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Sunday, November 18 , 2018, 3:46 pm | Fair with Haze 64º


Chumash Move to Place Two Acres into Federal Trust

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians is seeking to place two parcels totaling two acres into federal trust — land it owns and describes as primarily ornamental landscaping with essential access to the tribe’s reservation.

Tribal Chairman Vincent Armenta sent Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisor Chair Janet Wolf a letter with the intent last week, requesting to start government-to-government relations with the county about the new fee-to-trust applications.

The parcels in question are adjacent and east of the Chumash Casino Resort and south of Highway 246 in the Santa Ynez Valley, according to Chumash spokeswoman Hildy Medina.

“We’re reaching out to the county to discuss placing the two parcels into trust in the hope that the county will meet with the tribe on a government-to-government basis,” the chairman said in a statement Tuesday. 

“We’d like to place the two properties into trust because it makes sense. The parcels, which combined make up around two acres, are one of only two roads with access into the reservation. They are an integral part of the reservation.

“Furthermore, they have absolutely no tax value to the county.”

According to records, the parcels are zoned as retail/commercial and have some tax value, said Assistant county CEO Terri Maus-Nisich, who couldn’t immediately confirm the exact amount that would be removed from county tax rolls.

The Mooney property is on the southern shoulder of Highway 246, and the Escobar parcel contains the bridge on Sanja Cota Road and part of the road.

In his letter, Armenta noted both parcels recently were approved by the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board for the use of recycled water from the Chumash Casino wastewater treatment plant.

The tribe purchased both parcels in 2002 and 2003, according to county documents.

Medina said the properties provided the only access to the lower part of the tribe’s 138-acre reservation at 3400 E. Highway 246.

She didn’t clarify whether the Chumash tribe has already filed the fee-to-trust applications with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The county hadn’t yet set a supervisors hearing date on the subject, Maus-Nisich said.

The county Board of Supervisors has repeatedly denied Chumash requests to enter into government-to-government relations.

News comes as the tribe works to place nearby Camp 4 into federal trust, removing the 1,433-acre agricultural property from county tax rolls and planning processes.

The Chumash bought the land from the late Fess Parker in 2010 with the intent of building homes for tribal families.

The BIA approved the tribe’s fee-to-trust application in late 2014, but the decision won’t be official until appeals filed by the County Board of Supervisors and other Santa Ynez Valley organizations are resolved.

HR 1157, which would place Camp 4 into federal trust and explicitly prohibit gambling, is also making its way through the federal legislature.

County officials have repeatedly objected to that annexation, citing inadequate mitigation for traffic, noise and other impacts.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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