2019 Goleta’s Finest Winners Announced: Community Awards Gala will be held on November 23rd

The Goleta Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the 2019 Goleta’s Finest Award Winners. Goleta’s Finest is a 70-year old tradition honoring remarkable individuals whose contributions have enhanced the Goletacommunity. 

“The Goleta community has an amazing history of volunteerism, philanthropy and local pride. Our elders began the tradition of Goleta’s Finest in 1949,” said Kristen Miller, President & CEO of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce. “We are honored to continue the tradition this year and give our first Lifetime Achievement Award.”

The 2019 award recipients will be honored with a formal celebration on, November 23rd (6:00-9:30 pm), at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Bacara.  The evening will include dinner followed by the awards ceremony.

The 2019 Goleta’s Finest winners are:

Man of the Year: Peter Brown

Few have contributed more than Peter to the early years of Cityhood, shaping the general plan, bridging communication between business and government and adding his profoundly insightful analysis and experience to the complicated and sensitive work that was being done to create a brand-new city. Peter was instrumental in the City’s work to create its first laws and procedures, while also serving on the Chamber Board for 12 years.  In addition to being a high poweredattorney and land use expert, Peter is a singer and volunteer and you can spot him at many of Goleta’s local events. 

Woman of the Year: Kathy Odell
A serial entrepreneur with more than 25 years of leadership experience, Kathy is actively involved in entrepreneurial activities in the Santa Barbara area as a mentor and advisor to start-ups and small business leaders. Currently, she is turning her sights from the corporate community to leading a profound local non-profit that focused on young women entrepreneurs.

Educator of the Year: Carolyn Ross
As music director at Goleta Valley Junior High School, Carolyn’s dedication to her students’ talents, social development, and academics is unmatched. For 11 years, she has worked with students of all skill levels not only during the school year, but with her summer camp, on weekends and during holidays. Tireless and unflappable, she consistently goes above and beyond for each student.

Non-Profit of the Year: Girsh Park
Now celebrating its 20th year, Girsh Park has established itself as a place for all of Goleta to come together. It is home to the Lemon Festival, the 4th of July Fireworks Festival, soccer/baseball/basketball games and countless family gatherings. Opened in 1999, this nonprofit organization is unique as a private park with city support. They have proven to be a successful model, as the more than 500,000 annual visitors will attest.

Volunteer of the Year: Dacia Harwood
Dacia’s dedication to Goleta goes beyond her years of work at the Goleta Valley Historical Society. Her passion for the community includes everything from conceiving and producing the popular Goleta Dam Dinner to encouraging others to support the important work in the community.

Student of the Year: Kathy Ramirez-Gijon
With 382.5 community service hours and a passion (and talent) for golf, Kathy is an all-around amazing person and student. She has been consistently enrolled in Honors, Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment courses, while being heavily involved in her church. As a Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy D’Penguineer, she is a first-generation college bound student, poised to pursue a career in mechanical engineering.

Small Business of the Year:
Anna’s Bakery
Serving Goleta since 1990, Anna’s Bakery co-owners Deborah Weber and Lisa Boetler have become an local institution, synonymous with the Goleta community culture. Located in Camino Real Marketplace, the bakery is one of the oldest in Goleta. Along with fresh cookies, brownies, custom cakes and cupcakes, their lemon pies are the “must have” item of the annual Goleta Lemon Festival, bringing people from all over the central coast back to the festival year after year.

Large Business of the Year: Community West Bank
Celebrating 30 years, Community West Bank opened its doors in 1989 to serve the local Goleta business community, and have proven themselves to be huge supporters of the community ever since. The bank provides financing to businesses, families and nonprofit organizations throughout the central and south coast, supporting job creation and vibrant local communities.

Innovation Award: AlloSphere Research Facility, UCSB
Director Dr. JoAnn Kuchera-Morin, chief designer of the three-story facility on the UC Santa Barbara campus, says the intersection of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics has facilitated exciting new avenues for scientific discovery. But it is their strong desire to welcome research partners and collaborations of all kinds, that leads AlloSphere to make a real difference in the local community.

Entrepreneur of the Year: Michael Craig, Goleta Red Distillery
Open now just over a year, Michael Craig and his unique distillery have burst into the community by being continually present and by sharing his spirits everywhere. Michael named his distillery Goleta Red and his award-winning gin “GOODLAND,” to bring attention to his beloved city. All Goleta Red spirits are created locally at this up-and-coming Goodland jewel.


Public Servant of the Year: Riley the Rescue Dog

After eight years of service at Santa Barbara County Fire, Riley is heading to a well-earned retirement. This 11-year-old hardworking yellow Labrador mix has faced his share of disasters and has proven his mettle time and again, including in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and in Japan after the Fukushima earthquake. Closer to home, Riley and his human partner Captain Eric Gray were first on the scene at the Montecito debris flow in 2018.

