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The Pad Climbing Gym to Move Forward with Conditional-Use Permit in Goleta

Planning Commission approves request for building at 30 S. La Patera Lane on a 3-2 vote

Building in Goleta. Click to view larger
After a brief public hearing this week, the Goleta Planning Commission approved a conditional-use permit for a building on South La Patera Lane to house The Pad Climbing Gym. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

After a brief public hearing process, Goleta’s Planning Commission voted The Pad Climbing Gym to move forward with a conditional-use permit for a building on South La Patera Lane, adjacent to the Amtrak station.

The business needs the conditional-use permit because the facility is zoned for industrial research park, a district exclusively for light industry, technical research and business offices, and business park land-use designation.

The applicant, Yishai Horowitz for The Pad Climbing Gym, wants to open a commercial gym offering a rock climbing area, workout space, yoga room, restrooms and office space within a 178,859-square-foot building at 30 S. La Patera Lane.

The proposed gym would use about 12,462 square feet of the existing one- and two-story industrial and office building.

The Planning Commission provided its interpretation of what uses are allowed under the land-use designation adopted as part of Goleta's General Plan.

The commission voted 3-2 to determine that "a gym open to the public is similar to the personal service uses category as defined under the business park land-use designation, but not the permitted uses enumerated in the industrial research park zone district, and that a commercial gym is a commercial athletic club, therefore subject to a major conditional-use permit.”

Commissioners Katie Maynard and Jennifer Smith were the dissenting votes.

City staff has received "numerous" contacts and phone inquiries requesting permission to operate commercial gyms, pools and other recreational operations within the business park land-use and industrial research park zoning. 

“My concern is that we aren’t consistent and equitable across the applicants,” Maynard said.

Smith echoed similar remarks that the applicant’s request would not be permitted in the currently proposed location.

“Our General Plan is what has been most recently adopted by our community and sets the policy parameters,” Smith said. “If the City Council as a policy matter were to determine that a General Plan amendment of some kind were appropriate, or another kind of determination, that would fall under their purview.”

The Planning Commission does not have the authority to modify Goleta’s General Plan — only the City Council can.

The commission held a public hearing to review the request and to take public testimony on Monday afternoon. The commission spent about 30 minutes deliberating, and land-use consultant Eva Turenchalk, representing The Pad Climbing Gym, was the only person to speak during public comment.

Turenchalk said the location and 37-foot-high building are “ideal” for The Pad Climbing Gym.

“It would provide access to this climbing gym for a large amount of local Goleta employees,” Turenchalk said. “The size and height required for a climbing gym make it almost impossible to find space in a commercial zone district.”

She said a climbing gym requires specific design and type of equipment.

“This is not just throwing a couple treadmills and stair climbers into an empty conference room,” Turenchalk said. “This takes a lot of space and specific climbing gear.”

Commissioner Ed Fuller said the popularity of a climbing gym could lead to anticipated traffic congestion in the area.

“There’s nothing to keep people from Santa Barbara or Carpinteria from coming to this gym,” Fuller said. “The more popular you are, the more people come to visit, the more traffic, the more parking and the more impacts in a neighborhood.” 

Commissioner Robert Miller also expressed concern about consistency for applicants, and said that the climbing gym is a “nice proposal for the area.”

Commissioner Anne Linn also liked the idea of a climbing gym.

“We should be a little bit open to something like this,” Linn said. “There are people in Goleta that will use it.”

Project compliance with all other zoning standards such as parking requirements would be analyzed and addressed on a site-by-site basis through the appropriate permit process and the California Environmental Quality Act review process, according to Joe Pearson II, associate planner.

Since Goleta’s incorporation, the question of whether commercial gyms are authorized in the business park land-use designation has never been addressed by the Planning Commission, according to city staff.

Also, whether such uses are eligible in the industrial research park zone has not been previously discussed by the five-member commission.

A conditional-use permit was approved for the proposed site at 30 S. La Patera Lane in 1994 — eight years before the city’s incorporation and 12 years before the adoption of Goleta’s General Plan.

The permit was for an indoor roller hockey and skating rink housed in 4,653-square-feet of the building. The business is closed.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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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