The Goleta Valley Planning Advisory Committee (GVPAC) solidified agricultural land use goals and overheard the passionate opinions of more than ten land owners during its Wednesday, January 20 meeting. The GVPAC convened for its 27th meeting to update land use goals and planning tools for the Eastern Goleta Valley community. Although still tentative, these agricultural land use goals have been altered according to the recommendations received at the last GVPAC meeting. The more general goals include the preservation of the agricultural characteristics of the planning area, and the maintenance of agricultural operations.
One of the major decisions of the meeting was the GVPAC’s announcement to hold a public workshop on February 27 so that it may present graphs, images, and plans regarding the future of the Eastern Goleta Valley. In response to this announcement, GVPAC board member Thomas Elliott suggested that this workshop be one where farmers, land owners, and other interested community members may enter into a dialogue. Elliott emphasized the need for a more conversational than informative workshop so that the committee members could gather a more in depth understanding of the neighborhood and improve the plan according to the needs of the community. When the meeting was opened to public comment, almost every land owner representative spoke favorably on Elliot’s proposition for an interactive dialogue workshop.
Across the board, land owners expressed their difficulty in keeping up with competition in today’s economy. Several owners articulated that because of the Goleta Valley restrictions, they are inhibited from utilizing and capitalizing in this modern industry and, as a result, are forced to compromise profits and viability. Because the industry is evolving, the farmers asked for new policies that were more flexible then the current guidelines. These farmers stated that they are not looking for high density development but for options in supporting their farms. One farmer even described that he felt he was “captive” to the Goleta Valley restrictions and asked the committee to consider non-restrictive options when writing up the plans for the future of the Eastern Goleta Valley.
The meeting was productive in establishing the land use goals and discussing zone challenges, trails, roads and blocked planning areas. While many community members argued for a reasonable timeline, Chair Valerie Olsen assured all those who attended that there will no longer be “plans about plans” but instead, a set plan of action.