Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 9:33 pm | Fair 52º


Proposed Marriott Residence Inn Gains Ground in Goleta

Planning Commission sends project to City Council despite concerns over building height, size and its location on a Chumash cultural site.

The Goleta Planning Commission voted 4-1 on Monday night to move a proposed extended-stay hotel project forward for City Council review, potentially adding another hotel on Hollister Avenue. Commissioner Ed Easton opposed the project.

The Marriott Residence Inn, a 140-room, 99,824-square-foot, three-story extended-stay hotel would be located across Hollister from the Santa Barbara Airport, in a location deemed ideal by city planners for its proximity to local businesses, the airport and UCSB.

According to Scott McChesney, vice president of development company R.D. Olson, the hotel would bring in about $750,000 in transient occupancy tax to Goleta and will provide new jobs as well as help satisfy the demand for hotel rooms in the city.

The local Chumash community, however, has been protesting the project because of its significance as a midden. The site is on the northern edge of the Goleta Slough, where once ancient Chumash lived. It is considered by the tribe to be one of its last remaining cultural sites in the area. Two burial sites on the Goleta Valley floor, located north of this project, have already been disturbed.

A few design and construction modifications, several meet-and-confer meetings between Chumash representatives, the city and the R.D. Olson team, and a week-long archaeological excavation later, the Native American community was still dissatisfied with the way the developers were handling the project.

“Even though all this effort was set forth we still have significant destruction to our culture sites,” said Coastal Band Chumash representative Janet Garcia.

“Working on an archaeological site is not like working on engine,” said R.D. Olson archaeologist David Stone. With this site, he said, there were certain challenges, particularly in striking a balance between gaining information and preserving what could be buried there.

The Chumash found a sympathetic ear in Easton, who expressed his concern about the seeming rapidity with which the hotel was being pushed forward.

“This hotel at this site at this time ... seems to be a rush to get more transient occupancy tax,” said Easton, a City Council candidate. Besides which, the building is too big, he said, pointing out exemptions made for encroachments onto setbacks, the building’s height, which exceeds the city’s designated building height limit and its floor-area-ratio, which Easton said was “increased specifically to accommodate this hotel.”

“This sets a precedent,” he said.

Meanwhile, representatives of other hotel chains, wary of the new hotel, also weighed in on the project.

“I ask you to rethink your vision of Goleta and not sell out out community with easy mitigation requirements for unneeded hotel rooms,” said Dean Pananides, general manager of Best Western South Coast Inn.

Despite some concerns regarding traffic, which would exceed city thresholds, and landscaping, the majority of the commission voted, with some conditions, changes and mitigations, to move the project forward to the City Council for review and approvals.

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

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