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Goleta Council Decides to Put Farmland Initiative on November Ballot

Residents will vote Nov. 6 on whether to approve a measure affecting agricultural lands within the city

The Goleta City Council decided Tuesday night to put the Goleta Agricultural Land Protection Initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot, a move applauded by the Goodland Coalition and Environmental Defense Council.

The council members had the option of adopting the initiative outright at Tuesday night’s meeting, but approved the impact report and unanimously agreed, with virtually no discussion, to let voters decide the issue.

If passed, the initiative would amend the city’s General Plan Land Use Map so that re-designating any agricultural land more than 10 acres in size would require approval through a vote of the people.

The ordinance would be effective for 20 years, and exempt land needed for the kind of housing the state is required to provide under state law, and wouldn’t limit public school or park development. The city estimates that it will cost about $15,000 to have the ballot in the consolidated election.

Proponents claim the measure, also known as the Goleta Heritage Farmlands Initiative, “will protect our city’s small-town character and its unique agricultural and naturally scenic setting” and ensure that farmland isn’t rezoned without public debate.

They gathered enough signatures to put the item on the ballot and received a $10,000 grant from The Fund for Santa Barbara to educate voters on the initiative, Goodland Coalition spokesman Bob Wignot said.

There are only six parcels to which the initiative would apply, including Bishop Ranch and neighboring parcels, Fairview Gardens, a parcel in Ellwood Canyon and a parcel near the Glen Annie Golf Club.

Environmental Defense Center staff attorney Nathan Alley said the group was inspired by the council’s action against the proposed Bishop Ranch project last fall. The council voted against a residential and commercial project planned for the 240 acres of open space off Glen Annie Road.

Click here to read the initiative impact report.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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