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Preliminary Designs Unveiled for Bishop Ranch

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Plans for housing, traffic and open space on the 240-acre undeveloped property begin to take shape as community workshops wind down.

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A picture has begun to emerge of what the largest undeveloped tract of land in Goleta might look like in the future as representatives of Bishop Ranch LLC held one of their last community workshops on that vision. About a hundred people attended the meeting Thursday night at Dos Pueblos High.

Bishop Ranch — a 240-acre swath of property bordered by Highway 101, Glen Annie Road and Cathedral Oaks Road — has been the subject of intense speculation for years.

“As Bishop Ranch is within (Goleta’s) urban boundary line, it is clear that it will be developed at some time," said developer Michael Keston, head of Encino-based Larwin Co., which owns an interest in the ranch. "Now it can answer the needs and bear up what Goleta wants today.”

On Thursday, planners unveiled a proposed design, based on the suggestions and input from a series of workshops held regularly since October, each dealing with a different aspect of the development of Bishop Ranch, including housing, traffic, and parks and open space.

The tentative plan takes into consideration approximately 1,200 housing units, distributed evenly into low, medium and medium-high densities. The proposal also calls for an internal loop road within the property, and entry and exit from Glen Annie Road to the west as well two access points on Cathedral Oaks Road to the north.

Approximately 25 acres of the property would be devoted to parks and open space, with about half of that acreage made into active recreation areas, and half left as passive park area, lined with trails through riparian sections of the terrain.

A small shopping area would take up the southwest corner of the property.

Thursday’s workshop participants were generally approving of the design of the hypothetical new neighborhood, commending the plan’s mix of housing and the design for open space and energy efficiency. Traffic remained a big concern, however.

Many people thought that Calle Real, which terminates at the east and west sides of Bishop Ranch, should be extended to connect Glen Annie and Los Carneros roads. According to Keston, the point is moot as Caltrans would not allow for the road because it would be too close along Highway 101. Bishop Ranch also does not own the property adjacent to its east side, through which Calle Real would have to run to reach Los Carneros.

Another suggestion was to widen Cathedral Oaks Road near the proposed access points to the ranch to compensate for increased traffic that likely would occur on that two-lane stretch of street.

At least one participant was vocal in her criticism of the project. Local resident Karen Lovelace took issue with the design’s exclusion of the properties adjacent to the proposed development that do not belong to Bishop Ranch.

“I don’t see how you can stand there and say that appropriate planning would not include the entire area from Los Carneros to Glen Annie,” she said, citing possible access problems in time of disaster or emergencies.

It’s not quite over for the developer and planners. There will be one more community meeting on Jan. 24 to conclude the community visioning session and tie together the previous seven sessions. In the next few months, Bishop Ranch LLC will develop a plan to present to the city of Goleta, representatives of which have been attending the workshops as observers but not as participatants.

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