Ten years ago, the City of Goleta was formed, largely to give residents more control over land use. After cityhood was accomplished, city staff and the public spent hundreds of hours crafting our General Plan, which contained a vision for how Goleta land would be used and developed over the next 20 years.
There were three main points of overwhelming agreement on what was needed:
» To have a balance among residential, commercial and agricultural development
» To cluster residential and commercial development along the Hollister Avenue public transit corridor
» To keep agricultural zoning for certain parcels, not only to preserve Goleta’s agricultural heritage and to pace growth, but to allow future generations to have some say in land use when the General Plan comes up for major revision in about 20 years.
In September 2011, the City Council voted unanimously against initiating an application to rezone and develop Bishop Ranch. The Goodland Coalition formed then to organize community support opposing this development.
We were heartened by the council’s vote to deny the Bishop Ranch project, but we realized that more needed to be done to strengthen the General Plan’s protections for land zoned for agriculture. So in early 2012 we crafted an initiative, circulated a petition and in six short weeks secured the signatures of 2,100 Goleta voters to place what is now known as Measure G2012 Goleta Agricultural Land Protection Initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Measure G2012 will require a vote of the people before agricultural parcels that are 10 or more acres in size can be rezoned and developed. We believe Goleta voters should have the final say on rezoning these major agricultural parcels that are part of the careful balance of land uses in our General Plan.
The main reasons the Goodland Coalition is promoting Measure G2012 are:
» We support our current General Plan and don’t want to see it changed unnecessarily. It’s reasonable that rezoning large agricultural parcels for development, with the resultant large and irreversible impacts, should be subject to a vote of the people, not just the votes of three council members on a Tuesday.
» While we respect the intentions of our current council, the council majority can change every two years. G2012 gives the public a chance to study and understand potential impacts of rezoning farmland on vital services such as public safety, roads and other infrastructure, and water supply.
» G2012 is narrowly drawn. It is effective for only 20 years, affects a limited number of large parcels, and has exceptions to allow for meeting legal requirements for public schools, public parks, to comply with state housing mandates, and to protect the constitutional rights of property owners.
» Finally, there is no pressing need to rezone Goleta’s remaining agricultural lands. The General Plan presently provides the zoning for the additional residential and commercial development Goleta is projected to need for the next 20 years. At this writing, the City of Goleta has 1,400 housing units and nearly 2 million square feet of commercial development in the planning process. This includes the current or imminent construction of Haskell’s Landing, The Bluffs (completion phase), Hotel Marriott Courtyard, Mariposa @ Ellwood Shores Assisted Living Facility, the Ice in Paradise skating rink, Westar, Deckers Outdoor Corp.’s headquarters and other office buildings in the new Cabrillo Business Park, Villages at Los Carneros and Willow Springs Phase II. And we have zoning for even more residential development, enough to meet California’s housing mandates for the foreseeable future.
Goleta residents will also be experiencing the effects of development in the years ahead from UC Santa Barbara’s Long Range Development Plan as well as from projects on Santa Barbara Airport property north of Hollister Avenue and in the eastern Goleta Valley area.
Support the continued balance of land uses in Goleta by voting Yes on Measure G2012.
Click here for more information on Measure G2012.
— Bob Wignot is chairman of The Goodland Coalition and a founder of the city of Goleta.