Lifetime Achievement Award:
Michael T. Bennett

Michael is known for his service in the community. He retired from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department as a Fire Battalion Chief after 36 years of service. He served on the Goleta City Council for 12 years and was Mayor twice. He is known for his help with Cityhood efforts, his work on the Goleta Old Town Area Committee, and an advocate for the new fire station. Apart from the City Council, Bennett serves on the Board of Directors of the Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County. He has been a member of the Rotary Club of Goleta Noontime since 1990. He has been honored with the Paul Harris Fellow award for his service to the community and has been a member of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce since 1990. Michael was honored as Goleta’s Man of the Year in 2006.

“The tapestry of the Goleta community is woven with especially vibrant businesses, individuals and organizations,” said Kristen Miller, President & CEO of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce. “These honorees help make Goleta such a special place!”

Please join us on this memorable evening. Tickets to attend Goleta’s Finest is $175 per person. A sponsored table for a group of eight is $1,750. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Please contact the Goleta Chamber of Commerce at www.GoletaChamber.com or (805) 967-2500 x5 in advance to secure your seats!

The 2019 Goleta’s Finest awards ceremony is presented by the Goleta Chamber of Commerce.

Thank you to our Platinum Presenting Sponsors: American Riviera Bank, Buynak Fauver Archbald Spray, Community West Bank, Cox, Exxon Mobil, Montecito Bank & Trust, Pacific Premier Bank, Spherion, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, and The Towbes Group.

We would also like to thank our Gold Sponsors: Courtyard Marriott Goleta, KARL STORZ Imaging, Marriott Residence Inn, Noozhawk, Santa Barbara Airport, and Signature Flight Support.

Silver Sponsors include: Atlantic Aviation, Brown & Brown Insurance, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Deckers Brands, FLIR System, Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, Hollister Village, Latitude 34 Technologies, Marborg Industries, Mechanics Bank, Plains All-American, Sansum Clinic, Santa Barbara Independent, Southern California Edison, UC Santa Barbara, and Union Bank.

For more information, please contact the Chamber at (805) 967-2500 ext 5, or Michele@GoletaChamber.com.

2019 Goleta’s Finest Nominations are Open

On Saturday, November 23rd, the Goleta Chamber of Commerce will be honoring Goleta’s Finest with a “Celebration of Our Community.” If you know of a person or organization within our community deserving special recognition for their activities, then here’s your chance to nominate them for this prestigious award. Click here to nominate…

Categories and Criteria:

Small Business (<50 employees): Local Goleta growing company showing excellence/leadership in field of expertise, business growth, and community involvement.

Large Business (50+ employees): Local Goleta company having business growth, increased employment, sound employee relations, and has a positive impact on the community.

Entrepreneur: Local Goleta individual/company showing excellence/leadership in field of expertise, innovation, has a positive impact in the Goleta community.

Educator of the Year: Contributes to the growth and achievement of the educational system in Goleta, has gone above and beyond to contribute to educational advancement.

Student of the Year: A Goleta student that has excelled in the academic environment, helped other students succeed, has contributed to the Goleta community or other academic programs. 

Volunteer of the Year: A person who has impacted the Goleta community in a significant way through volunteer activities with local organizations.

Non-profit of the Year: Growing non-profit organization that has had a positive impact in the Goleta community through philanthropic work.

Special Recognition: A business or non-profit that deserves special recognition for their work and influence in Goleta.

Man of the Year & Woman of the Year: Man and Woman who contributes to the business leadership and/or quality of life in Goleta. The nominee inspires others to better serve our community.

Please provide a paragraph indicating why your nominee deserves an award. You may nominate more than one person, but please only one per category. To ensure that your recommendations are considered, please return a completed nomination form to the Goleta Chamber by Friday, September 13, 2019.

Nomination Categories:

Small Business of the Year • Large Business of the Year

Entrepreneur of the Year • Educator of the Year

Student of the Year • Non-profit of the Year • Volunteer of the Year

Woman of the Year • Man of the Year

Click here to nominate…

2019 TechTopia Summit: UC Santa Barbara Celebrates Goleta’s High-Tech Industry and connection to the University

Technology is taking the world in new and exciting directions.  Nowhere was this more apparent than at the fourth annual Goleta Chamber of Commerce’s TechTopia Summit held at UC Santa Barbara on July 11th, 2019.  Over 100 attendees gathered to enjoy an interactive walking tour that took them from the one-of-a-kind Allosphere Research Facility to the California Nanosystems Institute and then to the UC Santa Barbara Nanofabrication Facility.

At each stop, attendees were greeted by subject matter experts and given a tantalizing glimpse into the innovative work being done.  Also showcased during the event were the partnerships between the local business community and the school.  Discussions included how local entrepreneurs can collaborate with UCSB to take advantage of world-class facilities and gain access to the latest innovations and experts in their fields.

After the tour, everyone gathered for a reception and program at the beautiful Club and Guest House, overlooking the lagoon.  A panel of experienced entrepreneurs shared their wisdom and insights about growing a business in Goleta.  Panelists included Greg Fish, Entrada Ventures; Kathy Odell, Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV); and Kyle Lewis, Technology Management Graduate Advisor at UC Santa Barbara.  While growing a business in the Goodland is not without challenges, they all spoke positively about the unique opportunities available to the Goleta business community right in their own backyard.

