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Local News

State of the City Address Declares Goleta Is ‘Thriving in Transition’

Mayor Michael Bennett says that despite its interim leadership, the city boasts growing revenue, development and capital projects

Even without a permanent city manager, public works director or finance director, officials say Goleta is faring well.

The changeover is a good thing, in fact, Mayor Michael Bennett said Thursday. Despite the interim leadership, he said, the city is “thriving in transition.”

That was the message during the seventh annual State of the City address at Bacara Resort & Spa, where nearly 400 locals gathered for the luncheon.

The event looked back at accomplishments in 2013 and forward, said Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Kirsten Miller, who noted progress on the Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet’s new incubator space

The growth of the collaborative involving the chamber, the city and UC Santa Barbara was just one promising aspect within the 12-year-old government.

“It’s a special time in the city of Goleta,” Miller said.

Before Bennett moved onto a more positive presentation, he asked for a moment of silence for Goleta’s neighbors in Isla Vista, where the small college community near UCSB was still reeling following last weekend’s shooting rampage, which left seven dead and 13 others injured.

Attendees were encouraged to take home the potted flower from each table to plant in the victims’ honor.

Switching gears, Bennett highlighted Goleta’s achievements, including completing the San Jose Creek restoration project, maintaining a 2.6 percent unemployment rate, growing to 50 staff members and steadily raising general fund revenues.

He noted all the new faces, and said he looks forward to seeing a new hotel, hospital and housing developments.

Goleta staff also crafted a new mission statement and core values.

“Our city is on solid financial footing,” Bennett said. “These are not our dollars. They’re your dollars.”

Bennett turned the podium over so staff could explain some of 32 in-progress development and capital improvement projects, along with others in the pipeline.

Development is thriving in Goleta during the eighth year of its general plan, said Jennifer Carman, director of planning and environmental review.

She outlined dozens of projects, including the Ice in Paradise skating rink — set to begin construction in August — and Target, which has yet to start the environmental review process.

Interim Public Works Director Rosemarie Gaglione said the city would soon host public workshops to discuss the Hollister bike lane project.

Gaglione also shared a message for those thinking there’s too little or too much construction.

“The growth that everyone is seeing now has always been planned for,” she said.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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.

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