The City of Goleta has filed three eminent domain cases in Superior Court for properties near Hollister Avenue and Highway 217, the site of a San Jose Creek bridge replacement and roundabout project.
The City Council unanimously approved the move at a May meeting and court documents were filed June 26, followed up by motions asking for prejudgment possession.
Case management conferences are scheduled for late October for the three cases, which name several properties in the 5000 block of Hollister Avenue.
Goleta wants a permanent flood control easement, a temporary nonexclusive access easement and a temporary construction easement for two projects that it wants to do with a single construction contract — replacing the Hollister Avenue bridge over San Jose Creek, and roundabouts at the Highway 217 on- and off-ramps as part of the Ekwill Street and Fowler Road Extensions Project.
The city has asked the court for prejudgment possession “before market conditions change,” and says that constructing the two projects at the same time will minimize disruption along Hollister Avenue.
According to court documents, Goleta has State Transportation Improvement Project funding for the roundabout in the 2020-21 year. Construction bids will be advertised next summer and right-of-way needs secured by this fall to get the bridge project’s Federal Highway Bridge Program funding, according to attorneys.
Todd Amspoker, an attorney for the Bottiani and Newland families, who own properties named in the cases, talked about a possible settlement during the May 21 City Council meeting.
Some retail stores operating in the targeted area will be impacted by the project, he said, which was confirmed in later court documents noting a need to relocate some tenants.
Knowledge of the upcoming projects has made it “impossible for the family to get fair market rent for those properties” and it has incurred losses of rental damages, Amspoker said.
Court documents did not mention any settlements but said they were possible.
Peter Umoff, representing Santa Barbara Nissan, said at the May meeting that the city had not attempted to negotiate in good faith. The company is located at 5580 and 5590 Hollister Ave., east of the property it sold the city for its new neighborhood park.
Umoff asked the city to consider using a vacant property on the east side of San Jose Creek for some of the bridge replacement work to reduce impacts on the company’s property.
“It cannot survive with the proposal that’s on the table; it simply can’t, it will destroy its business,” Umoff said. “The city will lose another good business member of the community unless reasonable alternatives are at least considered.”
The city’s interim Public Works director at the time, Gerald Comati, is listed as the project manager in court documents. He said at the May meeting that using the east side of the creek was determined not to be viable and that the city planned to continue conversations with affected property owners.
Defendants named in the eminent domain cases include property owners and interested parties for portions of 5551 Hollister Ave., 5553 Hollister Ave., 5575 Hollister Ave., 5580 and 5590 Hollister Ave., and 5544 Hollister Ave.
Some of the parties are Bottiani Properties, Bottiani Ranch, ExxonMobil Oil Corp., Southern California Edison, Kellogg Square LLC, trustees of the Newland Family Trust, Santa Barbara Nissan LLC, several local banks and the Santa Barbara County Flood Control & Water Conservation District.
— Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.