Santa Barbara County planning staff are working to set up a follow-up meeting with representatives of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, who last week were turned down in their request to have a similar discussion with county officials.
Exactly what would be discussed on the yet-to-be-determined meeting date and how productive the talks would be remain to be seen.
Sam Cohen, government and legal specialist with the Chumash, sent a letter requesting a meeting to county Planning and Development Director Glenn Russell last week — a day after the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 against beginning a “government to government” dialogue concerning the acreage the tribe is trying to add to its reservation.
Last Tuesday’s vote followed a heated public hearing centered on Camp 4, a 1,400-acre parcel near the Chumash reservation where the tribe has said it wants to build homes for tribal members.
The supervisors ended up directing county staff to meet with tribal representatives as the plans move forward, and to report back as necessary.
Cohen told Noozhawk that he sent the letter because of those instructions, although he’s not sure what will come of it or whether it will be the first in a series of discussions.
“We are not terribly optimistic that anything could be accomplished, but we think it deserves at least a meeting,” Cohen said. “I have no idea what the outcome will be.”
Russell said staff members are still trying to set up a mutually agreeable time to meet, adding that Cohen included no details about what questions he would like answered.
The Chumash tribe recently filed an application with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to annex the Camp 4 property through a process known as fee-to-trust.
More than 40 people spoke during last week’s hearing, which was prompted by a request from Tribal Chairman Vincent Armenta to begin “government-to-government” dialogue with the county.
Many speakers were Santa Ynez Valley residents opposed to the Chumash annexing the property, which would be removed from the county's tax rolls and from the oversight of the county planning processes.
Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr, who has been adamantly against the tribe annexing the land within her district, sent a letter to Armenta last week saying she was “pleased” that tribal representatives had requested a meeting with staff.
Farr noted that she has asked that county CEO Chandra Wallar be present during future discussions.