The completion phase of Bacara Resort & Spa – which as proposed includes erection of a 62-unit timeshare condominium complex – was back on the City of Goleta’s radar this week when the city held a scoping hearing for the proposed timeshares’ Draft Environmental Impact Report. The EIR scoping is one layer in a three-tiered assessment process the proposal must undergo, all of it happening simultaneously.
A third Design Review Board hearing is scheduled for April 28. At the same time, city staff is analyzing the project’s consistency with the City of Goleta General Plan and Coastal Land Use Plan. All of these tracks are to come together about a year from now. “At that time, we will enter the hearing realm of the Planning Commission, City Council, and if approved by the city, the California Coastal Commission,” said Steve Chase Goleta’s planning and environmental services director. “Should the City Council deny the project, it will stop at that point and not proceed to the Coastal Commission for ratification hearing.”
Bacara’s proposed project is to be located in an environmental restoration area planted in conjunction with the current resort buildings. It would require relocation of a public access trail and parking lot, as well as reconfiguration of the emergency vehicle access road. The proposed condo complex has received a wide array of responses from the community, but major bones of contention yet to be resolved are the 11 amendments to the city’s General Plan that would be required for the project to be realized.
At yesterday’s hearing, most of the public’s comments reflected concern over potential impacts to the environment, scientific and other cultural resources, and public access to the coast. Brian Trautwein, an analyst for the Environmental Defense Center, said that because neither the Goleta’s General Plan nor its coastal ordinances have yet been certified by the California Coastal Commission, the commission has overriding authority concerning the project.
Barbara Massey, a member of the Citizens Planning Association, and others, argued that the project analysis should be put on hold until the city finishes hashing out its final General Plan amendments.
Michael Lundsford, Gaviota Coast Conservancy’s president, said the scale of the timeshare project is inconsistent with “limited-stay accommodations” already in the area, namely hotels and motels. “We’re seeing a rather unusual project here,” he said. Lundsford cautioned that amending the General Plan to enable Bacara to build its timeshares would have “growth-inducing impacts,” when the amendments are applied to other projects as well.