Ironic Proportions

Yesterday, I received a notice marked “This may affect your property,” from County of Santa Barbara Planning and Development, warning that neighbors who live one-fifth of a mile from me in our unincorporated area have applied for a permit to add 250 square feet to their home.

I might have smiled at this example of petty bureaucracy if it were not for the fact that in September, along with a crowd of neighbors, I attended the unveiling of Santa Barbara County’s Draft Goleta Valley Community Plan Update for Eastern Goleta Valley, which was being submitted for approval by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission and subsequent submission to the Board of Supervisors. The plan endorses a proposal by a private developer to construct low-income housing for an additional 2,000 residents in our neighborhood.

This residential area, based on Hollister between Turnpike and Modoc, is still attempting to adapt to the increased traffic, air- and noise-pollution, graffiti and crime that a similar development already introduced to this formerly tranquil and congenial environment. The county’s intention to earmark the few remaining spaces in this semi-rural community for development that will accommodate initially an additional 2,000 residents brought a capacity crowd to the September hearing, and elicited vigorous protest.

No one in our neighborhood received notice of this intended additional intrusion on the space that we have come to regard as our home, where the deep-rooted community lifestyle is ideally suited to the young families that have flocked here. On the basis of our experience of high-density developments, we are convinced that the Update for Eastern Goleta Valley will certainly “affect our properties” and constitutes a severe threat to our continued quality of living.

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