Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte updated community members on the city’s accomplishments and challenges during the past year, as well as on upcoming projects, during the Goleta State of the City at the Elks Lodge on Wednesday evening.
“Despite some challenging years, the state of our city is strong,” Perotte said. “We did not let the pandemic stop us.”
Wednesday’s event was the first State of the City to be held in person since 2019, before the pandemic started and led to the cancellation of the 2020 event. The address for 2021 was held virtually.
Perotte pointed toward the transition to district-based elections, the city’s handling of the pandemic, and more as some of the year’s accomplishments for Goleta.
Upcoming projects were also mentioned in Perotte’s address, including the seismic and ADA improvements in progress at the Goleta Community Center and several transportation-related projects — such as sidewalk expansions, repairs on Cathedral Oaks Road, crosswalks, the Goleta Train Depot project, the San Jose Bike Path project and more.
Perotte also put an emphasis on “broadband for all,” the countywide effort to bring high-speed Internet access to all homes, schools, libraries, businesses, and health care settings.
In addition to the mayor’s address, City Manager Michelle Greene provided a financial update for the city.
During the pandemic, hotel tax revenue in Goleta took the hardest hit, Greene said, with a drop of 20% in the second year of the pandemic. However, it does appear to be coming back up to greater pre-pandemic levels.
Meanwhile, Greene said that property tax revenue did not decline because of the pandemic, and sales tax revenue is projected to increase 7%.
Additionally, while the city’s unemployment rate peaked at 11% in April 2020, it was back down to about 4.6% in the county by January 2022.
Greene said the city does still have “significant unfunded priorities” that the City Council and city staff continue to work on.
“While the financial forecast looks bright, we still have challenges,” Greene said. “We’re hopeful a brighter future for all communities is on the horizon.”
The State of the City event concluded with a Q&A, with department directors answering anonymous questions from community members who attended the event.
Much of the discussion during that segment focused on upcoming projects planned for Old Town Goleta.
One of the projects is the Hollister Avenue Old Town Interim Striping Project, which will reduce Hollister Avenue to two lanes — one in each direction — between Fairview Avenue and Highway 217, and add bike lanes. Additionally, the Hollister Avenue bridge will be replaced, and a pair of roundabouts will be implemented at the freeway on- and off-ramps.
Public Works Director Charlie Ebeling said the projects total about $55 million, and an update will be brought to the City Council in May.
— Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.