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Bill Macfadyen: Goleta Celebrates 10 Years as a City, But It’s the Future That’s So Exciting

Best of Noozhawk 02.03.12 also spends some idle time at Santa Barbara intersections, then drives traffic with

1. After 10 Years As a City, Goleta Leaders Are Proud of the Past and Optimistic About the Future

2. Maturing As a City, Goleta Increasingly Means Business

You can’t tell one of these stories without the other so I’m using my publisher’s prerogative to put them together. Goleta celebrated its 10th anniversary as a city Feb. 1, and the milestone is an exciting one, but not just because of the arduous work that marked the last decade. What’s truly exciting for Goleta is that its best days are yet to come.

First, let’s briefly dwell on the past. Chafing at the seeming lack of interest from and investment by Santa Barbara County over the years, Goleta Valley residents sought to break away and form their own city. The third vote was the charm and, in 2002, they finally achieved their objective of incorporation. As it turns out, that was the easy part.

What followed next was an acrimonious birthing period as competing factions vied for the upper hand over every possible policy and position the fledgling city had. The City Council chamber in the early years was often a de facto demilitarized zone with representatives of the no-growth caucus and the business community bristling at each other’s comments and never making eye contact. Having attended many of those council meetings, I can tell you that the tension was palpable.

To their enormous credit, however, the city’s professional staff — led by City Manager Dan Singer — kept plodding away on all of the vexing details that few people ever think about beforehand. Meanwhile, a series of much more moderate councils slowly checked off every box until — lo and behold — they had achieved what some thought was the impossible: A General Plan that most everyone could live with. That’s when the fun started.

Now officials are looking ahead to later this year when Goleta’s controversial revenue-neutrality agreement with the county flips to the city’s favor. San Jose Creek is receiving proper attention and upgrades after decades of county neglect and devastating flooding of Old Town. A newly completed overpass has streamlined Goleta’s western entry point at Winchester Canyon and renovations have begun on Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital on the eastern end.

Having spent more than 10 years running in quicksand, the 965,000-square-foot Cabrillo Business Park is fairly sprinting forward with the addition of two marquee tenants: FLIR Systems and Deckers Outdoor Corp., the latter a defector from the city of Santa Barbara. On the horizon are a Target, two new hotels, an ice-skating rink and a possible commuter rail stop adjacent to the office and industrial parks that line Los Carneros Road.

What’s more, the city has forged ever-closer relationships with the Goleta business community, led by the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, and UCSB. Out of these discussions, civic leaders and city and university officials have begun to look a little further down the road, to imagine what Goleta could become when all elements are working together with respect, collaboration and innovation.

Goleta is on the go. And it’s really cool to watch it. Congratulations on the first 10 years!

3. Santa Barbara Police Issue 60 Citations in Crosswalk Sting

Responding to complaints by the public, Santa Barbara police staged crosswalk enforcement operations at three intersections around the city Feb. 2. Officers handed out 60 citations to motorists, mostly for failing to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. In crosswalks. Twice in the last two days, I’ve seen cars roll through crosswalks with pedestrians in them; one driver even smiled and waved at two women who were three steps into the street as she cruised through the intersection of State and Figueroa.

4. Santa Barbara Officials Say Traffic Cameras at City Intersections Are Not ‘Big Brother’

While we’re on the subject of intersections, several readers stopped at them have asked us about the proliferation of camera-type devices that seem to be appearing on more and more traffic signal arms around the city of Santa Barbara. So Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper asked about them, and found out that you need not worry about being recorded. According to city traffic engineer Derrick Bailey, busier intersections have the traffic cameras installed to detect motion and maximize the signals’ green time.

5. FindTheBest Gives Noozhawk Readers a Better Way to Compare

My friend, Kevin O’Connor, is a serial entrepreneur and his latest startup is, an objective comparison engine that allows users to survey a variety of categories and options through personalized filters.

That sounds way more complicated than it is. In fact, through a new partnership with Noozhawk, readers can FindTheBest public and private high schools, middle schools and elementary schools; child care; substance abuse rehabilitation; real estate; and nonprofit organizations. For your convenience and information, we’ve modified many of the categories so the default search starts in the Santa Barbara and Goleta area. (From the horizontal navigation bar just under the Noozhawk logo on our homepage, use the drop-down menus from each tab to reach desired categories.) is addicting, and we’ll be adding more, equally captivating categories later this quarter.

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