Click here for photos from this event.

Growing Cannabis in Santa Barbara County

Cannabis in Santa Barbara County has become a major concern in our community, and therefore of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber’s Public Policy Committee met recently to discuss the issue, particularly the concerns over permit requests to grow cannabis on parcels in western Goleta — close to our residential neighborhoods and just downwind of The Ritz-Carlton Bacara.

Goleta and cannabis also have been in the news as a result of our historic South Patterson Avenue agricultural block and newly converted cannabis operations sprouting alongside our community’s longtime, prized nurseries.

Our committee has observed Carpinteria struggle with the consequences of cannabis-related public policy decisions that are causing distress for many residents and businesses in that community. We want to learn from Carpinteria and help create a better future for Goleta as we face changes traced to California’s legalization of marijuana.

Committee members studied data and documents, and heard from experts. Right now, it looks as if the effects of cannabis growing are detrimental to our quality of life, there do not seem to be enough safeguards to protect our neighborhoods from the inevitable odors of cannabis growing, and there arereputational risks of being known as a cannabis capital.

“The City of Goleta has been working hard, and we believe successfully to continually balance the health and safety needs of our residents with the rights and opportunities the State of California has granted to the cannabis industry,” said Goleta Mayor, Paula Perotte. “As Goleta’s Mayor, I urge Santa Barbara County to take a regional approach to cannabis to better assure the safety and economic well-being of all its residents and businesses, whether they are located in the county or within our cities. ”

The Chamber’s concerns are for Goleta’s neighborhoods, our tourism economy, and the negative economic impacts of this new agricultural industry on our quality of life and economy.


The problem with outdoor cannabis growing is the smell. Scientific research is emerging on the noxious nature of the odor and its irritant effect on eyes, nose and skin. It also is a recognizable odor associated with marijuana smoking and the perception is extremely negative.

Goleta’s neighborhoods are carefully designed to be outdoor-friendly, nature-centric places with an emphasis on the landscape. “The Goodland” is known for its environmental sensitivity.

What safeguards are in place to make sure that permits issued in the foothills and canyons outside Goleta city limits will prevent drifting odors into Goleta? How large should a buffer be to ensure the smell does not drift to our coast? What technology exists to eliminate the harmful odors from this newly legalized crop?

Currently, the City of Goleta and residents already are dealing with noxious odors from a western Goleta agricultural water well that periodically releases a gas-like smell.


Goleta is heavily invested in our local tourism economy. Nearly 1,200 jobs are connected with the hospitality industry in Goleta, and the city relies on transient-occupancy taxes, or bed taxes, as its largest revenue source, before sales taxes and property taxes.

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara generates a large amount of bed, sales and property taxes, and employs more than 500 people. What mitigation should be required of a new industrial crop that inevitably will have a negative impact on the Goleta tourism industry?

In previous sphere of influence discussions, the neighboring Santa Barbara Aiport and UC Santa Barbara have followed detailed plans to ensure their operations do not negatively affect the local Goleta economy. What is being studied at that county level to ensure Goleta is protected?


Economic Development

The committee is unclear if Santa Barbara County is pursuing, or allowing, permits for large amounts of cannabis grows as an economic development plan to fund the county’s deficit.

Previous economic development plans related to the county have been rebuffed — development, events, oil and gas, and even entrepreneurial partnerships have not been embraced by the county as solutions to its revenue challenges. If cannabis is the county’s solution to creating more revenue, it must not be at Goleta’s expense.

A loss in revenue for Goleta, due to a decline in tourism and lower property values in residential neighborhoods, should be factored and incorporated into the county’s revenue neutrality agreement with the City of Goleta.



The committee cites two regions for examples — one to emulate and one to avoid.

Carpinteria is suffering from the effects of cannabis grows. Overall, that community’ssituation is different from Goleta’s, but we are concerned that some of the circumstances and challenges are a harbinger for what Goleta can expect.

San Diego, however, seems to have a model program for enacting policies that address new state laws regarding cannabis while protecting neighborhoods and existing agriculture businesses.

What other jurisdictions have Santa Barbara County officials studied and benchmarked to define some best practices in this emerging industry?

Goleta has a long-held policy for protecting urban agriculture and preserving the rural nature outside its urban limit line. Consideration must be granted to existing avocado and lemon orchards, and the community’s coffee farm, when approving new cannabis grows in the region. Are there Third District agriculture policies that need to be amended to keep a fair playing field for our existing agriculture businesses?

Are there community workshops and economic development meetings that can be convened to help shape a better future for Goleta residents’ quality of life and the health of our business community? It may be that the policies the county has adopted so far areadequate forindividual land use and permitting, but a larger scope of benefits and safeguards for our community is warranted.

The scale of the cannabis issue is huge — big land, big money and big consequences. We are asking for much larger discussions and greater collaboration.

