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Goleta May Get Moving on New City Hall

Council holding public workshop Tuesday to discuss plans for a site the city can call its own

[Noozhawk’s note: The city of Goleta pays about $350,000 a year in rent for its government facilities. An earlier figure was incorrect, and the article has been updated below.]

Heads up, Goleta: On Tuesday, the Goleta City Council will be discussing plans to purchase a new City Hall and move out of its digs at 130 Cremona Drive.

“Nothing has been signed yet,” Councilman Eric Onnen told Noozhawk on Thursday. Onnen noted that the acquisition of a city hall has been a goal for the city, which currently pays in the neighborhood of $350,000 a year for its facilities. The city has been working on acquiring its own facilities for about a year, he added.

The site where the proposed new city hall would be located is within Cabrillo Business Park, 6767 Hollister Ave., between Los Carneros and Storke roads. Called “Building 2,” the structure is an as-yet unbuilt two-story, 40,000-square-foot office building that has already been approved by the city. Amenities would include a more permanent council chambers, public reception areas, offices for all five council members, library and records storage, showers, and designated space for all city departments, including the police force.

The city wouldn’t need all 40,000 square feet of office space, said Onnen, but the tentative plan would be to lease the extra room.

At the current rate of $325 per square foot, the building would go for about $13 million, paid for with a combination or funds reserved for the purpose, bonds, and the city borrowing from itself, officials said. The city would get a $500,000 discount for up-front partial financing, and would also receive credit for any developer impact fees charged to Sares-Regis Group for the project (about $550,000, according to the staff report). The city would also foot the bill for interior improvements, projected at about $2 million. Overall project costs are estimated at about $14.4 million. The city would commit half of the funds to an escrow account, including an up-front deposit of $250,000. The balance would be due upon close of escrow, in about a year from the opening of the account.

If the council authorizes the purchase of the building, move-in is anticipated in early 2011.

Given the soft real estate market these days, the move to purchase property could be a good one, but the city also faces budget problems it anticipated — largely as a result of its ongoing revenue-neutrality agreement with Santa Barbara County. And that was before the state and national economies took a dive. With the city facing possible raids on its coffers by the cash-strapped state government and a dip in local tax revenues, it aims to discuss the pros and cons of purchasing its own facilities at Tuesday’s workshop. The public is encouraged participate, said Onnen, who added that the financing plans for this proposed purchase would not displace funds earmarked for projects the city has already received.

Other issues the public might want to weigh in on would be more esoteric, said Onnen.

“Is it in the right location? Would the public feel like it’s their City Hall?” he asked. Other locations, like Old Town Goleta, have been proposed for the new city hall, he said, but no appropriate locations have been found.

Other issues include environmental and archaeological issues, and the fact that the building is in the airport approach zone.

Generally, matters of real property are discussed in closed session, but Tuesday’s meeting signals the public’s opportunity to participate in this matter, said Onnen.

“We want to make sure the public knows the facts and can come up with some good questions,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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