Goleta City Council took a second look Tuesday night at approving a new mixed-use development that would bring 175 housing units and retail to Old Town Goleta.
The second time was the charm.
With the vote split 3-2, council approved moving the project forward after taking no action on the decision in August.
The difference was Mayor Pro Tem Jim Farr, who was absent at that meeting recovering from a stroke. The council would’ve been deadlocked 2-2 without him.
His “let’s make a deal” approach helped secure funds from the developer to build a future pathway and bridge connecting the Kellogg Avenue project to Hollister Avenue.
To the dismay of nearly two dozen public speakers, that condition pushed the project forward.
Mayor Paula Perotte and Councilman Michael Bennett opposed the development for the same reasons as before — Perotte didn’t see an “overriding need” to change Goleta’s general plan or zoning code, and Bennett wanted to hold out instead for a hotel to be built on the 12 acres of undeveloped urban farmland west of South Kellogg Avenue and Kellogg Way.
Ventura-based developer City Ventures, which had asked for a continuance in Farr’s absence, this week presented council with the same exact design.
It consists mainly of three-story buildings of 113 traditional town homes, 34 live-work units and 28 shopkeeper units.
A community center, pedestrian and bike paths and other green-space amenities are also planned, along with 489 vehicle parking spaces and 56 bicycle parking spots.
The Goleta Planning Commission voted 4-0 in July to approve the project, which would be built an ag parcel commonly called the Page Site that’s zoned commercial visitor/serving. The general plan change would be to commercial visitor/Old Town.
“There’s a huge built-in market here,” City Ventures vice president of development Bill McReynolds said of housing. “Everybody is coming here to work.”
Developers are designating 27 affordable units, with 14 on site at a to-be-determined price and 13 as a million-dollar payment to the city for future projects. Market-rate units will go for $400,000-600,000.
The city plans to extend Ekwill Street through to the project, and City Ventures agreed to give 2.5 acres to Goleta valued at $2.7 million.
Farr noted the development would be across the street from the Goleta Valley Community Center, which the city is seriously considering as a site to develop a new city hall and civic center.
He asked McReynolds if he’d be willing to fully fund a new walkway, a bridge across San Jose Creek and accompanying lighting to connect the parcels, donating $100,000. McReynolds agreed.
“For me, Old Town trumps everything,” Farr said. “It’s not recognized as the downtown.”
Councilman Roger Aceves boiled the issue down to three concerns he’s heard most — water, traffic and public safety.
Speakers mentioned water the most, but the property owner has an agreement with the Goleta Water District from 1998, according to the city.
The ag parcel uses 23.35 acre feet of water per year — an entitlement actually goes up to 86.3 acre feet — and Old Town Village would require about 28 acre feet of water annually, although developers say new stricter state regulations could put that figure at 21 acre feet.
“The three issues have been asked and answered in my mind,” Aceves said, noting the one-time mitigation payment benefiting public safety, schools and more.
Residents worried Goleta was growing too much too fast, a concern the mayor shared.
“Our general plan was created with a lot of effort,” Perotte said, balancing the need for development with infrastructure.
Councilman Tony Vallejo said it came down to the desperate need for housing.
Staff recommended council continue the item so they could iron out the special walkway condition, but the majority of council wanted to approve the whole thing.
— Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.