Bishop Ranch has submitted an application request to initiate a Goleta General Plan amendment for potential development. Unfortunately, the hype has focused on details of a plan that has yet to be fleshed out. To be considered by the city, Bishop Ranch offered to describe the basic scope of the project, gleaned from its community brainstorming meetings. But there are no official blueprints, schematics or site plans. The project is still in its very nascent stages, far too early to debate specifics.
What should be debated is whether to initiate the project so there can be environmental studies, impact reports, community dialogue and policy discussion on the best uses of this property for our city’s future.
I believe the time has come — actually, it came a long while ago when the new city of Goleta side-stepped the issue.
Remember when the city was newly incorporated and the first City Council announced plans to create our first General Plan? We at the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce believed that meant we would write a blueprint for the city that included all aspects of our future and that it would certainly entertain discussions on what should be planned for the largest undeveloped parcel of land, smack in the middle of Goleta: Bishop Ranch. In fact, person after person spoke at the General Plan workshops about the need to discuss the possibilities for development on Bishop Ranch.
But the first City Council completely ignored those comments and wrote a general plan that did not include any dialogue, debate, study or analysis regarding the more than 230-acre parcel of land in our city’s midst. Last year, the chamber updated our Goleta Valley Vision, a consensus-based document outlining a 20-year plan for our community. In the plan, we recommended new housing of all varieties on strategic and appropriate sites spread throughout Goleta to be built over the next 20 years. We envisioned a new neighborhood on Bishop Ranch as part of that plan. Moreover, Bishop Ranch lies at the geographic heart of Goleta. It is the right place for a new neighborhood.
Goleta needs a plan for housing that addresses our 20-year needs. Knowing how long the process will be, given the scope of Bishop Ranch, means that initiating discussions now can begin the process of planning for our future needs.
Kristen Amyx is president and CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce.