Goleta’s three newest council members gave their first State of the City speeches on Wednesday afternoon, discussing their plans to revamp the city’s infrastructure and alleviate the city’s over-loaded lanes.
Council members Michael Bennett, Roger Aceves and Eric Onnen all spoke at the Holiday Inn on Calle Real yesterday about their plans for Goleta’s future during the next year. Among other concerns, their agenda was particularly concerned with the possibility of creating a new planning commission that would work to create more affordable housing and encourage growth throughout the city, in addition to finding solutions to local traffic problems that impact the community as a whole.
Bennett said the city was in need of a planning commission to oversee housing and growth issues in the city in order to attract more families and businesses to the city.
“We want to streamline the design review board,” Bennett said. “We want to make remodeling and addition approvals much easier to obtain.”
Bennett also discussed relaxing current building restrictions in the municipality, particularly by increasing the size of open lots, which he said could inspire future development in Goleta.
With increased development, Aceves said, the council is also hoping to create affordable housing in Goleta that could eventually accommodate UCSB and SBCC students. This could particularly impact the city in future years as UCSB’s enrollment rises – causing Isla Vista’s population to increase and the area becomes increasingly more crowded each year.
“While in office, we also want to improve alternate forms of transportation in Goleta,” Aceves said. “We especially want to accomplish this to help students get on and off campus.”
The council also discussed the current transportation situation in Goleta – which many of the city’s residents have recently expressed concern about – and discussed a number of solutions to the recent influx of road congestion in the area.
Onnen said he believed an effective way for the council to address the traffic problems would be to focus on improving alternate forms of transportation between the UCSB campus and the city.
In addition, the council members discussed the poor condition of many of the city’s roadways, which the group attributed to the ever-increasing number of cars driving in the city.
Onnen said one possible solution to the problem of deteriorating road conditions would be to impose new taxes in order to raise the funds required for the extensive improvements.
All the new council members encouraged the public to speak up and take part in Goleta’s government. As well as talking to the public, Aceves said the council also hopes to improve relations with UCSB, and he is meeting with Chancellor Henry T. Yang to discuss issues like traffic and housing later this week.
“My door is open to absolutely everyone,” Bennett said. “We want much more public interaction in the decision process.”