Study Shows Tourism Brings $1.9 Billion Into Santa Barbara’s South Coast Economy

Destination Analysts Inc. collected 1,801 surveys seeking to understand what attracts visitors to the region.

When more than 1,800 visitors were asked an open-ended question about what attractions or services would enhance their Santa Barbara South Coast experience, the most common response was “nothing,” according to the Travel Outlookpresented Thursday by Visit Santa Barbara.

The study by Destination Analysts Inc. was done for Visit Santa Barbara.

The tourism organization released findings from its 2016-17 Santa Barbara South Coast Visitor Profile and Tourism Economic Impact Study at its annual Travel Outlook event Thursday at the Hotel Californian.

“The news is very positive,” said Visit California President and CEO Kathy Janega-Dykes. “It’s incredibly important to collect this data so that we can measure and look at how behaviors change and patterns emerge.

“While the overarching picture is positive, this period is certainly not without challenges. We are dealing with some aggressive panhandlers to maybe a struggling retail industry — but the good news is tourism can and should be part of the solution as we shape the future of our community.”

Erin Francis-Cummings, president and CEO of Destination Analysts Inc., revealed the findings to more than 150 hospitality-industry professionals, community leaders, and city and county officials.

The study says Santa Barbara’s South Coast welcomed an estimated 7.2 million visitors between September 2016 and August 2017, representing an increase compared to 6.1 million travelers in a 2013 study conducted by the San Francisco-based tourism industry research company.

Visitor-related spending contributed $1.9 billion to the local economy, an increase from $1.5 billion in the 2013 study.

“Santa Barbara tourism is rocking,” Francis-Cummings said.

Traveler spending generates $56 million in local annual tax revenues for the communities in the South Coast region, an increase from $46 million in 2013, and supporting more than 13,000 direct jobs and generating a $1,031 annual tax benefit per South Coast household.

The study found that if the tourism industry disappeared, every resident in Santa Barbara’s South Coast region would need to spend an additional $13,241 annually to “maintain current economic standards.”

Francis-Cummings said visitors reported spending an average daily rate of $430.22, compared to $255.75 per day in 2013.

Dining (71.7 percent), going to the beach (55.5 percent) and shopping (42.5 percent) were noted as the most common activities travelers participated in during their trips.

The study shows 12.5 percent of surveyed visitors went wine-tasting in Santa Barbara, an increase from 6.4 percent in 2013.

According to the survey, 23.6 percent of visitors stayed overnight in Santa Barbara area hotels, inns or motels, with day-trippers representing the majority of guests at 69.3 percent.

The highest portion of domestic Santa Barbara visitors live in the Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County metropolitan statistical area at 41.8 percent, followed by the Ventura area with 15.7 percent.

The top out-of-state markets include the metropolitan statistical area of Las Vegas at 1.8 percent and Tucson, Arizona, at 0.8 percent.

The tourism market research firm says two-thirds of visitors surveyed arrived to the South Coast by car.

The second most common method of arrival is by train, up 19.3 percent from 6 percent in 2013, and followed by commercial airline.

The event included a presentation from Peter Kageyama, an author and expert on the relationship between places and people.

Kageyama offered insights on how to create a thriving tourism destination in his keynote presentation titled “For the Love of Santa Barbara.”

The event also featured a panel discussion of CBRE Hotels Managing Director Jeff Lugosi, executive director at Downtown Santa Barbara Maggie Campbell and president and CEO of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce Kristen Miller.

The group discussed future lodging projections, opportunities and challenges in Santa Barbara and the city of Goleta.

Lugosi said the hospitality market is in the midst of a seven-year upward cycle.

“We don’t see any signs of it slowing down — there’s nothing economically on the horizon that’s going to shut down the hotel industry,” Lugosi said. “People are going to continue to travel. We see positive signs.”

Ryan Parker, general manager at the hotel Canary Santa Barbara, moderated the dialogue.

The two-hour event was followed by a cocktail reception at the Hotel Californian.

By Brooke Holland, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @NoozhawkNews | October 19, 2017 | 9:59 p.m.

TechTopia Summit Shows What’s Happening in the Goleta Business Community

The site of commercial and industrial space along Hollister Avenue kicked off a tour this week focused on Goleta’s future business growth, in which attendees got glimpses of the city’s assets, opportunities and challenges.

Some 100 community members, including business leaders and some Goleta City Council members, took part in the Goleta Chamber of Commerce’s TechTopia Summit event, including a bus tour and panel discussion.

“It’s amazing how many businesses we have doing such incredible things,” said Kristen Miller, chamber president and CEO.

“In the last decade, we have heard more entrepreneurs and investors refer to our lush, laid-back landscape as a utopia, and our vibrant array of science and technology businesses as a technology hub — if you squish those together, someone coined the phrase ‘techtopia.’”

Starting at the Cabrillo Business Park property, the bus tour made its way towards Old Town Goleta, passing properties near the Santa Barbara Airport, the Village at Los Carneros and the Camino Real Marketplace.

More than 40 locations were noted during the narrated tour.

The two Santa Barbara Airbuses rolled by Deckers Brands and FLIR Systems, two companies with buildings at the Cabrillo Business Park. UC Santa Barbara and the U.S. Department of Agriculture also acquired land or occupy space on the 965,000-square-foot business park.

Pacific Beverage, a division of Santa Barbara-based beverage and food distributor Jordano’s, was highlighted in the business park area. The 102,000-square-foot regional distribution center broke ground in 2016, and the company paid $10.6 million for the land on Coromar Drive.

