The fate of Goleta’s popular Haskell’s Beach will soon be in the hands of the Goleta Planning Commission, following a punt by the Goleta Design and Review Board on the proposed Bacara Completion Phase earlier this week.
Following an extended dialogue between resort management, city officials, and concerned residents-including some ardent opponents-the board was unable to make a clear recommendation to the Planning Commission on whether to support or deny Bacara Resort and Spa’s plans to expand on a 13-acre piece of land west of the main complex. However, the project will continue its path toward final approval through the auspices of the various other city review bodies. Alan Hansen, the City of Goleta’s senior planner, said it may take up to a few months before the expansion project comes before the city’s Planning Commission for its next round of reviews. “The next step [for the Bacara Completion Phase] is an Environmental Impact Report,” he said. “After the EIR, the project will go to the Planning Commission before it is brought back to the Design Review Board. I’d say we’re looking at a few months before this takes place.”
The proposed expansion – which now calls for the development of 55 new condominiums and hotel units – would be managed by Bacara Resort but sold to private owners, who would be subject to deed restrictions regarding length of stay. The resort would be able to rent out the units to hotel patrons during the times that the owners are not present. The number of condominiums has been reduced to 55-from 62 condos a month ago-and the public beach-access path was expanded to eight feet, adjacent to the 20-foot emergency access road. Developers hope these improvements, along with the creation of additional ocean-view corridors for pedestrians heading for Haskell’s Beach, will make the project more attractive for concerned city officials and residents.
There were several opponents to the expansion, who attacked in particular the 10 Goleta General Plan and Coastal Land Use Plan amendments that would be necessary to approve the condos.
Since the approval of Bacara’s preliminary development plan in 1985 – which allowed 500 hotel rooms and 24 villas – the resort has counted on the development of the 13-acre lot next to the main resort, which already houses 367 hotel rooms. The proposed “completion phase” of the project would establish eight new buildings for the 55 condominium units. Each unit would have an owner who would be able to stay in the unit no more than 90 days per year. For the remainder of the year, Bacara would open the units for public rental. Dubbed “hotel condominiums,” they differ from time shares by the distribution of time alloted to guests other than the units’ owners.