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Local News

Santa Barbara Judge to Rule on GWD/Gaviota Coast Property Issue

Judge Thomas Anderle is likely to overrule a motion filed by the district and Makar Properties challenging a lawsuit by the Gaviota Coast Conservancy.

Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle on Tuesday is expected to overrule a motion, called a demurrer, filed by the Goleta Water District and Gaviota Coast landowner Makar Properties LLC challenging the strength of a lawsuit filed by the Gaviota Coast Conservancy earlier this year.

The lawsuit is one of two legal actions launched this year by the environmental group against the Goleta Water District over its proposed annexation of 131 acres of Gaviota Coast property in order to supply two proposed luxury residences of about 10,000 square feet each, as well as other related structures on the property. Included in the annexation would be 25 Makar-owned lots out of the antiquated townsite known as Naples.

The first lawsuit in March claimed that the water district failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires environmental analysis of the area, before filing with the Santa Barbara Local Agency Formation Commission to annex the property. The defendants withdrew their action and the case was dismissed last summer.

However, the conservancy sued again when it found out that the agency and the landowner applied again — and was approved by LAFCO — for annexation, this time using a pre-existing environmental impact report for the same property. While that EIR was approved by Santa Barbara County in 1998, it was an analysis for a proposed golf course called the Dos Pueblos Golf Links. Despite time extensions provided by LAFCO for the GWD annexation for the golf course, the application was not completed at that time. The golf course plan was eventually rejected by the California Coastal Commission in 2003.

The Santa Barbara LAFCO is also named as a defendant in the case.

“No environmental review has been conducted with respect to annexation of the property into GWD for purposes of residential development,” Anderle’s tentative decision said.

“County has already determined that the proposed residential development will cause significant environmental impacts, and is conducting environmental review for that project. It is therefore reasonable to infer that there is a fair argument under CEQA that annexation of the property for purposes of a residential development will contain new and different environmental impacts, and/or
impacts which differ in scope and degree, than those impacts which were analyzed for annexation of the property for purposes of a golf course project, and that the environmental review conducted for the golf course annexation will therefore be legally insufficient under CEQA.”

Anderle will deliver his final decision on the demurrer at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at Santa Barbara Superior Court, 1100 Anacapa St.

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