The particularities of monarch butterflies’ mating practices and a proposed housing project’s proximity to their love nests filled a county official’s ear last night.

Santa Barbara County 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall hosted a Goleta community meeting Thursday evening to address the perspective development of the Ellwood Shores properties. The meeting, held at Isla Vista Elementary School, focused on concerns of community members about environmental effects from a proposed 161-unit housing project on the Ellwood Shores property, owned by Developer Randall Fox.

Fox said community concerns regarding the effects of the housing project on the monarch butterfly reserve, a eucalyptus grove that neighbors his property, have been incorporated into the development plan.

“We think our project addresses community concerns. Our pending proposal includes 107 acres of coastal open space reserve,” Fox said. “This area will include protection for the monarch point site, the eucalyptus grove, large grasslands, vernal pools, the blufftop and the beach itself. In order to give this gift of 107 acres of coastal natural preserve, out of a 135-acre site, we need to be able to build homes on the remaining 28 acres. These homes will provide the funds and economics to allow us to designate 80 percent of the site to the community.”

Although the new housing project is not located on the same property as the butterfly reserve, Ellwood Shores residents said more of a buffer is needed to fully preserve the natural habitat. Goleta resident Florence Klein said the uniqueness of the monarch butterfly reserve is a concern to her and many residents.

“It’s always the people in the place that are attempting to protect their area from outsiders who only care about making money,” she said. “It is really the only pristine natural area in this area. I wonder if we do consider the very little bit of open land we have left, that area can never be changed back once it is developed.”

Marshall said she remains unbiased on the property development, but offered a suggestion. “My personal position on the monarch reserve development is that Randy Fox should have the property appraised and offer to sell it to the community,” Marshall said.

– Staff Writer Jennifer B. Siverts also contributed to this article.