In a surprise move, the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission yesterday defeated Allstate Insurance Company’s proposal to rezone 25 acres in Goleta on which Allstate had planned to construct a $5 million regional headquarters.
By a 4-4 vote, the Planning Commission effectively denied Allstate’s request to rezone the property at Highway 101 and Winchester Canyon Road. Presently the land is zoned 8-R-1-0, one family residential district. Allstate sought a new designation of PI-PC, professional and institutional planned commercial district.
“The vote came as a surprise to me and most people,” admitted Arthur Henzell, attorney representing Allstate. According to Henzell, the firm already has filed an appear to the Board of Supervisors.
“We had thought that the big hurdle was the General Plan Amendment which was approved by a 7 to 2 vote,” Henzell added. He referred to the Planning Commission’s previous approval to include the zoning designation desired by Allstate in the County General Plan. Yesterday’s action left the zoning in the area as it now appears in the General Plan.
According to Carl Kramer of the County Planning Office the decision may have gone the other way if the ninth commission member G. Norman Bacon had been present at yesterday’s meeting. Bacon had expressed support for Allstate’s proposal at earlier meetings.
Allstate must either win the appeal on the rezoning request before the Board of Supervisors or find a site elsewhere to realize plans for a regional office in this area.
Although there has been little opposition to the proposal since its introduction last January, recent concern expressed by many area residents and some environmental groups was credited with incurring the defeat of the rezoning request.
The four Planning Commission members who voted against the proposal at the meeting were not available for comment.