Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 3:36 am | Fair 55º


Letter to the Editor: The Historic County–Chumash Tribal Agreement

This Sep. 25, on a Chamber of Commerce fall evening, the outline of the long-anticipated County-Chumash Tribal agreement was presented. The actual document itself, however, was not made public.  It was instead, termed a “tentative” agreement. 

Requests to postpone the pre-scheduled Board of Supervisors hearing on Oct. 17 were flatly rejected. Simply, the tribe said “No” to County requests to change the date to accommodate more meaningful public participation.

This exposes the fact that the agreement is indeed not “tentative” but final. Not even a hearing date could be moved two weeks without the tribe’s okay. In the tribe’s mind, public review is a bad thing. And the County is apparently a willing supplicant to the tribe.

The agreement was reached in secret meetings over the past six months. As of the 27th, the document had not been published.

Third District Supervisor Hartmann said the components of the deal totaled over 1,000 pages of documents. Now the public has about two weeks to review and comment on a document that will impact the character of the Santa Ynez Valley for generations to come.

What is exposed here is that our policymakers simply don't have the time to be bothered with pesky comments from residents — they are doing important work here. The process, orchestrated with the Tribe, finalizes an agreement that cannot be modified based on public input.

Announcing a new level of cooperation and mutual understanding, the county and tribal representatives lauded this new process as the basis for future negotiations. Apparently, they envision that all agreements will be made behind closed doors without consultation with the public. 

What we did learn from the county-tribal power point presentation, a 20-minute overview of what is to come, is that the tribe will develop 143 houses and a tribal center on Camp 4. After 2040, the tribe can do as it chooses with this land.

Other highlights include, the county receiving $178,500 annually starting in 2023 and terminating in 2040; a pittance compared to the long term costs to taxpayers of tribal development on Camp 4.

A 952-foot setback from Highway 154 without height or density restrictions on buildings ends in 2040.

View sheds from south, east and north are left unprotected. One acre lots back up to Armour Ranch Road. A 200-space parking lot is accessed off Baseline Avenue. 

The Triangle, 365 acres between Camp 4 and the existing casino/resort owned by the Chumash, nor the tribe’s about 22 other properties in Santa Barbara County are addressed in the tentative agreement.

The agreement is silent on future land acquisitions by the tribe. But the taxpayer is supposed to feel good because we now have a friendly process established for any or all of the tribal properties that will go from fee into trust in the future. Negotiations will be secret and final, attempting to eliminate public review.

I staunchly support Chumash tribal housing and a tribal center. If this is what the tribe’s business council truly wants, they would have it. But this is not all it wants.

What becomes apparent is that it is seeking to enrich itself by eliminating taxes and shifting the tax burden onto non-tribal taxpayers. It wants the freedom to develop the land it owns as it sees fit, without respect for land-use laws and without respect for the communities that surround it.

For those who think this can only happen in the Santa Ynez Valley, you better think again. The Chumash have the wealth and the power to acquire land anywhere in the county.

When it has maxed out its economic opportunities in the valley, a next step could be a casino/resort along the Gaviota Coast.

But the county and the tribe have established a process to handle these dozens of fee-to-trust applications by the Chumash. Rest assured.  

Mike Brady

Los Olivos

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >