Goleta (pronounced /ɡəˈliːtə/ in English or IPA: [ɡoˈleta] in Spanish) is a city located in southern Santa Barbara County, California, USA. It was incorporated as a new city in 2002, after a long time as being the largest unincorporated, populated area in the county. As of the 2000 census, the CDP had a total population of 55,204, however, a significant portion of the census territory of 2000 did not incorporate into the new city. The Census Bureau's official estimate as of July 1, 2006 was 29,182 inhabitants within city limits.
It is known for being close to the University of California, Santa Barbara campus, although the CDP of Isla Vista is closer.
The area of present-day Goleta was populated for thousands of years by the native Chumash people; locally they were known by the first European settlers as Canaliños (for the canoes they built to travel to the Channel Islands). One of the largest villages, S'axpilil, was north of the Goleta Slough, not far from the present-day Santa Barbara Airport.
The first European visitor was Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who sailed past in 1542. During the 1980s, discovery of some 16th-century cannon on the beach led to the advancement of a theory that Sir Francis Drake sailed into the Goleta Slough in 1579, where he may have spent several weeks repairing his ship.
In the 18th century, two Spanish expeditions came to the area; the second founded the Presidio of Santa Barbara and Mission to the east, and began the work of converting the Chumash to Roman Catholicism. During the 19th century most of the area, formerly covered with oak trees, was deforested; ranching was the principal land use during this time. The two main local ranchers, Nicolas A. Den and Daniel Hill, Americans married to the daughters of Spanish ranchers, became wealthy in the late 1840s by selling locally-grown beef to the thousands of miners who came to the California Gold Rush.
Goleta contains a mix of land uses, lacking only heavy industrial zones. North of the U.S. Route 101 freeway is a region of predominantly tract housing built between the late 1950s and the 1970s, intermingled with newer condominium developments, a few gated communities, and adjacent to a lower-density residential zone in the lower foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains which contains larger homes. A commercial strip along Calle Real is one of the town's several business districts. South of the freeway is Old Town Goleta, centered on the stretch of Hollister Avenue between Fairview Avenue and the Highway 217 overpass; adjacent to this commercial area is a region of older, and occasionally substandard housing; some of the south county's least affluent people live in this zone. Between Old Town Goleta and the airport, and running along south Fairview Avenue, are some light industrial zones, some of relatively few in southern Santa Barbara County. Farther west, near the intersection of Storke Road and Hollister Avenue, is a large shopping mall, including "big box" stores, which draws business from outside the local area. This area is called the "Camino Real Marketplace". There is also a new business park called Cabrillo Business Park next to it. Adjacent to the mall and extending more than a mile farther west is a residential area, most of the housing in which dates back to the 1960s; it includes some high-density apartment blocks which accept some of the overflow student population from nearby UCSB.
Goleta has several significant parks, including Stow Park, Lake Los Carneros, and the newly created Ellwood Open Space on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Goleta Beach County Park is just outside of the city limits.
Goleta is located at 34°26′26″N, 119°48′49″W (34.440493, -119.813608). Goleta is about 8 miles (13 km) west of the city of Santa Barbara, along the coast (the coast runs east to west in this portion of southern California). Nearby is the Santa Barbara campus of the University of California and the student community of Isla Vista.
The city's geography at the feet of the Santa Ynez Mountains has made it subject to sudden, extremely hot winds locally called "sundowners", similar to the more famous Santa Ana winds in the Los Angeles and San Diego regions. They are caused by high pressure drawing dry air from the inland side of the mountains, whereupon they can become superheated as they rush down the city's side. On June 17, 1859, a sundowner wind rushed through Goleta and rapidly raised the temperature to 133 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 56 degrees Celsius) in a matter of minutes. People were forced to take shelter immediately; when they emerged they saw that most animals and plants had been killed. It was the highest temperature recorded in the United States until 1913.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 26.4 square miles (68.3 km²), of which, 26.3 square miles (68.0 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (0.38%) is water.
The five City Council members take turns as mayor. The City Council also serves at the Planning Agency. City Council meetings are televised, while Planning Agency meetings are not. There have also been prolonged delays in getting the first General Plan adopted, despite state mandates to do so in a reasonable period of time after incorporation, and this has led to delays in the consideration of planning and development applications.
All public transportation is provided by the county. Multiple MTD bus lines run through the city.
The main artery for the city is the U.S. 101, with the main major streets being Hollister Avenue and Cathedral Oaks Road. Other significant streets include Calle Real (which is broken up into sections), Fariview Avenue, and Patterson Avenue.