While Goleta grows into a full-fledged city by flexing its governmental muscle, UCSB will be waiting for nearly two years before its extension can move to a more spacious home.
In a 4-1 vote, the Goleta City Council denied UCSB Extension’s request to move into a larger building, originally zoned for office rather than educational use, without comprehensive and prolonged review. Council members expressed concern at the Sept. 23 meeting that approving a building zoned for office use could bring in more vehicular traffic than the area could maintain.
The council is requiring UCSB Extension to conduct an environmental impact report to determine the impact on traffic conditions in the area around the building, located two blocks away from UCSB Extension’s current location on Storke Road.
UCSB Extension provides English language classes during the day for foreign students and regular catalog classes at night. The program has outgrown its present building, so the university is seeking a larger location on Hollister Avenue.
Goleta Mayor Margaret Connell said the review could last between a year to a year and a half and could cost an estimated several thousand dollars.
Connell said she wanted to establish sound regulations for a new city that she feels is maturing away from a county government that was too lax. Although Connell said she was not adverse to the UCSB Extension program, she did not want the city to get off on the wrong foot by cutting corners or making an exception for one project.
“We certainly think it is a very worthy program. … It looks like we are throwing up a lot of road blocks,” she said. “We want to establish very clearly our position.”
Councilwoman Jean Blois, the only council member to vote in favor of the move, said she sympathized with UCSB Extension and felt it was purely an incidental case and worth making an exception. Blois said she did not understand the council’s reluctance to see it as more than an explicit zoning issue.
“The council has the option to make exceptions for incidental uses, but they didn’t. … They felt it was clearly a zoning issue,” she said. “They want to show their power because they are a new city.”
UCSB Extension Associate Dean Howard Adamson said the review was unnecessary since relocation two blocks away would not have any impact on the amount of traffic in the area. During the day, UCSB Extension caters to foreign students without cars, who either ride bikes or use public transportation, while students drive cars to classes at night, Adamson said.
He said although the university presented information to the council to demonstrate that there would be no traffic problems, the city council stuck to its interpretations of its zoning regulations.
“They weren’t being rude, they were just interpreting a little too deeply,” he said. “We definitely tried our best.”