Despite giving away about $5 million per year to the County of Santa Barbara via a deal hatched a decade ago that’s set to last forever, the City of Goleta remains in good financial standing, with notable successes including the San Jose Creek restoration/flood project and excitedly awaited projects-to-be including the Target superstore and Ice in Paradise skating rink. Those latter three items received loud applause during the seventh annual “State of the City” event, which was attended by more than 300 people at the Bacara Resort on Thursday, while the city’s revenue neutrality agreement with the county was lambasted from the stage by Mayor Michael Bennett in his remarks.
The Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce’s lunchtime affair has steadily grown in both size and prominence since it began, and this year’s was the most impressive yet, with a well-executed, project-by-project, tag-team presentation by Interim Public Works Director Rosemarie Gaglione and Planning and Environmental Review Director Jennifer Carman serving as the main informational course. They began and ended their talks by addressing comments they have heard about Goleta growing too fast and in unexpected ways, both assuring that what’s been built, being built, and planned to be built was all discussed and endorsed as part of the city’s General Plan in 2006. They also clarified that projects at UCSB, the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, and within the County of Santa Barbara are outside their control. “The growth that everyone is seeing now was always planned for,” said Gaglione. “This is not new.”
As for Target, whose very mention triggered the most enthusiastic clapping of the day, Carman explained, “This application is complete. We are waiting for Target to initiate environmental review, and we will expedite the project as soon as they bring in their check.” [Developers must pay for city staff time to review projects.] The ice rink, meanwhile, is expected to break ground in August, news that also triggered applause.
The event ended with a video update on GEM, the Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet, a collaboration between the city, UCSB, and the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce to foster new businesses in the area.