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Tuesday, January 22 , 2019, 4:40 am | Fair 53º


Glen Annie Golf Course Unveils New Development Plan

Under financial pressure, the property owner proposes 175 homes, four soccer fields and a smaller golf course.

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The proposed Glen Annie Fields project includes 175 homes and four soccer fields surrounding an executive-size 18-hole golf course. (The Dewey Group rendering)

The financially embattled Glen Annie Golf Course in northwest Goleta unveiled an ambitious development plan Wednesday evening, in the hopes that a successful project will both benefit the community and bail the golf course’s owner out from under a $15 million debt.

“We tried to have something for everyone,” said consultant and developer John Dewey, representing ValleyCrest Companies, owner of the golf course at 405 Glen Annie Road.

The project, called Glen Annie Fields, includes 175 homes and four soccer fields surrounding an executive-size 18-hole golf course. The housing would include roughly nine multifamily units of about 10 units each and 18 two-story townhomes — “affordable by design” units — aimed at middle-income workers. Trailing around and through a 3,200-yard golf course would be 67 single-family homes. The southeast corner of the golf course would be used for four soccer fields. Two new roads from Cathedral Oaks Road to the south would create access to the homes. The establishment’s Frog Bar & Grill would continue to operate.

It’s a plan Dewey thinks might be attractive enough for consideration by the Goleta City Council. Unlike other properties in the area, the golf course is already developed, he said, and the soccer fields could provide venues for the local sports community.

Only 16 percent of the total 161-acre property would undergo modification, said Dewey, and previously designated sensitive habitats would be left alone. The owner is said to be in conversation with the adjacent Shelby Land Trust property owners to expand the golf course, the homes, or both, into their land.

The key for Dewey and his team will be to get Goleta to re-designate a portion of the golf course’s land use to planned residential, no small feat since Glen Annie Golf Course is just outside the city’s boundaries and would have to be annexed to Goleta first. Under the county, the property is designated agricultural.

The 18-hole regulation-size public golf course has been in financial dire straits since it opened in 1997, due to rising costs and only half the expected revenue. It has since explored its options, one of which included converting into a municipal golf course, owned by the city of Goleta or Santa Barbara County, nixed because neither the city nor county seem willing to put up the money to purchase it.

Another would have been to wait out the Goleta Valley Community Plan update to get a rezoning designation from the county, but that was rejected because of the time it would take to complete the document.

Yet another alternative the golf course has is to sell the property to the county in the form of three 40-acre lots, to the tune of $3 million to $4 million each.

If a residential project was allowed on the property, said Dewey, the project would be able to benefit the community, cover VillageCrest’s $15 million debt, and make a modest profit besides. At the beginning of the year the owner floated a plan to offer free affordable housing for teachers as part of a development proposal. The idea raised much community interest but was dropped because of what would be perceived by the city as an offer that would be unfair to other middle-income workers like firefighters and law enforcement.

Addressing what could be the biggest concern from neighbors of the proposed project, Dewey said that there would likely have to be improvements to nearby roads and intersections to mitigate for the increased traffic a new neighborhood would bring to the area, including widening the segment of the two-lane Cathedral Oaks Road to three lanes, and providing public parking.

For Goleta Planning and Environmental Services drector Steve Chase, who attended the meeting, the project is interesting for its recreational component, but would have to meet certain standards to have a good shot at getting support from the City Council, which would, in addition to annexing the property, have to initiate a General Plan Amendment that would result in a land-use conversion.

It could be an uphill climb for the golf course owner and developer. City staff has pushed to deny both the requests of the similarly zoned Shelby Trust property and the nearby Bishop Ranch property for such a General Plan amendment initiation, citing, among other things, no pressing need for new housing at the time. The council approved initiation of the Shelby Trust’s request, and Bishop Ranch, sensing no support from staff, withdrew the request shortly before the initiation hearing.

“Do we need the additional land inventory at this time? I don’t know .... Will it create neighborhood? With the Shelby Trust land it has the potential to. Is there a compelling need? There’s potential for that, with the recreation opportunities that are here and to continue to have trail access and a number of other things. It’s wide open, we’re going to let the facts dictate our recommendation,” said Chase.

Glen Annie Golf Course will be before the Goleta City Council in late September or early October. Anyone who wishes to find out more about the project should call John Dewey at 805.259.9499.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at [email protected]

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