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Local News

Goleta Council Balks at New Committee to Study Old Town

On a 3-2 vote, city leaders decide to give the task to economic-development panel

The Goleta City Council on Tuesday assigned the task of updating the Old Town Revitalization Plan to an existing committee instead of creating a two-member ad hoc group to focus specifically on this issue, contrary to their action at a previous meeting.

Since the Redevelopment Agency for Old Town was dissolved last year by the Legislature, Goleta’s leaders want to update its plan for that project area: the “west wing” near the Santa Barbara Airport; the Old Town core, between Fairview Avenue and Highway 217; and the “east wing” near Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital.

Councilmen Roger Aceves, Michael Bennett and Jim Farr voted to have the Economic Development and Revitalization Standing Committee take up the issue, while Ed Easton and Paula Perotte argued for a new, independent committee.

One reason for the consolidation of duties was the legal concern: Multiple committees cannot be discussing the same issues at the same time, or there could be violations of the Brown Act from a majority of council members meeting outside their normal meetings.

The goal is to have council members investigate, evaluate, review and update Old Town Revitalization plans, according to Vyto Adomaitis, director of Neighborhood Services and Public Safety.

Farr suggested that the Economic Development committee take on the extra work, and that it first consider getting business incubators into the area and starting development for the Page property.

He and Bennett are the current members on that committee, with Adomaitis as the city staff liaison.

Aceves and Bennett supported the idea, and said Old Town development is now a citywide issue, since there isn’t specific money earmarked for its projects with the RDA gone.

If a project there is funded, a project elsewhere is bumped down the priority list.

Easton, who lives in Old Town, said he couldn’t support this, since he believes the area needs its own focused group.

“In a sense this is why I joined council in the first place,” Easton said. “If you want to charge that committee with what is going to be a major task, I think you take away from economic development that is citywide.

“Two, just on a personal basis, to leave me off hurts me badly. I like to think that I offer the council both experience and location, and dedication to Old Town that doesn’t exist on the rest of the council.

“I don’t have any answers yet. I think that Old Town, and I was thinking about this this morning at 3:30, needs to be treated as a very special place, and not have big ideas lumped into it without a great deal of thought.”

Perotte agreed with him.

“I’m not sure this is the right committee to be looking at the whole pie,” she said.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli 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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