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Local News

Goleta Looks Ahead in State of the City Address

Officials discuss financials, infrastructure and plans to sue the state over redevelopment funds

Goleta City Manager Dan Singer offered an optimistic outlook for the city Thursday during the annual State of the City luncheon. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
Goleta City Manager Dan Singer offered an optimistic outlook for the city Thursday during the annual State of the City luncheon. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

The city of Goleta is no longer in its infancy, which means it’s prime time to mature and establish a community identity and a long-term viability plan.

That sentiment was not lost Thursday on a record-setting crowd of local officials and business leaders, who gathered to discuss successes and strategies during the sixth annual State of the City luncheon at the Bacara Resort & Spa in Goleta.

After a brief introduction—which included informing the nearly 375 guests that Goleta City Councilman Michael Bennett had collapsed just before the luncheon and had been taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital—Mayor Roger Aceves explained that this year’s address would be more forward-thinking than that of 2012.

Whereas last year attendees celebrated a decade in existence, Thursday’s presentation included a detailed, 10-year roadmap that focused on financial stability, infrastructure investment, safe community and engagement of community members.

If the past is any indication, Aceves said, he is “optimistic” about Goleta’s potential to grow and overcome obstacles as the fourth-largest city in Santa Barbara County.

The recession, dissolution of the city’s redevelopment agency, and an “unjust” revenue-neutrality agreement with the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors topped the mayor’s list of city challenges.

“Our financial condition has improved,” Aceves said. “Most importantly, we have restored our reserve funds.”

He said the city next week would file a lawsuit against the California Department of Finance to fight a previous state ruling that denies Goleta more than $18 million for its San Jose Creek restoration project.

“This is a David and Goliath moment,” said Aceves, noting the 100 other cities who have already filed suit to regain denied redevelopment funds. “I hope you all support the fact that we are going to sue the state, and we’ll win this.”

Aceves said he has also sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors in the hopes of modifying an existing revenue agreement, which has already required the city to pay $75 million to the county since Goleta’s incorporation in 2002.

City Manager Dan Singer said Goleta’s financial outlook has improved significantly, in no small part because of the new Marriott hotel, and because the recession has turned a corner.

He expressed excitement about the more than 75 proposed development projects in the area, including 30 of that are active.

“We really see the opportunity to put the recession behind us,” Singer said.

Along with enthusiasm for revitalization of Old Town Goleta and a tourism partnership with the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, some attendees got their first look at Doug Lynch, the recently appointed director of GEM (Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet).

Lynch said he appeared as proof of the work GEM has done since its creation was announced at last year’s city luncheon as a partnership between the city, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce and UC Santa Barbara to attract and nurture local tech start-up businesses.

“This time next year, I hope to see a GEM facility,” Lynch said, adding that donations and feedback would be needed.

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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