Over the objections of some of the city’s other hoteliers, the Goleta City Council gave the go-ahead to the Camino Real Hotel project, to be built in red-tile-roof style to match the nearby Camino Real Marketplace. The vote at the Tuesday night, February 3, council meeting was 3-2 in favor, with holdouts Margaret Connell and Ed Easton arguing that the market for hotel rooms will be spread thin by the 99 new rooms on Storke Road near Phelps Avenue.
The new hotel is a project of the marketplace’s developer Mark Linehan, president of Wynmark Corporation, and was, in fact, part of the mall’s original plans. Linehan told the council the hotel fills a niche for “boutique hotels” - a term that one observer defined as costing “more than the Holiday Inn but less than the Bacara.”
Roger Aceves, the swing vote in many differences of opinion between the council’s slow-growth and pro-growth interests, said he was “very excited” about the new hotel. Aceves said he has heard numerous times from Goleta’s international businesses that they want more conference and hotel rooms. During his campaign two years ago, Aceves emphasized downtown redevelopment and made it clear that he felt Goleta should not play a distant second to Santa Barbara in attracting visitors.
“I want Goleta to be a destination location,” Aceves said. “We’re less than a gas tank away from L.A., so if people want to get away - why not stay in Goleta?” He said Goleta should take advantage in particular of families who are visiting UCSB students. “There’s really no reason they should go stay in Santa Barbara.”
Connell said she had nothing against the project per se, including the developer’s aspirations to obtain LEED certification for green building, explaining, “I’ve been saying for a long time that there should be a study of the actual market for hotel rooms, because the council has been adding hotel after hotel.” She listed the recently approved Marriott and Rincon Palms-not to mention the Bacara’s expansion plans. “I would have approved it if it had been 50 rooms,” she said.