Q. What would this initiative, Measure G2012, do if passed?
A. Simply stated it would require that should Goleta’s city council vote to rezone any of the six parcels located in Goleta that are currently zoned for agriculture, that vote would have to be ratified by a simple majority of Goleta voters. This initiative would affect only the six remaining parcels of ten acres or more.
Q. Who is behind this initiative and what gives them the right to plan and promote this?
A. The proponents are Goleta citizens, exercising the very same right any individual or group has to bring forth petitions and ultimately an initiative for the voters to consider. This freedom of speech and political action is done under California’s Constitution and guided by legislative and administrative law.
Q. Goleta’s General Plan already supports agriculture. Why is measure G2012 needed?
A. It is needed because the General Plan can be changed by only 3 council members’ votes without waiting for a revision of the entire plan. Every two years some Goleta council seats come up for election: two of the five in one election and three of the five two years later. So a three vote majority to change zoning is in play virtually every two years. We want to secure Goleta’s agricultural heritage over a longer, twenty-year term.
Q. But we trust Goleta’s council members to vote on many other important things such as budgets, capital expenditures, ordinances. Why not leave the rezoning of agriculture to them too?
A. In essence, we are leaving most rezoning issues up to them. However, in order to have only the six Goleta agricultural parcels of ten or more acres rezoned, proponents will have to go through the regular planning process and secure Council approval. If the council votes “no”, they will in essence have the final word.
Preserving our agricultural heritage is so central to Goleta’s character that we believe the people should have the final voice. So if Goleta’s council were to vote to rezone an agricultural parcel, this decision would need to be “ratified” by a vote of the people.
Q. Isn’t this measure going to reduce opportunities for affordable housing?
A. We believe that Measure G2012 will actually increase opportunities for affordable housing in Goleta. Until now, developers have been primarily building market rate housing. Usually they have satisfied the affordable housing component by substituting relatively modest “in lieu” fees, that really are not enough to fund affordable housing.
Once this initiative is passed, in order to encourage the community to approve rezoning of an agricultural parcel, developers will need to demonstrate real benefits to the community, such as providing much more of the kinds of housing our community’s workforce really needs.
Q. But would this initiative over-ride or defy the State of California affordable housing mandates.
A. No. The initiative contains an exemption and would not affect the rezoning of parcels when there is no other way of fulfilling the state housing mandates.
Q. Isn’t this interfering with the property rights of owners?
A. No. All owners know and understand that property rights are not unlimited. We are all subject to certain zoning and safety requirements. Presumably all property owners’ expectations are shaped by the zoning in existence when they bought the property. No one is promised that they have a right to even keep their zoning or change it at will.
In addition, our initiative falls far short of a taking. Exceptions are provided for if the agricultural land in question cannot be used for any other purpose.
Q. There are already many steps to get a development approved. Won’t requiring one more step – voter approval – be prohibitively excessive and burdensome?
A. Rezoning the last of Goleta’s agricultural lands should not be done as easily as regular development. Goleta has so much at stake in preserving agriculture that the benefits of adding just one extra step easily outweigh any perceived burden.
Q. Isn’t this adding just another layer of government that we can ill afford?
A. This doesn’t have to add any cost or layer of government. Measure G2012 does not require Goleta adding any staff, elected officials or government bodies. All it adds is another item that people can vote on in a regularly scheduled election.