The Village at Los Carneros development of nearly 500 residential units will at long last come to fruition after gaining approval from the Goleta City Council on Tuesday night.
The catch, however, is that developers who submitted an original application more than four years ago will have to make plans to adhere to a 100-foot buffer between the development and nearby Tecolotito Creek.
Council members voted 5-0 to approve the project — a reincarnation of a former development that was never built but was approved by the Goleta City Council in February 2008 — and an accompanying environmental impact report.
The decision comes less than a month after Goleta planning commissioners voted 4-1 to push the development on to council.
The 465-unit development is slated for construction on a vacant 40-plus-acre site located north and west of Los Carneros Road, just south of Highway 101, on property where businesses such as Allergan are currently located.
Approval of the project, a final EIR and zoning changes to the city’s General Plan essentially replaced the former project, which proposed just 275 units.
Council members lauded the Village at Los Carneros developers for efforts to create more workforce housing in Goleta, including a mix of single-family homes, duplexes, triplexes, four-plexes, town homes, condominium flats and apartments — 70 of which will be reserved as affordable housing via Peoples’ Self-Help Housing.
The development will also include a neighborhood park, a bike path, a private recreation center, swimming pools, open space and more, according to plans filed by CHA McKinley, Goleta LLC and Los Carneros Business Park.
After a staff and developer presentation, council members asked follow-up questions concerning pricing, traffic and available water during a drought — the Goleta Water District will be the purveyor.
Many of 12 public speakers said they supported the project but were concerned about the proposed 50-foot buffer between some of the buildings and the creek bed, although most of the project already adheres to the 100-foot buffer.
The same issue came up at the planning commission meeting, which is why all five commissioners added another resolution asking council members to strive for the larger buffer.
Council members sided with their planning counterparts, granting approval under the condition that the developers maintain the 100-foot buffer.
Others echoed water shortage concerns, wondering aloud whether the word of the water district could be trusted in light of recent bill snafus.
“You have a duty to the citizens of Goleta to make sure the water district is going to do what they said they’ll do,” a longtime resident said.
Growing ahead of Goleta’s infrastructure and the project’s large size worried some speakers, while others praised a commitment to be 100 percent solar and provide 14 homes for those with extremely low incomes.
Councilman Jim Farr kicked off deliberations by listing all the positives of the project, but said council should consider approving a project alternative that would scrap 88 podium units in exchange for 39 town homes.
Councilwoman Paula Perotte assured residents she shared in their concerns, noting that future projects shouldn’t be approved anytime soon so staff could see the true impacts of current developments to traffic, water and other issues.
Council members Roger Aceves and Tony Vallejo backed the project for its housing.
“The project itself I really love,” Vallejo said. “Right now a lot of people do leave town because they can’t stay here.”
Mayor Michael Bennett agreed, and Aceves made the lone motion.
“I think it’s going to bring so much to our community that’s going to be of a positive nature,” Bennett said.
— Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.