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Haskell’s Landing Project Inches Closer to Approval

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Goleta council initiates General Plan amendment requests for 102-unit housing project — and a needed Ellwood fire station.

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A 102-unit housing project might get on the ground in the Ellwood neighborhood, and the city of Goleta might get a fire station out of the deal, after the City Council narrowly voted to initiate developer Chuck Lande’s request for General Plan amendments this week.

The Haskell’s Landing development would be built on the same site as a previous project proposed by Lande. The Residences at Sandpiper, as the earlier project was called, had been the subject of contention between Lande and Goleta since the city’s incorporation, culminating in a state Supreme Court decision in the city’s favor last year.

Haskell’s Landing would have 102 units on roughly 14 acres of property, on the north side of Hollister Avenue in the Ellwood neighborhood. Twenty townhomes would be for moderate income levels, 35 would be market-rate townhomes, and 45 would be market-rate single-family homes.

“We’re only initiating tonight, we’re not endorsing anything for final action,” Goleta senior planner Patty Miller said.

Many speakers had earlier voiced concern over the speed with which General Plan amendments were made, along with the approvals for housing projects like Michael Towbes’ Sumida Gardens in Old Town Goleta and Andrew Bermant’s Village at Los Carneros. Recently, the council voted to look into the possibility of converting agricultural property in northwest Goleta, owned by the Shelby Trust, to residential use. The plan was supported by housing advocates and the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce but decried by those who opposed a move that could make ag land conversions easier, the first proposal toward new growth in the city, and the speed with which the council’s business-friendly majority seemed to be moving.

Of the amendments requested by Lande, of the Chadmar Group, several have previously been initiated by city staff as part of an ongoing effort to revise the General Plan. One was a change to inclusionary housing requirements, an issue currently being dealt with by the city in its bid to make its General Plan comply with the state Department of Housing and Community Development. Others were in relation to a fire station that is part of a future development agreement between the developers, the city and the county Fire Department. Two weeks ago, the council voted 5-0 to instruct staff to look into a proposed $1.5 million contribution from Lande toward the $8 million fire station project.

Initiating the General Plan amendments could be a step toward building a fire station, Councilman Eric Onnen said. Such a station has been a goal that predates the city’s inception. It’n fact, it’s a goal outlined in the city’s own General Plan.

“There is no funding source unless a developer is willing to come forward and have that as part of their project,” Onnen said.

Councilman Roger Aceves disagreed, expressing his reservations about having a public facility tied to a development project, and with the pace the council seemed to be moving at on advancing development projects.

“There’s no compelling need to move right now. We can wait,” he said.

The council voted 3-2 in favor of the initiation. Council members Roger Aceves and Jonny Wallis — who said she could support some, but not all the amendment requests — were the dissenters.

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