It was business as usual — or as much that could be mustered — Tuesday evening as the Goleta City Council and Redevelopment Agency voted to adopt an amendment to and midterm review of the RDA’s 2008-09 to 2013 five-year implementation plan.
The decision came on the eve of a pivotal vote by state legislators that could do away with redevelopment agencies across the state.
Included in the amendment and review are an update on the progress of redevelopment projects and three new RDA projects, including land acquisition of parks, a housing rehabilitation program and a loan to the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara to fund an affordable housing project.
With the upcoming vote on Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to fix a $26 billion deficit by, among other things, eliminating RDAs across the state, the future of Goleta’s RDA projects is uncertain. The city’s agency has guaranteed its most major project, the San Jose Creek capacity improvement and fish passage project, by issuing bonds and transferring money to cover that debt and a contract with the county to oversee the project.
But according to city attorney Tim Giles, should the governor’s proposal push through, the RDA’s ability to incur debt, acquire land and other redevelopment-related activities would cease, and the RDA would be obligated to hang on to its money until July 1, when a successor agency would come in to oversee the wrap-up of the RDA. Projects, including the Hollister Avenue Redesign or the Ekwill-Fowler surface street project, would be in funding limbo.
Still, City Manager Dan Singer said, should the vote be in favor of the governor’s proposal, there is likely to be litigation in an effort to protect local tax increments for local projects. Meanwhile, there is also doubt that Brown will get the four Republican legislators’ votes to hold a special election this summer to implement his budget proposals.
“We move forward,” Singer said.
The City Council also took in a progress report on the status of the implementation of Goleta’s General Plan/Coastal Land Use Plan. Staff provided an update on the various tasks that have been accomplished as set out in the city’s development blueprint, including the initiation of abandonment of derelict oil and gas facilities at and near the Ellwood bluffs; a development plan agreement with regard to UCSB’s Long Range Development Plan; and the launch of the city’s Zoning Code.
Also in progress are six requests for changes in land use designations, with two more on the horizon, for Bishop Ranch and Village at Los Carneros.
While the city submitted its Housing Element to the state months ago, it remains to be seen whether this time the state Department of Housing and Community Development will provide the certification the city has sought for years. Among future goals for the General Plan are enhanced choices for and opportunities to provide affordable housing.
The council also approved an amended version of the Camino Real Specific Plan, the development plan that encompasses the Camino Real Marketplace and adjoining properties owned by Wynmark Co. The amendment to the development plan is specific to a hotel that is planned for the northwest corner of Storke and Phelps roads in Goleta, where the developer intends to build a hotel. The amendment allows for an increase in the number of rooms from 99 to 106.
The footprint or size of the building would not increase; there would be only a reconfiguration of the suites inside the hotel. Project manager Kim Schizas said the revised plan merely eliminates 10 suites “the market doesn’t really call for.”
The amended version will come up for a second reading at an April council meeting.