Monday, June 18 , 2018, 11:03 pm | Fair 62º


Local News

County Supervisors Deny Appeal of Botanic Garden Vital Mission Plan

But the board upholds a ruling to stop the garden from developing Meadow Terrace

After weeks of public comment, discussion and testimony by attorneys and staff, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday denied an appeal filed by several Mission Canyon community organizations, thus upholding the county Planning Commission’s conditional approval of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s Vital Mission Plan.

But the board also upheld a ruling by the Historic Landmarks Advisory Commission last year that stopped the garden from developing the Meadow Terrace, which garden administration had argued was a crucial part of the Vital Mission Plan.

“There is not one person in this room who doesn’t support the mission of the garden, but there is a balance between what is being proposed to enhance that mission and the needs of the residents who surround the garden,” board chairwoman and Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf said.

Appeals against the Planning Commission’s ruling had been filed by Friends of Mission Canyon, the Mission Canyon Association and Friends of Xana’yan, a group associated with the Coastal Band of Chumash Indians.

Dangling an eagle feather ceremoniously above his head, a Chumash spiritual leader said at Tuesday’s hearing that the garden’s staff still had not made a concerted effort to consult with the Coastal Band of Chumash about the development plan’s potential impact to Native American archaeological sites.

In other public hearings regarding garden-related appeals during the past month, public commenters have been given full three-minute allotments during which to express their views of the proposed project. This time, they were given only a minute each because of time constraints.

Many of those who spoke Tuesday had appeared at other hearings. Public opinion on the fate of the garden’s development plans still seemed to be divided between pro and con, with the project’s supporters arguing that the garden needs to be allowed to grow in order to properly accommodate educational programs and generate new revenue.

Opposition has been chiefly concerned with traffic impacts from an increased number of visitors to the garden, which many people have said would make it impossible for all of the canyon’s residents to escape in case of wildfire.

“I know it’s been painful. There have been many years of acrimony and distrust,” said First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, whose district includes the garden. “My hope is that we can really move forward to a new day and that we can try to work with the Botanic Garden to communicate and be better neighbors with each other.”

Noozhawk staff writer Ben Preston can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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