The Lompoc City Council voted Tuesday night to continue moving forward with the annexation process for a pair of properties located west of the city along the so-called Bailey Avenue Corridor.
With a 4-1 vote, the council agreed to accept environmental and financial impact reports provided by the two landowners and to adopt a resolution directing staff to prepare an application for annexation for submittal to Santa Barbara County’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) for final approval. The proposed annexation, which has been in development for several years, involves a total of about 148 acres of land.
During Tuesday’s public hearing, several people spoke for and against the annexation, which is proposed to bring low-density housing to the city. Many of those in favor of the project said the city desperately needs the added housing to expand its tax base and provide much-needed homes for those who don’t qualify for low-income housing. Some of those who opposed the annexation expressed concerns about the loss of prime agricultural land.
Tuesday’s vote followed a similar 4-1 vote by the council in April 2016 to begin the annexation request made by the two landowners. Mayor Bob Lingl provided the lone dissenting vote both times. He said before that 2016 vote that he was concerned about agricultural interests in the area. On Tuesday, he pointed to all the housing that has already been approved for Lompoc but has yet to be constructed — a total that city staff estimated to be between 800 and 900 homes.
“It’s not because I’m anti-growth, in fact it’s just the opposite — I am pro-growth,” Lingl said, adding that he agrees with those speakers who said that homes are needed. “What we need to figure out is why developers are not building. … That is a question I’d like an answer to: Why are we not building?”
The Bailey Avenue Corridor is made up primarily of farmland located alongside residential neighborhoods. The parcels are owned by five separate entities.
Thomas Figg, a consultant representing the two landowners, addressed the council Tuesday and advocated for moving the plans forward.
Among those who continued to oppose the annexation was Ken Hough, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Action Network. He noted that the corridor has agricultural importance and that LAFCO had already rejected a plan for annexation of the Bailey Avenue Corridor in 1999. He suggested that nothing has changed since then.
“With agriculture being a top industry in our county, prime soils are as valuable as ever and can’t be replaced,” he said.
The areas proposed for annexation include an approximately 40.6-acre parcel in the northern area of the corridor owned by LB & L-DS Ventures, Lompoc II LLC, and a 107.7-acre property, comprised of six separate parcels, all owned by John Bodger & Sons Co.
The annexation needs to be approved by LAFCO, a state-created agency established in every county to be responsible for issues concerning jurisdictional change.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, the council continued its ongoing discussions of the 2017-19 biennial draft budget. The council was also scheduled to discuss potentially terminating its Memorandum of Understanding that was agreed upon by the city and the Lompoc Valley Parks, Recreation, and Pool Foundation for the proposed Lompoc Valley Motorsports Park project, but that item was pulled from the agenda for later discussion.