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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 31st, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 35 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 35

Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approve Camp 4 deal


Despite months of intense debate, outcry from Santa Ynez Valley community members on both sides of the issue, and various legal threats and filings, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors officially entered into an agreement with the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians on Oct. 31 regarding Camp 4.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians regarding development on Camp 4 on Oct. 31 by a 4-1 vote, with 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam casting the dissenting vote. The meeting included impassioned public comment, including from attorney Barry Cappello, who is representing a local landowner in a legal complaint against the county over the agreement.

The supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of its ad hoc subcommittee’s memorandum of agreement with the Chumash on Camp 4, a 1,400-acre parcel of land the Bureau of Indian Affairs placed into fee-to-trust with the federal government on Jan. 20, essentially adding it to the tribe’s reservation and taking it out of the county’s jurisdiction. After the acquisition, the U.S. Congress forced the county’s ad hoc subcommittee to enter into negotiations with the Chumash regarding development on the land, despite the county’s previous reluctance to do so.

At a public meeting in Los Olivos on Sept. 25, the ad hoc subcommittee presented an outline of the agreement, which 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann said would allow the county some limited enforceability, land-use certainty, and fiscal mitigation over Camp 4, where the Chumash plan to develop housing and a cultural center.

The agreement will force the Chumash to comply with state safety codes, various environmental codes, and a strict water-use mitigation and monitoring plan on Camp 4. Building within 984 feet of Highway 154, gaming and commercial development, and liquor sales within the tribal facilities will be prohibited. The tribe will be required to pay an annual fee of $178,500, which would begin in 2023 and end when the tentative agreement is scheduled to expire in 2040. Through a limited waiver of sovereign immunity, the tribe will be held accountable if sued in federal and state courts over disputes relating to the agreement.

The agreement has repeatedly been criticized as being too lenient and hastily made. Community members have cried, yelled, and booed at meetings, while others have threatened supervisors with recall election petitions and lawsuits.

Landowners filed a lawsuit against the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 24 in an attempt to stop the county from allowing the Chumash to develop on Camp 4.

The Crawford family filed a lawsuit and a temporary restraining order against the Board of Supervisors under the family business, San Lucas Ranch. The complaint argues that the county’s newly approved agreement violates the Santa Ynez Community Plan, enacted in 2009.

“The agreement allows the same development that the county had previously argued was ‘incompatible’ with the Community Plan and did not mitigate environmental impacts,” Barry Cappello, attorney for San Lucas Ranch, said in a press release. “The county can only allow this development if the Community Plan is amended, a process designed to protect the community from these types of agreements. Until then, the county cannot enter the agreement.”

The complaint also argues that the proposed Camp 4 development would negatively impact the environment and species San Lucas Ranch owners have fought to protect, including vernal pool fairy shrimp.

It’s not the first time San Lucas Ranch owners have sued over Camp 4, land that was allegedly once part of the ranch until it was sold off by a deceased family member’s children, according to a written declaration in support of a restraining order filed by Anne Crawford-Hall.

In February, Crawford-Hall, San Lucas Ranch, and Holy Cow Performance Horses filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and several individuals within those departments in an effort to overturn to the fee-to-trust acquisition. The case is ongoing, according to court documents, and the most recent motion was filed on Oct. 27.

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Donna Geck denied the request for a temporary restraining order at a hearing on Oct. 26, allowing the supervisors to vote to approve the Camp 4 agreement on Oct. 31. In a Noozhawk story on published on Oct. 26, San Lucas Ranch attorney Cappello said that he and his clients hoped to return to court again after the county voted on the Camp 4 agreement.

A case management conference regarding the San Lucas Ranch lawsuit is scheduled for Feb. 23, 2018.

Weekly Poll
What do you think about Aera Energy canceling its project in Cat Canyon?

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