Santa Maria Sun / Letter To The Editor
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 23
DANA disagreementLos Osos
Gary J. Freiberg
The Dana Adobe in Nipomo is a Chumash Indian cultural center and museum with local historical significance. The Chumash were part of the land and worked in harmony with the wealthy trading Dana family.
Today, school tours and ongoing activities are offered through docents for this nonprofit organization. Recently, the Dana Adobe qualified for a $2.3 million prestigious grant to complete restoration at the site. Handy since the county doesn’t have any money to give. One of the details required before an October deadline is for the SLO Board of Supervisors to approve a minor change in wording for a land use permit. All five supervisors were unanimous; the wording change should be made. Except it wasn’t because of one person.
Fred Collins is the tribal administrator for the North Chumash Tribal Council, which was supportive of the Dana Adobe project until January of this year. Suddenly that changed and Fred was the lone protester objecting to the Dana Adobe project at the Board of Supervisors July 17 meeting.
What is it Mr. Collins objects to? Other than saying he wants the Dana Adobe to “get it right,” there were no specific recommendations. There’s just one thing Mr. Collins forgot to mention that also was not mentioned by the supervisors during the hour and a half discussion.
Six days earlier, after a12-year battle, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved the Chumash to annex 6.9 acres the tribe already owns across the street from the casino. Annexation made the land sovereign, allowing the Chumash to build without being subject to state and local taxes, as well as exempt from county planning and zoning laws.
There was fear among Santa Ynez residents there would be an expansion of the casino on the newly annexed land. The Chumash argued their intent is to build a cultural center and museum and have already spent considerable time and money acquiring Indian artifacts.
Could this be what Mr. Collins meant by he wants to “get it right”? To get it right on the new Chumash annexation in Santa Barbara County? The Dana Adobe item was continued until Aug. 7. Continuing items is something the supervisors rarely do, in an effort to “remove the cloud” as Supervisor Jim Patterson put it and allow the two sides, Mr. Collins and the Dana Adobe group, to meet with the free assistance of planning department staff to serve as mediators. The board wants the Chumash approval, or the $2.3 million grant to the Dana Adobe is likely lost. Behind the scenes the North Chumash are making the decision, the supervisors are not.
Why the Board of Supervisors didn’t put the Chumash museum plans in Santa Ynez on the table to learn if this is the reason for the Dana Adobe opposition from Mr. Collins during the 90-minute discussion is another important reason to know of the true power of the Chumash in our county. Political and media protection for one group is dangerous to society, as it puts into the shadows influences and reasons why and how decisions are made. Government can’t work that way unless we let it.