Monday, February 8 , 2016, 2:33 pm | Fair 79º

Supervisors to Appeal Decision on Chumash Land Expansion

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper | updated logo 5:43 p.m. |

In a brief announcement after emerging from a closed session Tuesday, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors quietly dropped a bombshell — it intends to appeal a move by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians to pave the way for adding thousands of acres to their tribal lands.

Some board members expressed concern last month that the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, without any public notice, had approved a Tribal Consolidation and Acquisition Area Plan for the Chumash that includes almost 12,000 acres, the majority of which is held by private landowners.

On Tuesday, the board voted 4-1, with Supervisor Salud Carbajal opposed, to appeal that administrative decision, which if it stands would make it much easier for the Chumash to add to their reservation lands.

The Tribal Consolidation and Acquisition Area Plan essentially gives a kind of pre-approval for annexation within its designated boundaries. Without it, the tribe would have to make an individual case to federal officials for each acquisition.

The tribe, which has legal sovereignty on its 138-acre reservation, also recently filed an application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to annex 1,400 acres near its tribal lands through a process called fee-to-trust.

If approved, the property, known as Camp 4, would become part of the Chumash reservation, and be removed from the county's tax rolls and from the oversight of the county planning processes.

Opponents of the move say that rules are significantly more lenient for fee-to-trust property than for lands under the county's jurisdiction, and don't call for a careful weighing and balancing of interests of state and local government standards.

Last month, the supervisors rejected a request from the Chumash for a "government to government" dialogue on the Camp 4 proposal to add the large swath of agricultural land to the tribe's reservation.

Instead, the board directed county staff to meet with tribal representatives like any other landowner.

Carbajal said he couldn't elaborate on closed session discussion or votes.

Sam Cohen, government and legal specialist with the Chumash, told Noozhawk that the move was not unexpected.

"We were disappointed but not surprised," he said, adding that now that the the decision is in litigation, the tribe will wait for the county to file and respond accordingly.

Earlier in the meeting, about 10 people spoke out during public comment, urging the supervisors to take action on the decision.

Santa Ynez Resident Bob Field lives in the tribal consolidation area and also works for the Santa Ynez Rancho Estates Mutual Water Co., one of several small water agencies in the valley.

The company has several wells in the tribal consolidation area that service homes, he said.

"If the federal government takes these parcels into trust, will the wells still be protected?" he asked, stating that he hasn't gotten a straight answer from attorneys familiar with the project.

Robert Etling, a real estate agent in the Santa Ynez Valley, said he's lost an escrow in the area already because of the TCA, but said the bigger loss is for the county not to be able "to plan and protect" the valley as a whole.

Opponents of the expansion breathed a sigh of relief at the news Tuesday.

Susan Jordan, director of the California Coastal Protection Network, who was been a critic of the move, called the decision "momentous."

"This BIA approval was unprecedented. It lowered the standard of review for taking these properties Fee-to-Trust, placed close to 10,000 acres of privately owned land into legal limbo, and was approved without any formal notice or opportunity for public comment or objection," she said.

Jordan also said it's "critical that the governor and the California attorney general join the county in appealing this decision."

To see a map of the Tribal Consolidation Area:

TCA Map - July 2013.PDF by Lara Cooper

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

» on 09.10.13 @ 04:20 PM

Salud shows where he gets his money from, and his alliance with Das Williams.
And why do we continue to elect Salud?

» on 09.10.13 @ 05:31 PM

Please Supervisor Carbajal , explain your vote to your constituents .

» on 09.10.13 @ 06:42 PM

Carbajal is a Democrat hack, he goes with the wind or $$$$.

Vote him out!!!

» on 09.11.13 @ 08:08 AM

Supervisor Carbajal and Assembly Member Williams are part of the far left wing of the Democratic party who call themselves “Progressive”. This is rather ironic with regard to an issue like this where a group of mixed persons some with fractional Indian ancestry some with none at all are able to dredge up ancient history to make a false claim to lands they have no lawful claim to. So when you remove the smoke screen of so called historic Indian injustices used to create a public “guilt trip” and to play the “race card” to silence criticism, what you find under the rock is MONEY.  This group of pretenders is each raking in over half a million dollars a year in profits from gambling losses of people who, for the most part cannot afford to lose that money. The millions taken in by this Psuedo “tribe”, who is still collecting millions in federal welfare and grant money every year, is not only doled out to the handful of select “members” but is also generously spread around Sacramento, Washington and some members of our Board of Supervisors to grease the legislative palms while claiming it is all done in the name of the poor Indians mistreated centuries ago. The latest land grab is proof postive of the old axiom that that greed breeds more greed and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This faux tribe, who fell into a pot of gold because they got a gambling casino with no competition nearby, was not satisfied with this billion dollar largesse’ and the uneducated egomaniac in charge has visions of grandeur that the gambling profits make hime King of the Valley instead of Chairman of this mistaken gambling empire created by a badly misguided federal law and “Indian policies” put in place decades ago when there really were poor Indians in need of federal assistance.

» on 09.11.13 @ 08:30 AM

I’ve been saying this for years, but no one will run against him.

» on 09.11.13 @ 09:18 AM

The pendulum has obviously swung too far.

This issue highlights that the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs really needs to be reined in. 

Where is Lois Capps on this?

» on 09.11.13 @ 09:38 AM

Good for the supervisors, and who purchased Salud?

» on 09.11.13 @ 10:32 AM

Salud does what he is told, not by the voice of his constituents but by those that are willing to sponsor and finance his rise in political office.
In the mind of people like Salud and Das the taxpayers and voters are simply an annoyance on their way to higher political office. 

» on 09.11.13 @ 10:36 AM

Not that it really matters “in the big picture” but I wish the accompanying map were clearer. Looks like the TCA boundary runs right through our property… I wonder how the specific borders were determined!

» on 09.11.13 @ 12:40 PM

McMac The borders were a completely arbitrary designation by the tribal government of the Santa Ynez bunch and they submitted it to the Pacific Regional Offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs with an application containing totally false information.  They new very well that agency simply “rubber-stamps” tribal applications routinely.  The biased and corrupt practices of that agency are so widely known that a law review article was written earlier this year at Pepperdine law school pointing out that the Pacific Regional BIA agency has never rejected a single tribal fee to trust application and describing them as “rubber-stamping” all applications. This is the same federal government agency that packed a tiny tribe in Amador county 6 years ago with their own employees, relativse and friends to take over the tribal government in order to direct the tribe to take steps toward building a gambling casino for themselves at Plymouth California. The scandal that is the so called Indian casino gambling laws, was foolishly authorized by California voters. That was done under the mistaken belief the vote was simply to allow and legalize these tiny impoverished tribes to continue operating their small illegal casinos and bingo halls, and which were confined to existing Indian lands. The magnitude of this casino scam grows more unbelievable every day. The massive cash profits raked in from the the thousands of gambling losers at these unregulated, uninspected and unmpoliced Indian casinos has enabled these “tribes” (many with only a handful of members many without even fractional Indian ancestry), to totally corrupt a large number of Sacramento politicians, mostly liberal and Hispanic democrats and some status seeking members looking for higher office with their hands out for a slice of these gambling profits and willing to sell out the local communities who must suffer the many negative impacts these casino create.

» on 09.11.13 @ 06:33 PM

Unfortunately citizenSB has it right . Our governance is now guided by gold and politicians only pay attention to their constituents while pandering for votes.  Das is a glaring example of ethics guided by dollar signs. Now we must wonder about Salud as well.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.