I have had the good fortune to serve the Good Land as City Manager for eight years now. Goleta is still an incredibly young city but our accomplishments in such a short period of time are truly remarkable. Our progress in enhancing our community’s quality of life is worth some added attention.
Goleta is well-served through our contract with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff ‘s Office and by Santa Barbara County Fire. Despite challenging economic times, our City Council has placed a high emphasis on meeting the changing needs of our community. Since incorporation, a Community Resource Deputy has been added and a School Resource Deputy and active Traffic Safety Unit have all been sustained. It should have been no surprise when, this past year, Goleta appeared in the Top 100 Safest Cities in the United States for communities with a population above 20,000.
Large capital improvement projects take years to engineer and develop and millions of dollars to achieve. Goleta currently has more than 28 projects in the planning or construction stage at a cost of some $113 million. Yet only a fraction of those funds have come from local tax dollars as Goleta has successfully competed for grants and lobbied for state and federal assistance.
Roadway interchanges like the new Highway 101 overpass at Cathedral Oaks and Hollister or the new roundabout on Los Carneros and Calle Real are a few examples of the progress Goleta has made. These projects address better, more efficient circulation and safety for our motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Enhanced crosswalks, new floodway improvements and street extensions are a few of the projects currently underway. Keeping our roads in top shape is one of the Council’s highest priorities as was demonstrated during our budget process when the Council added millions of dollars to our road maintenance budget.
Goleta is fortunate to have an active regional park, Girsh Park, along with 16 parks, and a well-used community centering Old Town. Our City Council has had the vision and leadership to not only fund improvements at these current facilities and a future public skating rink, but they have also purchased land for a new active use park in Old Town. In addition, a Parks & Recreation Commission has recently been established.
Preservation and Open Space
As a coastal community, Goleta is blessed with natural resources and scenic beauty. Preserving our environment has been a core theme of our adopted General Plan and sets the stage for thoughtful and careful changes to our built environment. Not only did the City lead the way in acquiring over 140 acres of open space along our coastline, but we played a leading role in requiring UCSB to preserve 90 acres of coastal preserve.
Goleta still has pockets of land that have been earmarked in our General Plan for future development. And growth always carries with it an element of controversy and concern, but the General Plan calls for urban infill projects—not suburban sprawl. Therefore, our City Council stood firmly against projects like the Bishop Ranch proposal and the conversion of Glen Annie Golf Course to housing. We also negotiated a beneficial agreement with the University to guarantee that they pay for public improvements as they grow.
Finally, the Council has also invested in economic development tools and in staff to help support our existing corporate business base to keep good paying jobs here in the area. We now have a partnership with the University and the Chamber to encourage entrepreneurship and local start-up companies to help them stay and grow in Goleta.
As the City has grown up, the Council has emphasized the importance of keeping our community informed by hiring a dedicated Public Information Officer and incorporating numerous tools designed to educate and inform. Nextdoor, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, ProjectGoleta.com, and GoletaButterflyGrove.com are a few of the ways the City communicates.
When you consider that we have just come out of a deep recession, it is important to step back and view the City’s achievements. Our elected officials have brought vision and leadership to our young, healthy and safe community. I, for one, am proud to be a part of that success.