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Smart Policy For Smart Growth


Hoorah for the Goleta City Council unanimously rejecting development of Bishop Ranch. We don’t need to pave over paradise. There is substantial residential building that will be done by UCSB on their campus and by private developers in Isla Vista. This alone will overtax our already taxed infrastructure.

About twenty years ago I served on the Goleta Water Board (GWB). I favored desalination because it was much cheaper and more reliable than State water. Both Katy Crawford and Pat Mylod, after being elected to oppose State water, switched sides and joined John DeLoreto who favored state water because that was the platform he ran on, finding a $100 million solution to a $40 million problem.

When these former GWB Directors turned their backs on steam distillation and supported State Water they created the opportunity for development beyond this area’s natural holding capacity. In a curious twist of fate, had we supported desalination, the out of town speculators who own Bishop Ranch may have been able to convince the voters to pay six million for another 500 acre feet of water. With State water we are at the mercy of other state water customers and the weather.

Fortunately the Goleta City Council rejected the pro-development voices (such as represented by a recent letter from former Goleta City Council member Eric Onnen printed in the News-Press saying, in essence, that the only way to prevent development is to develop Bishop Ranch). He seemed cavalier about a growth rate of two percent per year.

The rule of 72s says that with that two percent growth rate, the population of the area will double in 36 years. That growth rate was only the growth generated by the proposed Bishop Ranch development. It does not include the growth which will be contributed to by all the other development in Goleta, Noleta, Isla Vista, and possibly even Naples. The current City Council wisely voted not to start Bishop Ranch down the road to morphing from an agricultural ranch to a development project that grows houses.

Years ago Richard Duprey, a librarian and once top administrative assistant to former First District Supervisor Frank Frost found that every new house built in Goleta cost the county $10,000 over and above the fees and taxes generated by the property necessary to provide essential services. Goleta does not need any more demand for services without the ability to provide them. Police protection in Goleta has dropped precipitously from pre-cityhood levels. There are fewer Sheriffs and, because it is a city, the CHP no longer patrols Goleta.

One argument put forth to destroy this open space was that, “There simply is not enough water” to support agriculture. Those of us who know our history remember that Bishop Ranch had a 100 acre foot allocation of state water. They sold that. What did they have in mind when they pocketed that money — that they would just use agriculturally zoned land for something else? I for one do not believe it is the City of Goleta’s job to bail out the Bishop Ranch investors.

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