A proposal to build 332 apartments in Goleta is scheduled to go before the Goleta Planning Commission on Monday.
Red Tail Multifamily Land Development, The Towbes Group and the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara are behind the Heritage Ridge Project slated for a 17.36-acre vacant site north of Camino Vista and east of South Los Carneros Road. It is the third stage of the Willow Springs I & II development project. A two-acre public park is proposed as part of the project.
The project would include 228 market-rate units and 104 affordable units. The Goleta Planning Commission will consider making a General Plan amendment to remove an Environmental Sensitive Habitat Area designation; consolidate 13 lots into four lots; certify an environmental impact report; and approve a development plan.
It’s the first of what is expected to be at least two meetings before it must go before the Goleta City Council.
About 41 of the units would be set aside for low-income seniors and 63 for low-income families, and the rest would be market-rate.
“This is the final project for this site and has been in the planning process for at least 10 years,” Goleta City Councilman Roger Aceves said. “The timing could not be better, as it helps address our critical housing needs.”
The vacant site was bulldozed in the mid-1980s. Developers cleared orange and lemon trees in preparation for an industrial business park development that was never constructed.
In 2002, the property owner and UCSB began to stockpile dirt at the site from UCSB projects and the Willow Springs II development. About 230,100 cubic yards of materials are on the site, and about 92,000 cubic yards of soil need to be exported before any development.
According to the staff report for the meeting, it will take 24 to 27 weeks to export the soil off the site. Some environmentalists have expressed concerns about the development and its proximity to Los Carneros Creek.
“As currently proposed, the project would not meet the city’s requirement for developers to protect our creeks with a minimum 100-foot buffer, and would set a bad policy precedent,” Brian Trautwein, senior analyst/watershed program director, and Rachel Kondor, staff attorney — both for the Environmental Defense Center — wrote in a statement.
“After working with our experts, EDC is requesting the project be redesigned to protect the creek and important habitat while still providing the same amount of housing for our community. We are requesting modest changes to the stormwater plan to move the project completely out of the creek buffer area as required by Goleta city policies.”
The project has attracted much community interest.
“The Heritage Ridge Project would destroy important wildlife habitat and encroach into Los Carneros Creek’s streamside protection area,” Kathleen Nolan wrote. “I support a balanced approach which provides affordable housing that our community needs, protects the wildlife habitat and creek, and upholds the city’s habitat and creek policies.”
Kathleen Boehm wrote to the city: “As an advocate for protection for our natural resources and adherence to City of Goleta’s environmental protection policies, I object to Heritage Ridge development going forward as it is now proposed. Please review the flora, fauna, and creek protection that will be irreparably damaged with this proposal. Do not let the ruin occur.”
However, the project has drawn support from housing activists.
“I feel it is extremely important and imperative that the city embrace and entitle housing projects,” Holly Lynn Garcin wrote. “Particularly, a housing project such as Heritage Ridge that considers underserved populations, such as senior housing or special/affordable units.”
Others said the housing project would help reduce commuters.
“As a resident (and renter) of Santa Barbara County, I’ve seen firsthand the struggle it has been to find affordable housing in the county, including paying more than 30% of my own salary on housing alone,” Rachel Raynor said. “It is no wonder that people from Ventura/Oxnard or Lompoc/Buellton have to commute into the cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta every day because the cost of housing is far too high.
“Please support and approve this project and allow more affordable housing to be added into the supply.”
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Monday. Click here for more information.
— Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.