Opening the door to the possibility of a large new commercial-and-housing mixed-use complex on Hollister Avenue near Storke Road, the Goleta City Council voted to initiate study on two Goleta General Plan amendments Tuesday night, December 16, with only one dissension. Councilmember Margaret Connell, who agreed with other councilmembers that the project was “interesting” in the context of the city’s long-term development outlook, voted against the amendments based upon her objection to a potential citywide building height change, which she said could be caused by one of the amendments.
The development, which would occupy a 22-acre parcel across from the Camino Real Marketplace shopping center, would include about 300 rental apartments, commercial space for small, “boutique” businesses, and a recreation area in the center of the project, according to the developer, Westar, which touted its project as green due to the proximity of residential units to shopping and recreation areas. “The law requires green building-especially for the commercial part-but these guys have the ability to go beyond what the law requires,” said Mayor Roger Aceves. “I’m hoping that they will create a true green community. Any chance we get to reduce our carbon footprint in planning is something we have to take advantage of.”
The two general plan amendments initiated for study on Tuesday dealt with a change in land use designation from medium density residential to mixed use, and a change in maximum building height from 25 to 35 feet. Aceves pointed out that initiation of the amendments is only the beginning of a long process, and that the project must still wend its way through the Design Review Board and the Planning Commission, and come back before the council for approval as a project. “One of the things I will oppose in a general manner is any attempt to change the General Plan across the city,” said Connell, noting that she was more likely to entertain project-specific amendments.
The Goleta City Council will not meet again until January 20, at which time it is scheduled to examine a host of General Plan amendments and the General Plan itself in a holistic context. Connell said that at that time, the council should discuss whether building standards such as property line setbacks, density, building heights, and the like should be dealt with as components of the General Plan or the zoning code. She said that building standards as zoning code would likely make project customization simpler.
Connell and Ed Easton, the newest members of the Goleta City Council, also appointed planning commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting. Connell named Bill Shelor-a student financial advisor at UCSB who has served on a number of the university’s planning and sustainability committees-as her appointment. Ironically, Easton appointed recently retired Goleta City Council member Jonny Wallis, who had appointed Easton as a planning commissioner in 2004.