Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 4:42 pm | Fair 65º

 
 
 
 

Letter to the Editor: Heads Up, Santa Barbara County Taxpayers

You need to pay attention now before Santa Barbara County is forced to obligate you, the taxpayer, to pay for burdens for which you will receive zero benefit.

If you own property or pay fees for services, you are on the verge being saddled with taxes and fees to overcome the loss of revenue caused by burdens that a wealthy few is intent on forcing on us. Doesn't it feel good to know might be supporting the rich? Forget the schools. Forget those suffering with physical and mental disabilities. Forget our crumbling roads and infrastructure. You will pay for the unfunded costs of uncontrolled development by a "sovereign nation" plunked down in the center of our County.

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indian's is trying to box County government into a corner; into acquiescing to its demand to take 1400 acres into "sovereign nation" status. It's just another step in the Tribe's expansion plans. The Tribe is carving out a nation, quite literally, exempt from local and state law. After this 1400 acres, what's next? The 365 acres the Tribe purchased for $15,000,000 in 2015.

What does "sovereign nation" mean? Why is the Tribe so intent on "sovereign nation" status for the property they own? It's really quite simple. As a "sovereign nation" the Tribe is not a part of the United States; the federal government holds its nation in "trust" outside and above local, state and most federal regulation. It can then develop and build pretty much as it chooses, what it wants and when it wants.

The Tribe eliminates local and state land use law. The Tribe eliminates the community. It goes straight to the federal government that gives the Tribe free rein. For the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, it is the golden key to massive uncontrolled development.

The County cannot capitulate and agree to a "sovereign nation" status for 1400 acres, one in a series of dominos poised to fall, simply because the successful 137 Tribal members demand it. The Tribe's plan is to expand, either incrementally or immediately, by developing huge chunks of rural land into whatever it so chooses at its sole discretion.

So much for respect for the community around them. So much for respect for ancestral lands.

So what does that mean to you, the taxpayer?

The Tribe is not interested in paying taxes; what it calls "in lieu payments." Negotiations with the County have only produced time limited "in lieu payments" for a part of the housing it says it wants now; nothing for the vast majority of its development and nothing for any undisclosed future development; the elephant in our County's room. Does the Tribe want the benefits of being residents of this County? Of course. But, like going through the buffet line at its Casino, the Tribe wants to pick and choose what benefits it wants such as schools for its children and roads to its "nation." But it doesn't want to pay for them or the impacts it will create for all of the rest of us.

Just one instance of the Tribe's tax avoidance schemes relates to Measure K, a bond issue for $11 million to update infrastructure at Santa Ynez Union High School. Tribal members and family send their children to this school. They will vote on this bond obligation. Yet the Tribe hides within the "sovereign nation" to avoid paying their share of this obligation; the Tribe gets a free ride. It's "Representation without Taxation."

You, the tax payer, will pay. And future property owners will pay; forever.

Living in this County, it is time for you to voice your opinion. Contact your District Supervisor by phone, mail or email to oppose paying the costs of a "sovereign nation" in your taxes. Don't complain later when taxes and fees for services go up without any benefit to you.

Mike Brady
Los Olivos

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