It’s 240 acres of fallow land off of Glen Annie Road in Goleta now, but the public on Tuesday evening will get a chance to talk about what kind of development — if any — should go forward on the Bishop Ranch property in the future.
The Goleta City Council will be tackling the topic, and city staff has allotted four hours of meeting time for a presentation and to hear public comment about the project during the council’s evening session, which begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at 130 Cremona Drive.
“The applicant is seeking a process and a dialogue about a mix of residential units, a community commercial center, community amenities and public works infrastructure,” a city staff report said.
Bishop Ranch is the single largest privately owned parcel in the city. The land is zoned for agricultural use so Goleta’s General Plan would need to be amended to allow the project to proceed. The council must ultimately make the decision whether to initiate such amendments, and is expected to give direction to staff after hearing public comment Tuesday.
The development company behind the move is Bishop Ranch 2000 LLC. Earlier this year, the company submitted an application to the city asking for those amendments and for a development agreement.
State law requires a decision on the amendments before any other portion of the project is heard and decided. Just because an initiation is granted, does not mean development will be approved.
The process of developing fallow land is a complex process, as city documents show. Because of the land-use zoning change, public interest in the project is building, and the council will be deciding whether to have city staff work on a multiyear public-planning process for the application.
In August 2010, council members authorized an independent study of the property and the report was released to the public in July. (Scroll down this page for the full report.) During the two public workshops that followed its release, commenters expressed support for a project that would help meet affordable housing needs in the area. Others, however, raised concerns about things like water availability and neighborhood road capacity.
The study looked out three outcomes for the property: keeping it as is, development for residential units and development for agriculture.
“The property study did not provide a prioritization of the three land-use scenarios nor did it conclude that one land use was better than another,” a staff report said. “Instead it identifies and scopes those opportunities and challenges that would need to be addressed if a public process were initiated by the council.”