Pixel Tracker

Sunday, February 17 , 2019, 5:07 pm | Partly Cloudy 55º

 
 
 
 
Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank

Gaviota Annexation Plan Placed on Hold

LAFCO delays decision on Goleta Water District plans for Gaviota property.

The Goleta Water District‘s application to annex 131 acres of Gaviota property  stalled last week when the Local Agency Formation Commission  continued its public hearing on the subject to a later date.

The reason for the delay, said LAFCO executive officer Bob Braitman, was the last-minute submittal of letters by local environmental groups like the Gaviota Coast Conservancy  and Surfrider Foundation.

The property is in the district’s "sphere of influence" and was approved for annexation in 1998. But the application lapsed after the district failed to annex the property despite two LAFCO extensions.

The 131 acres, some of which are part of the historic Naples subdivision, were intended to be part of a golf course, a plan approved by Santa Barbara County but denied by the state Coastal Commission in 2003. The development project has changed but the water district’s obligation remains the same.

The district project currently proposed for the area is to provide water hookups to two residences on those parcels, which have not yet been built. Other structures that may be built include greenhouses and other buildings allowed under the area’s agricultural zoning.

The GWD’s ability to repay money given to it in 1998 by the owners of the property is another question raised by critics. The money paid to the district was contingent upon the annexation.

"It was over $4 million," said Fran Farina, a Goleta resident, water law attorney and close GWD observer. "And if the annexation does not go through, the owners may ask for the money back."

It is not clear from the district’s 2007-08 budget   whether the GWD would have funds on hand to repay the owners. When asked by Noozhawk if the district had the money to repay the property owners, GWD president Chuck Evans said, "We pay our debts."

Last week was not the district’s only setback recently. Two weeks ago, the GWD’s revisions to its SAFE ordinance  came under fire from local planning organizations, causing the board to continue the public hearing.

According to the ordinance, 1 percent of the district’s total potable water supply would be made available every year to new or additional developments if certain conditions had been met the previous year with regards to elements like drought buffers and total water supply. The district would release the 1 percent and then commit to a higher total minimum water supply to accommodate the new development in times of drought.

Critics spoke out against the district’s plan to reinstate a policy allowing them to rollover unused portions of the 1 percent for new development to any future year, a policy that the board rescinded in July. By rolling over, the GWD has accumulated almost 1,500 acre feet for new developments.

The reinstatement had a new provision that capped the total amount of water available for new projects at any one time to 300 acre feet, but, according to opponents of the plan, still made large exemptions that defeated the purpose of SAFE.

Another question that was raised at that meeting was the definition of potable water.

"Reclaimed water delivered for landscaping is not ‘potable,’ nor is untreated water delivered for agricultural purposes from Lake Cachuma," stated a letter from Naomi Kovacs, executive director of the Citizens Planning Association.

For its part, the district says it needs the rollover to accommodate developments that take more than a year to complete.

"There’s the matter of issuing meters, the long time it takes to get approvals, and we need to have a cushion to provide for those projects," Evans said.

To its credit, said Farina, the Goleta Water District has consistently kept good supplies of water on hand. But to allow for a large allocation might jeopardize both old and new customers in the event of a water shortage the next year, she said.

"The public vote says you have certain responsibilities," she said. "They have to know what their supplies are and what their system’s ability is to deliver."

The LAFCO hearing to consider GWD’s Gaviota annexation will be rescheduled early next year. The continuation of the public hearing on the SAFE ordinance has no firm date yet, but is expected to come up again in January.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >