Wednesday, October 22, 2008

McMansions and the Gaviota Coast

Once again we see how money and power talks in Santa Barbara and if you have neither... well, just shut up and commute.

The coastline headed west of Goleta is breath-takingly beautiful and represents one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastlines in Southern California. It is also one of the 15 most biologically diverse habitats in the world. So what is happening there? 72 McMansions ranging from 3,500 to 10,000 square feet on about 3,200 acres of land were approved for development. Some land will be set aside for a public park and there will be an Equestrian Center for the residents.

The county supervisors voted 3-2 to approve this development. It is obscene. We don't need multi-million dollar estates dotting what was a pristine coastline and taking land that has been actively used for agriculture. We need workforce housing for real people. Teachers, nurses, fire fighters, police officers, engineers, even pastors end up commuting long distances to work in Santa Barbara and Goleta because affordable housing just isn't available and whenever anyone tries to build any, they are shot down. Literally thousands of middle class and working class folk commute 30, 45, and even 60 miles or more each direction because they cannot afford housing in Santa Barbara and the best we can do is allow a developer to build obscenely large homes for 72 families? I will drive past those monstrosities each day as I make my 35 mile commute.

Compare this to the Bishop Ranch proposal - Bishop Ranch is a 240 acre parcel located within the city boundaries of Goleta. While the property is zoned for agricultural use, it has not been used in that way for over 40 years. This proposal would have provided 100's of homes including housing for middle class and working class people within the city limits. The plan was carefully constructed to enhance the broader community and would have been a tremendous help in addressing the social pressures in this area. It was shot down and the land continues to lie unused and vacant.

We need infill. We need high density. We need affordable housing in Santa Barbara and Goleta. We do not need the Naples development. I hope that the California Coastal Commission has the wisdom to reject this proposal and keep the land open.

1 comment:

Michael Mahoney said...

It is obscene, especially in these economic times. That 3200 acres could literally fit thousands of affordable, middle-class houses.

The same thing happens here on the east coast, especially in the cities.