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Goleta Council Aims to Take Stance on Proposed CHP Station

City officials have no say over the state’s plans to build a California Highway Patrol station in a western Goleta neighborhood, but residents this week wanted to voice their concerns to City Council members anyway.

The City Council wants a chance to take a stance on the project, too, unanimously signaling on Tuesday night that staff should bring the item back in January.

Staff gave council an update on the proposed CHP station that would be built at 7780 Hollister Ave., replacing an existing station at 6465 Calle Real.

The unused parking lot is the preferred location for the California Department of General Services, which is the lead agency on the project.

The state doesn’t yet own the parcel, and Goleta officials have no jurisdiction over approval, but the city will send a comment letter to the agency related to the project’s draft environmental impact report, which the public can comment on through Dec. 28.

According to planning staff, the city shares many of the same concerns residents voiced during a state-hosted public hearing last week.

Staff said the state gave locals limited notice of its plans to build on a five-acre site north of Hollister Avenue between Las Armas and Via Jero roads, near Ellwood Elementary School and the recently built Hideaway residential development.

Among other “major concerns” were the project not being compatible with community character and inadequate analysis of impacts to biological resources, traffic and water, since the site doesn’t have a water connection.

While the state claims in the draft EIR that it should be granted new service because it will abandon its outdated facility — built on one acre in 1982 — the city disagrees, since the existing building will be reused as surplus state property.

The city also sees little justification for the height of the planned 148-foot radio antenna tower and would like impacts to the nearby Ellwood onshore oil facility to be addressed.

Plans for the new facility call for construction of buildings, auto service bays, secured and visitor parking areas, equipment enclosures and storage, a fuel island with gas tanks, an emergency generator, utility improvements and more.

A handful of residents shared their concerns again during public comment, encouraging Goleta staff to recommend an alternative location.

Six speakers gave their time to Robert Miller, a Hideaway resident and representative of the Westside Goleta Coalition, which formed earlier this year to oppose the project.

Mayor Jim Farr asked the city attorney if it would be appropriate for council members to weigh in, and his colleagues agreed to bring the item back for action — hopefully before the state certifies its own project.

Staff said the state has already budgeted for construction of the CHP station project.

A final EIR is set for release in spring 2016, according to the state, possibly with certification shortly after.

“It’s not as though the city, in fact, hasn’t been commenting,” Councilman Michael Bennett said, referencing a letter staff sent to the state with concerns in May.

Councilwoman Paula Perotte, who was at last week’s CHP hearing, said she wants the council to send a strongly worded letter to the state, possibly suggesting an alternative site and underlining concerns with noise, traffic, the tower and a lack of water service.

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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