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275-Unit Residential Project Greenlighted in Goleta

The Village at Los Carneros wins unanimous support from Goleta Planning Commission.

Local developer Andrew Bermant scored a goal this week, with the Goleta Planning Commission’s unanimous approval of The Village at Los Carneros residential project at its public hearing Tuesday night.

The multifamily housing project is to be located at 1 S. Los Carneros Road, north of Hollister Avenue and south of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. It will cover about 28 acres of currently undeveloped property with 275 housing units. Sixty-three of the units will be rentals for very low-income families, the result of a partnership between Bermant Development Co.  and the nonprofit People’s Self Help Housing Development and Management. Six units will be condos priced for moderate-income families and the remaining 206 units will be market-rate townhomes and flats.

The project, which began before Goleta’s incorporation in 2001, is the result of years of discussions and negotiations between BDC and the city. The result is a sustainable, energy-efficient design that had even the keenest city planning observers heaping praise and reciting poetry.

"How do I love this project, let me count the ways," said local resident Kathy Gebhart.

The Village at Los Carneros’ proximity to local businesses would encourage residents to walk or bike to work, said Bermant. Its development would allow commuters to the area to live near their jobs, an idea strongly supported by the local business community.

Other elements of the project include a bus stop, private community center and recreation areas. Bikeways, including one over Tecolotito Creek will provide alternate routes into and out of the development. The developer also proposes to contribute $400,000 to Girsh Park’s campaign to install an all-season soccer field and at least $500,000 to fund a local employer workforce housing program.

The project’s Environmental Impact Report did identify two unavoidable and immitigable impacts, however: a major solid-waste impact from the almost 700 tons of waste per year the development is estimated to put out and a significant safety impact from the Village’s proximity to the railroad tracks.

Given the project’s net benefits and the low probability of an accident with a train, city staff recommended approval of the project.

"What really grabbed us is that you have the realization of the objectives of the General Plan," said Steve Chase, city director of planning and environmental services, pointing out the variety of housing the project offers and the standards to which future developments in the area would have to follow.

Both the city and developer still have to fine-tune the project, with discussions on things like traffic impacts and mitigations. If all goes smoothly, construction could begin this time next year, with anticipated completion around 2011.

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