Acting on a directive more than 25 years old, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 3-1 to adopt the county’s first Transfer of Development Rights ordinance and program for Santa Barbara Ranch, the project on the Naples townsite, on the Gaviota coast.

“I’m going to vote for it. It’s with much trepidation and pain that I do so, but I’d rather have something than nothing,” said board chairman Salud Carbajal, who, along with Supervisors Joseph Centeno and Brooks Firestone voted to adopt the ordinance. Supervisor Janet Wolf voted against it, and Supervisor Joni Gray wasn’t present for the vote.

If approved by the state Coastal Commission, a program to set up a system for TDR for Naples will be put together, but not before the supervisors are scheduled to sit down Oct. 13 to consider the Santa Barbara Ranch’s Alt 1B proposal, a project that would put 71 homes on Gaviota land on the Naples townsite as well as a portion of the adjacent Dos Pueblos Ranch.

The TDR ordinance and the development project are on two separate tracks, county project manager Tom Figg said. TDR, a process by which development rights on the Naples property would be exchanged for equivalent rights in neighboring jurisdictions, is an effort that goes back to 1982, when the Coastal Commission directed the county to make such a program available for Naples. Alt 1B is a development plan that is a few years old.

“The TDR program adopted today is not likely to generate substantial funds unless and until it is strengthened,” said Marc Chytilo, the Naples Coalition’s lawyer. “It is entirely voluntary, with very limited potential application, and no organization identified to manage the program. It was designed to fail.”

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The ordinance calls for a voluntary, market-based program that is not subject to any holds, making it difficult for any such program to be effective in a short amount of time when dealing with land values such as those on the Santa Barbara Ranch project. It has been estimated that one multimillion-dollar blufftop property is worth 10 inland properties.

“I think I did everything I was supposed to do,” said Naples developer Matt Osgood, pointing out delays and money spent on studies for the TDR program. “I’m a seller today. If someone wants to write a check, we don’t need a TDR program.”

The ordinance/program is headed toward Coastal Commission review, where it will be examined for its policies, incentives, priorities and methods. If it not approved, the TDR ordinance/program will go back to the supervisors for more work.

Click here for more information on the Santa Barbara Ranch project.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at