“Rancho Goleta,” a new pre-fab mobile home community located about one mile from campus, has been a concern to local environmentalists since the project was in the planning stage.
Several weeks ago Rancho Goleta officially opened, and mobile homes are now being moved in. The grand opening was reported on the society page of the Santa Barbara News-Press: “Several hundred invited guests from the area, and a great number from Los Angeles and Hollywood… partook of champagne and hors d’oeuvres…”
The 43 acre site, located adjacent to Ward Memorial Freeway and Goleta State Beach, was developed at a cost of $2,500,000.
The story of the construction of the trailer park, which has a capacity of 200 mobile homes, is typical of American enterprise. In early August of 1969, Fess Parker, (star in T.V.’s “Davy Crockett” and “Daniel Boone”), the owner-entrepreneur of Rancho Goleta, went to the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission in order to get the land re-zoned for his trailer park. Despite some objections from a few local property owners and farmers, the Planning Commission re-zoned the land in September, 1969.
Work began in earnest in 1970. Parker wanted the county to build an extension to Ward Memorial Freeway for Rancho Goleta. However, objections from people concerned with the environment and cost considerations convinced the county not to build a freeway extension.
Before construction began, the land was flat, water-filled and almost at sea level. Earth-fill was trucked in and the trailer park today is approximately nine fee above the old ground level.
Atascadero Creek, a small stream which is subject to periodic flooding, runs through the property. The creek was dug out and channeled.
According to Norman Sanders of the UCSB Geography Department, the mobile home park is probably the best use for the land if it is going to be developed. The critical question he points out, is whether we the community at large, should accept that all land should be “developed,” or whether, as he feels, some lands are best left undeveloped.
The land on which Rancho Goleta now stands was so considered by most environmentalists. Zoology Professor Mary Erickson points out that this land was a feeding ground for several species of birds and she stresses that the feeding grounds all along the California coast are being threatened by “development” projects.
Since 1969, the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission seems to have become somewhat more concerned about the desirability of leaving some areas “undeveloped.” The success of the El Capitan referendum, which halted development of El Capitan Ranch, demonstrated that the voting public can have a say.
Relatively small developments like Fess Parker’s can slowly but eventually take over most of the open areas just as surely as a huge one almost did at El Capitan.