The Goleta City Council is debating whether or not to extend the current building moratorium in the new city to curb coastal development.

The council voted to schedule a public hearing on May 6 to address the possibility of extending the 45-day coastal zone moratorium, which is set to end May 10. Four of the five councilmembers want to extend the moratorium to allow time to plan future zoning for the coastal area and to establish offices to support any development.

“My own personal view is that when we get our own planning staff in place, that’s when we would consider lifting the moratorium,” Goleta Mayor Margaret Connell said.

The coastal zone affected by the moratorium stretches from Ellwood Shores to the Bacara Resort and Spa on Hollister Avenue, and varies in width from about 1,000 feet from the coastline to a few miles inland.

The coastal moratorium went into effect March 22, when the California Coastal Commission decided Goleta must adopt its own Local Coastal Program – a general zoning plan and ordinances that apply solely to the coastal zone – instead of using the Santa Barbara County plan. The Goleta City Council said imposing the moratorium would give them time to decide whether it will create a unique LCP or use one similar to the county model.

Coastal Commissioner Pedro Nava said he is glad the voters of Goleta finally had a chance to form a city because now they can make their own decisions.

“I think the city wants to be careful about the decisions they make and that’s how they ought to be doing it. So far they’ve displayed great care with making these long-term decisions and I applaud them for that,” he said.

City Councilmember Jack Hawxhurst said Goleta’s attorneys were “entertained” by the CCC’s interpretation of the law, which says the city needs to come up with its own LCP.

“On this particular issue we know where we stand relative to the county. We tried to adopt the county’s local coastal plan,” Hawxhurst said. “The coastal commission doesn’t allow us to do that as we do other ordinances. [They] insist that we have hearings and not do the standard thing of going through the process of adopting your own coastal plan. We can’t just adopt the county one.”

Councilmember Jean Blois, who has previously opposed moratorium extensions because she fears they will cause business owners to leave Goleta, said a coastal moratorium extension should not be passed because there is a conflict of interest regarding a councilmember whose name she would not release.

“There’s only one property that I know of that’s involved and it happens to be a neighbor of one of the councilmembers. It’s a conflict of interest to hold up the whole remodeling project,” Blois said. “I don’t think there’s any need for it. The coastal commission is going to hear this anyway.”

Two major developments in the coastal zone, the Sandpiper Housing Development and an eight-unit affordable housing complex being built by Peoples’ Self-Help Housing on Ellwood Beach, will not be affected. The only projects the council said would be affected are small, single family home projects and renovations.

Currently, all projects in the coastal zone must go through the CCC for approval. With the approval of the commission, a project must get a land use permit from the city so that the council can examine environmental and wetland impacts, traffic mitigation and street setbacks.

Until the council lifts the moratorium, the CCC will handle all development decisions. Hawxhurst said the city is confused and frustrated by the involvement of the CCC.

“In the mean time, the coastal commission is going to make all these land use decisions. Do we need to add a moratorium to those coastal things or what? It’s very nebulas, but everything else is clear cut,” he said.

The Goleta City Council will hold the hearing at their next meeting on Monday, May 6, at 6 p.m. in the Goleta Union School District boardroom at 401 Fairview Ave. in Goleta.