Sunday, July 12, 2009

Citizens sound off against high density development


July 12, 2009 12:00 AM

Goleta community members expressed strong opposition to high-density development Saturday at an open workshop held by the Goleta Valley Planning Advisory Committee.

The workshop at the Vieja Valley School on Nogal Drive was intended to obtain community suggestions and feedback regarding the 1993 Goleta Community Plan, which GVPAC is now seeking to update.

The workshop was divided into seven areas -- parks, recreation, trails, open space and public views; residential land use; agricultural land use; commercial land use; environmental protection and stewardship; public safety, services and infrastructure; and mobility, circulation and parking -- to discuss, evaluate and recommend goals.

Small groups gathered at each topic's table for approximately 40 minutes before rotating.

Amidst a diverse array of topics, high-density construction was brought up and vehemently argued at each station.

"We have to protect open space," said Patricia Hiles at the parks, recreation, trails, open space and public views station, which was led by GVPAC member Valerie Olson. "We live out here because we don't want high density. We don't want to live in the city."

At the agricultural land use station, led by GVPAC member Bonnie Freeman, the same tone was present.

"We don't want to rezone land because the value will shoot up," said Patti Close, "and it will take high density (construction) to pay for it."

Concern about density was also expressed at the mobility, circulation and parking station, led by Kenan Ezal.

"I have a concern about increasing development and density along Hollister," said Carol Geer.

Robert Rainwater agreed.

"There's increased density along Hollister that's affecting traffic," he said.

At the environmental protection and stewardship station, led by Kimberly True, Don Close adamantly opposed high-density construction on the basis that the theories behind its benefits are false.

"People think high density means people will bike to work, walk to work. I don't think that's what happens," he said. "If we reduce density, we reduce cars."

Mr. Close said he is willing to accept development, but he does not believe that development should occur at the expense of the city's existing appeal.

"It should be in tune with the community that exists," he said.

GVPAC will hold a meeting on August 4 at 6 p.m. at 105 E. Anapamu St. in the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission Hearing Room.

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