Thanks to the state’s now-defunct redevelopment agency program, Old Town Goleta used to enjoy an official level of special treatment, with additional tax monies earmarked for fixing blight, fostering business, and improving infrastructure in the Hollister Avenue neighborhood. When those agencies and their funding were nixed by Sacramento a couple years ago — before, it should be noted, many of the promised improvements ever even came to pass — many Old Town residents and business owners started to feel like a forgotten land once again.
This Thursday, August 8, at 6 p.m. in the Goleta Valley Community Center (GVCC), a growing coalition of Old Town advocates are coming together to talk about what’s happening as well as what should be happening in the neighborhood for the years to come. Everyone is invited to come speak their minds or just listen, with topics ranging from the San Jose Creek improvements to bike lanes, roundabouts, and street crossings.
To get a sense of why the meeting is taking place and what can be expected, I sent a few questions to the GVCC’s director, Rob Locke, earlier this week.
When did these meetings start?
They started meeting in 2010, or thereabouts, and a few of the folks that are currently involved were involved in the Santa Barbara County revitalization efforts in Old Town.
Does this signal the rise of a new Old Town organization?
I would say it’s a reinvigorated Old Town group. I would like to think that at some point we will form a downtown organization, or formally a concerned citizens committee.
Why does Old Town need these sort of meetings?
Many folks in Goleta, and in particular Old Town, feel as though the city is not communicating well with its constituents. The San Jose Creek Project is one very good example of this, and in turn the effects that projects like this ultimately have on residents and businesses alike.
These meetings will be an opportunity to provide information on pending projects, outcomes, and the process through which these are discussed at the planning, policy, development, and implementation level.
What will come out of this week’s event?
We hope to find more groups interested in becoming involved in what takes place within the city, speaking about impacts, safety and change, sharing ideas and concerns.
The next Old Town Speak Out is on Thursday, August 8, 6 p.m., at the Goleta Valley Community Center.