“The state of our city is strong,” Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte announced to a crowd of local business owners during Goleta’s 12th annual State of the City at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara on Tuesday afternoon.
The mayor’s optimistic opening kicked off a series of speeches by city officials regarding recent progress and the future, from economics to city projects.
City Manager Michelle Greene called Goleta’s current financial condition “positive” and predicted it would continue, as tax revenues for the 2018-19 fiscal year is expected to be near 2017-2018 levels.
Transient occupancy taxes are projected to produce $9.8 million in revenue during the 2018-19 fiscal year, just under the previous year’s $10.1 million. 2018-19 sales tax revenues are predicted to increase slightly to $6.6 million from the $6.4 million of 2017-18.
Howver, Ms. Greene said future sales tax yields will experience some “minor fluctuations” due to impacts of stores like Kmart, which closed last year. She predicted these losses would be made up for by the introduction of new stores such as Home Goods, Dollar Tree, and Target.
In January Goleta’s unemployment rate was 2.3 percent, well below the national, state, and county rates.
“The federal reserve considers a base unemployment rate of 4 percent to 4.6 percent as full employment, so we are doing incredibly well,” Ms. Greene said.
She added said that Goleta is also doing well in commercial real estate, evidenced by its low vacancy rates of 2.1 percent for retail space, 5.9 percent for industrial space, and 6.2 percent for office space.
On the subject of cannabis, Goleta planning and environmental review director Peter Imhof said the city has 15 pending permit applications for cannabis retail stores in addition to “multiple” applications for non-retail cannabis businesses.
Projects that will begin in the near future include a new fire station. Vyto Adomaitis, Goleta’s neighborhood services and public safety director, announced that Fire Station 10 will be located at 7952 Hollister Ave. and will be the city’s second fire station south of the 101 freeway.
Mr. Adomaitis said the new station will “reduce response times for calls for service and add an important backup to the other fire stations.”
The station will be built after the project receives a coastal development permit from the California Coastal Commission. After the commission’s approval, contractors will be chosen and construction is expected to last between 12 and 18 months.
Jaime Valdez, neighborhood services and public safety senior development manager, spoke about creating a new “multi-mode tram station” at the Amtrak platform on La Patera Lane.
“By creating a full-service station, the city hopes to increase train ridership, improve connections at the bus transit, accommodate transit service to and from the Santa Barbara Airport and UCSB,” Mr. Valdez said.
The new station will include a lobby, electronic ticketing area, waiting room, cafe, restrooms, showers, and changing facilities, he said.
The project will include the acquisition of an airport shuttle bus that will provide service between the airport and train station, with one-way service approximately two miles.
The project is in the design stages and a $13 million grant the city of Goleta received from the California State Transportation Agency in April 2018 demands that the project be finished by 2023.
JoAnne Plummer, parks and recreation manager, announced the renovation of the athletic field behind the Goleta Valley Community Center, which has been taken over by gophers.
The new field will include a walking path, gopher mesh, benches, new irrigation, new turf, fitness equipment and a bocce court. The project is currently in the bidding process and construction is expected to take no longer than 40 days.
“We’re hoping to have children playing on that grass this summer,” she said.