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Goleta City Council Funds Community Center Repairs, Gets Update on New Fire Station

Council OK'd initiating a General Plan amendment for the fire station site and also discussed funding shelter beds specifically for Goleta homeless residents

The Goleta City Council voted Tuesday to set aside funds for repairs on the Goleta Valley Community Center’s aging facilities. Click to view larger
The Goleta City Council voted Tuesday to set aside funds for repairs on the Goleta Valley Community Center’s aging facilities. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The Goleta City Council on Tuesday ​agreed to set aside funds for immediate repairs on the Goleta Valley Community Center’s aging facilities.

The council unanimously voted to allocate $38,000 for safety improvements and budget priority repairs for the next two fiscal years, including fire and safety improvements, seismic upgrades and equipment replacement.

“It’s long overdue for some love and repairs,” Mayor Paula Perotte said. “It’s a building that’s well loved in our community, and I think it’s worthy of our love and time.”

The Goleta Community Center, at 5679 Hollister Ave., was constructed in 1927.

The immediate work identified by the city includes repairing a crack in the basement wall, clearing soil away from footings in the crawl space, repairing the center’s unworkable windows on the east side of the building, addressing features that are non-compliant with the American Disabilities Act, and replacing a sewer line between the office restroom and the men's restroom.

Last year, the city contracted with a consulting firm to conduct a property-condition assessment of the building. 

Representatives from the firm, Partner Engineering and Science, said that in general, the results were favorable, especially given the age of the Community Center building.

No significant structural deficiencies were identified that appear to pose an immediate threat to life, safety or continued operation of the buildings, according to report. 

“Overall, our team determined the structure and the property, in general, would be considered fair to good,” Partner Engineering and Senior technical director Michael Arias said. “Although, there are areas that might need some immediate work.”

Water and air quality testing were a top priority. 

FCG Environmental conducted water and air quality testing to assess mold presence or moisture issues, asbestos and heavy metals in the Community Center building and onsite educational buildings.

One sample of drinking water showed higher lead levels than recommended maximum level at room 13 in the Rainbow School, from a drinking fountain. 

City staff immediately contacted the executive director and owner of the child care, as well as Community Center management staff. 

The owner of the Rainbow School informed city staff that the drinking fountain in the room had not been used in 30 years, according to staff a report. 

Community Center staff shut off the water supply to the drinking fountain.

Other than room 13, the water quality analysis revealed the main water supply to the property was within the parameters of the various standards required for drinking water systems, according to a staff report.

City staff was notified of a room not included in the FCG assessment.

Goleta's Public Works staff evaluated the room and identified a water leak, possible mold, lead paint and asbestos materials.

The unmarked door is a restroom that the janitorial staff has been using as storage for more than 20 years.

Community Center staff intend to continue using the room for janitorial supplies storage and not reopen it as a bathroom since another men’s restroom is nearby, according to a staff report. 

None of the areas inspected showed detectable volatile compounds, methane gas, or hydrogen sulfide, and all oxygen levels were within the normal range, according to the city.

All of the air samples collected from interior classrooms, offices and common areas showed total airborne mold had low concentrations that do not pose any significant health risk. 

View the complete 227-page report by clicking here.

City starts General Plan amendment process for site of new fire station 

The Goleta City Council approved the initiation of a General Plan amendment for the 1.25-acre site across the street from the Sandpiper Golf Course.

The site in western Goleta, at 7952 Hollister Ave., needs a land-use designation change and the council's vote allows city staff to continue studying the process, Goleta planning manager Anne Wells said.

“After many years or decades of analysis, we are bringing the Fire Station 10 initiation for future study,” Wells said. “This moment follows a lot of work to make sure we had a viable site to study. We think we do.”

The plan is to change the zoning from visitor-commercial to public and quasi-public use, so the city can permit and build Fire Station 10.

Visitor commercial is a classification that does not allow building a fire station and is delegated for hotels or eating establishments, Goleta senior planner Andy Newkirk said.

City staff will proceed with case including the environmental review. Goleta's Design Review Board and Planning Commission will consider the proposal and a recommendation will be given to the council for final action. 

