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Goleta Council Hears Creek Project Update, Approves Reorganization Plan

The first major portion of the San Jose Creek improvement project is expected to be finished by the end of the year

Construction crews are hard at work on Goleta’s San Jose Creek Capacity Improvement and Fish Passage Project, which should have the first major portion — the creek channel itself — completed by the end of the year, program manager Rosemarie Gaglione said Tuesday.

She updated the Goleta City Council on the project, which is designed to relieve the threat of flooding into Old Town from San Jose Creek.

The concrete creek channel lining is being ripped out and will be replaced by a wider, fortified channel and fish passage channel for steelhead trout. Crews will also replace the Hollister Avenue Bridge over the creek so it has more clearance over the creek.

As of Tuesday, 408 of 988 beams have been installed for the new concrete wall panels, and contractor Flatiron West has completed $4,149,380 worth of work, according to Gaglione.

UC Santa Barbara was worried about the construction’s impact on its busy graduation weekends, but the weekend went smoothly even with the lane closure on Highway 217, said Kirsten Deshler, from UCSB’s governmental relations office.

Also on Tuesday, the City Council approved City Manager Dan Singer’s departmental reorganization plan.

The Community Services Department, headed by Director Steve Wagner, became the Public Works Department. Singer said it will have one manager — Bob Morgenstern — instead of two and cross-train its maintenance staff to work on streets and parks.

The Neighborhood Services Department, led by Director Vyto Adamaitis, became the Neighborhood Services and Public Safety Department. Since the Redevelopment Agency was dissolved, more responsibilities were shifted to that department, such as grant-writing coordination, property acquisition, conservation program, environmental services, economic development, housing policy and future recreation efforts. It already oversees code enforcement, through the Sheriff’s Department law enforcement contract.

The Planning and Environmental Services Department is now the Planning and Environmental Review Department, since conservation and environmental programs moved to another department.

Singer proposed making it simply the Planning Department, but Councilwoman Margaret Connell and others objected, saying the influence of environmental review should come through in the title.

“It has meaning as to how we approach things,” she said.

The council approved Planning and Environmental Review as its title, since it recognizes the importance of environmental issues without promising “services,” with programs moved to another department, Councilman Michael Bennett noted.

The city is searching for a replacement for Planning Director Steve Chase, who left to take a position in Stockton. Since interviews aren’t likely to take place until September, Singer and planning department staff urged the council not to delay the reorganization structure until a new hire is made.

Pat Saley, acting director, said the department is handling an unprecedented workload with big projects. Planning staff are currently working on the Westar mixed-use project, Willow Springs II housing project, Villages at Los Carneros and the Marriott Residence Inn, and are about to take on many more, Saley said.

Saley said there’s a lot of interest in Goleta for development, and it shows no signs of stopping — which means the planning department needs adequate staff members, she added.

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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