The youngest of the eight cities in Santa Barbara County (incorporated in 2002), Named after the Spanish word for a small schooner or ship, Goléta traces it name back to the early 1800s when ships were able to anchor in the lagoon now occupied by the Santa Barbara Airport.
In Chumash days a number of villages dotted the edges of the lagoon where year-round fresh water streams flowed and the living was good, so good that later Walkter Tompkins would name his history of the area, Goleta the Good Land, in which he described a land of mystical proportions:
“...Golden poppies made flame-colored patches on the rounded foothills; between them and the mountain chaparral line, in the mile-wide frost-free belt, wildflowers were blooming in riotous profusion. Lupin, verbena, and Castilian roses made a rainbow-hued blanket on the overflow lands closer to the slough. Daniel Hill, reveling in the clouds of ducks and geese, the herds of antelope and deer glimpsed through the live oaks, was convinced he had stumbled onto the Garden of Eden.”
The land may be much different now but a good portion of it has been set aside for us to enjoy and preserve for future generations. Among these are Lake Los Carneros, Ellwood Mesa, North Campus — and hopefully, at some point, More Mesa — though mostly privately held, it has been open to the public for us to enjoy. Unfortunately, though ranchland along the foothills has made it impossible to access the nearby Santa Ynez Mountains, the open space areas, beach access and plentiful bike paths make the Good Land a great place to play.