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Life on California's beautiful Central Coast

The Goodland

Sometimes its hard to object to graffiti that you agree with. Here’s an example:

Farren Road. View of the Goodland.

Farren Road*. View of the Goodland.

They call Goleta the Goodland. It’s a moniker that speaks to the communities’ rural roots, deep in the agriculture industry. Cattle raised at Rancho La Goleta beginning in the 1840’s and lemon groves planted in the late 1800’s kicked off the local economy. There’s still plenty of working ag in Goleta – certainly not as much as there was 50 or 100 years ago, but lemon trees, avocado groves and small production farms still make their homes here. You can find neighborhood farm stands (see photo below) and lots of backyard gardening.

Really Fresh

On Cathedral Oaks at Winchester Canyon Road

I used to joke with my friends that Goleta’s unofficial city motto should be “Goleta – let’s start over,” because the city developed in such a scattershot fashion. Retail centers on both sides of the freeway, centered around strip malls and shopping centers, do not a community make. Old Town Goleta, home to its eclectic mix of locally-owned restaurants, pawn shops, working-class apartments, mechanics and convenience stores, is not a magnet for foot traffic. On Calle Real, across the freeway, people drive rather than walk from their bank to their drugstore to Trader Joe’s. The newer Camino Real Marketplace is a popular hub for dining, farmer’s markets and shopping, weighted heavily toward the UCSB crowd.

I had to live in Goleta for a long time (more than 10 years, truthfully) before I could see beyond its flaws. It turns out this little city has many charms, and you just have to look closely to appreciate them. A few of my favorite things and places that make Goleta a good place to call home:

Rural roads: Running on Glen Annie and Farren Roads makes me feel like I am running in Santa Ynez. There are cows, open space, quiet views and few cars. There’s also charm – like this dino that’s been lurking around Glen Annie and now has an official fence-sitting mascot spot.

Dino

Glen Annie dino.

Goleta Beach: There’s talk that the county will finally start charging for parking at Goleta Beach soon, which really stinks. It’s a meeting place for runners and swimmers, a family hangout in the summertime, the lunchtime spot for us Fairview office drones, UCSB’s satellite parking lot, fishing pier for Goleta locals, and home to the excellent Beachside restaurant. You can’t walk as far as you can from Hendry’s, unless the tide is way out, but GB has this mellow vibe that just can’t be beat.

Ellwood Mesa: I never get over how few people I see out on Ellwood and at the beach below. The best kept secret of Goleta is the trails and coastline between UCSB and the Bacara resort. If I run out here in the morning, the rest of the day becomes irrelevant – it’s already been a good one.

The Mercury Lounge: The only truly great bar around here. They have good wine, free popcorn, live music and pool. They don’t have a sign. What more do you want?

Fairview Gardens and Lane Farms: Agriculture within the city is hard to protect and harder to make a living from. These two small farms manage somehow, and we’re all better for it.

Goodland Kitchen: Goleta doesn’t have a lot of great restaurants, but the few that are here are special. Goodland Kitchen has only been in business a couple of years and has become the go-to healthy lunch spot for foodies and techies alike. Their salads are marvelous, as are the bread and butter pickles that come with their grilled cheese sandwiches. I could eat lunch here every single day, and some weeks I do.

Goleta’s going to change a lot in the next ten years, and probably for the better. There are a lot of people here who care very much about preserving what’s good about this little city, so much so that a major development, the potential Bishop Ranch, was recently turned down for development by the City Council. That was a brave decision, and coming on the ten year anniversary of Goleta’s cityhood, it says a lot about where we are going as a community. It made me really proud to live here, in the Goodland.

*Footnote. I recognize that Farren Road is technically not in the city of Goleta, but under the purview of Santa Barbara County. Still, close enough.

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