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Cultural Resources Create Divide Over Proposed Extended-Stay Hotel on Hollister in Goleta

The Goleta Planning Commission looked at a 118-room extended-stay hotel for Hollister Avenue near the airport earlier this week, and though a decision on the project was continued to next month, that next meeting could garner a big public turnout if Monday's meeting was any indication.

The project under discussion for the site at 6300 Hollister Ave. is a Marriott Residence Inn Extended Stay Hotel, and developers first filed permits for the project in 2009.

Since then, the proponents of the project maintain they've reduced the size and made changes to protect views.

The part of the project that has garnered the most controversy is that it sits on top of a Chumash village site, raising concerns from some in the community.

The property includes a portion of a much larger archaeological site and is the last portion of the site that hasn't been developed, according to city staff.

The project would divide the parcel slated for the hotel into two lots, and the Hollister Center building on the second parcel is currently occupied and would not changes uses or stop operations. 

The project has been revised a number of times, shaving off 22 fewer rooms with a reduction in height and floor plan and an increase in setback from Hollister Avenue to lessen impacts on mountain view, said Robert Olson, president of RD Olson Construction, the company behind the project,

Olson is also the owner of the Courtyard Marriott that opened on Storke Avenue last year.

The project would have kitchens, be aimed at travelers staying for longer periods of time and units would be about one and half times the size of a normal hotel room, he said.

"This really is the product that's needed here in Goleta," he said.

The current room number is down from 140 in the initial application, he said, and the project would garner more than $10 million in bed tax over the next decade.

Olsen said his company has met with the Chumash community seven times during the process, and that the building would would rest on 60-foot piles, a move he said would preserve what's underneath.

Supporters of the project stated during public comment that a type of project was needed in the area and would bring revenue to the city.

Michael Rattray, who formerly worked for Raytheon, called the project location "ideal" for Goleta's tech industry and strategically located to the airport.

"We've been waiting for this for 40 years," he told the commission.

Others had a different viewpoint.

Attorney Marc Chytilo, representing several organizations, including the Goodland Coalition, said the project was an important heritage site to the Chumash with intact resources and that the application should be denied.

Chumash advocate Frank Arredondo also took issue with the studies done on the property and said he would be talking about cultural resources at the next meeting.

Commissioner Terry Dressler said he wanted to be sure there wasn't any further mitigation that could be done to prevent the project impacts and also expressed concern about building heights in the area.

"What's the plan to prevent Hollister Avenue to become a canyon of buildings?" he posed. "I want to hear that from staff."

Commissioner Eric Onnen commended the changes since the original application. 

"You are protecting the resources from damage from the project but you are also protecting it for the future," he said. "We're not losing the incredible resources there."

Commission chairwoman Meg West said she had received numerous emails from residents opposing the project, and had noticed a trend about people expressing concern about the pace of growth in the city.

"This is an issue that's a lot larger than this one specific project," she said, adding that people are concerned with the pace of growth in Goleta in general and that a study session about the issue should be held.

The commission is scheduled to take up the item again it its Nov. 25 meeting at 6 p.m.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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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