A new fire station is planned for the property at 7952 Hollister Ave. in western Goleta. Click to view larger
A new fire station is planned for the property at 7952 Hollister Ave. in western Goleta. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk file photo)

“This amendment is simply to move ahead with further studying and processing,” Newkirk said. “The initiation will allow staff to study the process and planning.”

Three fire stations serve Goleta and in 1967, the need was identified for a fourth station to serve the western Goleta area.

Goleta purchased the property in 2009, which is vacant land located at the intersection of Hollister Avenue and Cathedral Oaks Road.

The site is within the regulated coastal zone and under the jurisdiction of the California Coastal Commission, which means the project needs a coastal development permit to proceed. 

Building a fire station isn't a priority use under the Coastal Act so the land use change "could be considered a loss of visitor-serving use and the provision of a non-priority land use over a priority land use," said a comment letter submitted by California Coastal Commission coastal program analyst Michelle Wagner. 

The Coastal Commission staff recommends that Goleta analyzes visitor-serving uses within the coastal zone and that the city "analyze feasible alternative locations for the fire station, including potential sites outside of the coastal zone," the comment letter said. 

According to a staff report, the General Plan has been amended 16 times since its adoption in 2006.

Transitional housing beds for Goleta homeless

The Goleta City Council will continue the possibility of reserving two shelter beds for one year at the Salvation Army Hospitality House in Santa Barbara for Goleta-area homeless residents.

The council decided to bring back the funding question later this month as it discusses the next year's budget.

An allocation of approximately $25,550 has been suggested to reserve two Salvation Army Hospitality House beds from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018.

The cost of securing one shelter bed is $45 a night, but the Salvation Army is offering $35 a night.

Councilman Michael Bennett said committing funds before the budgetary process is unfair to other groups.

“This is an incredibly worthy cause, and I support it strongly, but it’s out of whack with the process in which we go forward with future budget requests,” Bennett said. “It's not fair to the groups that have interest.”​

The beds are dedicated to homeless from Goleta who are selected by the Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness, or C3H, and the Goleta Coordinated Outreach Team.

Three of the eight individuals the outreach members are working with are ready for supportive housing.

“The focus is on people that our outreach team is working with closely,” Chuck Flacks, executive director of C3H, said during public comment.

According to a staff report, an immediate challenge to helping the homeless find stable shelter has been the lack of available transitional housing or emergency shelter beds in the Goleta area.

“In Goleta, there’s a shortage of emergency services to help the chronic and vulnerable members of our community,” Flacks said. “The most evidence-based practice is getting people into housing, as quickly as possible, and getting them the supportive services to stay housed.”

Last year, the council discussed potentially utilizing the Community Development Block Grant funding, or CDBG, for the potential revenue source.

CDBG funds are intended to help communities accomplish the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s goals by carrying out community development activities directed toward revitalizing neighborhoods, providing improved community services and economic development.

City staff noted it is unclear if the CDBG program will be included in the federal budget, and Goleta may not receive any CDBG finances in the next fiscal year or may receive a “severely reduced” allocation.

City Councilman Roger Aceves said for the past few years, the council has awarded local nonprofits $100,000 in grants for supportive services. 

“That was assuming we had CDBG money,” Aceves said.

To identify alternative funding sources, staff contacted regional colleagues and did not find any source of funding available besides the CDBG program and the General Fund budget.

Staff recommends allocating General Fund money to pay for the homeless services.

The Salvation Army Hospitality House is a shelter and transitional housing program for homeless individuals — not for families — with case management services including counseling, meals, life skills coaching, vocational training, financial mentoring, recreational activities, therapy, health services and veteran’s assistance. 

Men and women are housed in separate dormitories.

The goal of the Salvation Army Hospitality House is to help people reestablish into society with an emphasis on employment, wellness and long-term housing. 

Six months is the average stay at the Salvation Army Hospitality House, although up to a year is acceptable, according to a staff report.

“We can help the homeless get a license, post office box, banking account and social security, but where we hit a wall is housing,” said Perotte, Goleta's representative with CH3.  

The idea of reserving shelter beds for specific clients is not new.

The city of Santa Barbara has been reserving beds at the Salvation Army’s Hospitality House through its restorative policing program, and the county has beds saved through various departments such as probation, behavioral wellness and veteran services.

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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