Goleta Mayor Urges ‘Vision to Address Opportunities’ in State of City Speech

Mayor Paula Perotte asserted Tuesday that the city of Goleta needs to embrace a “vision to address the opportunities and threats that loom in the near future.”

Her comment came during the Goleta Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the City address at a luncheon at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara in Goleta.

About 400 government and business leaders and others gathered to hear about the city’s many achievements and challenges, plus the latest on Goleta’s finances and policy decisions.

Officials also briefed the group on updates to the city’s zoning ordinances, Old Town Goleta renovations, cannabis regulation, Fire Station 10, a new multi-modal train station at the location of the existing Amtrak platform, and parks and recreation projects.

Later in her speech, Perotte said the city’s vision must expect change to secure a brighter future.

“Now, is the time for us to look forward and plan our city so it looks like the Goleta we want,” she told the crowd.

Perotte laid out four principals she believes should guide the city’s “vision and action, not just to keep Goleta the Goodland, but to move us forward to make Goleta a Greatland.”

The city’s vision should start with being people-oriented, she said, adding that “every city has buildings, roads, parks, jobs, and the biggest variable is people — our skills, culture, ambition and how we interact with people.”

People are the most valuable asset, Perotte said.

Then she asked the crowd a question: “How do we make sure we attract the best people, and make us the most productive and reduce people moving away, so we don’t suffer a constant brain drain?”

She suggested attracting individuals of different ages and backgrounds to Goleta’s “premier” quality of life.

“We have great libraries and schools, diligent environmental protections, expanding recreational opportunities, good roads, solid police and fire services, and more,” Perotte said.

Perotte called for providing and nurturing “incubators to produce start-ups,” and doing the best to increase the affordability of housing and commercial space.

Goleta needs to be pursuing and achieving public trust and resident participation to “make the best ideas and commitment to our common goals,” she said.

The city is committed to being “user-friendly,” Perotte said, adding that she defines “user” as “every Goleta resident, business, nonprofit and visitor.”

The mayor urged the community to embrace the public’s contribution and participation in government.

“Open meetings, open process and communications such as we have been doing in our zoning ordinance, with numerous workshops and hearings supported by detailed documentation and significant opportunities for public comment,” she said.

She described a vision that fosters partnerships with nonprofits and business groups, and interacts regionally with nearby cities, Santa Barbara County, UC Santa Barbara, state and federal officials — especially in the “critical areas” of roads, traffic, water, energy, emergency planning, public safety and other services.

“Local governments cannot and should not try to fund it all and do it all,” Perotte said.

Goleta needs to “achieve and assure” sustainability, she said. But at the very least, she’d like to protect the environment.

“As we plan for water, transportation, housing and all resources and services that are vital for a vibrant community, we must not upset the delicate balance that defines our community’s special character and quality of life,” Perotte said.

In her overview of Goleta’s financial outlook, City Manager Michelle Greene said the city’s financial outlook “remains positive” because over the past 17 years its revenue base has increased steadily, and it has allowed the city to meet the needs of the community and to establish a healthy reserve fund.

“Ensuring that the city has the resources to meet its obligations is critical,” Greene said. “To do this, we look at past revenue trends, reserve funds and other economic indicators to forecast the city’s fiscal health.”

According to Greene, the city’s transient occupancy tax (TOT), or bed tax, sales tax and property taxes make up 85 percent of Goleta’s total revenue. TOT generated about $10.1 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year and was projected to generate more than $9.8 million in the 2018-19 fiscal year, according to Greene.

Greene said sales tax is expected to increase, producing $6.4 million last year to a projected $6.6 million by the end of the current fiscal year.

“But, despite this growth in sales tax, the city remains conservative in its outlook for future years — as I think we all do — and project sales tax to maintain current levels, with some minor fluctuations,” Greene said.

Goleta is seeing some impacts on traditional brick-and-mortar retail, with the closure of Kmart and Orchard Supply Hardware stores, she said.

“We are confident that new stores… will keep sales tax on track,” Greene said.

She said property tax is expected to increase slightly this year, rising to about $6.5 million.

The city’s budget is structurally balanced, Greene said, adding that the projected expenditures are at $32 million this year.

Goleta’s general fund is expected to end the fiscal year with an unobligated fund balance of more than $3.8 million, according to Greene.

Among other positive numbers, she said, the unemployment rate in the city is at 2.3 percent.

“Our unemployment rate is lower than most cities in the county, so we are doubly blessed,” she said.

The commercial vacancy rates in Goleta are 6.2% for office space, 2.1% for retail and 5.9% for industrial space, Greene said.

“The State of the City is optimistic,” Greene said. “Our City Council and staff are closely monitoring revenues, expenditures and critical economic indicators. Our financial forecast looks positive.”

The event will be broadcast on Channel 19. Visit www.CityofGoleta.org for specific times.

