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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on June 23rd, 2015, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 16, Issue 16 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 16, Issue 16

Santa Barbara County officials voice concerns over Camp 4 bill in Washington, D.C.

By DAVID MINSKY

Santa Barbara County officials were in Washington, D.C., on June 17 for a U.S. House subcommittee hearing to voice their opposition to HR 1157, a federal bill that would allow the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians to annex a 1,400-acre piece of land—also known as Camp 4—from Santa Barbara County.

The bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale), would bypass the Bureau of Indian Affairs and allow the Secretary of the Interior to put the land into a trust for the Chumash, essentially giving them sovereignty over land they already own.

Speaking at the U.S. House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaskan Native Affairs, LaMalfa said the bill would address a shortage of housing for tribal members. Currently, the reservation is only 137 acres, which the tribe says only has enough space to house 17 percent of its 136 members and 1,300 lineal descendants.

“Building homes on Camp 4 for our tribal members and their families would create a meaningful opportunity for tribal members and their families to be a part of a tribal community revitalization effort that rebuilds tribal culture, customs, and traditions,” Tribal Chairman Vincent Armenta said, testifying before the subcommittee.

The current fee-to-trust application with the BIA was approved, and the decision was appealed. LaMalfa said the process was stalled by “anti-growth extremists and frivolous lawsuits.”

For years, tribal leaders have tried to negotiate directly with county leaders over what to do with the land. The county’s 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr—whose district encompasses the reservation—told the Sun for a 2013 article that people expressed concerns about land-use issues, water and mineral rights, and the loss of tax revenue.

County Chief Executive Officer Mona Miyasato attended the hearing and voiced opposition for the bill on behalf of county supervisors Farr, Janet Wolf, and Peter Adam, saying that the annexation would cause the county to lose tax revenue.

To allay some concerns, the tribe promised to pay the county $1 million a year for 10 years in lieu of taxes. The bill also contains language that prohibits the tribe from building another casino.

 Also present was 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, who for years has called for the county to engage in government-to-government talks with the Chumash. Lavagnino testified before the subcommittee that the bill was introduced because the county failed to address the Chumash as a sovereign entity.

“I warned my colleagues that if we failed to acknowledge the tribe as a federally recognized government entity, it would lead to Congressional action such as HR 1157,” Lavagnino said. “It fell on deaf ears.”

Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara), who represents California’s 24th Congressional District, has also publicly voiced opposition to the Camp 4 legislation.




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