Goleta voters overwhelmingly approved the Agricultural Land Protection Initiative in Tuesday’s election, receiving 71.05 percent voter approval of 9,566 votes cast.
The measure requires majority approval from voters before the city can redesignate certain agricultural parcels larger than 10 acres.
There are only six parcels within the city limits that apply, but about 120 parcels in Santa Barbara County are within the city’s planning area, so they could also be impacted.
The initiative was written by the Environmental Defense Center and advocated by the Goodland Coalition.
Supporters argue that the General Plan is subject to the whim of future councils, and are primarily concerned with the 240-acre Bishop Ranch property where developers have tried to build large residential and commercial complexes. Opponents argue that the measure is unnecessary and interferes with the city’s existing planning process.
Concern over the Bishop Ranch project clearly remains for many, even after developer Michael Keston severed his agreement with the property owner in October, ending a contentious, years-long debate over the open space’s future.
The property owner, University Exchange Corp., is withdrawing all development-related applications for the property and has no immediate plans to pursue another project there. UEC owns 3,200 acres of ranch land in Santa Barbara County.
They were the only two candidates running for the two available seats, and the race appeared on the ballot only because of the city’s local initiatives. Resident Leslie Lund announced her write-in candidacy about two weeks ago, which most likely was too late for many absentee voters.
Goleta voters also approved a proposed bed tax increase, from 10 to 12 percent. The measure received 71.54 percent of the vote.
Buellton, Carpinteria and Solvang also had transient occupancy tax increases on their ballots, which also were passing handily. The increases raise the tax rates to the level that of the City of Santa Barbara.