Two years after its original approval, the Islamic Society of Santa Barbara has won unanimous support from the Goleta Design Review Board for revisions to the proposed two-story Islamic center on the corner of Los Carneros Road and Calle Real.
Architect Paul Zink presented plans this week for a revised center, although it did not quell the concerns of some people who don’t want the center in their neighborhood.
The new plans call for a reduction in size from 9,802 square feet to 6,720 square feet. The basement has been removed, and a residential component has been shrunk from 1,400 to 400 square feet.
The project has already been approved, so city staff will make the final decision as to whether the new plans conform close enough to the original approval. The design changes can also be appealed.
The Islamic Society of Santa Barbara is home to dozens of families, who currently hold worship services, lectures and other events at rented locations in Goleta. The new center will include meeting, lecture, library and reception rooms, restrooms, a pantry, a prayer area and a dining hall.
Some people who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting were critical of the project.
“I think you are too big, you are too tall,” said Linda Williams a Goleta resident who said she has lived on Camino Venturoso for 46 years, long enough to remember when they wanted to put a 7-Eleven convenience store in that spot. “You are crowding in on a little tiny piece of land and ruining the area.
“It’s bad enough you have let all these other apartments being built and all of this traffic. I think that the government of Goleta is afraid, and that it’s sad that you can’t stand up for the people who live here.”
Resident Shirley Dylan said she opposed the design.
“This design does not go with our beautiful open space and rural atmosphere,” she said. “The impact of a project like this doesn’t work well in this location. I urge you to oppose this design in this area.”
Some of the speakers openly said that an Islamic worship center did not belong in Goleta.
“I’m a retired physician living in Goleta,” Charles Owen said. “I question the reason for having a mosque in Goleta.”
The new project calls for a row of coast live oak, strawberry and palm trees to “frame the architecture.” The center also wanted to plant olive trees on the site, saying that it is a “culturally significant tree to have in the palette.”
“We are trying to create a very nice woodland landscape,” landscape architect Kim True said.
Besides the unanimous support of the Design Review Board, the center also had plenty of supporters from the public.
“I frankly cannot believe that we are still talking about whether this project is going to go forward or not,” said John Douglas, a Goleta resident for last 13 years. “These people were denied a community center of their own. They deserve and should be entitled to their house of worship and their community center.”
Douglas and others said the project’s time has come.
“I find it hard to believe, and would love if someone would do a little bit of research to see if any other house of worship in this entire county has ever face so many roadblocks, whether those roadblocks arise from bigotry or prejudice and unfounded allegations that you’d probably only find in Fox News or elsewhere,” Douglas said. “I am outraged at the bureaucratic process, which is so glacial.”