Without much discussion, the Goleta City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday, September 1, to rescind approval given last November for a 140-room Marriott Residence Inn Extended Stay Suites hotel that was to be located at 6300 Hollister Avenue. Facing a lawsuit from Native American interests represented by land-use attorney Marc Chytilo and Chumash advocate Frank Arredondo, Irvine-based R.D. Olsen Development requested that its project be withdrawn.
When the project was approved with a 4-1 vote by the City Council late last year, the city did not require a full environmental review of the site, which project opponents said was a threat to its high cultural and archeological value. “They looked at the strengths of our claims and decided they’d rather go back and do the process right than take a year and then be told to do the process right,” said Chytilo, who called the council’s Tuesday decision a complete victory.
Due to the threat of looting at the site, Chytilo said he couldn’t get too specific about what artifacts or significance the site contains, and added that it’s a very sensitive area. According to city officials, R.D. Olsen will be required to go through the city’s entire approval process – including a full environmental review in addition to hearings before the Design Review Board and the Planning Commission – before its project goes back before the City Council for approval. A timeline has not yet been specified. “Hopefully, this will send a message to the city that they have to be more careful about protecting cultural resources,” Chytilo said.
The Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, which had been an ardent supporter of the project and its revenue potential for the city, was unavailable for comment.