Tuesday, July 17 , 2018, 2:56 am | Overcast 65º


Local News

Goleta Council Approves Outside Contract for Building Services

City leaders also address legal notices for land-use applications and participation in an energy program

Changes to the city of Goleta’s building inspections, public noticing for land-use applications and participation in a county-managed energy independence program were among topics of discussion for the Goleta City Council on Tuesday afternoon.

The council voted 3-2 to allow the city manager to execute an agreement with Willdan Engineering to provide building and safety services. The contract, according to Planning and Environmental Services Director Steve Chase, is expected to save the city up to $60,000 by the end of the next fiscal year, as well as provide specialized personnel in an attempt to streamline operations at the city’s planning department.

The adjustment in services (the city already contracts with Willdan for some of its building services) comes as a result of research on cost savings for the city, which expects a $616,866 shortfall for the 2011 fiscal year. Coupled with diminishing demand for building services, Chase said the new contract is designed to be both cost-saving and flexible with the anticipated needs of builders.

The result will be a building inspector available Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, a dedicated counterperson, and what the staff anticipates as little else in noticeable changes in how the department operates.

However, there was still a little skepticism from the council over whether the changes would improve or at least maintain the quality of service provided by the city.

“I can’t agree to this,” said Councilman Roger Aceves, one of the two dissenters on the vote. “There are performance questions and no review process.”

The contract would last four years, and includes a provision for termination if the services rendered are not satisfactory — which provided some assurance to Mayor Eric Onnen.

“We’re transferring the risk to Willdan,” he said.

Also on Tuesday, the council voted 4-1 to rescind its legal noticing policies on land use applications, choosing instead to rely more on electronic media to notify locals when a project occurs near or in their neighborhood.

Currently, the city relies mainly on sending mailings to residents within 500 feet and property owners within 1,000 feet of a project, which the staff says exceeds local requirements for noticing. Given recent trends of as much as 10 percent of mailings returned to the city as undeliverable, the staff recommended zoning code standards of a 300-foot radius for property owners and 100 feet for coastal zone residents (those who live within two miles from the coast).

The city will increase utilization of electronic media such as Web sites and e-notices to inform residents of a pending project. On the ground, signs will be posted at the project site to inform those nearby of upcoming development.

In other council news Tuesday, members unanimously approved participation in the South Coast Energy Independence Program, a county-managed program intended to provide incentives for green-building and energy-saving standards for both new buildings and retrofits. The details have yet to be hashed out between the city and county, but they are expected to come to a cooperative agreement soon.

Funding will come from federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act grants, but the program is expected to be self-sustaining in the near future.

The council also voted to approve a 10-year extension on its lease with Bermant Development Company for the facility that houses City Hall.

After ultimately backing down on a plan to purchase its own facility a few months ago, for now the city has decided to stay at 130 Cremona Drive, Suite B. The new lease terms represent a decrease in the rent per square foot of City Hall, which houses offices, a planning department, council chambers and some of the police department. Lease terms also include a tenant improvement allowance and structural improvements. The city will receive two months of free base rent. Savings, according to City Manager Dan Singer, will amount to $60,000 during the next fiscal year.

Should the city decide to move out before the end of the 10-year lease, it may be responsible for reimbursing the landlord for one month of free rent as well as a prorated share of the tenant improvement allowance.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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