In a first for the ever-building City of Goleta in a dog’s age, its City Council voted down a budding development proposal. Mark Linehan, who developed the Camino Real Marketplace, is now interested in adding a gas station at the corner of Santa Felicia Drive and Storke Road. But the city must change its General Plan in order to do so, which requires Goleta’s City Council to initiate an amendment to the city’s General Plan. In recent years under other city councils, the outcome would have been a slam dunk. But not this council. According to the staff report, changing the zoning from Community Commercial to General Commercial would expand possible uses from gas station to info tech, education, or construction services; RV park, warehouse, wholesale trade or storage; and auto-related uses like sales, rental, repair, painting, and junkyard.
Junkyard? Light industry like auto painting? Councilmembers Kyle Richards and Stuart Kasdin repeatedly asked staff if there wasn’t another zoning category that would allow a gas station but perhaps not uses such as these, which they just couldn’t see in this area. The reply from city attorney Michael Jenkins was that Goleta’s process was the reverse of most municipalities. Instead of a change like this being presented with a project, instead, the project had to get the General Plan change first. That left it somewhat in the air as to what would actually get built when all the staff reports and meetings were completed two years later. Mayor Paula Perotte added that the Santa Felicia intersection was already at Level D, meaning that it was approaching its capacity.
Wynmark partner Kimberly Schizad noted in a letter to the council that when the land was in the county, it was a zoning change that allowed the Marketplace to be built. An outdoor roller rink and bus transfer station had been envisioned for the lot, but the roller rink went to Earl Warren and Metropolitan Transit District abandoned its plans.
In remarks from the public, Barbara Massey, representing the Goodland Coalition, took issue with the presence of a gas station in the Santa Barbara airport’s fight path. Kathy Goeden believed a high-traffic gas station would be one among four that already exist nearby. “If it’s not better for the developer, and if it’s not better for us who live there, who is it better for?” she asked. Linehan also spoke, asserting that it was staff’s recommendation to take the General Plan amendment route rather than trying to open the Community Commercial zone to allow a gas station.
Councilmember Michael Bennett made the motion to initiate the amendment, and Councilmember Roger Aceves seconded, but it went down, 3 to 2.