Goleta City Council Looks at Asking Voters to Extend Agricultural Land Protection 20 More Years

Goleta City Council Meeting on March 19, 2024 (courtesy photo)

The same day that the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors heard presentations from property owner and developer representatives who want to convert agricultural parcels into new housing developments, the Goleta City Council directed city staff to look at steps to place an extension of the city’s current agricultural land protection before Goleta voters this November.

At the March 19 Goleta City Council meeting, the five members of the council unanimously voted to direct city staff to move forward with preparing a ballot measure asking city voters if the Measure G2012 Agricultural Land Protection Initiative should be extended by another 20 years, which would be December 31, 2052.

Measure G was approved by a majority of Goleta voters in 2012, prohibiting changing Agriculture-zoned properties of 10 or more acres in the city limits or planning area unless approved by City of Goleta voters. This Agricultural Land Protection Initiative took decision making ability about zoning for these larger Agriculture parcels away from the Goleta City Council and gave it to City of Goleta voters. As approved by the voters in 2012, Measure G is in effect through December 31, 2032.

This extension discussion was a planned agenda item, following up from the Goleta City Council’s request in June 2023 for city staff to prepare a report about a possible renewal of Measure G. But converting agricultural parcels to residential is top of mind for many in the south county lately, as Santa Barbara County Planning Commission and City Council are reviewing options to rezone as high-density residential several orchards and nurseries in the unincorporated county to the east of Goleta. One of the first steps in the county’s rezoning process is on the agenda for the County Planning Commission meeting on Monday, April 1, at 9 a.m..

“The county and what they’re looking at doing with agricultural land is Exhibit A of what we don’t want to be doing,” said councilmember Kyle Richards.

Members of the Goodland Coalition and the Environmental Defense Center who worked on the original initiative spoke during the public comment saying protecting agricultural land in Goleta was more important today than it was in 2012.

“Measure G is working,” said councilmember James Kyriaco. “It’s protecting agriculture and it’s causing us to put housing in the right place. Measure G forces us to make the hard choices about infill and density, to put housing where people live, work, and play already.”

Major Pro-Tempore Luz Reyes-Martin said she came from a family with an agricultural heritage and when she first became a resident of Goleta, “I saw immediately the great respect this community has for Goleta’s agricultural heritage. I have a lot of respect for the community of residents that originated Measure G to protect that heritage.”

Measure G added Subpolicy LU 7.5 Goleta Heritage Farmlands to the Goleta General Plan Land Use Element, ensuring the protection of Agriculture-designated properties 10 acres or more in size from development if already in the city limits of Goleta, or outside of the city limits of Goleta, but within the Goleta Planning Area. According to the staff report for this agenda item, approximately 121 parcels outside of the City of Goleta in the Planning Area would be subject to Measure G. If annexed to the City of Goleta, these properties can only be annexed zoned as Agriculture.

Measure G allows three exceptions when the Goleta City Council can make zoning changes to 10-acre or larger Agricultural-designated parcels without bringing it to Goleta voters:

  • Changes needed for developing the land for a public school or public park.
  • Changes needed to provide state-mandated housing within the City of Goleta that can’t be met on other parcels.
  • Changes needed because the application of the policies would result in a violation
  • of the constitutional rights of the property owner.

The Goleta City Council directed city staff to work with the county and whoever they need to work with to prepare an ordinance for placing a ballot issue on the November 2024 ballot to extend Measure G2012 Agricultural Land Protection Initiative. To have ample time to get the extension of Measure G on the ballot before Goleta voters this November, the City Council wants to make a decision by the regular June 18 2024 meeting.

Amy Reinholds

Written by Amy Reinholds

Amy Reinholds is a content designer and journalist who lives in Goleta.

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  1. What is the Shame? Are you saying shame to the citizens of Goleta for choosing how to best protect their Ag Land? I think that your comment about Goleta always being Goleta is indicative that you think developers and housing should always be given priority!? That mentality is what turned LA into LA. No thanks. Keep Goleta Country !

    • Yes, keep Goleta country! The coast of southern California is carpeted with overpopulated cities built in places that used to be beautiful environments. And even when they’re completely paved over, they are still unaffordable. It’s finally time to learn from their mistakes and take a stand. Keep LA 100 miles away.

      • MARY – so, if you can’t walk on a piece of land, it should be rezoned to allow housing? What about nature preserves? Same thing?

        Ag land is not just useful for the owner and the community (yes, lemons), but it also provides an open, undeveloped and bucolic atmosphere that many, if not most, people in Goleta have come to enjoy and hold dear.

        I’d ALWAYS rather walk by a lemon orchard I can’t “walk on” than by high density housing with more traffic, more people and no soul.

  2. Apparently Goleta consulted with the Bren School and the ghost of Charlie Munger and determined that a 50 story Caracas style tenement in the area of GVCC is the best and most appropriate solution to save all of the open space that the unbridled development lovers want to purloin. The ag land savers know that the highway and railway right of way and personal vehicles already provided secure housing for the thousands who are just too lazy to get a better job (or move away) for years – why should we change that paradigm now?!?

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