By G. Bruce Smith, Daily Nexus, May 3, 1976
A new airport development project is currently being pushed by Charles Hansen, developer with Executive West.
The $14 million hotel-office-terminal complex, covering 22.6 acres on the northeast corner of the airport, could generate an annual income of over $3 million into Goleta.
The project would be financed by the developers, but it would still need the approval of the Coastal Commission. Carl Hetrick, a planner of the Coastal Commission, said that he knows little about the project now, and because it must first be approved by the city, “It often changes so much that I don’t make any pre-judgements.”
Hansen claims that the project would provide 430 jobs. When asked if these could be filled by UCSB students, he replied, “Certainly. This is the type of development that would not necessitate hiring skilled workers. So students could be hired as waiters, waitresses, bellhops” and other similar positions.
County Supervisor of the Third District James Slater, who opposes the project, questioned, “How can he guarantee that students will be hired?” Slater observed that the jobs created will draw young people from other places, all demanding housing, many of whom will turn to Isla Vista which is suffering a housing shortage.
Though the project will not fall under his jurisdiction because the airport is technically within city limits, Slater is concerned about the negative effects the project will have on Goleta, including increased traffic congestion, additional air and water pollution, sewage disposal, and increased use of water while the Goleta Valley is having a water moratorium.
Hansen said the question of water was being handled by the city attorney’s office, and he felt that with water-saving devices, there would be no problem.
Hansen feels the primary benefit of the project would be, by encouraging businessmen and others to stay overnight, to pour another $17 million into the South Coast area.
“Santa Barbara is a tourist town, and this is what our economic base is all about, and you always have to progress. It’s like a university — if it stops growing, it dies,” Hansen said.
Supervisor Slater retorted, “It has nothing to do with tourism. These people are constantly rationalizing these projects.” But all they really want to do, he claims, is to “maximize profit-making.”
Whether this is indeed a scheme remains to be seen, for it will be some time before the project is finally approved or rejected. Hansen hopes it will be completed within a year, if all goes well. But, he said, if it doesn’t and “we get enough opposition, we’ll probably close down the project.”