority improvement project for the city,” one step closer to groundbreaking.

In a 5-0 vote, the council OK’d findings released last month that a $14 million reconstruction of the lower San Jose Creek channel through Old Town would not have significant negative effects on the environment.

In doing so, council members directed staff managers to add language describing why alternative designs championed by some environmental organizations would not be feasible.

“It will help the community understand,” Councilman Michael Bennett said.

The channel runs under Hollister Avenue and parallel to Highway 217. Old Town -- along Hollister and south to the ocean, and between Kellogg Avenue and Fairview Avenue -- has historically suffered millions of dollars in damage to homes and businesses in heavy winter storms.

“The San Jose Creek Capacity project is considered the highest priority improvement project for the City of Goleta,” according to the report in question, known as a mitigated negative declaration.

The report determined Goleta can adequately offset problems in its preferred plan associated with construction dust and the disruption of natural habitats. No impacts to agriculture, mineral resources, housing, recreation or public services would occur, according to the 109-page document.

“No other major infrastructure project identified in the Goleta Old Town Revitalization Plan can go forward until the San Jose Creek flooding problem is resolved,” according to the report.

The public can comment on the environmental findings through Wednesday at City Hall.

Recent efforts to tackle the flooding problem date to the mid-1990s, when severe weather battered the region. When things got really bad, kayaks could be spotted where cars typically travel.

Plans currently include reconstruction of the Hollister Avenue bridge over San Jose Creek, modifications to the existing concrete flood control channel downstream of Hollister, the permanent replacement of approximately 350 feet of existing concrete channel with a natural bottom, and relocation of an existing “at risk” above-ground sewer line.

Modifications also would involve removal of an existing secondary steel bridge -- located approximately 100 feet downstream of Hollister -- and the relocation of an existing sewer line currently suspended from that steel bridge to underneath Highway 217. Officials say that line is susceptible to damage from floods and debris.

Approximately 475 feet of the concrete-lined creek channel -- extending from 80 feet upstream to 300 feet downstream of the bridge at Hollister -- would be removed and replaced with new vertical concrete banks 15 feet high, according to plans.

A 430-foot section of concrete bottom would be removed and left unpaved as a natural stream bed approximately 50 feet wide.

Upstream of the Hollister Avenue Bridge, the existing creek banks would be tied into new vertical walls, using boulders as a transition. These boulders would be placed, covered with soil, and planted with native plants, according to the city.

Final design of the project is scheduled for the end of 2007. However, the proposal must then wind its way through a series of reviews, including a final council vote plus consideration by the state Coastal Commission, before any work can begin.

The Santa Barbara County Flood Control District, an independent agency, owns and maintains the channel and also must approve any changes to the channel. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, must approve change to flood hazard maps associated with the project.

If approved, construction could begin in Spring 2008.

Several individuals on Monday night and in preceding letters to the city pushed the council to consider more options before a final vote.

Ben Pitterle, watershed programs director at Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, joined those calling for Goleta to perform a full environmental impact report and tap grant funds to better accommodate the passage of steelhead trout. Options could include a deeper, more natural bed than the one proposed, or redirecting the creek through nearby agricultural lands, he said.

“Money should not be a problem here,’ Pitterle said. “There’s a tremendous opportunity that the city of Goleta is missing out on. You just need to decide that this is really what you want to do. Please don’t pull the trigger on this yet.”

Options for fish habitat enhancements and creek diversions were among alternatives considered by biologists and public works brass, Community Services Director Steve Wagner responded. “We looked at all sorts of ranges for natural channel options."

But difficulties arose, he added.

Trout passage improvements could be incorporated at a later date as a separate project, and relocating the creek could make the city liable for damages associated with the diversion of flood flows, Wagner said.

Some homeowners and business leaders describe the speedy correction of flood problems as critical to the successful revitalization of Old Town, an area more dense and rundown than other parts of the city.

Kristen Amyx, president and CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, said Old Town would be well served by the city’s proposal:

“The project is very much needed to address the economic vitality of businesses of OT and the safety of employees and residents there.”


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Monday, April 2, 2007

Goleta to Consider Measure D Outlay

Santa Barbara Newsroom
By Tom Shultz
April 2, 2007

Measure D would fund more than $1 million in street work across Goleta in a three-year 2008-2010 funding plan under consideration tonight by the Goleta City Council. Measure D spending across the city would total more than $1.6 million in 2008, more than $1.7 million in 2009 and nearly $1.8 million in 2010.

Bus lines would get $92,000 next year, $62,000 in 2009 and $63,000 in 2010. In each year, $100,000 would go to concrete, $275,000 to street trees and medians, and $25,000 to paratransit services.

An effort to tweak and renew Measure D after 2010 failed last year at the ballot box.

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