The Goleta Planning Commission voted unanimously on Monday night to continue the Citrus Village residential development-a project that has been sloughing through the review process for the past four years-until September 8. Although it was recommended for approval by the Planning Commission Staff, the commission decided to continue the project to allow closer inspection due to concerns raised by members of the public and planning commissioners. “I think we’re setting up a situation here where there could potentially be a lot of conflicts,” said Commissioner Julie Kessler Solomon.
The site of the proposed project is a lot at 7388 Calle Real, near the intersection of Ellwood Station Road. Ensconced between the El Encanto Heights neighborhood and a small strip mall containing a 7-Eleven and Dalton’s Sports Bar and Grill, the development has been termed “infill.” As designed, the neighborhood would be a group of nine courtyard-style condominium units built in California Craftsman style. Each three bedroom unit would be a little less than 1,700 square feet, with an attached two-car garage. Because the homes are clustered together and arranged around an entrance driveway, garage parking would be required for residents, with some guest parking spaces available.
Parking, however, was one of the main concerns of commissioners and neighboring residents. Commissioner Ed Easton, who lives in a condominium complex, noted that there is never any onsite parking available for guests, who are then required to park on the street. Peikert Group architects, the project applicant, said that adding more parking spaces would cut into the open space required by zoning to be included in the project, and that reducing the number of units-which they have already done-could cause financial infeasibility. Goleta’s Director of Planning and Environmental Services, Steve Chase, reinforced the staff’s recommendation, saying that the project is consistent with current zoning and the latest version of the City’s General Plan.
A few of the residents from El Encanto Heights, including Gary Vandor and Earl Lovelace, objected to the project’s size, saying that it did not complement the existing homes in the area. “These units are bigger than many of the surrounding homes,” said Barbara Massey, a Goleta resident and community activist. “This is still a test case for Goleta,” said Karen Lovelace, an El Encanto Heights resident, whom Commission President Ken Knight inadvertently called Linda Lovelace when she stepped up to the podium. “This is the first project that’s been put inside a neighborhood, and people are watching.”
Other concerns raised were related to the proximity of a tot lot in the project’s plans to the bar in the adjacent strip mall, but commissioners seemed amenable to using the work staff has already done to reach a workable solution. “We wholeheartedly support the concept review idea,” said Easton.