by Nick Welsh
Despite strong objections from Goleta Mayor Jonni Wallis, the Santa Barbara City Council took one small step toward extending its sphere of influence to include Eastern Goleta Valley — commonly known as Noleta — and an even smaller step toward outright annexation of the unincorporated territory between the cities of Goleta and Santa Barbara. The council action was precipitated by a five-year campaign waged by Eastern Goleta residents active with either the Committee for One or the Western Santa Barbara Committee, who collected 4,500 signatures in favor of the action. William Gilbert of the Committee for One denied that he and his allies were motivated by the snob appeal offered by a Santa Barbara mailing address, pointing out that Noleta and Santa Barbara enjoy a long shared history. He explained that he and his wife like to cruise State Street to see and be seen. Representatives of Noleta’s eight mobile home parks turned out in force to make sure Santa Barbara would exclude them from the proposed extension of sphere of influence. Mobile home park residents in the county’s unincorporated areas are still covered by rent control laws, but Santa Barbara abandoned its rent control ordinance years ago. A loss of rent control, these speakers warned, would cause great hardship to 1,800 residents — mostly seniors — who still enjoy the last best affordable housing on the South Coast. Councilmembers took pains to reassure them they had no designs on extending the sphere to include the mobile home parks. Mayor Wallis and Goleta Councilmember Cynthia Brock asked their Santa Barbara counterparts to hold off, pending their completion of the Goleta General Plan. Members of the Santa Barbara council respectfully declined to do so, but only after gushing about what a great neighbor the City of Goleta will be once it adopts its general plan.