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Saturday, February 16 , 2019, 8:09 pm | Mostly Cloudy 52º


Goleta Council Considers Options for Adding Parking Lots in Old Town

City officials vote to move forward with discussions to lease or buy certain parcels near Hollister Avenue

Where to add parking lots in Old Town Goleta — and whether to charge patrons — took center stage Tuesday night at the Goleta City Council meeting.

After looking at several options, and disagreeing slightly about when more parking for the downtown area would actually be needed, council members voted 4-1 to direct staff to pursue discussions to lease or buy certain parcels near Hollister Avenue.

City Councilman Roger Aceves voted against the motion in favor of first tackling a better outline for developing the area through the Old Town Revitalization Plan.

The Goleta City Council was also supposed to approve some policy changes to the Old Town plan Tuesday, but tabled discussions to gather more information.

Staff came to the council for guidance after the city’s Economic Development and Revitalization Standing Committee hosted three public meetings on the subject, focusing on where cars could park if spaces are removed from along Hollister Avenue.

Economic development coordinator Jaime Valdez told the council he identified the six most promising parking lots that could be turned into city lots, either through a lease agreement or sale with property owners.

He quoted studies showing a net deficiency of 69 spaces in Old Town Goleta, where residents and customers can currently park in one-hour spaces that often aren’t enforced.

“The Economic Development Committee was really hoping to focus on low-hanging fruit,” Valdez said. “This tends to move really quickly, the real estate world.”

Council members were most receptive to Sites C and D, located south of Hollister, closest to the heart of Old Town.

Site C (5841 Hollister Ave.) currently contains an auto sound shop and is for sale at $1.75 million, and Site D (5827 Hollister) could be leased and shares a corner with Community West Bank and a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department substation, Valdez said.

Council members also showed interest in Site E (5777 Hollister), which shares a lot with Santa Cruz Market and could be leased or purchased.

Those options could offer between 37 new spaces (Site C) to 65 (Site E).

Other potential leased lots included a vacant parcel on Orange Avenue north of Hollister near Natural Café, a vacant lot south of Hollister on Orange Avenue and a Fuel Depot lot at 5755 Hollister Ave. that’s currently leased for three more years.

Valdez said staff hadn’t yet proposed how much the city could charge to park, saying most lot owners would prefer a pilot-parking program instead of entering into a long-term agreement with the city.

City Councilman Tony Vallejo and Valdez agreed Site C would be a lot of money, but Mayor Michael Bennett encouraged them to save cost questions for later.

Vallejo suggested focusing more on finding parking options on the north side of Hollister, a tough street for pedestrians to cross.

“I personally am not in favor of charging for parking for that particular area,” said Mayor Pro Tempore Paula Perotte, who used to work in Old Town.

Business owner concerns with where residents and employees parked prompted the need Valdez said, although he didn’t survey any of them when considering lot locations.

“Parking lots are always very expensive,” Aceves said. “Did we take into consideration the current type of businesses on Hollister and what their needs are? I would think that would be the next step.”

Bennett said he was tired of waiting to fix parking problems, suggesting that by directing staff to look into three sites, more property owners could come out of the woodwork.

“I look at all these as potential opportunities,” he said. “If you provide the parking, they will come. There are challenges no matter what we do. If we don’t do anything, we’re never going to get there.”

City Councilman Jim Farr agreed, noting worst-case scenario would be Old Town having more parking and a slower development.

“I think it’s time,” Perotte said. “Parking has always been an issue.”

Council members directed staff to also look into what charging for parking would look like and different funding mechanisms to maintain lots.

“I understand we all want to start somewhere but we’re not starting with a real plan,” Aceves said. “Now we’re building around (business owners) without their input.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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