The buses motored in Old Town Goleta, then past the two-story, 152,000-square-foot Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital.

Old Town Goleta improvement projects were on display, such as the new Old Town park on a vacant 4-acre lot on the corner of Hollister and Kellogg avenues.

The Magnolia Sidewalk Infill Project is underway to replace deteriorating walkways along both sides of Magnolia Avenue from Hollister Avenue south to Gaviota Street, and there is a new high-intensity activated crosswalk signal installed next to the community center.

The Ekwill and Fowler Roads Extension project would install roundabouts at the Pine Avenue intersection with Ekwill Street and the Hollister Avenue and Highway 217 ramp intersections. The California Transportation Commission pushed back construction to begin in 2019 due to a shortfall in gas tax receipts, according to city staff.

Other city projects include potentially installing 42 angled parking spaces on the east side of Magnolia Avenue between Mandarin Drive and the railroad tracks.

One of the tour guides was Francois DeJohn of Hayes Commercial Group, who is also a member of the chamber’s board of directors.

He pointed out the City Ventures Old Town Village, a mixed-use project on Kellogg Avenue featuring 175 units to be built on a 12-acre agricultural parcel, west of South Kellogg Avenue and Kellogg Way. The project broke ground in March 2016 and is expected to open by the end of the year.

Near the Fairview and Hollister intersection, construction is underway on a 35,000-square-foot parcel at 151 S. Fairview Ave., which is the new home of America’s Tire.

The store is neighboring Big Brand Tire & Service, a tire and auto service business.

Motorists driving on Hollister Avenue can’t miss Direct Relief’s new 155,000-square-foot, 40-foot tall facility on Santa Barbara Airport property at 6100 Hollister Ave.

Direct Relief is planning to move from its current overflowing facility at 27 S. La Patera Lane in Goleta into the new storage and distribution warehouse in January 2018.

The tour guide hinted that the city of Goleta is in discussions with Direct Relief to possibly buy the warehouse when the nonprofit vacates the property near Goleta’s Amtrak Station.

The Hollister Avenue high-technology corridor was highlighted during the tour. The area is near the corner of Storke and Hollister within proximity to UCSB, the airport and the Camino Real Marketplace.

Other recent project noted include the UCSB housing on Storke Road, the Ice in Paradise skating rink, the 118-room Marriott Residence Inn at 6300 Hollister Ave., the 176-unit Cortona Apartment Complex on a nearly 9-acre vacant, triangular parcel at 6830 Cortona Dr., and the Hilton Garden Inn project at Hollister Avenue and Storke Road.

Also mentioned in western Goleta were the Coronado Butterfly Preserve, and businesses in the 7400 Hollister area, including InTouch Health, LogMeIn and Moog Inc.

The list also included a vacant lot at 7952 Hollister Ave. in western Goleta slated to be the new fire station and The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara.

After the tour, the group ate lunch in the Rotunda at Deckers Brands and a panel of speakers discussed business challenges in Goleta, and advice.

The panel included Flir Systems’ vice president of operations Rich Antles, M. Special Brewing Co. co-owner and brewmaster Josh Ellis, alongside Tim Wright, vice president/strategy & service line development at InTouch Health, Deckers Brands Chief Operating Officer David Lafitte and Dan Weigel, vice president of people and culture at Apeel Sciences.

The panel noted the lack of affordable workforce housing in the region and lack of public transit options for employees who commute as challenges in Goleta.

“There are challenges, but there are also benefits of being a small business community,” Lafitte said.

Gurbax Sahota, president and CEO of the California Association for Local Economic Development, presented the keynote address and spoke about the organization’s dedication to advancing its members’ ability to retain and create jobs.

By Brooke Holland, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @NoozhawkNews | October 13, 2017 | 8:35 p.m.


Goleta Chamber ‘Business Summit’ Highlights Challenges, Future of Old Town

While it has patches of charm, the overall expression of Goleta’s Hollister Avenue is dull, worn and not visually enticing.

That’s according to a study by Downtown Works, a retail market analysis consulting firm.

The research is a snapshot of what business leaders and city officials learned Thursday at the second “Old Town Business Summit” hosted by the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber’s representatives invited the general public for a morning full of topics ranging from Old Town renovation projects to discussing opportunities and challenges the area is facing.

Goleta chamber board chairwoman Hallie Avolio welcomed more than 40 attendees to the free summit at the Butler Event Center.

“Over the years, I learned that Old Town is is a beautiful, vibrant and authentic community,” Avolio said. “There’s eclectic retail stores, good eating establishments and places to congregate with friends — there is a charm about Old Town.”

Downtown Organization of Santa Barbara director Maggie Campbell presented a study about retail stores along Hollister Avenue.

“Overall, they (survey consultants) felt there was potential, but the overall visual experience is less than appealing,” Campbell said. “You can make incremental change just with paint.”

The report shows a lack of eye-catching storefronts and streetscaping elements along Hollister Avenue. Many operations looked at were “tired in appearance and in need of a facelift,” the report states.

Key demographic numbers support the Old Town community’s economic potential, according to the report.

More than 97,000 people live within a 10-minute drive to the area.

Data show 44.9 percent of the population within that range hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, and $95,000 is the average household income for people living within a 10-minute drive to Old Town. The average household income within a 20-minute commute is $102,000.

