Advocating to Protect Goleta’s Creeks

  • Goal: To ensure the long-term protection of Goleta’s vital creeks.
  • Year Started: 2018
  • Client Santa Barbara Urban Creeks Council, Environmental Defense Center

Goleta’s creeks are central to local clean water, recreation, and for protection and restoration of wildlife such as the southern California steelhead. Unfortunately, our regional waterways face numerous threats from polluted stormwater runoff, to extended drought and water shortage, to trash and other contaminants. But one of the biggest ongoing challenges facing our creeks comes from development built too close to the creek bank.

Such development, whether for homes, business, or agriculture, can create significant challenges, impacting the plants and animals that depend on the creek, disturbing the soils, and increasing the risk of property damage from floods. The City of Goleta’s General Plan includes ample creek protection, including a policy which requires a 100 foot creek setback for new development unless infeasible. However, the policy does not identify any process for determining when this setback is infeasible. In previous years, developments have been approved with significantly reduced creek setbacks without any evidence to demonstrate that the 100 foot setback was infeasible. 

EDC, on behalf of ourselves and our client Santa Barbara Urban Creeks Council, drafted a creek protection ordinance that sets forth a process to inform the City’s determination of infeasibility.   We are currently engaged in the City’s New Zoning Ordinance update and are actively advocating for the City to adopt our proposed ordinance.

Our work on this issue strengthens our commitment to ensuring protection for our creeks to promote clean water, preserve habitats, safeguard wildlife, and protect against flood risks.

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