Menu Close

The DWC announced on September 19 that it would merge the Goleta WCAB office with its Oxnard location, about 45 miles south in neighboring Ventura County. The announcement was met with outcries from some industry pundits and stakeholders.

Decrying the lack of public outreach, the Goleta City Council voted unanimously at its October 15 meeting to send a letter to the department opposing the closure and requesting it be postponed until people can weigh in. “It’s really going to be troublesome,” Mayor Roger Aceves said.

Megan Compton, an attorney for the Santa Barbara law firm Ghitterman, Ghitterman and Feld, which handles many workers’ compensation cases, said she worries how this closure will impede not only people with legal representation but also those without. And those with severe disabilities and/or without cars will be further hindered, she said, as the trip from Goleta to Oxnard would take more than three hours and four buses.

And the California Applicant Attorneys Association was not thrilled with the consolidation. It has called upon the DWC to either reverse its decision to close the Goleta WCAB at the end of November, or, at a minimum, continue to hold hearings in Goleta on injured workers’ insurance claims.

“The planned closure of the Goleta WCAB will impose considerable hardship on injured workers, particularly those without the ability to travel nearly one hour to Ventura or San Luis Obispo counties to pursue their insurance claims. For example, there is no public transportation that would get injured workers to Oxnard for an 8:30am hearing, which is customary,” said Jill Singer, CAAA Central Coast Chapter president. “We call for the DWC to keep this board office open, or at a minimum, continue to hold hearings in Goleta, so that workers have access to the justice they deserve.”

In an apparent change of direction, the Division of Workers’ Compensation now announced plans to open a satellite office in Santa Barbara to provide access to injured workers previously served by the Goleta district office.

The new Santa Barbara satellite office location has not yet been finalized, but is expected to open in December. DWC staff will include a judge, an Information and Assistance Officer, and a secretary. Initially, hearings will be scheduled four days a week. Additional details, including the satellite office address and hours, will be forthcoming.

Hearings will continue in Goleta through November 18. Once the calendaring process in Santa Barbara begins, parties may request that cases currently set in Oxnard be transferred to Santa Barbara. Attorneys are also encouraged to utilize Court Call, which is a service that enables appearance by phone at conferences. Further details regarding the rescheduling of hearings will be announced in the coming weeks.