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

New Councilmember and County Supervisor Talk Policy and Priorities at Chamber Roundtable

Local business leaders gathered at Glen Annie Golf Club the last week of February to hear from Goleta’s newest City Councilmember, James Kyriaco, and Second District Supervisor, Gregg Hart. The Meet New Leaders Issue and Policy Roundtable was put on by the Goleta Chamber of Commerce and is an annual event to highlight newly elected officials and other prominent civic leadership positions.  The event was lead by Goleta Chamber Board Member Trevor Large, who is an attorney at Buynak Fauver Archbald Spray.

James Kyriaco is Goleta’s newest City Councilmember, he began his four-year term in December. Kyriaco started his career working in local politics, managing and assisting with local election campaigns. Following this he also worked in Goleta’s nonprofit community, serving as the first executive director of the Goleta Valley Historical Society, which manages Rancho La Patera and Stow House.

Kyriaco was a founding member of the City of Goleta Public Engagement Commission, and is a former member of the Santa Barbara County Historic Landmarks Advisory Committee. He is also a former board member of the Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County, Citizens Planning Association of Santa Barbara County, the Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons and the Santa Barbara Family Care Center.

Born and raised in Santa Barbara, Kyriaco graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from Antioch University of Santa Barbara, and earned a Master of Arts in Public Administration from California State University, Northridge. Kyriaco and his wife Angie have lived in Goleta since 2010.

Gregg Hart took office as the Second District Supervisor for Santa Barbara County in December.  He grew up in Santa Barbara attending local schools and graduated from SBCC and UCSB. His professional career began as legislative assistant for State Assemblyman Jack O’Connell. From there, he went on to serve as the original manager of the Santa Barbara County Association of Government’s (SBCAG) Traffic Solutions program, promoting local green and sustainable transportation options to employers. For twenty years he owned and operated Transitions Preschool, a local small family business.

Most recently, Hart served as a Santa Barbara City Councilmember, and as the Deputy Executive Director for SBCAG, supporting regional efforts to widen the 101 freeway and improve bus and passenger rail service. He is proud to have served our community over many years – as a City Council Member, Planning Commissioner, California Coastal Commissioner, as a member of numerous boards and commissions, and now as the Second District County Supervisor.

Chamber Gets a No-Go from City Council in Old Town

For decades, Old Town Goleta has been caught in a perpetual loop of civic concern and discussion that has yet to produce any meaningful change.

Earlier this year, the Goleta Chamber of Commerce, Old Town property owners and the Goleta business community proposed an initiative that would create a significant, ongoing funding source for improvements. Not only would this proposal help businesses thrive, it would enhance the unique character of this special and historic neighborhood.

The proposal — a possible Property Business Improvement District, or PBID — had the buy-in from many businesses, the City’s professional staff and the property owners who would be paying the assessment. Crucially, the City of Goleta would own the oversight of the program.

Sadly, on Feb. 5, the Goleta City Council opted to keep Old Town Goleta in its current state. That’s disappointing.

The Council balked at moving forward after a misleading campaign against the proposal by a group of opponents, who accused the Goleta Chamber of Commerce of favoring Old Town gentrification and chain stores over mom-and-pop shops and small businesses that are the heart — and soul — of the Chamber’s membership.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Kristen Miller, the Chamber’s president and CEO, testified at the Council meeting, directly addressing the opponents’ attacks.

“The Chamber has been the only champion for small business in Old Town for decades.”

Two Old Town small business owners, both Chamber board members, testified as well. Anne Pazier, owner of Santa Barbara Gift Baskets, and Hallie Avolio, co-owner of Latitude 34˚ Technologies, reassured the Council that small business is at the core of the Chamber’s public-private partnership with the City.

But, in the face of angry accusations that included repugnant references to the Chamber and its nearly 450 member businesses promoting the “raping and pillaging” of the community, the Council opted to ask for yet more research and studies.

As a result of this inaction, the Chamber is tabling the PBID discussion for now. Our Old Town Business Committee, which includes businesses, property owners, nonprofit organizations and City representatives, will continue to work on programs funded by the City’s General Fund. And the committee will continue to explore events, marketing, networking and advocacy to support the Old Town community.

Larger projects — like landscaping and an employee parking lot — will just have to wait. Again.


Four years ago, the Goleta Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors took the initiative to start looking at new ways to enhance Old Town. There was growing pressure from our Chamber members and from the community to make visible and positive improvements to the one neighborhood in Goleta that seemed to be left behind. We worked with the City of Goleta on a program of research, relationships and recommendations. We told the City that our goal was to come back with a “big picture plan,” when we were ready.

At the City’s economic development subcommittee and in meetings with the City Manager, the long-debated topic of whether to pursue a business improvement district (BID) in Old Town was once again discussed. The City Council put it in its Strategic Plan to investigate a BID and the Chamber’s Old Town Business Committee budgeted an initial study to examine the data.

The Chamber hired Civitas, the leading professional firm specializing in municipal district formation, to do an initial feasibility study.

Research and Data:

The Chamber hired Downtown Works to conduct a retail study of Old Town and presented the findings at a City Council meeting and at one of our Old Town Business Summit events.

