The City of Goleta will begin to finalize its New Zoning Ordinance at City Council on November 5 at 5:30 p.m. | Credit: courtesy

Goleta has been looking at the lay of its land for the past four years, where things can or should be built according to zoning rules. The city’s New Zoning Ordinance process will near the beginning of the end at a City Council meeting on November 5 at 5:30 p.m., and the public is invited, once again, to weigh in. Left undigested by the more than two dozen Planning Commission, Design Review, Ordinance Committee, and citizen workshops held since 2015 are a handful of housing and environmental buffer issues that the council will consider.

A revision to ensure affordable housing is built on time by developers is part of the new “inclusionary housing requirements” and among city staff’s suggestions. Also, a recommendation from the Planning Commission to allow large residential care facilities, those housing more than six people, would require a General Plan Amendment. Residents of the facilities require 24-hour, non-medical care by definition, and they can run the gamut from the elderly to teens to people in recovery or hospice. To avoid a General Plan Amendment, which creates its own domino effect, planning staff recommends removing the category from single-family residentially zoned neighborhoods and from those zoned “planned residential,” or condos and apartments.

The council will consider whether to exempt the city from duplicative permit procedures — since council approval and public review, development standards, and environmental review under CEQA are already part of any city project — to avoid doing things twice. Among the Planning Commission’s other recommendations in the New Zoning Ordinance — the commissioners went through three sessions recently — are requiring story poles for structures taller than 20 feet, posting 32-foot-square notices of proposed commercial development, more flexible day care locations, outdoor lighting, parking, and more.

A topic popular among the public turned out to be Streamside Protection Areas. The city’s General Plan currently allows the 100-foot standard buffer to shrink to 25 feet in certain circumstances, such as the impossibility of complying. But much has changed since Goleta inherited its zoning from the county upon incorporating in 2002, including the benefits of excluding development too close to wetlands and creeks.

Of the long hours that may be reaching their end soon, Advance Planning Manager Anne Wells explained the result is well worth the labor: “The NZO will translate Goleta’s General Plan into specific regulations to control land uses within the city, adding clarity and transparency to the development review process,” she said. “This is an exciting time for Goleta!”


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