Sunday, April 22 , 2018, 11:53 am | Fair 67º


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Lompoc Council Votes to Proceed With Annexing Parts of Bailey Avenue Corridor

The Lompoc City Council has agreed to begin seeking annexation of sections of the 270-acre Bailey Avenue Corridor west of the city limits.

The council voted 4-1 Tuesday night to proceed with a request by two property owners to annex their land — about 148 acres in total — at the north and south ends of the Bailey corridor.

Located in the county but within the city’s designated urban limit line since 1997, the area known as the Bailey Avenue Corridor is made up of farmland that abuts residential neighborhoods. Five individuals own portions of the land.

Mayor Bob Lingl voted against the annexation request, saying he wants to protect prime agricultural land, and he doesn’t believe it is necessary for the city to expand at this time.

The vote to move forward with the annexation process is the latest in a contentious 20-year battle between preserving agricultural land and the city’s desire to expand its boundaries.

“Once again, we go back to Lompoc and its growth,” Councilman Dirk Starbuck said. “Let’s face it, we’ve lost more acreage to the river flowing and flooding than we’ve annexed in the city. It’s time for us to take a step, put our toes in the water and grow.”

Both property owners have submitted development plans that would include a total of 624 low-density residential housing units, business parks, open space and agricultural buffers between their developments and farmland to the west.

Former Lompoc Mayor Joyce Howerton and Ken Hough, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Action Network, spoke against the developments and annexation.

Howerton said the city should focus on infill development and “going up.”

“You build from your core out. You cannot build your way out of problems,” Howerton said.

Hough said SBCAN opposes the Bailey Avenue expansion, and noted the city’s lack of affordable housing.

“Market-rate housing developments should be questioned as a matter of course,” Hough said. “New housing developments can only be justified if it helps low-income and working people live in our communities.

But Councilman DeWayne Holmdahl said the city has been stymied by no-growth advocates for 40 years.

“It’s about time we get this project going. I’m getting tired of Santa Barbara sending all their low-cost housing people here to Lompoc,” he said. “We are short of housing. Where do you think we should build?”

The council also rejected the process recommended by city staff and sided with the landowners’ request that the city submit an application to the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) without scheduling Planning Commission hearings to review the annexation process and recommend whether the city should try to annex the entire Bailey Avenue Corridor.

Thomas Figg, a planning consultant representing the two landowners, objected to the “open-ended process” recommended by city staff.

“Let’s carry forward with what you’ve already decided would be the future of that area,” Figg said. “We think it would be a mistake and contrary to the interests of the other property owners in between to force them into a process that they don’t want to be part of.”

Marc Annotti, one of the two landowners seeking annexation, said the staff’s recommendation would be a costly delay similar to a previous request to the city to seek annexation.

“Two years and $500,000 later, it was studied to death. If the LAFCO process falls apart, the rest of it is worthless anyway,” he said. “Let’s find out whether Santa Barbara is even close to being interested in allowing you to have that property.”

Planner Manager Lucille Breese said Wednesday that the city will conduct an initial study to determine what type of environmental study, if any, is required before the city can apply to LAFCO for the annexation.

If LAFCO approves the annexation, the proposed developments will then be subject to review by the Planning Commission.

Contributing Writer Carol Benham is a longtime local journalist who lives in Lompoc.

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