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Local News

Goleta Council Gives Go-Ahead to Citrus Village Housing Project

The approval process is complete, but it comes with mixed reviews

After several years and various proposals, a development project planned for the roughly one-acre parcel at 7388 Calle Real in western Goleta has made it through the city’s approval process, receiving the support of the Goleta City Council on Tuesday.

“I’m very pleased to have this phase of the project behind me,” said architect and developer Detty Peikert, who has been pushing for development of the project known as Citrus Village.

The approved project is a 10-unit condominium development housed in five duplexes. The three-bedroom units are built in two-story buildings, with each unit attached to a single-car garage. Also included in the plans are a tot lot and a wall on the western edge of the property to separate the residences from the adjacent commercial property.

Parking modifications are part of the proposed project, including a parking design that allows vehicles to encroach while backing out, and 10 covered and 21 uncovered parking spaces, rather than 20 covered parking spaces.

Additionally, the developer exercised his option to pay in-lieu fees totaling $161,290 instead of the construction of two affordable units in keeping with the city’s 20 percent inclusionary requirement. Peikert said he is “optimistic” even in this down housing market that he can get the financing to complete the project within the next couple of years.

Not so optimistic were a couple of citizens who spoke out against the project on Tuesday. Karen Kuyper and Karen Lovelace lamented the project’s density and the development it could bring to the western Goleta suburbs.

“We still have a very dense project,” Lovelace said. “It’s more than double the density of adjoining projects.”

The size and density of Citrus Village have been major topics for both members of the community and the city’s planning department. The developer acquired the property in 2003, after a 2001 pre-incorporation plan for 16 affordable units on the property failed to materialize. Since then, the project has gone through several iterations, the design moving from 11 units to nine to 12, changing according to the city’s desires for affordable housing, or concerns over the bulk of the project.

Last year, a 12-unit project approved by the Goleta Planning Commission was appealed by local resident Richard Foster, who on Tuesday indicated support for the 10-unit project.

“It’s the best we can do under the circumstances,” Councilman Michael Bennett said, acknowledging the friction between the developer and those who would continue to object to the project. He noted that the city’s General Plan allows for development on the site.

Councilwoman Margaret Connell, still concerned over the size of the project and the use of in-lieu fees instead of two affordable units, also supported the project. She added, however, that perhaps future projects on the remainder of Goleta’s undeveloped land could be planned on a different scale.

“I hope we’ll be thinking smaller,” she said.

Meanwhile, another another residential project in western Goleta received the go-ahead from the council for the initiation of a development agreement, one that may assist in ongoing efforts to get a fire station built in that area.

The city is not obligated to approve the project in its unanimous vote to initiate a development agreement for a proposed assisted-living facility at 7760 Hollister Ave. The decision was to allow staff to investigate the potential for the project, which would require rezoning of the 2.94-acre property to a designation that would better suit its proposed use.

The proposed facility, which would be run by local resident Oliver Dixon, includes accommodations for up to 99 residents. Also in the plans are a wellness clinic, a beauty/barber shop, a private dining area and four lounges. The facility is expected to create 44 jobs, and through the development plan would pay a fair-share contribution for a fire station in the area, which is considered to be underserved.

Dixon’s representative, Bendy White, called the project a “homegrown stimulus package” that not only would serve the community’s elderly population but generate property taxes and stimulate additional spending in Goleta. Should the project get approval from the city, construction would commence within one year.

“This is a real necessity in the community,” Bennett said.

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

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