One month away from incorporation, the new city of Goleta is tackling development right off the bat: a proposed housing project, called the Village at Los Carneros.
If the proposal is approved, the Village property – a 68-acre parcel of land located on the north side of Los Carneros Road near the 101 freeway and owned by the Goleta-based Bermant Development Company (BDC) — will house apartments, condominiums, townhouses and an industrial building. Currently, the land is zoned for industrial use only. The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission decided last Wednesday to hand over jurisdiction of the project to the Goleta City Council, which will decide whether or not to zone the property for residential development.
Natascha Campbell, contract planner for the county Planning and Development Dept., said the majority of the county’s planning commissioners felt uncomfortable acting on the project without input from the city of Goleta.
“When the city goes into effect on Feb. 1, they can make a decision to do one of three things. They can decide to do a moratorium [to delay the decision], they can decide to hire their own planning staff and appoint a planning commission, or contract with the county and have the county continue on for another six months while they put their stuff together,” she said.
BDC president Jeff Bermant said the Village would be a “smarter, higher density plan” than any previously proposed single industrial building and would allow people who work in Goleta and Santa Barbara to affordably live there as well.
“Instead of building a 1970s monstrosity, wouldn’t it be better to take that same building and put it over on another piece of the property, free up [space] and look at that as a whole and ask, ‘How do we design a better residential project — if that’s what we’re going to do?'” he said.
Goleta mayor-elect Margaret Connell said the county Planning Commission is prompting the Goleta city council to make a decision.
“It’s not a huge deal, but I guess the planning commission decided that being so close to the official incorporation of the city, they should leave it up to the city,” she said.
Connell said the new city council is still deciding how to administrate a planning review process.
“We will have some sort of planning review process. Initially the council will serve as a planning agency. Down the road, when we have our own planning staff, then I’m fairly sure we will have something like a planning commission,” she said. “But, we haven’t yet decided exactly what form it will take. These are going to be very time-consuming. First we have to get our planning structure and planning staff in place.”
Bermant said he would like to see the project move along but understands it may take a while for the new city to take action.
“The city’s got to get their feet wet and get their hands on the ground,” he said. “I think the [city council] people are solid people and they understand these issues, and we’ll work together.