Monday, July 23 , 2018, 11:18 am | Fair 75º

 
 
 
 

Letter to the Editor: Northwest Goleta’s Long Wait for a Fire Station is Nearly Over

I live dangerously – as does everyone in northwest Goleta. Oh, not by choice. It's because of a long-standing need for upgraded fire protection. 

Urban and suburban fire service requires a response time of five minutes or less. Northwest Goleta doesn't meet that standards from Station 11 in west-central Goleta.

Additionally, all of Goleta has an excessive firefighter-to-population ratio.

Back in the mid-1980s, the county supervisors knew western Goleta needed better fire protection. The supervisors' "Goleta Community Plan" of 1993 said, "The Fire Department uses a countywide level of service of one firefighter/4,000 population as an absolute maximum population which can be adequately served. All of the fire stations within Goleta approach or exceed this threshold."

Fire Station Ten topped the GCP's list of action items, however, in the "Implementation Summary" "FS10 had "moderate" priority and an estimated time of "unknown."

Clearly, the supes ignored Goleta's inadequate fire protection. 

February 2002, Goleta incorporates. Cityhood was sold to Goletans with claims of better service. Sadly, in Goleta's early years, fire protection on the northwest side was the same non-issue it was with the county.

Seven more years went by. In 2009, Goleta acquired 1.28-acres at the corner of Hollister Avenue and Cathedral Oaks Road.

One day, I rode by on my bike and saw a sign saying it would be the site of Fire Station 10. Bless their progressive hearts. Council was finally doing something about fire protection for my neighborhood.

The city of Goleta and the Santa Barbara County Fire Department spent five years talking about their plans, then, on Nov. 17, 2016, they announced the Station 10 project. It was a long time coming.

Design, engineering, environmental impact report, permitting and construction of a retaining wall along side the Union Pacific Railroad will take two years. Building the station itself takes about a year.

Sometime in early 2020, Station 10, serving northwestern Goleta, will open for business. 

A few Goletans have concerns. One is potential health hazards from electro-magnetic fields (EMF) radiated by a radio antenna on the station’s roof.

I contacted Division Chief Martin Johnson, who heads the department's Operations Division. He told me that station transceivers are primarily for receiving orders from Santa Barbara County Fire's dispatch center.

On rare occasions, if an emergency happens at the station, firefighters may use the station transmitter, which puts out 30-watts – less than most lightbulbs – through a 15-foot antenna on the stations’ roof. Bottom line: The new station will pose no EMF threat.

Some have questions about the fuel storage, to be located next to the Hideaway development. Its residents expressed concern about fumes or spills, and asked that the facility be moved to the other end of the station's back lot. I agree with the Hideaway folks – move the fuel dump.

Some worry about noise. Chief Eric Peterson said that, while there may be rare times when trucks go "code three" (lights and siren) right at departure, the majority of responses begin with emergency lights only.

Even if, once in a while, a truck leaves with the siren on, Hideaway residents are safer with a fire station next door and an occasional annoyance than they are, now, outside Station 11's five-minute response area.

Plus, their homeowner's insurance premiums will likely go down because of Station 10's close proximity.

A few questioned bright lighting and an ugly antenna tower.

Fire officials tell me that the antenna tower will not be near as high as the one in the now-defunct plan for a CHP station next to Elwood School. They also said that the outdoor lighting will be designed for as little annoyance to Hideaway residents as possible.

Recently, I asked Goleta Council Member, Michael Bennett, why Station 10's gestation was so long.

"Things like this don't happen overnight," Bennett told me. The council member is a master of understatement, but, be it overnight or over three decades; I am glad Station 10 is finally going to be built. 

My neighbors in northwestern Goleta should all heartily support our Fire Department's efforts and welcome the new station.

Hib Halvorson

Goleta

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >