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Local News

Marriott Residence Inn Project Earns Goleta Council’s OK

After heated debate and a 30-day continuance, plans are approved for the new hotel adjacent to the airport.

The proposed Residence Inn by Marriott is a three-story, 140-room extended-stay hotel to be built at 6300 Hollister Ave. across from the Santa Barbara Airport.
The proposed Residence Inn by Marriott is a three-story, 140-room extended-stay hotel to be built at 6300 Hollister Ave. across from the Santa Barbara Airport. (Gene Fong Architects Renderings)

A hotly debated hotel project received crucial approval from the Goleta City Council last week, clearing the way for a 140-room extended-stay hotel to be built across from the Santa Barbara Airport.

The council approved the Residence Inn by Marriott project on a 4-1 vote Tuesday, with Councilwoman Jonny Wallis dissenting. (Click here for a related Goleta City Council story.)

The project at 6300 Hollister Ave. has drawn criticism from the Chumash community for its treatment of a prehistoric Chumash site, from area hotels for its potential to siphon profits from their operations, and from community members concerned about its three-story bulk relative to its 3.79-acre lot size. The hotel has been the subject of several Planning Commission meetings and several meet-and-confer meetings between the city and the Chumash community.

On the other hand, the project is supported by the local business community, including the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, for the potential revenue it could bring to the city, which is experiencing an anticipated three- to four-year budget downturn. The hotel is projected to bring in $600,000 in transient occupancy tax in its first year.

Both sides argued it out at Tuesday’s meeting, the continuation of a meeting a month ago that had the City Council split evenly at the time: Mayor Michael Bennett and Councilman Eric Onnen supported the project while Wallis and Councilman Roger Aceves were against it. Councilwoman Jean Blois was recovering from an automobile accident and was absent.

This time, Aceves said he was satisfied with the mitigation required for the building, which includes a Phase 3 data-recovery project, meant to assess even further the archaeological significance of the site. He voted along with Bennett, Blois and Onnen for the hotel, which is to be built by the R.D. Olson construction company.

For Wallis, however, the Phase 3 project was at least one of the things that kept her from supporting the hotel. She described the further digging and extraction of archaeological material as an “obituary for the things we’re going to find.”

The Residence Inn project comes at a time when Goleta continues to assess its need for hotels within its city limits. The 112-room Rincon Palms Hotel, at the corner of Hollister and Storke Road, received council approval last month. The Camino Real Hotel, at the corner of Storke and Phelps Road, is a 99-room boutique hotel making its way through the planning pipeline. As a result of local hoteliers claiming that the addition of more rooms would undercut their profits, the city embarked on an economic study focused on the local hotel industry, but the conclusions of that study have not been determined.

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