The Goleta Agricultural Land Protection Initiative
The board of Santa Barbara County Action Network (SB CAN) has endorsed Measure G2012, joining numerous local groups, key Goleta public officials and Goleta residents (see the website).
Measure G2012, on the November 6, 2012 City of Goleta ballot, will require that re-zoning of Goleta’s major agricultural parcels must be approved by a majority of Goleta voters.
SB CAN is founded on the H.O.T. Principles — that community needs for housing, open space and transportation should be addressed in a planned and integrated way. Goleta’s General Plan embodies these H.O.T. Principles by setting forth a vision and zoning for a balanced mix of urban and agricultural uses for the next 20 years. Goleta’s General Plan clustered development along the Hollister corridor to maximize public transit and alternative transportation opportunities. And it preserved agricultural zoning for several large parcels along Cathedral Oaks.
Currently the City of Goleta has 1,400 housing units and nearly 2 million square feet of commercial development in process. And there’s zoning for even more development, enough to meet California’s housing mandates.
However, the threat to upset that balance recurs. As recently as September 2011, a development was proposed to rezone a major agricultural parcel for housing that 95% of Goletans could not afford. While that threat was rejected by the city council, its majority can change every two years. Today, it takes the votes of only three council members to nullify Goleta’s agricultural future without providing community benefits.
Measure G2012 not only supports Goleta’s General Plan, including its setting aside certain agricultural parcels for agriculture, it also recognizes that during the next 20 years there may be attempts to rezone some agricultural parcels for development. By requiring such redevelopment proposals to be ratified by a vote of Goleta citizens, G2012 serves notice on proponents that some real community benefits would have to be offered for voters to consider upsetting the careful balance in the current General Plan.
Examples of some such community benefits a developer may want to put forth might include creating conservation or agricultural easements, dedicating part of the property for open space or active recreation, including more rental and affordable housing, and including greater integration with public transit and alternative transportation.
To learn more about the initiative and find out how to help, go to goletaheritagefarmland.org.