The Goleta City Council voted to extend the city’s building moratorium last week, suspending construction until February 2003.

The council approved the 10-month extension in a 4-1 vote at its March 28 meeting, after approving an initial 45-day moratorium on Feb. 13. The moratorium is meant to give the new city more time to develop an administrative infrastructure to deal with development, and give them more time to evaluate existing zoning ordinances. It does include some exemptions, including development in the Old Town Goleta area.

“The ordinance will allow the city council time to establish a planning organizational structure and can be lifted at any time. We felt we needed more time to put together the different pieces we needed [in order] to handle planning from the city’s end,” Goleta Mayor Margaret Connell said. “Once we get all these positions taken care of, then we’ll be in the position to look at lifting the moratorium.”

Councilmember Jean Blois opposed the moratorium. She said halting construction in Goleta would be problematic for the city’s economy.

“It seems to me that a lot of people will be reluctant to start spending money when there’s no end [to the moratorium] in sight,” she said.

Bermant Development Company President Jeff Bermant said a short moratorium would not harm business development.

“I’m more optimistic that the city will get back to planning and processing before 10 months. I don’t think this should be looked at as pro-growth or anti-growth, hopefully, it’s being used to organize the city. Three or four months isn’t major damage,” he said. “A long-term moratorium is not good for business in Goleta. We need to be careful that we don’t hurt those people.”

Connell said she hopes the council will be ready to move forward in four to five months, but that it is hard to call.

“It’s a matter of where the other votes might be. It’s dangerous to predict because there may be unexpected things that change everyone’s position. I don’t want to speculate,” she said.

The council approved the ordinance after a public hearing on March 25, at which council members considered written and oral testimony from members of the community.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for April 8 at 6 p.m. at the Goleta Union School District, located at 401 North Fairview Ave.