The parcel will be rezoned at the Goleta Planning Commission on Monday
Goleta plans to be on track to add 1,837 new homes over the next eight years, part of the city’s effort to meet California’s push to reach 180,000 homes built annually. The Goleta Planning Commission is taking its turn to attack the issue at the local level during a series of rezoning discussions and votes Monday evening regarding 11 properties on the city’s much-discussed rezoning list.
For neighbors of some of the parcels, the implication is clear: a small patch of wilderness will contain residential buildings.
Next door to the Kenwood Village project at 7264 Calle Real, April Reed lives in the house her parents built 57 years ago. Her great-grandmother, for whom the street is named, lived next door to Reid’s.
Located along Highway 101 known as Calle Real between Glen Annie and Winchester Canyon Road, Kenwood’s 9.68 acres was once part of a large parcel of land owned by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Currently zoned for single-family housing, the city plans to increase that to high-density housing, a low-income category that can put 20-30 units per acre.
“I grew up playing in this field when pumpkins and tomatoes grew there,” Reed said, recalling how her parents’ car would sometimes get stuck in the mud before the street was paved. She sees hawks, sparrows, snakes, skunks, opossums and voles on a regular basis in the field. El Encanto Creek runs along the west side of the property, and Reid was amazed when she saw a great egret in her yard one day and took photos of monarch butterflies crossing the Kenwood plot.
Although Reed hopes to protect the creek, she has other concerns about the new neighbors she might gain. “If the owner builds housing for seniors, he or she will have difficulty getting around. What if there is an emergency?” she asked. Reid has also recorded at least three fatal crashes on Calle Real near Baker Road since 2008, including a 59-year-old biker who was killed by a drunk driver in 2020.
Reid is not alone in her concerns. Rich Foster lives a few blocks away and is a regular at City Council meetings, with a great memory and a straightforward manner. He has read the state’s Housing and Community Development (HCD) guidelines and believes the Kenwood property is not suitable for low-income residents.
“There used to be a bus the kids could take to middle school, but it’s no longer running. There’s no transit, no grocery stores, no bike path on Calle Real, and traffic is a measurable problem,” he said, listing some of the state’s standards for high-density and low-income housing. Low income.
Not only does California lack housing — of the 180,000 homes deemed essential each year, only 80,000 have been built annually over the past decade — the state in particular lacks affordable housing. Goleta, which has seen hundreds of homes rise at market rate in recent years, is required to set aside at least 1,006 new homes that will be affordable to low- and very low-income individuals and families. The state considers high-density housing to be less expensive and therefore affordable for low-income families.
For any California city or county under pressure over housing — shortages of which affect rental rates, homeownership, homelessness and the cost of living, according to HCD — its job is to determine population density to meet the housing numbers needed. The actual construction of homes remains up to landlords and developers, who themselves face increasing construction costs and bank loan fees.
It has taken Giulietta over two years to get to this point, after workshops, meetings, networking, phone calls and in-person engagement around town. Goleta valued its open space, so the city’s first effort focused on infill development — which would place new housing among commercial properties — but that tactic was questioned by the state because Goleta had no history of similar projects. City and HCD consultants advised looking at vacant properties, and the state in particular wanted to know that these property owners had an interest in building homes.
Although the rezoning will likely take place before any bulldozer sets foot on any property, all city permitting and planning rules will remain in effect. Anne Wells, Goleta’s director of planning, was clear: “Any future project will be subject to condition remediation, design review, environmental review, and relevant public input.”
When the City Council and Planning Commission discussed the state-mandated housing component this summer, in connection with the Kenwood rezoning, they decided that if the parcel was high-density, they would set a cap of 190 units to try to rein it in. Some traffic and other issues. Property owner Ken Alker is having trouble with the cap.
“Look at it this way,” said Alker, who bought the parcel about 16 years ago. “If it’s 9.6 acres and the density is 20 per unit, that’s about 193 units total. If the max is 190, where am I supposed to go?
