[Editor’s note: One in a series of four candidate Q&As for the Goleta City Council. Click here for Jean Blois. Click here for Margaret Connell. Click here for Don Gilman.]

NOOZHAWK: What do you love most about Goleta?

Ed Easton

Ed Easton

ED EASTON: Particularly, its small-town character, I know merchants and they know me. I have developed friendships all over the town.

NOOZHAWK: What is the most important issue facing Goleta today? Over the next five to 10 years?

ED EASTON: The issue right now is the defense of the General Plan against the efforts by the current council majority to increase development and lower our environmental standards. Over the longer term it is hard to say given the oncoming recession. Predictions at this time are wishful thinking.

NOOZHAWK: If you could revise the Revenue Neutrality Agreement with Santa Barbara County, would you do it? If so, what would you change? If not, why?

ED EASTON: I would start to revise the agreement by first establishing and publicizing exactly what it covers and why. While the amount of money that goes to the county from Goleta seems large, there has been no information that identifies how the agreement was reached and the basis for it. Mere comparisons with other cities do not furnish useful information for governmental decision-making.

With the facts established, we could begin to examine the state guidelines and see how the agreement matches up against them. This then would be the time to negotiate with the county and arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement that conforms to the guidelines. Without a factual basis for our arguments we will get nowhere. Ignorance is not a negotiating strategy.

NOOZHAWK: Goleta, the county and California all face increasing budgetary pressures. What steps will you take to ensure Goleta’s financial security?
ED EASTON: Goleta’s budgetary situation is as planned and not unduly stressed. Given the surpluses foreseen in the future, the most important step we can take is to not try to let our appetite for new services outstrip our ability to pay for them. The coming recession drives this point home with a vengeance. To hold the line on taxes we must understand that there is no free lunch and we must proceed very carefully in these uncertain waters.

NOOZHAWK: Is there anything you would do differently with the General Plan?

ED EASTON: 1. We need to have our Housing Element approved by the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

2. We need to examine the current work program for revisions and move forward on only those that represent needed corrections to language and consistency.

3. We must mount a vigorous defense of the General Plan against developer lawsuits that are intended to scare us into changing the plan.

4. We must review changes made to date for their long-term impacts on our city and begin a process of community involvement to see if changes are necessary.

NOOZHAWK: How will you work with UCSB to ensure its Long-Range Development Plan addresses impacts on Goleta?

ED EASTON: I would like to work very hard with the university to mitigate the proposed LRDP’s impacts. I recognize they cannot control the directives of the UC Board of Regents, but working together might help change the direction they have been given so as to relieve the pressure on the city. It may be hard for the university to accept the reality of the foreseen impacts — see the city’s letter to UCSB on this subject — but being cooperative as well as comprehensive may help. I do not think we have any alternative.

NOOZHAWK: Describe Goleta’s relationship with Venoco. Is it mutually beneficial?

ED EASTON: Venoco has long used the protections of state laws governing oil production to buffer itself from local desires. That is their right, but the facts of aging infrastructure, a product of comparative low quality, and community fear of the consequences of catastrophic accident all combine to make Venoco’s exit from Goleta a question of when rather than whether.

I see little if any significant gain for the city from Venoco’s presence here.

NOOZHAWK: What do you see as the future of Bishop Ranch?

ED EASTON: The Bishop Ranch can become a significant addition to Goleta when our infrastructure — primarily roads — and water supply can support it and we need space to grow. Its potential mitigations could be a big part of developing that infrastructure.

Alternatively, it could be developed at very modest densities, which would allow the land to be put to productive use. Now, however, is not time to assess these options. The future will give us guidance on that.

NOOZHAWK: Should the city of Goleta grow into the eastern Goleta Valley? Why or why not?

ED EASTON: When a significant majority of the residents to our east see and want the benefits of being part of Goleta, I hope that will be possible. The economics of this choice will need to be a major study by the city.

NOOZHAWK: How would you improve Goleta’s traffic circulation?

ED EASTON: 1. I would assure that Calle Real was made continuous from State Street to the new Hollister Avenue bridge west of Winchester Commons.

2. I would make Ekwill Street a quick route around Old Town’s Hollister Avenue and make Hollister a pedestrian-friendly, slow, two-lane street.

3. I would establish a loop shuttle system linking UCSB, the airport, Old Town, the railroad station and Camino Real Marketplace. I would investigate the options for a pod system on an elevated trackway for the future.

4. I would look forward to high-speed buses linking Highway 101 intersections to Santa Barbara points north of Goleta and small buses serving these stations in the residential neighborhoods to the north.

NOOZHAWK: Would you offer a resolution to replace the Goleta logo’s monarch butterfly with a Noozhawk?

ED EASTON: When adult members of the Sus scrofa family achieve an effective balance of propulsive thrust, lift, drag, weight and/or buoyancy, you can count on me.

Click here for more information on Ed Easton.