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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 6:52 am | Fair 43º


County Supervisors to Take Up Jail Tax, Coastal Commission Recommendations

Also on Tuesday's agenda is a Grand Jury report on a Santa Ynez Valley jurisdictional dispute

After a grueling hearing last week, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will continue its discussion Tuesday of the California Coastal Commission’s proposed changes to the county’s Coastal Land Use Policy.

While most members of the public who attended last week’s hearing — including several who sit on the Gaviota Coast Planning Advisory Committee, known as GavPAC — appeared in varying degrees to take issue with the commission’s recommendations, the supervisors said they wanted to further discuss the issue, particularly to give First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, who had been unable to attend because of travel delays, the opportunity to weigh in.

With changes to coastal policy aimed at beefing up the appeal process for coastal development and changes in land use, public outcry stemmed from what many saw as an attempt by the Coastal Commission to overstep the bounds of its traditional authority. Others said that if the county doesn’t approve the changes, coastal land use policy would revert to a status they said would effectively negate several long-range community plans in the works.

One of the proposed changes would prohibit maintenance and repair of existing private stairways to the beach, and another would require public access trails in return for expansion of agricultural operations. Aside from their concern about members of the public interfering with the agricultural production process, some growers and ranchers said that having to go through the Coastal Commission’s approval process would take an inordinate amount of time.

“Some of these proposals were made by people who don’t live in the real world, and it’s up to you — our elected officials — to stand your ground,” said June Van Wingerden, president of the Santa Barbara County Flower Growers and Nursery Association, echoing the concerns of several agriculture representatives that the commission’s extended control over agricultural designations would hamper their ability to maintain economic viability. “We have had a number of dealings with the Coastal Commission, and none of them have been good.”

Commenting on his own behalf, Phil McKenna, president of the Naples Coalition — a collection of environmental groups including the Environmental Defense Center, the Sierra Club and the Surfrider Foundation — suggested that if implemented, the commission’s recommendations could cause more harm than good.

“I think we may have a Coastal Commission staff which may not understand the implications of their recommendations,” he said.

1D1 Grand Jury Report

The Board of Supervisors also will discuss a Grand Jury report submitted nearly three months ago delving into a jurisdictional dispute in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Titled “Currents and Undercurrents in the Santa Ynez Valley,” the report came from a number of complaints about the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District, Improvement District 1, also known as ID1.

Among the complaints made to the Grand Jury were allegations that the district’s board of directors had committed violations of the Brown Act — legislation regulating transparency protocols for public agencies — and provided inadequate descriptions of agenda items.

Other complaints were aimed at an attempt by the district to get legislation — Assembly Bill 2686, authored by Assemblyman Pedro Nava — passed, rolling the district into two other similar special districts in the area. Critics maintained that the move amounted to an inappropriate expansion of authority, and called for a blue ribbon commission led by Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr to investigate.

Farr had replied that she is not qualified to convene such a commission without first discussing it with the full board.

Jail Tax Measure

Having supported sending a half-percent sales tax — dubbed the jail construction, operation and public safety enhancement tax — to the polls at last week’s hearing, the Board of Supervisors is expected to grant final approval Tuesday, officially placing the issue on the Nov. 2 ballot.

If passed, the tax measure would ask voters to approve for a period of 10 years a half-percent tax to replace a 1 percent tax scheduled to expire in June 2011.

Sheriff Bill Brown has touted the necessity of the funding to build what he said is a much-needed jail in the North County, adding that the tax in essence would bring Santa Barbara County’s current 8.75 percent sales and use tax down to 8.25 percent.

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

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