In front of a packed crowd, the Goleta City Council adopted the General Plan last night, far in advance of its December deadline.
Over 70 people attended the council’s meeting last night at Goleta City Hall. While many supported the design approval, saying it was flexible enough to meet the community’s needs, several others spoke out against the plan’s adoption. Opponents of the plan argued that its effects would widen the gap between the rich and the poor, due to its slow-growth approach.
The General Plan outlines Goleta’s plans for housing, transportation and environmental conservation for the first 20 years of its cityhood. Goleta was incorporated as a city in 2002.
Steve Chase, the city’s planning and environmental services director, said the city council has worked for years on creating the best possible General Plan for Goleta.
“The General Plan is part of the framework showing people the choices they have,” Chase said. “It will also be good for future decision-making.”
While supporters said the process has been slow and considerate, Kristen Amyx, a spokesperson for the opponents of the plan, said the opposite is true. Amyx, who is the president/CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the plan suppresses city growth and slows housing development, causing housing prices to rise.
In addition, Amyx said the plan is designed to reduce the size of traffic intersections, which she said would make traffic worse.
“In the end, it has been too hastily put together,” Amyx said.
While the Goleta General Plan does not have jurisdiction over Isla Vista, Amyx said, it can make recommendations to the County of Santa Barbara about I.V. matters. She said the plan’s approval affects everyone in the communities around Goleta.
“I think a lot of students live in Goleta and if not now, maybe when they graduate they will stay in Goleta, and this General Plan will have a great affect on the next generation,” Amyx said.
Chris Henson, the coalition director of the Coastal Housing Partnership, said the General Plan will reduce affordable housing and cause an even wider gap between the wealthy and the poor of the county.
Without allowing Goleta to grow healthily, Henson said, the middle class will be forced out of the city.
“It’s an anti-family document, an anti-community document,” Henson said.
Despite objections over certain elements of the plan, Chase said it is well designed and has the leeway to change and develop with the community.
“This is a living, breathing document,” Chase said. “It allows for the change of the document limited to four times a year.”
However, Amyx said lawsuits will be the number one factor in amending the plan, due to the type of changes it requires. She said this process would not be simple or beneficial to the community.
“Four times a year after the General Plan is passed you can amend it, and the main way to do that is to sue,” Amyx said.