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Sunday, February 17 , 2019, 6:53 am | Fair 49º

 
 
 
 

Goleta Council Approves Growth Plan for Fairview Gardens

A five-year improvement project is designed to get the organic farm's labor camp up to code — and away from neighbors.

To the chagrin of neighbors, a labor camp on the premises of Fairview Gardens organic farm, which has generated many noise complaints through the years, will grow in the short term so it can move away from its neighbors in the long term.

The Goleta City Council on Tuesday night unanimously gave the nod to a five-year improvement plan for the organic farm, whose labor camp violates code and is made up of families living in bathroom-less yurts — a kind of cross between a tent and a trailer.

The proposal stirred up old resentments between the farm and the neighbors, who long have complained about the noise of the nearby labor camp, as well as the noise of roosters, which were removed from the premises this spring. On Tuesday, a handful of neighbors spoke out against the plan.

“Families living in tents or yurts are very noisy; there’s no sound barrier or insulation,” said neighbor Larry Cobb, a resident of the nearby Via Fiori neighborhood who says he has dealt with the farm’s practices for decades. “Adding more residents to this area will only compound the problem.”

Fairview Gardens is on 12.5 acres of land that traditionally have been used for agriculture for more than a century. While visitors have praised the farm’s efforts to create an organic and sustainable agricultural operation, neighbors have had to live with noise and seemingly unsanitary conditions for years.

Located on Fairview Avenue just south of Cathedral Oaks Road, the farm’s biggest concentration of laborers is a collection of three yurts and a trailer toward the back of the farm that abuts several cul-de-sacs off Wakefield Road. The proposal calls for replacing the trailer, which is not up to code, with a yurt, and adding a fifth yurt closer to the front of the farm to accommodate a five-member family living in a trailer. 

The plan calls for moving all of the yurts toward the front of the farm within a year. Officials said the farm must keep the labor camp in place for a while, primarily to allow it to install a water and sewer system at the site of the future camp. Within five years, the trailers will be replaced with permanent housing.

The temporary labor camp soon will be served by a mobile kitchen and a mobile shower facility.

 


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A separate project calls for restoring the 115-year-old farmhouse.

The on-again, off-again tension flared up again in late 2007 when the farm, in an effort to get permits for several structures, became the target of complaints from neighbors about its poultry operations and laborers’ living conditions.

The farm passed health inspections, but it became clear that the living conditions for the farm’s workers were inadequate and the noise from the roosters were a nuisance. The farm’s administration, reputed to have been unresponsive and even unfriendly, now is working with neighbors and the city.

Although the City Council’s vote was unanimous, council member Eric Onnen said he found the idea of the temporarily enlarged labor camp difficult to swallow.

“I am blown out of the water by this yurt,” he said. “This is a hell of a kink in this process.”

Most council members, though, praised the farm for its apparent newfound willingness to work with the city and the neighbors. They also sought to assure neighbors that they will not allow the farm to shirk its responsibility to abide by the timeline.

Noozhawk staff writer Rob Kuznia can be reached at [email protected]

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