SB Independent: The Race is On for Goleta City Council

First published in the SB Independent on September 24, 2022.

District 2 runs through Old Town Goleta, extends from Patterson Avenue on the east to Storke Road on the west and includes the hospital and Target but not the airport or the university. 

In the four years James Kyriaco has been on the Goleta City Council, he’s earned a reputation of being prepared and collegial. He lists as his main accomplishments improved activities at the Community Center: free pickleball, a new sports field, new public art; and across the street the new Jonny Wallis park, $4.2 million spent on sidewalks in Old Town, community choice carbon-free energy, 1,400 new LED streetlights, savings on rent for City Hall by buying it, saving another $140,000 a year in electricity costs by adding a solar array, and building Target without paving agricultural land, a store that is in the Top 5 for sales tax compared to Kmart, once in that location, in the Top 10.

“There’s still so much I want to do,” he said in the next breath.

One of Kyriaco’s signature goals has been to add more childcare — something he needed himself as a child, he said. “By bringing this up all the time, we’ve been able to create the space for the conversation,” Kyriaco said. The city changed its zoning rules to permit childcare facilities without an extended conditional-use permit process and also to waive development impact fees. Kyriaco supported Goleta granting the Children’s Resource and Referral of Santa Barbara County $12,000, to help six people work toward a family childcare license — four of them completed the training and are now looking after 32 children.

He also is pushing for affordable housing. “Although Goleta added 1,300 new units of housing in the past decade, only 9 percent was priced affordable,” he said. “That was an opportunity lost.” Goleta has the most aggressive inclusionary housing percentage in the county — 20 percent, he said. The Heritage Ridge project off Los Carneros is 30 percent affordable. “Of 332 units, more than 100 are affordable,” he said. “That demonstrates that there is not a disincentive to build when you insist on affordable housing.”

More bike paths, more pavement on roads, and more services for the homeless were on Kyriaco’s still-to-do list. The Super 8, which is being converted to permanent supporting housing, had been up for sale and was purchased by the County Housing Authority. “This will provide the final bit of support for 59 homeless people,” he said. Kyriaco saw how successful a similar site run by Good Samaritan in Lompoc was, and he said, “With trust and assurance, we can have the same outcome here.”

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