Robert Goodwin, a key figure in the Goleta water wars and a leader in the homeowner activist movement of the 1970s, is dead.

Goodwin, who died this week in Livermore, served as attorney for the Goleta Water District after a slate of young Goletans unseated board members they accused of bringing the fast-growing community to the brink of a water crisis. The newly elected board then imposed a moratorium of new hookups on grounds that supplies were insufficient to serve added demands unless voters approved new sources.

Robert Goodwin

The water board election, paired with Goleta homeowner attorney Jim Slater being elected to the then-pro-growth county Board of Supervisors, sparked an electrifying ferment among young families that had swelled the Goleta population. A group of well-educated Goletans rose up against what they felt was out-of-control growth, lack of proper planning, and a water district policy of officially promising to serve new developments despite a looming water deficit.

But tumultuous political tides led to fierce disputes as the homeowners won and lost their water board majorities and pro-growth factions regained power. Goodwin, a water law specialist, was ousted as board attorney.

He moved to Livermore around 20 years ago and continued in private practice. A memorial service is planned in Livermore on Friday, August 17, at 11 a.m.

Goodwin graduated from the University of San Francisco in 1964 and its school of law in 1967. He has served as president of the Livermore Chamber of Commerce, president of the ValleyCare Hospital Foundation, director of the Livermore Rotary Club, director of the Eastern Alameda County Bar Association, and Tri-Valley Estate Planning Council.


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