SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A battle is quietly brewing in Santa Barbara over a bucolic field off upper State Street.
It is on the 3800 block of Calle Cita, just down from La Cumbre Road and across from the Rolling Brook Lane cul-de-sac.
The parcel includes the Oaks Bible Church/Hope 4 Kids Early Learning Center and encompasses both Santa Barbara City and County boundaries. Neighbors, who did not want to go on record, say families with children and locals with dogs have enjoyed the open area for decades.
One woman, who did not want to be identified, pointed to a posted "Warning" sign that she said went up within the past year, with no explanation. Residents said they recently learned that development plans are in the works for the tree-dotted field, however, no official notice was given.
Calls to Oaks Bible Church led us to Hope Community Church, which confirmed that it is the owner of both Oaks Bible and the open parcel.
After more digging, NewsChannel 3 learned that the owners of Abundant Care, a local living facility, are in talks with Hope Community Church to possibly develop a fifth facility and is "looking into" the parcel, however, plans are in the very early stages.
Church officials say there has not been a sale.
Neighbors said that a community meeting Wednesday night at the Oaks Bible Church with all of the players involved drew an estimated crowd of 100. One woman said that meeting became very heated and residents walked away with the sense that the "deal was sealed" and plans were already in the works to develop the field.
None of the parties involved from Hope Community Church or Oaks Bible Church returned NewsChannel 3's calls. A co-owner with Abundant Care said he was unable to be interviewed Thursday when reached the Auhay Drive facility.