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Monday, December 10 , 2018, 7:19 pm | Fair 52º


CHP Sets Sights on Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara for New Station

Officials confirm law enforcement agency is moving on from western Goleta location for headquarters replacement

The California Highway Patrol is looking at Earl Warren Showgrounds as a possible site for a new headquarters to replace its cramped and aging station at 6465 Calle Real in Goleta. Click to view larger
The California Highway Patrol is looking at Earl Warren Showgrounds as a possible site for a new headquarters to replace its cramped and aging station at 6465 Calle Real in Goleta. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

The California Highway Patrol is looking hard at Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara as the site for a new station to replace its cramped and aging local headquarters in Goleta, Noozhawk has learned.

CHP Officer Jonathan Gutierrez, a local spokesman, told Noozhawk that the agency is in the beginning stages of trying to purchase some of the showgrounds land at fair-market value.

The 34-acre Earl Warren Showgrounds at 3400 Calle Real is managed by the 19th Agricultural District Association, an agency of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The CHP would have to purchase land there through the state Department of General Services, which cautioned that it was nowhere near a done deal.

“The Department of General Services continues to search for the best possible site for the California Highway Patrol,” DGS spokeswoman Jacqueline Cummings told Noozhawk.

“It would be premature to speculate on a particular site, as no formal decision has been made.”

The state has said that the CHP’s one-acre facility at 6465 Calle Real, built in 1982, isn’t up to seismic safety and other state requirements.

Gutierrez said the CHP is no longer pursuing a western Goleta site that was subject to fierce opposition from neighborhood residents, who said the proposed five-acre property north of Hollister Avenue between Las Armas and Via Jero roads was too close to Ellwood School, the recently built Hideaway residential development and a planned senior living community.

Although its focus is on Earl Warren, Gutierrez noted that his agency is still searching for other potential sites in case the new Plan A doesn’t work out.

The CHP wants to find a new location for a station as soon as possible, though finding property is Santa Barbara is no easy task, he acknowledged.

The showgrounds property, at the corner of Calle Real and Las Positas Road, originally was developed as the permanent home for the Santa Barbara National Horse & Flower Show and to serve agricultural and equestrian events in the Santa Barbara area. The equestrian facility was built in 1955, and the exhibit building completed four years later.

In addition to the equestrian and livestock stables, corrals and practice rings, today’s facilities include the 22,000-square-foot Exhibit Hall, the 13,000-square-foot Warren Hall, a reception garden, an in-line skating rink, an RV parking lot, more than 1,000 parking spaces and easy access to nearby Highway 101.

Although there are residences along Las Positas Road to the east, the site is bordered on the north side by Adams School and the Santa Barbara Golf Club, which wraps around to the west. There is speculation that the CHP is looking at the west end of the showgrounds property, which is flanked by Calle Real and the freeway to the south and the golf course to the north and west.

Among the showgrounds’ bigger annual events are the recently concluded Santa Barbara Fair & Expo; the CALM Antiques, Decorative Arts and Vintage Show & Sale, scheduled for May 12-4; Circus Vargas, June 15-19; Santa Barbara National Multibreed Horse Show, July 7-9; Santa Barbara National Hunter/Jumper Show, July 12-16; Old Spanish Days Fiesta Stock Horse Show & Rodeo, Aug. 3-6; Santa Barbara Kennel Club Dog Show, Aug. 25-28; and the Junior League of Santa Barbara Rummage Sale, Oct. 25-28.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman 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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