The Solvang City Council voted to terminate a controversial annexation process Monday night after it received an outpouring of opposition from residents attending the meeting.
Many expressed concerns about increased traffic, loss of agricultural land and added infrastructure strain that would result from adding an additional 383 acres to the city's sphere of influence.
In 2015, the city began considering annexation of bordering lands because of concerns over the development of properties governed by Santa Barbara County and property owner interest.
Last year, the city sent out a request for proposals for a consultant to assist in the evaluation of potential annexation areas.
The “Sphere of Influence” was divided into two areas —the Western Study Area and the Northeast Study Area — totaling 383 acres.
During the Solvang Planning Commission’s Feb. 5 meeting, nearly all commenters spoke in opposition to expanding the city limits.
Those same voices were heard at the council meeting Monday night.
Solvang resident Bob Bott said the expansion would only add traffic to the area's already taxed infrastructure.
“If nobody wants this then why are you spending all this time and money on something nobody wants?” Bott asked.
Bott was one of 14 people that signed up to speak.
Susan Belloni said residents feel left out of the decision-making process.
“Residents feel you’re undergoing an annexation without accurate representation,” Belloni said.
During council discussion, Mayor Jim Richardson defended the decision to do the study.
“We won’t know what we’re going after unless we have a study,” he said.
“The ultimate question is do we want to look to the future and annex property to preserve the city limits or not,” Richardson said.
He said council members have to look at development 20 or 30 years down the road.
“We have the public saying ‘stop’,” Richardson said. “Maybe they don’t see the future like we’re kind of required to see it.”
“There’s definitely some merit in talking about the areas that are already developed in the Western area and I think that would be some smart redevelopment,” Councilman Ryan Toussaint said.
Other council members expressed their disapproval of the study.
“I am not happy with this report at all,” said Councilwoman Joan Jamieson. “I kind of feel responsible for it because I kind of encouraged it. It went someplace that I never thought it would go.”
Talks about having a workshop that would include citizen input were discussed. Waite said that would also cost more money.
“I would be in support of running some financial figures and completing that aspect of this study,” Waite said.
Toussaint made a motion to abandon annexation.
Councilman Neill Zimmerman seconded.
Richardson made a substitute motion to table the item.
His motion failed for lack of a second.
Toussaint’s motion passed unanimously.