Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 3:58 am | Fair 48º


Santa Barbara’s Veronica Meadows Site Will Become a Public Park

City, Trust for Public Land purchases site for $4 million from owner who proposed a luxury housing project for the Las Positas Valley land

The Veronica Meadows site off Las Positas Road in Santa Barbara will become a public park.
The Veronica Meadows site off Las Positas Road in Santa Barbara will become a public park.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

After years of community quarrels over whether to develop the Veronica Meadows site, the city of Santa Barbara on Wednesday announced that it will turn the 14.8-acre parcel in the Las Positas Valley into a public park.

The area was once targeted for luxury homes, but a plethora of problems sunk that development proposal.

The city, in a partnership with The Trust For Public Land, purchased the site from former owner Mark Lee for $4 million.

The money came from $2.7 million in Measure B creeks funds, a $500,000 grant from the California Natural Resources Agency’s Environmental  Enhancement and Mitigation Program, a $500,000 State Coastal Conservancy grant and $300,000 from Santa Barbara County's Coastal Resources Enhancement Fund.

The city boasted about its acquisition through a news release, but the takeover ends a long period of sometimes hostile dealings with the former owner.

Lee wanted to develop the site and spend millions of dollars of his own money to restore Arroyo Burro Creek, as a way to make the project more palatable to the city and neighbors of the site.

Lee first met massive opposition from residents of Alan Road, which feeds into the property, who did not want any increase in traffic in their neighborhood. 

To satisfy the neighbors, Lee proposed a different entrance to the property from Las Positas Road. To provide a road to the site, however, Lee needed to build a bridge over Arroyo Burro Creek, a move that angered environmentalists and open space advocates.

Santa Barbara and the Trust for Public Land purchased the Veronica Meadows site for $4 million from Mark Lee, the developer who proposed a luxury housing project for the area. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara and the Trust for Public Land purchased the Veronica Meadows site for $4 million from Mark Lee, the developer who proposed a luxury housing project for the area.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

They argued that the bridge, and construction of it, would disrupt fish passage and wildlife, while while further eroding the quality of the Arroyo Burro Creek water. 

Still, Lee eventually won majority approval from the conservative majority of the City Council at the time.

Environmentalists sued, arguing that a private bridge over the public Arroyo Burro Creek could not be used to benefit a private development without approval from the voters. 

Santa Barbara residents overwhelmingly rejected Measure Y in 2012, effectively blocking the development.

Lee could have built a much smaller, less profitable development on the site with access through Alan Road, but chose not to. 

“Veronica Meadows epitomizes our ‘land for people’ mission,” said Alex Size, project manager for The Trust for Public Land, in a statement announcing the land purchase.

“The community made it clear they wanted a park, not housing, and we are thrilled to have been able to partner with the city to help them achieve that goal."

The property was once the site of Veronica Springs, a source for bottled water that was sold throughout the country.

The city plans to remove some of the non-native vegetation, restore the trails and turn it into a passive open space park. It also plans to restore the creek, stabilize eroding creek banks, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat, city officials said.

"This park is an important addition to our public open space," said City Councilwoman Cathy Murillo, one of the longtime proponents of preserving the park as open space. "We will also have an opportunity for meaningful creek habitat restoration."

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina 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.


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 using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, 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
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

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.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • 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.