Terror Attacks Felt Locally
County, Campus Propose Coastal Land Use and Preservation Plan
Early last month, Third District Supervisor Gail Marshall and Chancellor Henry T. Yang proposed a sweeping plan for university and county cooperation to permanently protect 599 acres along 2.25 miles of coastline in the Ellwood Mesa and Devereux Slough areas. It won conceptual approval on Aug. 21 from a unanimous Board of Supervisors, which ordered staff to initiate work, in coordination with UCSB planners, on a master plan and an Environmental Impact Report.
Stretching between Isla Vista's western boundary and Sandpiper Golf Course, the proposal would allow the campus to build needed housing while creating the largest public coastal open space in the South Coast urban zone. It would also guarantee public access to this section of the coast and protect irreplaceable natural resources of statewide importance, according to the initial statement and maps released jointly by UCSB and the county's Division of Planning and Development.
"Providing opportunities to members of our campus community to own housing in this region's challenging market is a priority for UCSB. But we also recognize that access to coastal natural resources is a major priority for all who live in this beautiful region," said Chancellor Yang. "The proposal that we have developed with Santa Barbara County offers tremendous potential benefits to the region's population while helping us to meet our housing goals, and that is why we are so excited about it."
Among the proposed key changes would be an exchange of county park land fronting Hollister Ave. for a long-disputed parcel south of Santa Barbara Shores Drive known as Monarch Point Reserve. At the Aug. 21 hearing, the supervisors suspended processing of an application for 129 units at Monarch Point to allow the developer to apply for housing on about 30 acres of Santa Barbara Shores Park.
Since the park's 118 acres were initially acquired with public funds, and are financed by bonds, the county must also seek special legislation from the state to allow the proposed land swap.
The resources that the proposed Ellwood Mesa and Devereux Slough Regional Open Space and Development Plan would protect include unspoiled beaches, unique vernal pools, wetlands and grasslands, and one of the state's largest Monarch butterfly groves. The plan also would provide some 10 miles of public hiking and biking trails, according to the joint statement.
Under the proposal the university would suspend plans for developing 122 units of housing south of the Ocean Meadows Golf Course on 57 acres it purchased in the early 1990s. Housing for the UCSB community would be relocated north of the golf course, on land that is adjacent to existing residential areas. Relocating currently planned development to less than 95 acres next to urban areas would allow nearly 600 acres of contiguous coastal open space to be protected, including a 40-acre expansion of Coal Oil Point Natural Reserve (COPR) approved by UC Regents in 1998 but it still requries Coastal Commission approval.
"If the county can resolve the longstanding dispute over development at Santa Barbara Shores, help the university to relocate its workforce housing, and create such a substantial open space reserve for the future of Goleta, it will be a win overall," said Supervisor Marshall.
This university-county effort would resolve 17 years of debate on how to balance development and open space protection in this sensitive coastal area without increasing currently planned levels of development, the statement said. The specific plan to be developed will resolve disputed developments on the "Monarch Point Reserve" property, the university's north and west campuses, and the Goleta Union School District property on Phelps Road. The project would be subject to full environmental review and public hearings before the Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors, and the California Coastal Commission. Reserve staff will be actively involved in the development of the specific plan for managing the open space, said Duncan Mellichamp, a special advisor to the chancellor who helped craft the joint proposal.
The entire package of development and preservation components would be analyzed in an Environmental Impact Report and reviewed in public hearings. If approved by the Board of Supervisors and the UC Regents, the plan would be submitted to the Coastal Commission as amendments to the county's Local Coastal Plan and UCSB's LRDP. Preliminary discussion with senior staff of the commission has indicated a likely willingness on the part of the commission to take a new look at the area and rearrange development and protection areas.