The city of Goleta has been sued over its approval of a controversial hotel project that may encroach on a historic Chumash site.

 

On Nov. 18, the city approved, by a 4-1 vote, a 140-room Marriott Residence Inn, to be located at 6300 Hollister Ave.

City attorney Tim Giles said the city has not responded to the litigation, which was filed Dec. 19 in Santa Barbara County Superior Court by attorney Marc Chytilo on behalf of the Friends of Saspili, an unincorporated association, and Frank Arrendondo, an advocate for the Chumash tribe.

According to its summary brief, the lawsuit alleges the city did not pursue a complete environmental review on the project. Rather, the lawsuit says, the project was approved with the use of a mitigated negative declaration, a planning document that addresses how impacts of the proposed development might be avoided, compensated for and mitigated.

 

The lawsuit alleges that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act, which attempts to preserve existing conditions as new projects are built.

Throughout the approval project, descendents of the Chumash Indians expressed concerns about the site chosen, which, they assert, is a “sensitive Native American cultural resource” and contains important archaeological items.

Building the hotel, the lawsuit alleges, would ruin the site as a place for traditional ceremonial activities by the Chumash descendents.

Two archeologists, Jon Erlandson and Ann Munns, have given testimony in support of an EIR and a “sacred lands search” from the Native American Heritage Commission.

 

The lawsuit also alleges that the proposed three-story hotel would encroach on views and “may violate general plan policies that protect mountain and foothill views and the visual integrity of scenic corridors.”

No court dates for the suit have been set.

Several other new hotels are also on the horizon in Goleta.

A 112-room Rincon Palms Hotel is planned for the corner of Hollister and Storke roads, and a 99-room hotel planned for the corner of Storke and Phelps roads is in the planning process.

The Marriott project is supported by the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce.

 

Reach Leah Etling at letling@syvjournal.com.