The Goleta City Council got a big “Shame on you!” from about 20 community members last night when it approved a conditional letter of support for two proposed UCSB housing projects.
The council’s approval of the letter of support for the two projects, which the university is undertaking to create over 170 units for faculty and staff members, drew a large display of criticism from a group of attendees at the meeting – prompting some to storm out of the building after the approval was final. The revised letter will now be sent to the California Coastal Commission, which will review the plans for the North and West Campus Housing projects – which will both be located in Goleta – at its meeting this Friday.
The meeting agenda originally included a proposal for a letter of request for continuance on the projects. Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas said the request for continuance would ask the CCC not to make a decision on the housing projects at this week’s meeting. However, the council instead voted on a second letter that granted the CCC conditional approval of UCSB’s housing plans.
Attendees said that, because the city failed to make the letter of support for the projects available to the public before tonight’s meeting, citizens had insufficient time to prepare any sort of formal disapproval for the plans and denied them a chance to give any other input to the council.
About six community members expressed their dissatisfaction with both the project and the council’s actions during the public comment period, drawing support for their cause among attendees as the comment period continued. Eventually, some community members walked out of the meeting, booing council members and shouting “Shame on you!” in the council’s direction as they exited the building.
Other concerns expressed by citizens included the project’s lack of planned public access to the area, wetland preservation, the time it would take to complete the project, the impact of constant construction on the environment and the potential impairment of coastal views for public and private property in the area.
The letter of support was drafted by a subcommittee of the council, consisting of Mayor Pro-Tem Margaret Connell and Councilmember Cynthia Brock – the only two members who voted to approve the document out of the three council members present.
Connell said the approval of the conditional letter of support was imperative if the city wanted to retain any input on the housing projects, and said the chances that a continuance would be granted by the CCC were slim.
“The likelihood of having a continuance is very slight,” Connell said. “We have to look at what is the best route to get the outcome we desire.”