The Chamber hired Chris Beynon, a nationally recognized urban planner from MIG, to give a keynote address on best practices for revitalization in downtowns that create a sense of place and do not trigger gentrification.

Beynon held a workshop with Old Town stakeholders to define the visions for the future and set up program ideas for creating a sense of place and restoring Old Town to Goleta’s actual downtown.

Over the last two years, the Chamber staff and Chamber Ambassadors went door-to-door to businesses in our regular “Old Town Walks,” meeting and talking with business owners and workers in Old Town.

During the walks, the Chamber surveyed 96 businesses to gather data and information on the challenges and opportunities they face. The top two priorities of the businesses surveyed were very distinct: parking and beautification.

The City of Goleta later completed a community outreach survey with a professional polling company. Among the findings: 88 percent of Goleta residents said they want to see improvements in Old Town.

The Chamber again hired Civitas, this time to conduct a feasibility study to determine if a business improvement district or property business improvement district would be feasible. The results, which were shared with the City, concluded that a PBID would provide a more stable source of funding from willing participants who can support a long-term return on investment. The company recommend asking property owners to contribute, not business owners.


Property Improvement District Proposal:

The Old Town Business committee met with businesses and property owners to start designing a program, and vigorous discussions ensued on what projects the PBID might fund.

For the record, a PBID is a defined area within which property owners pay a assessment to fund projects within the district’s boundaries. Business improvement districts are a common tool throughout the United States and a popular method for enhancing neighborhoods.

The Old Town Goleta version would include an assessment on the property owner, not the business storefront. The reason for this is that the property owners have a longer-term horizon for return on their investment and should realize a long-term benefit from the improvements.

Some ideas for PBID projects include landscaping, employee parking, beautification and community grants.


The City Council Decides:

The City of Goleta asked to be part of the contract with Civitas, to take the next step in forming a PBID. Under the terms of the $52,000 contract, the cost would be split with the Chamber. The City’s economic development subcommittee approved the proposed contract and sent it to the City Council with a recommendation for approval.

Faced with a mob of opponents denouncing the PBID and the Goleta Chamber of Commerce, the City Council on Feb. 5, 2019, referred the proposal back to the economic development subcommittee to be looked at “sometime in the next year.”


Noozhawk’s Bill Macfadyen Elected Goleta Chamber of Commerce Chairman

Noozhawk founder and publisher Bill Macfadyen was installed as the new chairman of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday night during the organization’s annual membership meeting.

“Goleta is increasingly a magnet for people traveling for business and for pleasure,” he told a crowd of about 125 people at Direct Relief’s gleaming new headquarters near the Santa Barbara Airport.

“The range of hotels, restaurants, activities and other amenities has tremendous appeal.”

Macfadyen said Goleta is a special place to live, work and play, and has “the best weather in all of California.”

“What’s special is the sense of community among businesses and residents, in Old Town and beyond,” he said. “Thanks to the work we do, thanks to the work you do, the Goleta Chamber of Commerce continues to be the linchpin of this community.

“I’m looking forward to 2019 and the next chapter in Goleta’s story.”

Macfadyen, who previously served as chamber chairman in 2007, made a pitch for the Property Business Improvement District that the City of Goleta and the chamber are exploring for Old Town. Among the potential services the PBID would fund are parking improvements, business development and leasing strategies, infrastructure, public safety, lighting, and signage and marketing.

“The goal is to enhance the experience and strengthen the functionality of a destination that draws nearby residents, locals from throughout the city, and visitors from afar — including downtown Santa Barbara,” he said.

The City Council is to hear a presentation on the PBID proposal at its Tuesday meeting.

The Goleta Chamber of Commerce’s newly installed board of directors.Click to view larger

The Goleta Chamber of Commerce’s newly installed board of directors. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Chamber president and CEO Kristen Miller led off the formal portion of the event, thanking the sponsors and recognizing the elected officials in attendance, including Councilmen Roger Aceves and James Kyriaco.

The chamber also recognized its retiring board members and welcomed the new board of 2019.

“Tonight is the one night of the year when we focus on ourselves,” Miller said.

Hallie Avolio, who completed back-to-back terms as the 2017 and 2018 chairwoman, joked during her opening comments, “If you don’t know me, I don’t think we can be friends anymore.”

She said 2018 had been a great year for the organization, noting the success of the chamber’s annual Goleta Lemon Festival and the efforts to revitalize Old Town.

“Let’s make Goleta’s Old Town Goleta’s downtown,” said Avolio, sales and marketing director at Latitude 34˚ Technologies, an Old Town business she owns with her husband, Paul, and the founder of the newly launched Sassy Healthy Fit, a website for “In Demand Women” to provide motivation and inspiration to stay healthy and well.

At the chamber, “we strive to be relevant to your business,” she said.

Jennifer Newell, owner of SB Creative Content, and Michael Biancone, of CIO Solutions, were named ambassadors of the year, and Avolio bestowed the Chairwoman’s Award on board member Leslie Brickell, general manager at the Residence Inn By Marriott Santa Barbara Goleta.

