Activists in support of erecting a Target department store in the midst of downtown Goleta made quite a show of gathering signatures in De La Guerra Plaza-in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, right in front of City Hall, on Sunday, October 11. Target supporters who showed up wearing red and white received a free stuffed dog (Target’s official mascot) and those who signed the petition got Target balloons for their children.
The site of the proposed Target store, 6100 Hollister Avenue, is owned by the City of Santa Barbara, even though it is surrounded by the City of Goleta. According to developer Andrew Bermant, who is organizing the petition drive, Santa Barbara has twice opted to ignore proposals by the retailer in closed door sessions. “It comes down to whether or not people want to demand that the City Council talk about the impacts associated with a new store,” Bermant said. “There are economic benefits, job benefits, nonprofit benefits, and sponsorships for events.”
Bermant acknowledged that the City of Goleta has concerns about the project. “There are traffic concerns, but Target can pay the mitigation fees, and the sales tax revenue can be shared by both cities,” he said. “But the [Santa Barbara] City Council won’t even consider listening to a proposal.”
Target supporters in attendance had no shortage of praise for the retail giant. Kalai Kennedy, who assisted Bermant, said she always shops at the Ventura outlet. Whatever she can’t get at Costco, she said, she buys at Target. “As far as I’m concerned, they can move the Kmart out and put Target in,” she said. Ruben Orozco, founder of TweetFind.com, said he also regularly travels to Target in Ventura. “It’d be great if they could get a Target in Santa Barbara,” he opined. “There’d be more jobs, people could save gas.” Bermant described the phenomenon of Santa Barbarans shopping in Ventura as “money leakage. People go to the big stores down in Ventura and Camarillo, and they shop there and eat there and the money ends up going there. That’s money that could have stayed in the community.”