It’s a no-go for ARCO, at least for the time being.
At a Jan. 7 board of supervisors meeting, the five Santa Barbara County supervisors unanimously denied permission for ARCO gas to construct a 1,200-square foot, 8-pump gas station and mini-mart on a plot of land just off the Patterson Pass exit of northbound Highway 101. The supervisors rejected the project in response to an appeal made by people living near the proposed site. At the meeting former Planning Commissioner Doreen Farr spoke in front of the board on behalf of the residents of the Patterson Area Neighborhood Association, saying why the ARCO would not benefit the area.
Support of the appeal, however, was a conceptual vote, meaning the members of the board must write a report for presentation next month, supporting their decision and proving that the gas station would have a negative impact on the neighborhoods surrounding it.
Ten years ago, an ARCO station occupied the location in dispute. However, the discovery of a leak in the underground fuel tanks effectively shut it down. ARCO’s initial proposal to reopen a station came a few years ago, but only after the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors denied Jack in the Box permission to open a 24-hour drive-thru.
After passing a series of environmental tests for compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, the gas station was approved in 1999 by the Development Review Division of the Santa Barbara Planning and Development Dept. The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission also approved the proposal in January 2002 with a 4-to-1 decision. Residents of this area of Patterson appealed this decision, but the appeal was denied and the project moved forward.
“The staff was in support of approving the project because it did not trigger anything defined under the California Environmental Quality Act,” said Anne Coates, a planner with the Developmental Review Division of the Santa Barbara County Planning Dept.
The gas station would not have a bad impact on traffic around the stations, said Scott Schell, principal transportation planner for Associated Transportation Engineers, a consulting firm.
“After taking a look at the existing traffic, it was determined that [the ARCO] would not have a negative impact based on the county standards,” he said.
Tuesday’s decision has halted the progress, however.
The residents who petitioned the board of supervisors said they are concerned about increased traffic. New homes and apartments are currently being completed in the area, and a storage facility is located next to the site. Due to the center divide in the road, cars trying to get back on to the freeway would have to make a U-turn from the intersection.
First District Supervisor Naomi Schwartz said this will “severely complicate what is already a complicated intersection.”
“The traffic the gas station will generate would be too much,” Diane Conn, program director for Citizens for Goleta Valley, said. “It would be hazardous because of people constantly trying to get out of there.”
“The community testimony was very important,” 2nd District Supervisor Susan Rose said. “I took into consideration the neighborhood compatibility and I felt it wasn’t compatible.”
Rose said her key concerns regarding the gas station include the tanks and trucks with gas and food that would be constantly passing through the area, the lights late at night, the noise, traffic, people loitering and impeded access to the fire station and hospital.
The building of this gas station could also interfere with a proposed extension of Calle Real from Turnpike Road east through Patterson. This modification would enable drivers to take Calle Real rather than the freeway when passing through Goleta, thus decreasing the traffic in that section of Highway 101, but the extension’s plans require Calle Real to cross over ARCO’s land.