Recently I attended an Economic Development and Revitalization Standing Committee Meeting held by the City of Goleta. Of particular interest to me was the subject of Parking Alternatives in Old Town. I oppose any elimination of on street parking on Hollister.
Mayor Michael Bennett had attended a meeting with a person in Santa Barbara who had been involved in the planning of all of the Santa Barbara downtown parking lots in the 1960s. Bennett emphatically stated that for Old Town Goleta to make any future economic progress, all parking on Hollister would HAVE to be eliminated. His plan was to use existing parking lots that would have a share arrangement with the city for some of their parking or simply be city-owned parking lots. The plan would be for patrons to park and walk as in downtown Santa Barbara.
Bennett understood fully that this would be a distinct disadvantage to many existing businesses in Old Town that have a customer base that won’t park and walk. This would probably cause many to either move or go out of business. His comment was that businesses will always come and go but that the parking lots would attract new businesses that would do well in a park-and-walk situation. He commented that if you build the parking lots, that type of business will come. Councilmember Jim Farr was in total agreement with Bennett.
I find this attitude disturbing and insulting. We are not downtown Santa Barbara nor do most of us want to be. Bennett and Farr believe they know best what is good for Old Town. They both have this vision and a plan of what they would like it to be. I have spoken to Councilmembers Roger Aceves and Paula Perotte. Perotte is noncommittal at this time. Aceves does not agree with Bennett and Farr on this issue. He believes that the City of Goleta should support business, especially existing business, and while the ides of long range and future planning is smart, trying to model Old Town Goleta like downtown Santa Barbara is not the direction to go. We do not have Chapala Street, Anacapa Street, nor the infrastructure surrounding Hollister to make this feasible.
Since our group Concerned Goleta Citizens started opposing this issue of eliminating Hollister parking, I have collected over 2,000 signatures from concerned citizens who actually park on Hollister and patronize businesses in the 5800 block. The people who sign this petition are very much opposed to this idea and are shocked that anyone on Goleta’s City Council would even consider it. If you oppose this move to eliminate parking, want to support and keep the existing business alive, and are opposed to Old Town Goleta being just like downtown Santa Barbara, express your opposition by writing, emailing, or phoning your Goleta City Council members. If, like me, you are outraged by this attitude, express this by voting them out of office in the next election. With them, the change will happen before you know it.
Phil Unander is the owner of Larry’s Auto Parts in Old Town Goleta.