Last time someone said “let them eat cake,” a well-coifed, powdered French head was severed from its body. Mayor Jack Hawxhurst fared quite a bit better at last night’s celebration of the city of Goleta’s first birthday and the city council meeting that followed.
Hawxhurst, the rest of the city council members and about 200 Goleta residents met at the Goleta Community Center for cake, commemorative pins and a rousing performance of “Happy Birthday.” Hawxhurst said he was happy to see so many people attend the celebration of Goleta’s first year.
“I’m noticing the great turnout,” he said. “It’s just super.”
Hawxhurst also said the overriding goal of Goleta’s first year – the compilation of a general plan – would extend into the second.
“The big thing on the plate is the general plan, last year and this year. That python is a lot longer than one year,” he said.
The actual city council meeting, however, took place at the Goleta Union School District directly afterward. There, the council unanimously voted to proceed with a proposal to examine the implications of voting for council members by district. The present city council was not elected in this fashion, but the option for voters to do so in the next election could go on the ballot in the next regularly scheduled election.
No more than one city council member could reside in each proposed district. Councilwoman Cynthia Brock said she feared this restriction could result in current council members concerned about maintaining their positions gerrymandering the voting areas.
“What if we all lived in the same neighborhood? Would you just draw a pie shape?” Brock said.
Goleta City Attorney Julie Hayward Biggs said a pie-shaped district map would be the solution.
“Districts could be drawn in any number of ways,” Biggs said. “It does happen that two council members live next to each other every so often. You just begin drawing the line [between them].”
The council will make future districting decisions in accordance with the advice of yet-to-be-hired election consultants.
A motion to continue pursuing the formation of a Goleta-specific interim coastal agency instead of exploring alternatives also passed unanimously.
Councilwoman Jonny Wallis said her concern about such an agency was how its formation would affect coastal projects already in progress. Goleta Planning Director Ken Curtis said such projects would have to be approved by both Goleta and the California Coastal Commission.
The council also passed a motion to adopt Santa Barbara County’s thresholds of significance – statutes that allow a city to state whether a certain environmental impact is significant or not.
Biggs said adopting the thresholds would provide a “baseline of minimal requirements for projects to work from.”
The motion passed with a 4-1 vote, with Hawxhurst dissenting because he felt many of the thresholds were poorly worded or irrelevant to Goleta. Hawxhurst said he had favored approving thresholds on a case-by-case basis.
The next city council meeting will be held Feb. 10 in two sessions: 1:30 p.m. at the Goleta Valley Community Center and 6:00 p.m. at the Goleta Valley School District.