A vacant parcel on Dara Road in Goleta.
Some residents are raising concerns about a proposal to change the zoning to increase the density of housing that could be built on a vacant parcel on Dara Road in Goleta. (Serena Guentz / Noozhawk photo)

As the Goleta City Council and Planning Commission meet in a series of joint study sessions to consider rezoning properties to allow for more housing, residents have been voicing concerns about the proposed list of sites to be added to the city’s Housing Element inventory.

While some sites are well suited for housing and receiving widespread support for rezoning, other proposed properties, such as 625 Dara Road, are drawing opposition.

“For sensible planning reasons, I strongly object to the rezoning of 625 Dara Road from [single-family residential] to [high-density residential] because there are other unquestionably more appropriate sites available,” local resident and architect Greg Jenkins said during the July 25 rezoning meeting.

“I encourage you to place our housing needs in appropriate locations of our community, and in the hands of individuals and developers who can effectively partner with the city.”

The vacant 4.23-acre property on Dara Road is zoned for 12 single-family residential units, and city staff are proposing it be rezoned for medium-density residential use, which could accommodate 84 moderate-income units.

Several Goleta residents have spoken during public comments at these meetings or written public comment letters urging the council and Planning Commission to not rezone the site, citing concerns related to traffic, the nearby Kellogg Elementary School, and how high- or medium-density housing would be incompatible in the neighborhood.

“Approving a large-scale development on such a small property in the middle of a neighborhood is wildly inappropriate,” neighbor Cristi Smith said.

“It would not be compatible with the neighborhood — its size, bulk, scale would not be appropriate for the neighborhood. It could not be more different than the existing adjoining development.”

Another neighbor spoke at the July 25 meeting about his concerns regarding the increased traffic that would lead to nearby Cathedral Oaks Road, where several serious and even fatal car crashes have occurred over the last few years.

“I live on Cathedral Oaks; my wife and I watched a white pick-up truck go over 100 mph and rear end a car and kill two people in our neighborhood. We’ve had about five deaths on Cathedral Oaks in the last two years,” Andy Rad said.

“By increasing the volume of people living on Dara, on this property, everyone will have to exit either on Dara or [Stow Canyon Road] because there’s homes on the other two sides of this property. This will pretty much force traffic to go northbound on Dara onto Cathedral Oaks.”

Rad added that increasing the number of people living on the property would just create problems for the neighborhood and for Kellogg School, which he said wouldn’t be able to accommodate all the extra people.

“I think for the safety of our neighborhood and the integrity and diversity of our school, it would be very wise to reconsider and not have high-density housing on that property and scale back to keep it as it is,” public commenter Malana Willis said.

Another neighbor of the Dara Road property, Jenifer Sautot, told Noozhawk that the open space provided by the site, which also neighbors Andamar Park, is important to keep as is, and the denser housing wouldn’t fit in the neighborhood.

Some other properties being considered for rezoning include 7190 Hollister Avenue, whose owners have expressed willingness and eagerness to add more housing; the Yardi Systems headquarters at 490 S.Fairview Ave.; where Yardi wants to convert one of its existing buildings into 374 apartment units and a childcare center; and many more locations throughout Goleta.

The City Council and Planning Commission are continuing the discussion on rezoning during a third joint study session at 5:30 p.m. next Monday.

A livestream of the meeting can be viewed on the city’s website here.