Southwest Airlines jet.
Southwest Airlines is one of the loudest jets at the Santa Barbara Airport. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Now, they are getting along.

The City of Santa Barbara and the City of Goleta have historically collided over jet noise in and out of the Santa Barbara Airport. However, after a year of conversations, the two government agencies are on the same page.

“There’s been a lot of progress,” Goleta Councilman James Kyriaco said. “I am very encouraged by the tone and tenor of the conversation.”

The Santa Barbara City Council met Tuesday and voted 7-0 to approve a letter outlining ways that it plans to work with Goleta on jet noise.

The City of Santa Barbara owns the airport, but the city of Goleta surrounds the property. The noise from the jets, particularly Southwest Airlines, is heard by Goleta residents mostly, not the people who live in Santa Barbara.

Goleta officials have been trying to get the city’s attention for years, but only in the past year has progress been made.

“Airport noise, as I think you all recognize, is a common problem that affects the residents in both of our jurisdictions and calls for collaborative solutions,” said Peter Imhoff, planning director for Goleta.

The airport has enjoyed a rise in popularity since the ending of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although there are about 300 fewer flights in and out of Santa Barbara, the smaller jets have been replaced by larger — and noisier — planes, with Southwest Airlines being the loudest.

Hundreds of Goleta residents have complained about jet noise waking them up at 5 in the morning, and frequent takeoffs and landings throughout the day.

While the Federal Aviation Administration provides guidance for flight paths, it is ultimately up to the pilot to determine the landing route. Santa Barbara and Goleta do not have any power to tell the airlines which flight routes to take.

In its letter, the Santa Barbara council agreed to form an Airport Noise Working Group with stakeholders from the airlines, corporate aircraft operators, flight training institutions, air traffic control representatives, neighborhood advocates and government officials.

The city also agreed to a noise study, which could cost as much as $1.2 million.

Kathy Janega-Dykes, president and CEO of Visit Santa Barbara, touted the positive benefits of the airport.

“More residents have chosen to embark on their travels from Santa Barbara, and businesses are enjoying greater convenience for their outbound travel needs,” Janega-Dykes said.

Councilwoman Kristen Sneddon, who met with Goleta residents to hear their concerns, said she is pleased with the conversations with the City of Goleta.

“This really shows a very serious commitment to working with our neighbors and being good neighbors,” Sneddon said.

Council Rejects State Street Promenade Committee

With a 7-0 vote, the council shifted directions and declined to form a State Street Promenade Pilot Program Committee.

The original plan was to create a three-person committee made up of council members that could make recommendations to the city administrator for approval.

Council members, however, reversed course, after a 6-1 vote in June, and opted against the committee.

“I see no justification for confining the decision-making authority on State Street to any three members,” Councilwoman Meagan Harmon said.

At a six-hour hearing in June, Councilwoman Sneddon pushed for a three-member public committee to discuss interim actions on the State Street promenade.

“My whole goal was that it stop being behind closed doors so that the public, all of our constituents, could be engaged and could hear what it is being discussed,” Sneddon said.

Instead, the council voted 7-0 to hold full council meetings once a month, with updates on the promenade.