The Goleta City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday for a continuance on the agenda item regarding a consideration of initiation of a general plan amendment for 625 Dara Road in Goleta.
On February 22 of this year, Hersel Mikaelian, the property owner/applicant, submitted a request for the initiation of a GPA.
Mr. Mikaelian stated Tuesday that his goal would be to facilitate a senior care facility project with approximately 150-170 beds and associated amenities on the entire site. Currently, the property is divided into 13 parcels, which would be merged into one lot to then be used for the senior care facility project.
The council was only voting to approve initiation requests to study a change to the land use designation, not to approve the building of a senior care facility.
“I started this project four years ago. I was part of your council last November 5 and you mentioned that we need senior care desperately and there was some talk about
my property. … I followed direction and I have been working with your staff, and I’m only hoping that you see that I am not here for the project. I’m here for an investigation for all of us,” Mr. Mikaelian said.
“That is his passion, he wants to build a senior care facility. He wants his property used for that purpose. Even if he doesn’t own it, he would be willing to commit to that, an enforceable deed restriction that the city could hold and hold the property to that limitation,” Mr. Mikaelian’s council added.
Councilmember Stuart Kasdin was the original member who requested a continuance for a later date, saying there were still a lot of questions he had before he felt comfortable putting this to a vote.
“This has been going since 1977. I’m 70 years old. I don’t know how long you want to think about this, but I may not be around. I appreciate what you’re trying to do. And if you need more time, I’m happy to give you more time,” Mr. Mikaelian said after Mr. Kasdin spoke.
Mayor Pro Tempore Kyle Richards and Councilmember Roger Aceves staunchly opposed the request and both were set to vote no on the adoption.
“Given the information that we have and the deliberation and this discussion, I’m inclined not to support this because I don’t think that this is the appropriate land use designation for this parcel,” Pro Temp Richards said.
“At the end of the day, we’re not approving this … so, if we are going to postpone this, I would hope that we do it with a date certain, that you have all the questions that you want out there so staff can come back. I think the owner deserves a response from us, other than let’s wait to see what research tells us,” Mr. Acevas said.
Mayor Paula Perotte added that it wouldn’t be fair to keep Mr. Mikaelian waiting, as there’s also a possibility the council would not have all its questions answered in the allotted time anyway.
Mr. Kasdin countered back, saying that it is in everyone’s best interest to at least fully explore the idea.
“He’s waited 40 years. The idea that he’s eager to see a rejection now (doesn’t make sense) when it means a lot to him. I wouldn’t say we owe it to him to fully explore the issue and fully explore the context, but I would suspect that he would rather have us have complete information and a full understanding of the implications of his request,” Mr. Kasdin said.
Mr. Kasdin, who also received support from council member James Kyriaco for a continuance, also made it clear that he did not want a continuance as a form of killing the project, but rather to genuinely collect more information.
After a bit more conversation, it was Mr. Mikaelian who requested a postponement until October. The council then voted unanimously to accept his request.