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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 5:09 am | Fair 50º


Westar Project Prompts Leslie Lund to Launch Write-In Candidacy for Goleta Council

Leslie Lund has been opposing the Westar mixed-use project for years, and the Goleta City Council’s approval of the project in early October prompted her to run for a council seat.

Leslie Lund
Leslie Lund

Lund announced her decision Friday, and will be a write-in candidate for the Nov. 6 ballot.

She said she and her neighbors on Glen Annie Road — across the street from the proposed residential and commercial development — want a smaller, more pedestrian-friendly project there, and worry about the overall traffic impacts.

If elected, Lund said she would push for some design changes for the Westar project, which proposes 274 residential units, parks, open space, stores and restaurants.

Lund realized that only Mayor Ed Easton and resident Jim Farr were running for the two open council seats when she received her ballot, and gave in to her neighbors’ — mostly fellow Westar opponent Patsy Moreno — encouraging her to run.

“This is very flattering, having neighbors come to you and suggest you can maybe make a difference,” Lund said. “I thought, ‘What if I could actually win, and actually make a difference?’”

Growing up in Bakersfield, Lund lived in a neighborhood where families got very involved in the goings-on of the day, whether it was politics, development or events. Even children would get into it, knocking on doors and handing out fliers on the corner, she said.

“For me, I come from a family of not quite activists, but very involved in the community and caring about what happens,” she said. “I think it’s kind of natural that I would do this.”

Lund has lived in Goleta for 14 years and made her mark volunteering. She was honored as the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Volunteer of the Year in 2007 and serves on the Board of Directors of Girsh Park as past president for the Foundation of Girsh Park.

She volunteers for the Motorcycle Toy Run, Boys & Girls Club kid’s auction and Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy/MDA.

She has lived and been involved on the South Coast for 35 years, since she graduated from UCSB.

In her involvement fighting Westar, she got to know more about the city’s development process and all the projects in the works. Lund is a slow-growth advocate who thinks the public should be involved much earlier in the planning process.

“With all the construction and the traffic and everything, I thought perhaps we should make sure the infrastructure can withstand everything that was approved already,” she said.

She had walked door-to-door to educate her neighbors about Westar, and realized many members of the public weren’t aware of all the development projects.

“So many people weren’t even aware of any of the projects going on, and if they were, it was because it was at the end of their street,” she said. “I also found out a lot of people don’t get the newspaper anymore, have dish TV and don’t listen to the news — they’re so busy just going to work and trying to put gasoline in the gasoline tank and get dinner on the table.”

If elected, Lund said she would try to slow the pace of new development, promote redevelopment efforts in Old Town, create new public special events, save open space and pursue new parks projects.

“I just like Goleta; I have lived here for 14 years, and would like to see the best of Goleta always be presented,” she said.

She said she doesn’t want to spend any money for her short campaign, but is walking door-to-door and has set up a Facebook page.

“Everybody is pretty bombarded with TV ads and all the bickering kind of going on, you know?” she remarked. “I really didn’t want to do anything like that.”

Easton, who is running for re-election, said the news of a write-in candidate surprised him.

“This seems a little late; we just don’t have that much time,” he said, adding that he doesn’t think his campaign will respond at all.

Easton voted in favor of the Westar project and said it could be difficult to stop since it has been approved by the City Council.

Farr said Lund’s campaign seems to be a protest candidacy based on the Westar approval.

With Lund’s announcement, he has talked to his campaign manager and may print some fliers and walk the Westar project area to hear residents’ concerns.

By the time projects get to the City Council, they usually have been in the system — with environmental review, design review and Planning Commission checks — for several years, and the projects are already shaped, Farr said.

Because of that, “I think the City Council is under enormous pressure to approve projects as-is — I would like the process moved upstream a little bit,” he said.

It could save time and money if every decision-making body discussed a project’s parameters earlier, he said, although he was unsure if it’s feasible to make changes to the process.

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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