Ed Easton
Ed Easton, an environmentalist who served on the Goleta City Council from 2008 to 2014, died Wednesday from complications of a stroke. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Ed Easton, an environmentalist who along with colleague Margaret Connell won election and helped combat a temporary wave of conservative power on the Goleta City Council, died on Wednesday from complications of a stroke. He was 83.

“Ed was a passionate advocate for restoring environmental sensibility to Goleta’s planning process as a planning commissioner and City Council member,” said Councilman James Kyriaco, who as a political consultant helped Easton with his campaign for City Council. “He was also a pragmatist and did his best to balance the competing interests of housing development, open space and agriculture land preservation.”

Easton, who served also as mayor when the position rotated among council members, lived in Old Town Goleta when he was first elected in 2008.

He and Connell ran informally together to overcome a conservative, business-friendly majority on the council. Both won and spent the next four years trying to slow down the rapid approval of hotel, residential and commercial development in the city. 

Before moving to Goleta in 2000, Easton worked as an architect and city planner in Charlotte, North Carolina.

He started a nonprofit that was focused on developing leaders and promoting leadership. Easton was also on many boards and volunteered for several organizations, including the Sierra Club and Gaviota Coast Conservancy. 

Connell recalled Easton as a man with a great sense of humor. Despite his prestige as a council member, he worked hard to serve the public even in less glamorous and low-profile rolls.

He even took part in cleaning the roads and the brush on the side of Highway 101.

“He was always looking for things to do outside the normal realm of a council meeting,” Connell said. “Not many council members do those kinds of things.

Connell called Easton a “voice for the environment.”

She didn’t always agree with his votes toward the end of his council term, she said, but she knew he was a man who made the best decisions he could based on the facts before him.

“He was always a spokesman and strong supporter of the environment, whether it was through the council or his involvement with the Gaviota coast,” Connell said.

She said she and Easton “turned the council around” for several years. 

Easton stepped down in 2014 because he moved out of Goleta.

During his years of public service, he also served on the Old Town Project Advisory Committee, the Design Review Board, the Planning Commission and as a member of the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District board of directors. 

Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte told Noozhawk that she will miss her friend and fellow public servant. 

“It’s very sad news for me,” she said, fighting back tears. “It’s really hard. He was so instrumental in helping me get elected. He was such a supportive person.” 

In 2012, Easton talked about how Goleta was changing, and how it was important to balance growth with quality of life.

“A city as attractive as Goleta must keep its focus on staying — and becoming — better,” Easton said in a letter published in Noozhawk. “We have a combination of civic attributes that make Goleta unique and incredibly attractive to outsiders.

“Our climate, the mountains and beaches, the proximity to the faculty, students and resources of UCSB, our existing educated and technologically advanced work force and, most of all, our diversity are an important part of what makes Goleta unique.

“These characteristics and resources must be protected, and that’s a big part of what city government does.

“Goleta will be a different town 10 years from now. Our crucial challenge during that time will be to keep and enhance its virtues.”

Services for Easton were pending Wednesday night.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com.