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Goleta Residents Turn Out Against Proposed New CHP Station

State hears spirited input during public hearing on draft environmental impact report for project

Santa Barbara CHP station Capt. Mark D’Arelli gave a brief overview of the agency’s plans to build a new station in western Goleta.
Santa Barbara CHP station Capt. Mark D’Arelli gave a brief overview of the agency’s plans to build a new station in western Goleta.  (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Dozens of Goleta residents called out the state of California Tuesday night over plans to build a California Highway Patrol station in a neighborhood at the western edge of the city.

The site at 7780 Hollister Ave. is too close to Ellwood Elementary School, the recently built Hideaway residential development, and a planned senior living community, according to a group wearing red stickers declaring “No CHP Station in This Location.”

Opponents of the proposed facility to replace an existing CHP station at 6465 Calle Real showed up to the Goleta Valley Community Center auditorium with cute advocates — elementary kids with signs and chants of “We love our school.”

Residents gathered to protest a draft environmental impact report on the project, which could be built on five acres north of Hollister Avenue between Las Armas and Via Jero roads.

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.

CHP officers and state staff gave a brief presentation of the draft EIR, which the public can still comment on through Dec. 28.

They explained that the current facility, built on an acre in 1982, isn’t up to seismic safety and other state requirements, not to mention some structural deficiencies.

Plans for the new facility call for construction of buildings, auto service bays, a 148-foot tall radio antenna tower, secured and visitor parking areas, equipment enclosures and storage, a fuel island with gas tanks, an emergency generator, utility improvements and more.

Some of 33 public speakers focused on the fact the proposed site has no existing water connection — a pertinent fact because the Goleta Water District placed a temporary ban on authorizing new service due to drought conditions in October 2014.

The agency has said it cannot grant the state an exemption, and the EIR makes clear the state can’t move forward without one.

Hideaway resident Robert Miller spoke as a representative of the Westside Goleta Coalition, a group of more than 500 residents opposed to the station site.

“We simply cannot believe the state would put this station in such an inappropriate location,” Miller said, upset the state ignored four alternatives sites explored in the EIR. “The state has plenty of time to get it right.”

When state staff told Miller his three minutes were up, other attendees volunteered their time so he could delve into some of what he called significant impacts — blocked mountain views from the tower, air quality issues, traffic problems and the tearing down of trees, to start.

Miller left the podium to applause and a standing ovation.

New and old residents alike protested the station, along with parents and a speaker who asked the state to host another meeting before approving the project.

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

Nothing against the CHP, speakers said, but a facility closer to the edge of town would be more appropriate.

Melissa Moreno, a Hideaway resident who is dean of business at Santa Barbara City College, said she was disappointed in the state’s process.

“The most important selection criteria, I feel, is whether or not this is compatible with adjacent properties,” she said.

Another Hideaway resident wondered aloud how the state has been able to move so quickly on the project — with so few residents aware of its existence — when it took Hideaway developers more than a decade to get approval on adjacent land.

He was convinced a human with a heart never stood on the site before it was picked.

The city of Goleta has no jurisdiction over the proposed CHP facility, but staff members say they’re sending a letter in response to the draft EIR.

“This isn’t a neighborhood issue; it’s a Goleta issue,” one resident said. “We stand in solidarity.”

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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