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Friday, March 22 , 2019, 10:17 pm | Fair 56º

 
 
 
 

Goleta City Council Rejects Hollister Village’s Plan to Add 33 Apartments

Community members blast the proposed development on a vacant 1.8-acre site and say traffic congestion already snarls the nearby intersections

The Goleta City Council denied a General Plan amendment for a plan to build 33 apartments on the vacant site on the eastern side of the Hollister Village housing complex. Click to view larger
The Goleta City Council denied a General Plan amendment for a plan to build 33 apartments on the vacant site on the eastern side of the Hollister Village housing complex.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The Goleta City Council rejected developer Westar Associates' plan to build 33 more apartments in Goleta on top of the the 266 Hollister Village units it has already.

The vote was 4-1, with council members Stuart Kasdin, Kyle Richards, Michael Bennett and Mayor Paula Perotte voting against the project, and Councilman Roger Aceves supporting it. 

The Costa Mesa-based developer's project, which would have required a General Plan amendment, was strongly opposed Tuesday night by Goleta residents, who said that the existing traffic from recent developments already chokes the nearby intersections.

“Goleta looked in a way like a place where God went on vacation to, and that isn’t the case now,” Kasdin said during the meeting.

The project has pitted an out-of-town developer against community residents over the future of a city that was incorporated in 2002.

The developer hung his hat on the idea that Goleta and the South Coast lacks rental housing for young professionals and that the project would help meet a need that is growing rapidly.

“There is a demand for rental housing,” said Conor Best, Westar Associates' vice president of acquisitions & entitlements. “This is best-in-class rental housing for Goleta’s workforce.”

Community activists said the city has already experienced too much development and that building 33 units on the corner piece of land at 7000 Hollister Avenue is too dense. 

Goleta has experienced a dramatic change in recent years after a flurry of development approved by a pro-development City Council nearly a decade ago.

The projects have hit the community like a developmental microburst in recent years as the economy recovered from the recession, creating daily traffic jams at the intersection of Hollister Avenue and Storke Road.

Two new hotels are also under construction on Hollister Avenue, as well as a for-sale tract housing project next to Highway 101 off Los Carneros Road.

Kasdin said he understands the need for more housing, but this site is the wrong spot for it.

He said that the community views the development as “an outcropping of Orange County” and that Hollister Village “fundamentally changed the character of the area.”

Kasdin said he drives onto Highway 101 at Winchester Canyon instead of Glen Annie and Storke Road to avoid the traffic on Hollister Avenue.

The Hollister Village housing complex in Goleta has 266 units. Click to view larger
The Hollister Village housing complex in Goleta has 266 units.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

“The traffic is bad,” Kasdin said. “The developer has a right to develop his property, but there isn’t a right to receive a General Plan amendment. “

Westar Associates already has approval to build a project on that site, which is on the eastern end of the development, with 12,687 square feet of commercial space and five live-work units.

The developer was forced to change the original project because of a lawsuit filed by a Glen Annie Road resident. The developer and the homeowner reached a settlement and Westar agreed to build residential apartments instead of the planned commercial space.

People who live on South Glen Annie Road told the City Council that the Hollister Village development has hurt the way they live and they worry about more residential units being built rather than the commercial space that was already approved by the city. Residents often “party” late into the evening, they said.

Neighborhood activist Barbara Massey said the project is too big for the site. 

“This project will worsen traffic at Storke & Hollister,” Massey said. “The project needs to be scaled back significantly. This is bad planning.”

Goleta resident Christine Hall agreed that the project doesn’t belong at the site.

“We do need more housing, but this is a bad place for it,” Hall said. “Adding these units would turn this place into a crowded ghetto for rich people.”

Goleta resident James Kyriaco said he wanted to see a new proposal, perhaps with all studio units, to offer a more diverse housing palette.

Westar proposed building 16 studios and 17 one-bedrooms on the 1.84-acre site. 

"Let's get this project right before amending the General Plan that we worked so hard for," Kyriaco said. 

Some people spoke in support of the project, most of whom were either affiliated with the developer or said their businesses benefited from the additional housing in the neighborhood.

“The buildings are beautiful to look at,” said Deborah Dalo, who owns La Concepcion Animal Hospital. She said new development has been good for her pocketbook.

“It’s been great for us and I see it as great for the people who live there,” she said.

The City Council said what matters is what’s best for the community, not the businesses in the area.

“If this project is built it means significant impacts on the surrounding community,” Richards said. “It is too large, too dense and has too much impact on the community.”

Perotte agreed that traffic has gotten worse in the area.

“Yes, we need housing,” she said. “I am not sure we need housing at that site.”

Councilman Aceves voted against the motion because he thought the most recent two-story proposal was better than the three-story work-live units that Westar already had approval to build from a previous City Council.

Councilman Bennett, who supported the original Westar project, changed his mind at Tuesday's meeting and voted against the General Plan change.

“The community has spoken,” Bennett said. “They are making it pretty clear that they want to see a change.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina 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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