The Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 on Tuesday to heed a staff recommendation and move forward with the Goleta Valley Community Plan update. Many residents of the unincorporated area between Goleta and Santa Barbara had urged the county to complete the obsolete plan, while housing advocates and the business community had decried the development freeze that would result.
After several hours of testimony, fairly evenly divided between proponents and opponents, the supervisors sided with backers of the plan. Fifth District Supervisor Joe Centeno abstained.
The update process could take the cash-strapped county several years and at least $500,000 to complete. For developers, the decision amounts to a building moratorium as no rezoning of property will be made during the course of the update. Under this rule, about five sites will have to wait several years before seeing any projects on the ground.
An exception may be made, the supervisors said, if there were an overriding need for a facility that could benefit the project, but that could be too small of a loophole, even for housing advocates who contended that affordable housing is a dire need.
Hardest hit could be the Santa Barbara County Housing Authority, whose hard-fought plans to put a 400-unit project on MTD-owned land could fall through if it is forced to wait out the update.
On the other hand, ongoing projects on sites like the Cavalletto-owned Noel Christmas Tree farm and the More Mesa are already exceptions.
The estimate for the update is three years, according to county staff. The supervisors urged staff to “get it done as soon as possible.”