Save Old Town Goleta from Development
The front of Goleta Valley Community Center in Old Town Goleta (file photo)
By Tom Modugno
As a Goleta Old Town business owner, I am concerned about a serious matter coming before City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 5th. The Goleta Chamber of Commerce is once again trying to change the character of our Old Town community. This time they are aggressively pursuing the creation of a Property Business Improvement District (PBID) for Old Town. The PBID would collect revenue from property owners via an Assessment/Tax on all commercial properties and use the money to improve Old Town. Of course, the landlords will recoup this added expense by raising their tenants’ rent, which could cause many locally owned Mom and Pop shops to go out of business.
If you’re familiar with Old Town Goleta, you know that the Chamber has wanted to change Old Town for years now. This is their latest attempt at changing the nature of our community to something that better serves them, something more along the lines of the Hollister Village eyesore. A prefab strip mall with no personality and lots of big chains, paying too much rent.
If you look at the new Board of Directors for the Goleta Chamber of Commerce, you have to wonder if they care at all about the quality of life in Goleta, or just making it more profitable. Check out who's on their new Board of Directors:
- Ryan Aeh of City Ventures, (California's leading builder)
- Francois DeJohn of Hayes Commercial Group, (realtors)
- Barry Dorsey of The Kimpton Goodland Hotel, (International Hotel chain)
- Steve Greig of Plains All American Pipeline….
- Brian Larinan of Granite Construction, (one of the largest construction companies in the U.S.)
- John Longbrake of UC Santa Barbara, (see Storke Road)
- Craig Minus of The Towbes Group, (local developers)
- Roberto van Geenen of The Ritz-Carlton Bacara
What do they all have in common? A love for Goleta? Or a love of profits.
Their goal is to change the makeup of Old Town. Dismiss all these locally owned shops and bring in the Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts that can afford to pay inflated rents. The very nature of a PBID is to increase rents and property values. Drive through Old Town Goleta today and notice how many empty storefronts there are. Less than a handful. Now drive down State Street, where property values and rents are high. Several hands full… The reason Old Town is thriving today is because it’s the last place an individual can afford the rent to open a new business. The American Dream still lives in Old Town.
If the city passes legislation allowing the PBID, Old Town would exit democratic control and major decisions would then be made by the Chamber for 5 years! Power concentrated into the hands of a few that answer to outside investors. They would decide things like who is offered retail space, and who isn’t, kick out street vendors, heavily influence legislation and they can hire their own security to patrol the area.
Certainly, Old Town could use a little polish, but a PBID is an extreme solution for a small problem. A local grass roots group has already started fixing up our small problems. The Goleta Old Town Community Association has regular street cleanups and organizes lots of other fun, family events, including the Christmas Parade. A local group with no big corporations calling the shots. All community, small town, old school goodness. Why not let them continue to grow their efforts instead of signing into a 5 year contract with a group controlled big corporations that don’t have our best interests in mind.
With this powerful group pushing to control Old Town Goleta through a PBID, the City Council will surely face a large crowd of pro-chamber people at the February 5th meeting. If you think there is a better way to spruce up Old Town, then come to the meeting and show your support for Small Town Goleta. Locally Owned Goleta. Grass Roots Goleta. Old Town is unique and it’s where the last bit of original Goleta Spirit still exists. Let’s protect this endangered species. Come to the meeting and Say No to a Chamber of Commerce PBID!
Goleta City Council meeting
Feb. 5th - 6pm
130 Cremona Way
If you can’t make the meeting, send an email encouraging the City Council to stand up and say No to the Chamber of Commerce.
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