The Goleta City Council revisited its 10-month-old Strategic Growth Plan yesterday, redefining and reprioritizing goals for the city’s future.

With the help of facilitator Jesse Hulse, a consultant from Giffordson Solutions, a full table of city council members and city staff met to discuss implementation and changes to the city’s Strategic Growth Plan – a document created in May to help the city outline and accomplish its long-term goals. The council trimmed the plan’s 17 original goals down to 14, changing the language to reflect new, often broader intentions, and moving and refining the specific tasks associated with each goal.

Hulse compared the Strategic Growth Plan to a drawing of a winding path leading to a sun shining in the space between two mountains. He said it was important for the council to focus on their vision statement – symbolized by the sun – and the signs or goals along the path would come naturally.

“We don’t want to lose a lot of time making it perfect,” Hulse said. “The goals become validation that we’re still on the path.”

Council members and city staff decided on a vision statement in April 2006 by writing words and phrases of importance on Post-it notes and moving them around to create a sentence. The city council’s vision for Goleta is: “Goleta remains a beautiful and safe small town community, with family friendly neighborhoods that value preserving the environment, agriculture, and open space while providing diverse housing, recreation and business opportunities.”

Hulse said the 17 original goals and tasks were created with the vision statement in mind and combined department work plans and council recommendation.

Attendees came back to the Post-it note idea at yesterday’s meeting and had the opportunity to post ideas on large posters that outlined the 17 original goals with the tasks listed underneath.

The council decided to combine three of the goals and their associated tasks with ones that were closely related. Members also decided that it was acceptable to leave some goals and tasks broad in order to leave room for possible changes along the way.

In response to a discussion about whether desired youth and senior activities, listed under the “Facilitate Delivery of Services to Residents” goal, should be more clearly defined, council member Jonny Wallis said the council should not get overwhelmed by specifics.

“I think it’s acceptable to have some tasks not totally defined,” Wallis said.

Goleta City Manager Daniel Singer said general goals and tasks were acceptable to include in the plan, but the purpose of the Strategic Growth Plan and the special meeting were to facilitate the city staff’s job in implementing the plan.

“It’s preferable to change to something still open-ended but [we need to] have something the staff would work with,” Singer said.

The 14 remaining goals in the plan deal with city staffing and budget, improving city infrastructure, revitalizing Old Town Goleta, housing, business and improving programs for residents.

Singer said the purpose of the Strategic Plan is to have a “living document” that is annually or semi-annually updated by staff and amended by council members.

In an effort to assist the council and staff implement the plan, City Management Analyst Rubayi Srivastava explained the benefits of Microsoft Project. She said the software has the capability of organizing the long-term goals of the plan, improving communication among departments and tracking deadlines and progress.

Singer said managing the plan through Microsoft Project will help the city staff better understand the city council’s intentions for goals and tasks.

“There’s a lot hidden on the screen here that will become a tool for the staff,” Singer said.