The chamber’s new board members are Ryan Aeh of City Ventures, Francois DeJohn of Hayes Commercial Group, Barry Dorsey of The Kimpton Goodland Hotel, Steve Greig of Plains All American Pipeline, Brian Larinan of Granite Construction, John Longbrake of UC Santa Barbara, Craig Minus of The Towbes Group and Roberto van Geenen of The Ritz-Carlton Bacara.

Joining Macfadyen and Avolio on the chamber’s executive committee are Rich Antles of FLIR Systems, Trevor Large of Buynak Fauver Archbald Spray, Kirsten McLaughlin of Cox, Anne Pazier of Santa Barbara Gift Baskets and Susan Rodriguez of Brown & Brown Insurance.

In addition to Brickell, returning board members are Alex Bauer of Sansum Clinic, Ron Caird of Por La Mar Nursery, Beth Collins of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Arie Dejong of Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, Dan Gabie of LogMeIn, Janet Garufis of Montecito Bank & Trust, Renee Grubb of Village Properties, Donna Lewis of the Goleta Union School District, Matt Long of Signature Flight Support, Trish Miller of Spherion, Rich Nahas of Glen Annie Golf Club and CPA Tony Vallejo.

Rod Alferness of UCSB was the only departing board member this year.

The Goleta Chamber of Commerce boasts 440 members representing about 35,000 jobs in the area. Click here for more information.

— Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk@NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Chamber Endorsed Water District Candidates Tom Evans and Kathleen Werner Win Goleta Water Race

Tom Evans and Kathleen Werner were sworn in at the December 11th Goleta Water District Board of Directors meeting after being elected this November.

They join current board members Lauren Hanson and Bill Rosen, as well as Farfalla Borah, who was appointed in November.

Water reliability continues to be a very important issue for residents and businesses. The Chamber’s Board of Directors was looking for candidates who would actively champion new water supply strategies and engage with regional partners on a long-term water strategy and look forward to working with both Tom and Kathleen on this.

The Goleta Water District provides water to a diverse population of about 87,000 in the Goleta Valley area, including residential, agricultural, commercial, industrial and institutional customers.

The district’s water system includes some 270 miles of pipelines, a water treatment plant, storage reservoirs, pumping facilities, active wells, a recycled-water system, and connections with Lake Cachuma and the State Water Project.

Eric Onnen, Miye Ota Honored as Goleta’s Finest Man and Woman of the Year

For 69th year, Goleta Chamber of Commerce brings business and community together to celebrate ‘heartbeat’ of Goleta.

On Friday, November 16th, the Goleta Chamber of Commerce continued a 69-year tradition of honoring remarkable individuals, businesses and organizations whose contributions have enhanced the community.

The packed annual gala at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara opened with a cocktail reception and buffet in the resort’s ballroom.

Some 400 well-dressed guests attended the celebration, and the honorees were invited on stage to make brief remarks.

“It’s always a special night — you can always feel the heartbeat of Goleta’s community spirit and feel the history,” said Kristen Miller, president and CEO of the Goleta chamber, who also recognized the organization’s board members, sponsors and elected officials in the audience.

“Our community awards celebration is one of the many ways that business and the community comes together.”

Hallie Avolio, the chamber’s board chairwoman and sales and marketing director at family-owned Latitude 34˚ Technologies, served as the evening’s emcee.

“The chamber is truly celebrating our fantastic community,” she told the audience. “We recognize that our community is not only made up of businesses but volunteers, nonprofits, educators, students, entrepreneurs and many people who go out of their way to give back to the great city of Goleta.”

The 2018 Goleta’s Finest winners were:

Man of the Year: Eric Onnen

Eric Onnen, co-founder of Santa Barbara Airbus and a former Goleta mayor and councilman, was recognized for his commitment as a civic leader, volunteer and business owner. He was described as a pillar in the Goleta Valley community for more than 35 years.

Onnen was born in the Midwest and attended UC Santa Barbara. He served one term on the City Council, including an appointed one-year term as mayor in 2009, and is a former city planning commissioner, former Goleta chamber board member and a longtime member of the Rotary Club of Goleta.

In 1983, Onnen co-founded Santa Barbara Airbus. The locally owned and Old Town Goleta-based company serves Southern California and is know for its familiar buses running to and from Los Angeles International Airport. The company employs about 60 people and operates more than 20 vehicles.

Onnen received an enthusiastic standing ovation.

“I almost feel like I know all of you here this evening, and have had some direct contact with you in my life in Goleta,” he said.

Thanking his family, colleagues and friends, he said he appreciated “the support and the feeling of love.”

“I’ve been incredibly blessed to have a sense of place, a place that I believe is important,” Onnen said. “The thing that makes Goleta so special is the people who are in it.”

Woman of the Year: Miye Ota

With an entrepreneurial spirit and deep family roots in Goleta, 100-year-old Miye Ota was honored as one of the founding members of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce, and the only woman on its board.