Numbers highlighting psychographics — lifestyle values and attitudes — show 84 percent of the 0-10 minute population fall into the following groups: dorms to diplomas (25.3 percent), exurbanites (12.4 percent), pleasantville (9.3 percent), trendsetters (9 percent), in style (6.1 percent), urban chic (5.9 percent), golden years (4.9 percent), international marketplace (4.9 percent), retirement communities (3.5 percent) and enterprising professionals (2.9 percent).

Recommendations from the survey consultants include making Hollister Avenue more pedestrian-friendly through traffic calming and streetscaping. Focusing on the needs of residents within a 10-minute drive of Goleta’s commercial area and being mindful of parking as the space evolves were advice noted.

Growing and building on the small clusters of stores, eateries and personal services around the intersection of Hollister and Magnolia avenues were suggested.

Another recommendation was enhancing the look of retail storefronts and making the outside more appealing. Survey consultants urged considering artwork such as murals on blank walls to enhance Hollister Avenue visually.

Not only did the summit provide topics of business, but the event also offered an overview of the ways the city is addressing issues in Old Town and plans underway.

Goleta city spokeswoman Valerie Kushnerov informed the crowd about how city staff is working on revamping Old Town with new projects.

She noted restoring sidewalks and walking paths, replacing the Hollister Avenue Bridge over San Jose Creek, the 4-acre park slated at Hollister and Kellogg avenues, as wells as signage and sidewalk improvements.

Improving the quality of life by making Hollister Avenue appealing to walk, drive and shop, making the street safer for all travel modes and reduce cut-through traffic are a few goals Kushnerov added.

Addressing infrastructure improvements, enhancing the physical and economic environment, continuing to secure public parking and supporting the vitality of Old Town are some the city’s additional goals, Kushnerov said.

Other projects include the Goleta Valley Community Center facility repairs and a High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk signal at Hollister Avenue and Chapel Street.

Kushnerov also noted conducting a drainage analysis of Old Town streets and creating a community garden at Armitos Park.

“This is an ambitious program of work for the next two (fiscal) years,” Kushnerov said. “The City Council remains committed to improvements in Old Town. The Old Town area is recognized as a historic part.”

To provide input as the projects are developed, text “Goleta Old Town” to 468311 or sign up at

Kristen Miller, president and CEO of the 600-member Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, said demographic change is fueling shifts in downtown areas.

“Our opportunity is to take downtown to the next level so that people have a sense of place and pride — a working downtown that meets modern needs,” Miller said. “We are tracking local and global changes. We see a trend that the coolest cities in America are striving to be about the people compared to the infrastructure.”

One trend Old Town businesses can use as an opportunity, Miller said, is the shift away from brick-and-mortar retailers and a recognition that people shop more for an experience and entertainment.

Miller urged small business owners to recognize the importance of online presence and digital reach.

“Old Town is fortunate not to have a vacancy issue,” Miller said. “As digital continues to touch the consumer journey, small businesses need to get in on that action. Retailers are becoming multi-channeled.”

— Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk@NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Chamber and City Partner to Promote Vibrant Tourism Economy

The Goleta Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the continuation of our public-private partnership with the City of Goleta to promote tourism in Goleta.

The City of Goleta has approved funding of $150,000 for the next fiscal year for visitor services and tourism promotion for Goleta. This funding matches the $156,000 contribution from the South Coast Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) used specifically for destination marketing for Goleta.

“We are very pleased with the progress of the Go Goleta brand and the collaboration between the Chamber, City of Goleta and Visit Santa Barbara,” said Tom Patton, General Manager of Ramada Santa Barbara & Chair of the South Coast Tourism Business Improvement District. “The hotels voted to assess themselves to better market our destination and it is vitally important to see the City also contributing to that effort.”

This is the fifth year the Chamber and City have partnered to promote tourism. The City invested $50,000 a year 2013-2014 and raised their contribution to $150,000 a year for 2015-2016 to more closely match the South Coast Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) funds.

Go Goleta is the destination marketing arm that provides tourism services under the Goleta Chamber of Commerce. The ongoing partnership with the City of Goleta has allowed the Goleta Chamber of Commerce to expand our scope of work to further promote Goleta as a destination.

“As the largest hospitality employer in Goleta, Bacara applauds this public-private partnership that supports the hospitality industry,” said Shashi Poudyal, General Manager, Bacara Resort & Spa. “Working with the Chamber ensures that events such as World of Pinot Noir come to Goleta and have a large impact on the local economy.”

Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) is the largest source of revenue for the City of Goleta, making the visitor experience a large part of our economic development strategy.

“With tourism accounting for more than 33% of the City’s revenue, an investment in hospitality and tourism is critical for Goleta’s sustainability and economic growth,” said Kristen Miller, President & CEO of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce. “Goleta is a popular destination for business and leisure travelers alike, and it is important to establish that unique brand in this competitive market.”

Public-private partnerships like this are not uncommon, in fact many cities invest a percentage of TOT with their local Chamber of Commerce or destination marketing organization to promote tourism.

Over the last year, Go Goleta has launched a new state of the art tourism website to promote the Goleta brand alongside a user-friendly experience that offers the necessary tools and information to ultimately drive bookings to Goleta hotels.

In tandem with the launch of the website, a robust marketing campaign was launched targeting California drive markets.

For more information on the Go Goleta initiative, contact Kristen Miller at or 967-2500 ext. 8.


10th Annual State of the City Luncheon Highlights Goleta’s Accomplishments

Mayor Paula Perotte, City Manager Michelle Greene offer a mostly-rosy outlook for Goleta

By Brooke Holland, Noozhawk Staff Writer

“I’m happy to report, the state of our city is strong,” Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte told some ​400 community and business leaders at the 10th Annual State of the City luncheon on Friday.

“Unemployment and crime are low, and housing and commercial real estate are in high demand — a strong indicator people want to come, live and work in Goleta. The growing hotel occupancy is a good indicator that people want to visit and play in Goleta.”

The annual event, put on by the Goleta Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the city of Goleta, offered an opportunity for Perotte to brief the crowd gathered at the Bacara Resort & Spa about Goleta’s accomplishments, projects and finances.

The list included the topics of financial stability, transportation, sustainability efforts and Goleta’s diverse economy.

“Our resources and opportunities are the envy of other communities,” Perotte said.

Perotte said she is committed to improving Goleta’s economic environment by enhancing the community character and quality of life.

She said she believes in four important approaches to boosting the local financial vitality: managing traffic and parking, protecting the natural environment and scenic views, ensuring public safety with sufficient police and fire personnel, and continuing to work on housing affordability.

Along with the accomplishments, she voiced concern about the city’s challenges.

Similar to other towns and counties nationwide, Perotte said, Goleta is dealing with challenges such as unemployment, crime, environmental protection, housing and homelessness.

“It’s important to acknowledge that our city faces some heavy challenges,” Perotte said. “When we work together, we can make today’s challenges, tomorrow’s accomplishments.”

An immediate challenge is filling vacancies in key professional city staff.

Goleta has filled the city attorney with an interim position, and expects to have a new finance director and planning and environmental review director hired within the next month, Perotte said. A new deputy city manager is expected to be also appointed.

Venoco’s bankruptcy announcement and plans to dispose of its offshore and onshore oil-development asset to the State Lands Commission provides another task.

“Our priority will be to ensure the decommissioning process protects public safety and the environment,” Perotte said.

Perotte gave a preview of the city’s ambitions, noting that improving public transportation and increasing revenue were among the list.

“That’s just a little of what we are addressing in the near future,” she said.

Perotte’s speech credited the efforts of the first City Council members and staff for Goleta’s key accomplishments.

“As a result, Goleta has been named the top best place to live among multiple publications,” Perotte said.

She addressed the city’s commitment to provide public safety services such as creating bike lanes, pedestrian improvements, offering Community Emergency Response Team Training, building Fire Station 10, and purchasing a highly sensitive hydrogen-sulfide detector.

Perotte also thanked the Camino Real Marketplace owner Mark Linehan for his generosity in investing more than $1 million for public-safety efforts since 2008.

Perotte said the city’s Capital Improvement Program, a long-term funding strategy that involves needed repairs or improvements to existing infrastructure, included 69 projects worth $146 million.

Projects have earned the city awards, such as the roundabout at Los Carneros and Calle Real, which was recognized by the American Public Works Association – Central Coast of California Chapter.

Goleta’s Planning and Environmental Review Department has several key initiatives underway, including the Historic Preservation Project, Perotte said.

Work continues on Goleta’s new zoning ordinance to better reflect the city’s General Plan, with the expectation to release a draft ordinance this summer for public review, Perotte said.

“I want to assure, we are committed to providing ample opportunity for public review and feedback before the final ordinance is adopted,” Perotte said.

Fiscal stability is also vital to Goleta.

Lost redevelopment dollars in 2012 took away $3 million annually for projects such as the Goleta Old Town Park and other revitalization efforts, Perotte said.

“The challenge still continues,” Perotte said.

For the last 12 years, Perotte said, Goleta has received Excellence in Financial Reporting Awards for comprehensive annual financial reports.

The city continues to generate parks and open space improvements to provide more recreational opportunities.

Perotte said the city plans to acquire the remaining 12 parcels along Ellwood Mesa to preserve the land for future generations.

City Manager of Goleta Michelle Greene presented a financial overview.

Goleta’s revenue has “increased steadily” over the past 15 years, Greene said.

The city has projected a contingency reserve fund at $8.7 million by the end of the fiscal year.

“It’s critical for the city’s fiscal stability that we maintain a healthy contingency reserve while balancing the communities various needs,” Greene said. “Despite the challenges, our financial outlook remains positive.”

Goleta’s revenues have spiked, primary due to increased transient-occupancy taxes, sales tax and property tax — which total 81 percent of the total revenues.

Greene said over the last three years, Goleta has seen a spike in TOT revenue.

TOT revenues were approximately $8.2 million in the fiscal year 2015-16 and increased to a projected $8.7 for the current fiscal year.

Sales tax experienced a growth, too, with $6.2 million in the fiscal year 2015-16 to a projected $6.7 million by the end of the current fiscal year.

“Despite the growth in sales tax, the city remains conservative for future years,” Greene said.

Property tax is expected to increase slightly this year, rising to more than $6 million.

Goleta supports visitor services and local community events as vibrant aspects of the economy, Greene said.

In 2016, the average daily rate for hotel stays in Goleta was nearly $168, which represents a 3.3 percent increase over 2015.

Occupancy rates in 2016 were at 80 percent on average, a “positive in the hospitality industry,” Greene said.

Another indication reflecting a healthy local economy is the unemployment rate, which is at 2.6 percent — a decrease from last years unemployment rate of 3.3 percent, Greene said.

The development process for the city’s upcoming two-year budget project is “well underway,” Greene said. The council held its first workshop this week, and the group plans to meet multiple times in May with the goal of adopting the budget in June.

The significant winter rain took a toll on the roads, and in the upcoming years the city is looking at a significant investment in roadways, Greene said.

Also, Goleta staff is in discussions with the city of Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara County officials in hopes to take over management of the Goleta Branch Library.

The event closed with a brief discussion about housing in Good Land.

Noozhawk Founder and Publisher William Macfadyen, Goleta’s Economic Development Coordinator Jaime Valdez, Peoples’ Self-Help Housing Vice President and CFO Ken Trigueiro, the Housing Trust Fund’s President and CEO Jennifer McGovern, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kristen Miller and Goleta’s Planning and Environmental Review Interim Director Lisa Prasse took to the stage.

In the last three years, 367 housing units have been built and occupied in Goleta, Prasse said.

She attributed the number to the Hideaway Bungalows project in western Goleta and the Hollister Village apartment community.

Approximately 730 housing units are either under construction or expected to begin construction this year, Prasse said. About 44 percent are projected to be rental units, and the remaining number is single-family homes for sale or condominium units.

In addition, 390 rental units are working through the review process.

“Only projects with water entitlements or previous agreements with Goleta Water District are being processed by the city,” Prasse said. “The projects have secured water allocations or agreements with the Goleta Water District prior to their Stage 2 drought declaration. Those without water are on hold. It’s also important to note that housing under construction is more efficient than the typical Goleta housing unit built before 1970.”

The event will be broadcast on City Channel 19 at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sundays and 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. It will also be broadcast after the Goleta City Council meeting at 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays every month.

— Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Revitalizing Old Town Key Focus in 2017 for Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce

Organization welcomed new board members and challenges at its annual membership meeting

Hallie Avolio of Latitude 34 Technologies was handed the gavel Wednesday night as the new president of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)
By Sam Goldman, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @Sam__Goldman | January 26, 2017 | 9:20 p.m.

Though business leaders say Goleta’s Old Town neighborhood is a key business and tourism asset for the city, the area made up of long-time mom-and-pop stores could use a facelift.

At its annual membership meeting this week, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce named Old Town revitalization one of its priorities for 2017 as it welcomed its incoming board.

“Old Town Goleta has been just a long-time thing where everyone wants to do something, but there have been a bunch of reasons why we couldn’t,” Dave Clark, 2016’s board chair and the president of Impulse Advanced Communications, told the gathering of business leaders at Ice in Paradise, the city’s recently opened ice-skating center.

But last year, he said, marked the beginning of a concerted effort to “retain the stuff people like about it, and fix the stuff people don’t like about it.”

The Old Town neighborhood, anchored around Hollister Avenue, sits between Fairview Avenue and Highway 217. Despite its diverse array of businesses and services, it’s a little on the shabby side.

Taking over as board president of the Goleta chamber is Hallie Avolio of Latitude 34 Technologies.

“I have a lot of faith we’re going to make some great progress in 2017,” she said of the neighborhood.

Madeleine Vite was honored as Ambassador of the Year by the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce.

As the chamber celebrates its 70th birthday this year, its priorities for 2017 include housing, transportation, infrastructure, water supply, business regulation and workforce development, CEO Kristen Miller said.

Those issues, Avolio said, directly affect the success of the business community.

Marty Plourd, the board’s treasurer and the president and CEO of Community West Bank, which has a branch in Old Town, said revitalizing the neighborhood can pose a dilemma for businesses.

“They’re getting by, they’re doing okay, but some of them are afraid that if the landlords who own the buildings spend a bunch of money to refurbish them, the rents will go up,” he told Noozhawk.

Plourd sits on a chamber working group examining possibilities for revitalization, and said simple fixes like adding flowers around the neighborhood and trimming the trees could begin a gradual facelift that could expand businesses’ customer bases, sales and confidence before more significant measures are taken that could incline landlords to raise their rents.

With more people coming to Goleta to live and work, “we should prepare the downtown to be what we want it to be, and shape it.”

The recently formed Goleta Old Town Community Association has already begun actively recruiting visitors with events such as December’s Christmas parade.

Former Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce board chairman Don Donaldson, left, receives the Chairman’s Award from his successor, 2016 chairman Dave Clark. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

The longevity of the area’s mom-and-pop establishments can be chalked up to business owners’ intimate familiarity with their specific trades, said Tony Vallejo, the chamber’s 2013 chair and a former city councilman.

“We have a lot of experienced, savvy business owners down there,” he said.

In addition to welcoming its new board members and recognizing its ambassadors to the community, the chamber bestowed its Chairman’s Award to Don Donaldson of Stantec, who served as president in 2014 and 2015, and the Ambassador of the Year award to professional photographer Madeleine Vite.

Goleta Mayor, New Councilmen Talk Policy at Chamber of Commerce Roundtable Event

Water, government transparency and protecting community character are a few of the priorities listed by Paula Perotte, Stuart Kasdin and Kyle Richards.

Recently elected councilman Kyle Richards, right, discusses the values he learned from his father that he plans to utilize in his office. Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte, left and Councilman Stuart Kasdin also attended a Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce event Wednesday.  (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

By Sam Goldman, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @Sam_Goldman | January 11, 2017 | 10:16 p.m.

Overlooking the greens and fairways of Glen Annie Golf Club, Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte and recently elected city councilmen Stuart Kasdin and Kyle Richards introduced themselves to the city in a policy roundtable luncheon put on Wednesday by the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The officials said that among their 2017 priorities are securing sufficient water for the city, promoting government transparency, protecting Goleta’s natural resources and character, and spurring public engagement.

“In my six years on the Goleta City Council, one of our biggest regrets is sitting at council meetings where we’re having important discussions and looking out to a very sparse audience,” said Perotte, who was elected in 2010 and served as mayor in 2014 before being chosen by the council again for the post.

Perotte listed off a slew of technological and social breakthroughs made possible by 20th century American leaders in the face of various political and social strife, arguing that local leaders have much to emulate.

“Now as we gather here together, still at just the dawn of the 21st century, we should draw our inspiration and accomplishments from those who came before us,” she told the room of business and nonprofit leaders and local officials.

Support for businesses is key to maintaining the city’s economic development, Perotte said, as is support for agriculture, education, the high-tech industry and other sectors that promote economic vitality and provide a greater tax base for city services.

On the mayor’s to-do list are managing parking and traffic in order to attract more shoppers, promoting public and active transportation, ensuring sufficient police and fire services, working collaboratively with other agencies to secure new water, and developing solutions to the city’s affordable housing crunch.

Echoed by her fellow council members, Perotte stressed the need to preserve the environment and natural resources, including air and water.

Kasdin, a former professor who worked for 11 years in the White House Office of Management and Budget, used his speech to emphasize the importance of government transparency.

California’s Brown Act, which regulates and requires open government meetings and their notification, prevents a quorum of council members from working out policies outside a public meeting, but is more silent on council members’ freedom to meet with outside individuals and groups, he said.

That can make hammering out policy solutions harder, he and Perotte agreed.

Undocumented access to special interests combined with low council member pay — around $6,000 a year — can open up opportunities for corruption, Kasdin added.

“If you put someone in a position of authority and then say we’re not going to pay you, it strikes me as not good government.”

Developing metrics for how and when the city notifies residents and businesses about new regulations would also facilitate local transparency, he added.

The complexity of Goleta’s zoning regulations, he said, causes confusion and apprehension for the public and businesses.

Goleta is currently developing a new zoning code. Its present zoning regulations were taken from the county’s original regulations for the area, and modified over time.

Richards, a policy analyst at UC Santa Barbara and a former Parks and Recreation commissioner, used his speech to present his background and the lessons he said he learned from his late father.

Growing up working in his family cemetery business and on their “farm-ette,” the eighth-generation Pennsylvanian said he would exercise on the dais his lessons about hard work and taking care of others and the land.

A centerpiece of Richards’ campaign was carefully managing urban growth and its impacts, and he revived that when describing a recent trip back to his home state.

“Many of the pastures that I remember from childhood are gone,” he said. “And in their place are housing developments and shopping plazas. … To some, it might seem like progress, but to me, there’s a sense of loss.”

He named other priorities as working collaboratively with local agencies on water security, improvements to Old Town, the preservation of natural resources, and city efficiency and transparency.

In February, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce will hold its next issue and policy roundtable, to focus on the city’s library.

Goleta’s Finest Honors Jim Farr, Marsha Bailey as Man and Woman of the Year

For the 67th year, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce brings together the community for its annual awards celebration

Goleta Man of the Year Jim Farr and Woman of the Year Marsha Bailey at the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Goleta’s Finest awards celebration held Nov. 19 at Bacara Resort & Spa. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

By Rochelle Rose, Noozhawk Contributing Writer | @NoozhawkSociety | updated logo | November 23, 2016 | 4:06 p.m.

For the 67th year, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce presented its Goleta’s Finest Awards at a packed gala at the lovely Bacara Resort & Spa.

More than 400 guests were greeted by Goleta Chamber Ambassadors who later joined the crowd assembled for the social hour in the ballroom foyer. Wines, beer and cocktails were enjoyed before the buffet-style dinner that featured a variety of pastas, a fall squash soup and hand-carved roast beef. Accompanied by a pianist, singer Amanda Martinez provided pleasant background music from the stage.

Dave Clark, president of Impulse Advanced Communications, served as the evening’s emcee and kept the packed program rolling.

Honored were the remarkable individuals whose contributions have enhanced the Goleta community. The 2016 Goleta’s Finest winners were:

Woman of the Year: Marsha Bailey

Marsha Bailey is the founder and CEO of Women’s Economic Ventures and the Small Business Loan Fund of Santa Barbara. WEV is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

Bailey has been developing educational programs and services for women since 1983 and is the primary author of WEV’s self-employment training curriculum, From Vision to Venture. Many of the local businesses and entrepreneurs in Goleta and Santa Barbara have gone through the WEV program, helping them start up and run sustainable businesses.

“For 25 years, I’ve been blessed to be able to go to work every day, loving what I do, and working to achieve a mission that is very personal to me: to create an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women,” Bailey told Noozhawk. “Being recognized for that work by the Goleta Chamber is both a validation and a privilege for which I am deeply honored. I’m proud of every woman and man who has walked out of WEV with the courage, the confidence and the knowledge to start or expand their own business. I’m proud that Goleta businesses like Goodland Kitchen, Crystal Chiropractic, Better Days Yoga and Swim With Phyn were able to get the loan or the business training and support they needed from WEV to realize their dreams of business ownership.”

Man of the Year: Jim Farr

Jim Farr is the mayor of Goleta and will be ending his term in December. He has been an advocate in the Goleta community since 1989 and was active in the group Goleta Now that helped Goleta become its own city.

Farr directed Goleta’s weekly newspaper, the Goleta Valley Voice, from 2000 to 2006 and was a radio broadcast professional. As a volunteer with the Goleta Valley Historical Society, he co-chaired the successful Restoration Campaign for Rancho La Patera & Stow House. Like Bailey, Farr attended UC Santa Barbara.

“I am honored to receive this award,” Farr told Noozhawk. “I only regret that I won’t have the prestige of this award to help me fight the battles to make Goleta a better community. This is a great community with the potential to be even greater.”

Educator of the Year: Ina Ettenberg

Ina Ettenberg has worked for the past 30 years serving the youth in the Goleta Union School District as a classroom and intervention teacher. She is the embodiment of the passion of teaching as a calling and that teachers transform lives. Ettenberg retired from El Camino School on Nov. 18.

“I wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl,” she said. “The greatest challenge is to be a teacher. To reach that one little person, it takes a team effort.”

Large Nonprofit of the Year: Ice in Paradise

Honorees Kelly Onnen from Food from the Heart, Small Nonprofit of the Year, and Volunteer of the Year Terry McDuffie.

Honorees Kelly Onnen from Food from the Heart, Small Nonprofit of the Year, and Volunteer of the Year Terry McDuffie. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

In 2015, Ice in Paradise opened its doors on Storke Road in Goleta, which was a dream come true that was celebrated by the whole community. The Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association raised $15 million to build the facility, which includes an NHL-size hockey rink, a second-story terrace overlooking the skating and hockey rinks, a second, smaller rink for skating, six team locker rooms, a figure skating room and a specially equipped adaptive sports locker room.

Award presenter Michelle Apodaca from Deckers encouraged everyone to celebrate the holidays on ice!

Small Nonprofit of the Year: Food from the Heart

Food from the Heart is a grassroots volunteer organization that feeds people in medical crisis. Founded during the AIDS epidemic, it has adapted to serve those in need who are not supported by governmental services. Each week, 150 to 160 clients receive at their door healthy, appetizing food that aids in the client’s healing and recovery.

Volunteer of the Year: Teri McDuffie

“I love to empower women,” Teri McDuffie told Noozhawk.

McDuffie, who garnered the Volunteer of the Year Award, is the owner of Santa Barbara Women’s Self Defense and a six-degree black belt. She has been a longtime board member for the National Association of Women Business Owners Santa Barbara Chapter and an ambassador for the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce. She frequently donates her service to schools and women in need.

Student of the Year: Ruby Gans

Ruby Gans is a senior at Dos Pueblos High School. She is a student athlete in track and field, a member of the Dos Pueblos Jazz Band, a Writing Center tutor, a National Honor Society member and is involved in other extracurricular activities. Luis Vega proudly presented the Youth of the Year Award to Gans.

Small Business of the Year: M.Special Brewing Co.

M.Special Brewing Co. opened its doors in Goleta in September 2015 and quickly became a local favorite. The brewery is located near many of Goleta’s large employers and has become the hot spot for local tech employees. Its portfolio of beers ranges from IPAs to a Crisp American Lager.

Large Business of the Year: The Towbes Group

The Towbes Group, which is celebrating 60 years in business, has had a significant impact on the development of Goleta. From the Calle Real Center to the Willow Springs Apartments, The Towbes Group has provided much-needed office space for businesses and much-needed housing for the local workforce.

The Towbes Group’s mission is to “make their corner of the world a better place, one project, one idea and one person at a time.” Not a stranger to awards, the outstanding businessman and philanthropist Michael Towbes accepted the Goleta’s Finest Award for The Towbes Group.

Hospitality Business of the Year: Glen Annie Golf Club

Founded nearly 20 years ago, the Glen Annie Golf Club has been an important part of the Goleta community. The championship golf course hosts many regional golfers, and it hosts many nonprofit and community events. Junior high and high school golfers regularly practice at the facility.

Entrepreneur of the Year: Michael McDonald, Zizzo’s Coffee

Michael McDonald has worked tirelessly building the Zizzo’s brand, supporting the Goleta community. He recently expanded its operations to three locations. Zizzo’s Coffee and Brew Pub recently opened its doors in Hollister Village, while opening its satellite location inside Ice in Paradise.

Old Town Business of the Year: Prestigious Auto Body

The Goleta-based team at Prestigious Auto Body have provided superior auto body service for decades and have been instrumental in the beautification of Old Town Goleta. They support many nonprofit events with sponsorships. Prestigious Auto Body has worked with the San Marcos High School Automotive Technology Program to help restore cars the students are working on and to provide valuable training experience.

Special Recognition: UCSB College of Engineering

With a culture of innovation committed to developing new technology in ways that benefit the world, the UCSB College of Engineering has proven to be one of the most successful public research institutions in the country for the past 50 years. The college was represented by Dean of the College of Engineering Rodney Alferness, UCSB Foundation trustee and professor emeritus in chemical engineering Duncan Mellichamp, professor of English and Executive Vice Chancellor David Marshall, and UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang.

“The variety of businesses and volunteers represented shows how unique is the Goleta community,” said Kristen Miller, president and CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce. “These individuals, companies and organizations have made a huge impact on the Goleta community.”

Platinum Presenting Sponsors included American Riviera Bank, Bacara Resort & Spa, Buyna, Fauver, Archbald & Spray, Community West Bank, Cox, Deckers Brands, Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, Heritage Oaks Bank, Montecito Bank & Trust, Spherion, The Novim Group, The Towbes Group and Venoco. Gold Sponsors were Aera Energy, Cabrillo Business Park, Citrix Online, FLIR Systems, Hollister Village, Impulse Advanced Communications, KARL STORZ Imaging and the Santa Barbara Independent. Silver sponsors included Brown & Brown Insurance, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Courtyard Marriott Santa Barbara Goleta, Latitude 34 Technologies, MarBorg Industries, Noozhawk, Santa Barbara Airbus, Santa Barbara Airport, State Farm Paul Cashman, UC Santa Barbara, Union Bank and Wells Fargo-Amie Parrish.

Click here for more information about the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, or call 805.967.2500 x5.

Goleta Water Board Candidates Discuss Drought, Development, Agriculture

Five hopefuls vying for 3 seats appear at Goleta Chamber of Commerce forum

Goleta Water District board candidates Lauren Hanson, Bob Geis, Jean Blois, Bill Rosen and Rick Merrifield participated in a forum Tuesday hosted by the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce.

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor | @magnoli | October 11, 2016 | 6:59 p.m

The five candidates running for the Goleta Water District board of directors talked about water-supply planning during Tuesday’s Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce forum.

Three incumbents are running for re-election — Lauren Hanson, Rick Merrifield and Bill Rosen — and two challengers are hoping to win a seat, Jean Blois and Bob Geis.

The forum focused on local water-supply planning, Goleta Valley development projects during the drought, and expectations for the new Lake Cachuma contract with the Bureau of Reclamation, which determines how much water is allocated each year.

Hanson and Rosen have served on the water board since 2008, and Merrifield has been a member since 2012.

Blois is a former member of the Goleta City Council, the Goleta Water Board and the Goleta Union School District board of trustees, while Geis is the retired Santa Barbara County auditor-controller.

Blois said she is an experienced, qualified candidate and decided to run because she’s “old enough to know better but caring enough to try.”

Geis said the district needs a plan to get through the drought without cutting usage and jeopardizing the ag industry.

Hanson, Rosen and Merrifield said they have the knowledge to continue doing the district’s work, and Hanson said they have made the district a “solid, stable and reliable provider” for the community.

All the candidates were asked about their plans for boosting the water district’s local supplies, and many of them support an expanded recycled water system, looking into storm-water capture, and keeping the high level of conservation among its customers.

Goleta Water District board member Lauren Hanson, Bob Geis and Jean Blois are three of five candidates running for seats on the Board of Directors.
The Goleta Sanitary District is producing three times as much recycled water as is being sold to customers, and it’s an expensive prospect to expand the purple-pipe system used to distribute it.

Trucking recycled water to customers is an alternative the district is currently using, including water sales to the neighboring Montecito Water District.

Geis said the district should consider desalination, but others disagreed.

Merrifield called it “hideously expensive,” and said it wasn’t the best option as a local water supply unless things get “bad enough.”

He and other candidates said the drought could be the “new normal” and that conversation is here to stay.

The district has tried to avoid banning all outdoor watering so far, Rosen noted, but health and safety are the top priorities for water use.

Major construction projects during the drought have been a sore subject for Goleta, with housing and hotel projects going up all over town as people are asked to cut back on their own water use.

A forum question spoke to this, asking how much development is still in the pipeline for Goleta and what the water commitment is.

Geis spoke first and said there was no accounting of it.

Hanson said the district has a 24-month rolling model of supply and demand, as well as a running tally of development projects by the city and the county. Monthly committee meetings discuss the list, she said.

The district’s moratorium on new water connections means that any projects under construction either had historical usage, or got approval before the moratorium went into effect, she said.

Merrifield put a number on it and said about 38 projects are being tracked by the district, about half of which have water entitlements.

If they don’t have one, the projects are “not going anywhere,” he said.

Rosen added to that, noting that the moratorium will stay in effect until the district’s Lake Cachuma allocation is back up to 100 percent.

This year, it is at zero percent, so the only water coming out of that lake and into Goleta is purchased water from other agencies, carryover water banked in past years, or State Water Project allocations.

Blois said the district should be more transparent about its information, including the total acre-feet of water committed to the new developments underway.

Lake Cachuma is a major water source for Goleta, and the contract to determine how much water can be pumped out of it is going to be renegotiated soon.

County officials expect the total allocation amount will be less in the future since the reservoir designed to last through seven years of drought lasted only four.

Hanson said the district needs to prepare supplemental local sources that are not reliant on Lake Cachuma, since it’s unknown what the allocation will be.

It’s expected to be reduced, and there will also be a new biological opinion governing water releases for federally endangered steelhead trout, she said.

Blois, who was on a water board during the last contract negotiation, said there’s “no telling what they’ll do.” She hopes for a reasonable allocation, she said.

Geis said federal officials will never let the lake drain again, and the district needs to consider all other sources of water in the future.

In response to a question about water rates and policies for agricultural customers, incumbent candidates said the district offers the lowest ag rates on the South Coast, even with the increased rates and drought surcharge, and its ag customers have the lowest rates of all the district’s customers.

The district tries to support the industry but can’t give out more water than is available, Rosen said.

Geis said the district needs a plan to give ag customers more water during a drought, not less.

Blois said it would help if reclaimed water could be used on crops, but that it may be an economic burden on farmers to change crops.

Goleta’s avocado and lemon orchards use a lot of water compared to other crops, Merrifield said.

The “sticky issue of crop choice” may need to be considered in the long run, he added.