By Mike Pasini, Daily Nexus, November 22, 1971
Developers came galloping into the More Mesa area with bundles of rezoning applications as a result of recent changes in the Goleta Valley General Plan. The changes increase the area’s density from 20,000 square feet dwelling to 10,000-19,999 square feet dwelling, allowing more homes on the Mesa than the previous general plan had granted.
But the Sierra Club and a number of More Mesa residents decided to defend the stockade against the onslaught. They aimed their cannons at the Mallas Associate Rezoning request at Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting.
The outcome turned to sunset, bloody red: the Sierra Club and the assembled residents found their arsenal empty. They had used the wrong procedure for presenting their petition for a restudy of the More Mesa area.
Fred Eissler of the Sierra Club noted the reasons for his group’s concern:
First, the classification of Design Residential should be re-evaluated by the commission and adhered to once it is properly defined. He has judged future building designs for the area as “ugly-not beneficial” and “not residential.”
Secondly, the effects of doubling the density of the area, in addition to its natural undesirability, would ruin the park potential of the area.
The More Mesa, which includes some 300 acres of coastal open space extending from Anderson Lane east to Hope Ranch and south from Vieja Drive to the ocean, “has been used for years by hikers, horseback riders, cyclists, model airplane enthusiasts and beach visitors as one of the last open areas in the Goleta Valley of urban park potential,” according to the Sierra Club.
In 1965 the mesa became the proposed site of the Buena Vista project which would have placed apartments on the cliff down to the beach. But the public outcry against the project backed by the Sierra Club’s pressure encouraged the developer to pull out.
The area was then zoned 20-R-I allowing 20,000 square feet a residence and remained so until recently. The newly revised general plan permits densities from 10,000-19,000 square feet a residence.
Passage for the Mallas proposal has now increased the number of units an acre 142 per cent over the original general plan allowance of 1.8 units an acre. This is a 40 per cent increase over the 74 per cent increase caused by the new general plan.
The result of the change has been a stampede of rezoning applications by subdividers along Vieja Drive who seek to double their densities. This “could lead to the downgrading of the whole More Mesa area,” the Sierra Club contends.
So the club took the opportunity given by the Mallas Associates Rezoning proposal that went before the commission on Wednesday to propose a restudy of the More Mesa area.
A petition signed by 66 residents of the area requesting that the area be restudied was presented. Howard Grahn, president of the More Mesa Improvement Association, noted community support of the petition is so strong that “no one contacted declined to sign” the petition.
The commission filed the request for a restudy but stated it could not take action on the request. They then passed the Mallas request allowing 85 townhouses to be built on 10 acres.
Two possibilities remain open to the Sierra Club and the More Mesa residents. They can present their restudy proposal to the Board of Supervisors and await the board’s action, or they can submit the proposal to the planning commission as an individual issue.
However, the planning commission would not be able to review such a proposal until the Dec. 8 meeting. By that time, many more rezoning permits would have been passed.