The multi-year process to plan for the next 20 years of the Eastern Goleta Valley, commonly known as “Noleta,” caught fire this week at the County Planning Commission hearing on Wednesday, as 50 or so people spoke for more than two hours during public comment about how they never want to see agricultural land rezoned into high density development. They greatly outnumbered the handful of developers and their supporters, namely affordable housing advocates and business owners, who advocated for more residential zoning in the region.
Though residents began thinking about the future in 2006 and the Goleta Valley Planning Advisory Committee was created in 2008 to formally move toward a plan, the work is just now approaching environmental review phase, with expected sign-off still a couple years down the line. There were grumblings about the final draft completed by the GVPAC (read all about that plan and some complaints here), but it didn’t rise to the level of community-wide controversy. Between the sign-off of the GVPAC earlier this year and the introduction to the plan to the Planning Commission in August, however, a number of higher density zonings have crept into the project, apparently due to state officials warning that there wasn’t enough affordable housing allocated in the draft.
That’s got Noleta in a loud uproar, and everyone from stay-at-home-moms, college professors, and urban farmers to water district representatives and elementary school district superintendents were on hand to pledge that the county leave their semi-rural neighborhoods alone. After the hours of testimony, the end of the day had been reached, and the Planning Commission wasn’t able to discuss the matter further. They will do so next Wednesday, September 14, during the regular session.
To learn more about the plan, see this Web site.