Alker, an electrical engineer by training, arrived in the area in 1987 to study at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His day job is running Impulse Advanced Communications, an Internet services provider that merged with Silicon Beach and NetLogic in 2006. Alker, a soft-spoken talker, said he thought long and hard about how to place homes on a plot of land — in fact, he said Kenwood got On his name when his friends asked him: “Who in their right mind could develop this much?” And I answer: “Ken will do.”
He had 60 single-family homes “in mind” for six or seven years for the parcel, which rises in its northeast section before sloping toward the creek, or drainage ditch, as Alker sees it. He was working on it with his father, an architect, and the planning team in Goleta, when he got a phone call asking if he was considering higher density. “That was only a week ago!” he shouted exaggeratedly, adding that he didn’t really have time to think about what he could do, but he didn’t like the restriction imposed by the hood.
This cap would hinder his idea of housing for seniors. Alker said he moved a friend to Friendship Manor recently, learning the senior facility wanted to expand for better mobility in wheelchairs. Alker said that got him thinking about rebuilding Friendship Manor in Kenwood Village and putting up housing for workers to the north and east, and his engineers continued to leave for other states. Alker said Friendship Manor has 214 units, which may be discouraged by the cap, but he hopes the new configuration will allow for some creativity.
At least a dozen creeks pass through Goleta from the mountains to the sea, and the El Encanto River flows from the foothills to Devereux Slough. Goleta Creek is 100 feet high, and the city has public right-of-way and easement setbacks. Combined, these factors bring the buildable area at Kenwood to 6.33 acres, Wells said. Between the site maximum and the high density of 20 to 30 units per acre, the range of possible units is 126 to 190.
“The 190-unit limit was proposed to recognize the characteristics of the site, the need to provide adequate buffer space from adjacent uses, the need to accommodate access to the site, and to allow for innovative site planning techniques,” Wells said.
Streams have been flowing since California’s wet winter, which was good at times for some flooded areas. But that means the aquifer beneath Goleta is filling up, which the Goleta Water District expects will allow it to lift its moratorium on new water meters sometime this year. Although Kenwood had a small agricultural entitlement of less than 2 acre-feet per year, agricultural water could not be diverted to residential uses because of 1988’s Measure J. If a 190-unit project were proposed, it would need about 28 acre-feet per year, Ryan said. Drake, which manages the area’s water supply. If the restrictions end, the district could set aside up to 154 acres in 2024, he said.
The Goleta Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. Monday, November 13 to vote on zoning proposals. The meeting will be held in person at City Hall, 130 Cremona Drive, and via video conference. More information is available at https:///cityofgoleta.org/goletameetings. Written comments can be submitted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For discussion there is a re-division into the following pieces:
• 60 Colusa Street (APN 077-155-004) – Intersection of commercial (CI) to high-density residential (RH)
• 7264 Calle Real (Kenwood Village) (APN 077-130-006) – Single Family Residential (RS) and Agriculture (AG) to RH. For this lot, HE 2.1(a) also includes a development cap of 190.
• 7190 Hollister Avenue (APN 073-030-005) – Medium Density Residential (RM)/General Commercial (CG) to RH
• Parcels east of 7190 Hollister Avenue (APN 073-030-009 and APN 073-030-006) – CG/RM to RH
• 625 Dara Road (APN 069-373-064) – RS to RM
• 35 Ellwood Station Drive (APN 079-210-066) – CG to RH
• 6470 Hollister Avenue (APN 073-070-034) – CG to Community Commercial (CC)
• 7020 Calle Real (APN 077-155-003) – Commercial Intersection (CI) to CC
• 7360 Hollister Avenue (APN 073-020-003, APN 073-020-034, and APN 073-020-035) – CC to RH
• 490 South Fairview (Yardi) (APN 071-130-084) – Business Park (BP) to RH Overlay. A ‘relative health overlay’ is proposed to allow for relative health development on the site if the property owner chooses to do so.