SANTA BARBARA COUNTY GRAND JURY

FINAL REPORT

REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY

 

Released on June 5, 1998

BACKGROUND

The Grand Jury was concerned that the plan for a redevelopment project in Goleta Old Town would follow the pattern of mistakes and mismanagement that plagued the County’s earlier effort in Isla Vista. The Isla Vista Project, which began in 1989, was intended primarily to acquire bluff top properties to preserve open space along the Pacific Coast.

 

Both redevelopment projects are administered by the Santa Barbara County Redevelopment Agency governed by the Board of Supervisors.

 

PROCEDURE

The Grand Jury reviewed the available documentation for the original Isla Vista project, the financial audits for the Redevelopment Agency, and County staff reports for the proposed Old Goleta project. In addition, we interviewed a County Supervisor and an administrative assistant who had been involved with the earlier Isla Vista project, one current County Supervisor, and the County Auditor-Controller. The Auditor-Controller provided us with current policies and practices of the County Debt Advisory Committee.

 

To complete the process, we conducted a series of interviews with current staff members of the County Planning and Development Department.

 

Some of the problems of the Isla Vista Project were identified as:

 

Today the original goals of the Isla Vista Project have not been completed and a county-wide subsidy is still required to support the existing debt service.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

During the course of our investigation, we also became concerned that:

 

The County Debt Advisor Committee - which did not exist during the formation of the Isla Vista project - is aggressively reviewing the Goleta Old Town Project and providing its recommendations about prudent financial policies for that redevelopment proposal. In response to the Debt Advisory Committee effort, the County Planning and Development Department is producing substantial data and documentation from which the Board of Supervisors can make its decision.

 

We are also impressed with the extent to which the public has been involved in the planning for the Goleta Old Town Project and the opportunities to participate through the public hearing process.

 

COMMENDATION

 

This Grand Jury takes no position about the formation of a Redevelopment Project in Goleta Old Town. The Grand Jury commends both the County Debt Advisory Committee and the County Planning and Development Department for the open, comprehensive process that is now being used to consider formation of a redevelopment project for Goleta Old Town

 

Isla Vista Project Map

 

GOLETA OLD TOWN MAP

 

EXHIBITS ARE IN THE 1997-98 PUBLISHED FINAL REPORT