Today a coalition of Santa Barbara County organizations is announcing the formation of the Shelby Foothills Coalition (SFC). SFC is the product of a series of meetings to discuss community challenges engendered by the proposal to build 60 high-end houses on the Shelby property north of Cathedral Oaks Road near Glen Annie Golf Course. Development on this parcel, which is zoned for agriculture, is contrary to Goleta’s General Plan. SFC members are committed to encouraging broad community participation in opposing the Shelby development because it would extend urban sprawl into the Goleta foothills, threaten an important wildlife corridor, damage sensitive species and habitats, use precious water that is in dangerously short supply, and result in net costs to the City of Goleta.
One of the members of the coalition, Barbara Massey of The Goodland Coalition, said, “Our members are bound together by the belief that rezoning for the development of this 14 acre agricultural parcel is wrong on many levels. Ten years ago Goleta residents, and Goleta City staff and Council, carefully crafted the General Plan over a period of many months. Changing the Shelby zoning now would completely contradict that effort.”
Lee Moldaver, of the Citizens Planning Association of Santa Barbara County commented, “One of CPA’s principal positions is to support Goleta residents’ desire to protect agriculture and open space, as embodied in Goleta’s General Plan, and to limit suburban sprawl into the foothills.” The Shelby parcel was zoned for agriculture in Goleta’s initial General Plan. In 2012 Goleta residents voted for G2012, Goleta’s Farmland Protection Initiative, by 71%, reaffirming residents’ determination to protect agriculture in Goleta. Because the application for the Shelby development project was submitted just before G2012, the Shelby parcel is not subject to G2012; however, this parcel IS subject to Goleta’s General Plan, which zones this parcel for only agricultural use.
Coalition members such as the Santa Barbara Audubon Society and the Santa Barbara Urban Creeks Council have expressed concern about the negative impacts of this development on sensitive habitat and the creek. Steve Ferry from Audubon stated, “This parcel is a key wildlife corridor that, although now compatible with agriculture, would be destroyed by the human activity associated with a housing development.”
Another key issue is the project’s water supply, with Connie Hannah, of the Santa Barbara League of Women Voters, stating: “The parcel does not have enough water to accommodate the proposed development. The developer should never have submitted such a proposal during this historic drought, when Goletans have made so many sacrifices to conserve water. Goleta’s General Plan and state law prohibit approval of development without sufficient water.”
Coalition members resist any assertion that such a development would help relieve Goleta’s shortage of workforce housing. As indicated by Margaret Connell of the Santa Barbara County Action Network, “the 60 units proposed for this development are projected to sell for approximately $1,000,000, unaffordable to over 95% of South Coast residents.” Such housing would add to congestion, loss of views, air pollution, and other impacts already occurring due to rampant development in western Goleta.
In addition, of the minuscule amount of property tax returned to Goleta from the State of California, approximately 50% must be transferred to Santa Barbara County under the revenue neutrality agreement between Goleta and the County. A residential development on the Shelby property would certainly be a drain on the city’s coffers, requiring services costing more than tax revenues to the city. Approving this development would exacerbate the City’s already-difficult financial position.
Scott Cooper of the Santa Barbara Audubon Society concluded, “Our coalition members have already filed objections to Shelby’s flawed Draft Environmental Impact Report. When the final report is made public, probably this spring, we will redouble our opposition at Goleta’s Planning Commission and, if need be, at Goleta’s City Council and beyond.”
Citizens Planning Association of Santa Barbara County
The League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara
The Goodland Coalition
Santa Barbara Audubon Society
Santa Barbara County Action Network
Santa Barbara Urban Creeks Council
Other individuals and neighborhood groups are expected to join in opposition to the Shelby development.
For additional information and to become involved in this effort, please go on-line to StopShelby.org.