Friday, February 12 , 2016, 5:09 am | Fair 47º

County Supervisors to Consider Studying Higher Densities in Eastern Goleta Valley

The board sets aside three hours of Tuesday's meeting for discussion of proposed changes and whether to grant the go-ahead for an environmental review

Map shows the borders of the area affected by the Eastern Goleta Valley Community Plan and two agriculture parcels that remain farmland according to the draft plan.  Many are still worried those sites will be developed over time.
Map shows the borders of the area affected by the Eastern Goleta Valley Community Plan and two agriculture parcels that remain farmland according to the draft plan.  Many are still worried those sites will be developed over time.  (Santa Barbara County map)

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper | updated logo |

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors has set aside three hours of Tuesday’s meeting to hear from county staff and the public about proposed changes to the Eastern Goleta Valley that could see the area become more dense with residential housing.

The supervisors are being asked to give the go-ahead to begin an environmental review for the draft community plan for the area, which spans from the eastern border of Goleta to the northwestern border of Santa Barbara.

The Goleta Valley Community Plan for the Eastern Goleta Valley would amend the plan that was last updated 19 years ago and provide guidelines for future development in the area.

But some worry that changes enforced by the state could make the semi-rural area a more dense and congested place to live.

Under its current housing element, the county is obligated to consider the residential zoning of at least two sites totaling 20 to 30 acres zoned for 20 units an acre. Last summer, the county received a letter from the California Department of Housing and Community Development that the county’s housing element was conditional on this rezoning, and that the draft plan “does not appear to include sufficient and realistic opportunities for higher density residential development.”

If the county fails to implement the new zoning by July, its housing element would no longer comply with state law.

The county Planning Commission recommended that the densities go forward last year, and staff have said that studying the higher densities in the environmental documents is not a commitment to rezone the properties.

The county is now studying seven specific properties where that density could be increased to 20 units per acre. The draft community plan keeps two parcels designated as urban agricultural areas,  with one on South Patterson Avenue and one at San Marcos Growers, near Hollister Avenue and Turnpike Road.  But many are still worried about the possibility of those parcels being converted for other uses besides farming.

A letter from Good Land Coalition chairman Bob Wignot was sent to the Board of Supervisors last week, encouraging the board to follow Goleta’s lead on preserving open space and agricultural land. The City Council gave a resounding no to Bishop Ranch developers last September and voted unanimously not to proceed with a public planning process.

“Agricultural land is a precious local resource in any community and is worth fighting for,” Wignot wrote. “When it is paved over, it is gone forever. We hope that the voice of the Eastern Goleta Valley is heard just as clearly by the county as ours was heard by the City of Goleta.”

Another letter sent from the Environmental Defense Center called for the supervisors to uphold the Planning Commission’s decision not to include the San Marcos Growers site for a rezone, as well as a parcel on South Patterson zoned for agriculture.

Also included in the public comment is a letter from Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent Dave Cash. The district owns a 23-acre property in the Eastern Goleta Valley that was planned for another junior high school in the 1960s but has since been vacant. The site is zoned for residential development, however, and was identified by the county that it could be rezoned for more units.

”The redesignation of this site would provide an opportunity for the district to pursue future development of the site as a means of obtaining significant revenue and to provide the community with much needed housing, including below market,” Cash wrote.

A letter from Suzanne Elledge Planning & Permitting Services in support of the changes was sent on behalf of the owners of the triangle parcel on South Patterson Avenue, and said the property has potential for a residential in-fill project. Elledge asked the supervisors to uphold the Planning Commission recommendation to study residential uses in the area.

“It would be unreasonable and premature to outright reject it,” she wrote.

Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in the Board Hearing Room on the fourth floor of the County Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

» on 02.21.12 @ 02:05 AM

I think this is so ridiculous.

The solution is simple.  Just tell the State to take a hike!

» on 02.21.12 @ 11:01 AM

Here we go, again. There is not enough water to support that kind of residential growth.

Furthermore, you cannot add low cost housing to this market and keep it cheap. Not without taxpayer subsidies.

And when the next drought hits and State Water dries up, it won’t be farmland that goes unproductive.

This is the State bowing to demands from the building and real estate industries.

» on 02.21.12 @ 01:45 PM

No this is the state bowing to unions Rambler the Racist. Unions are demanding the state build out more housing for more state workers and to support unionized construction. But it’s easy to blame everyone else.

However, Noleta would not be going through this if it had not been such an obsequious bunch of SB brown nosers. They couldn’t be bothered with Goleta cityhood because they wanted to pretend they were in SB, who has historically wanted nothing to do with them. Now they are paying the price and it serves them right. I have no sympathy for them.

» on 02.21.12 @ 03:30 PM

The Socialist left represented by the Democrat Party in the State of California decades ago stated they wanted to strip out any and all local zoning and land use controls in favor of high density developments.  After all it is the “green” thing to do.

It is with a huge dose of ironic humor one has to laugh at the ruling party in the state.  The Green’s, the social justice crowd all wanted this years ago.  Well they have it and now the long term implications are no longer implications it has been staring them in the face for the past 15 years.  High density, jam them in like rats developments that destroy quality of life in the state are the norm. 

Reminder so much of the socialized, government subsidized, units are in locations just like this.  For all those swells in Hope Ranch and Montecito that love this type of politics still laughing all the way to the voting booth?

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