Ota and her late husband, Ken, were both champion ballroom dance teachers, and spent decades teaching aikido class and cultural classes.

“We taught the kids to dance with feeling,” she said.

The Otas taught for more than 40 years in Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito and at UCSB.

Ota’s popular beauty parlor was a fixture in Old Town Goleta for decades.

She, too, received a standing ovation.

Ota broke out into an impromptu song during her acceptance speech.

“Thank you all, and I love you all,” she said.

Small Nonprofit of the Year: Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County 

The Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County, a nonprofit financing agency and community development financial institution, was honored for its mission of expanding affordable housing opportunities for low-to-middle income residents and workers in the county.

The organization helps maintain the local socio-economic fabric by addressing the fundamental building block of healthy communities — housing that is affordable to local workers and residents.

In 2018, the Housing Trust Fund launched the $3.5 million Workforce Housing Homebuyer Program, providing down payment assistance loans to the workforce.

Large Nonprofit of the Year: St. Vincent’s 

St. Vincent’s was honored as the longest-running area nonprofit organization devoted to strengthening low-income families and seniors.

It was recognized for establishing Santa Barbara County’s first infirmary for children, providing low-income housing for families and seniors and for the Daughters of Charity that helped shape the community beginning in 1858.

St. Vincent’s is celebrating 160 years of operation this year.

Volunteer of the Year: Tony Vallejo 

Longtime business leader Tony Vallejo was honored for his passion for volunteering.

Vallejo has served Goleta residents and businesses for more than 20 years through his work advising local business owners as a certified public accountant.

He is well-known for serving on several nonprofit boards like the Knights of Columbus, Rotary Club of Goleta, United Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara County, the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, UCP Works, the Goleta Old Town Community Association, the Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation, the Goleta Chamber of Commerce and the Go Red for Women steering committee.

Vallejo grew up in Carpinteria, attended UCSB and has lived in the Goleta Valley ever since.

“There’s nothing better than helping your community,” he said during his acceptance speech. “It’s a great way to spend your time. Find a cause you believe in.”

Student of the Year: Nolan Montgomery

Dos Pueblos High School senior Nolan Montgomery was recognized for spearheading efforts to raise money for Montecito disaster relief through a January benefit community concert at the school.

Montgomery quickly organized the musical tribute benefit concert, which brought together talented youth performers from across the South Coast and raised about $8,000 for the United Way Thomas Fire and Flood Fund.

In addition to his event planning skills, he also starred in Dos Pueblos’ production of Newsies; is an anchor of DPNews, the school’s media news department; is a Santa Barbara Teen Star winner; and also volunteers in the community.

Upon graduation in June, Montgomery plans to pursue a bachelor of fine arts degree in music theater and audition for Broadway.

Educator of the Year: Amanda Fox 

Amanda Fox, a special education professional and psychologist at Kellogg School in the Goleta Union School District, was acknowledged for providing highly skilled counseling services and a loving kindness that envelops the students in her care.

Kellogg School received the honor of a California Distinguished School this year, and Principal Kimberly Bruzzese largely gave credit to Fox for leading the intervention program for which the school was ultimately recognized.

Entrepreneur of the Year: Beverly Doman

Beverly Doman, owner of Nothing Bundt Cakes, was recognized for thriving in a difficult market, her unwavering spirit and community involvement.

Doman’s business at 5784 Calle Real in the Calle Real Center provides support to many area nonprofit organizations by donating hand-decorated and fresh-baked signature bundt cakes, bundtinis and bundtlets.

Old Town Business of the Year: Santa Barbara Cider Co.

Santa Barbara Cider Co. was honored for adding new flavor to the brew scene in Old Town. Owner Ben Schroeder embraces the “funkier-zone” in Old Town Goleta with a thriving cider business.

Small Business of the Year: Por La Mar Nursery

Family-owned Por La Mar Nursery was recognized for its thriving agriculture business along South Patterson Avenue.

Ron Caird, a horticulturalist, and his family have operated the business since 1972, and Por La Mar prides itself as being the first American grown certified potted plant producer in the United States since 2015.

The business stretches across 120 acres behind Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, and the family has employed many residents for generations.

Large Business of the Year: KARL STORZ Imaging

Internationally renowned KARL STORZ Imaging was honored as one of Goleta’s largest employers and a leader in advanced minimally invasive endoscopic technology.

The high-tech company put down roots in the city by purchasing its building along South Los Carneros Road in 2014.

The business employees nearly 400 people.

The family-owned company has grown into a global manufacturer and distributor of medical instruments, endoscopes and devices since its inception in 1945.

Special Recognition of the Year: Santa Barbara Support Network

Santa Barbara Support Network was honored for organizing essential and heartfelt outreach to victims of the deadly Jan. 9 flash flooding and debris flows in Montecito.

Hastily organized by a group of Washington School moms and led by local attorney Tara Ford, its mission is to support the immediate needs of families who have lost homes, family members and belongings. The group played a critical role linking residents with community resources such as housing and temporary work.