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Sparks Fly as County Supervisors Discuss Naples Development, Possible Bag Ban

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors balked Tuesday at the noticeable absence of a representative for the developer looking to assume ownership of the Naples property, and ultimately decided against moving forward until the company provides more information about its financial situation.

Spectra America is looking to assume ownership of the 1,048-acre Naples property, which would allow it the rights to develop the inland portion of the property.

The county can refuse to give consent if it doesn’t think the transferee can uphold the financial obligation, however, which is exactly what the supervisors unanimously decided on Tuesday.

Supervisor Doreen Farr, whose district contains the Naples property, seemed a bit miffed that Spectra didn’t show.

“It was quite disappointing that they didn’t send any info to us at all or send a representative here,” she said. The company has been “entangled in a long history of great financial trouble,” and its multiple bankruptcies “cannot be ignored.”

Perhaps there are good answers from Spectra co-owner Dilip Ram or his associates to be heard, “but they’re not here to explain themselves,” Farr added.

Supervisor Peter Adam agreed.

“Spectra should have said something,” he said. “At least send us a card — anything at this point would help.”

Adam said he didn’t think the company’s bankruptcies would negate it from consideration altogether, and that if it put forward more information in the future, the board will consider it.

Another item the supervisors tackled but was decidedly more controversial was the county’s decision to ban single-use bags — a vote that was split soundly between north and south county lines.

The supervisors were asked by staff to come up with a draft ordinance, as well as how the ordinance would be enforced.

Because there is no statewide ban on single-use bags, local governments have tackled bans on their own, and more than 75 jurisdictions in the state have adopted ordinances restricting single-use bags.

Santa Barbara County is a member of the Beach Erosion Authority for Clean Oceans and Nourishment, or BEACON, a group of municipalities that shared the cost of an environmental impact report.

The EIR was based on the City of Santa Barbara’s draft ordinance, which would require grocery retail stores to charge a minimum of 10 cents for recyclable paper bags and prohibit the free distribution of paper or plastic bags. Shoppers would either have to pay for their paper bags or bring their own reusable bags to carry their groceries if the ordinance is put in place.

Adam and Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said they couldn’t support the move, with Adam the most vocal because he has the most stores in the county’s unincorporated area that would be affected.

Lavagnino said he had a problem with charging people for something they currently get for free.

“I don’t think that’s our role,” he said.

Adam bristled at the idea of south county supervisors implementing a countywide ban.

“We in the colonies up there do not appreciate being dictated to,” he said. “It’s another example of us being dictated to by south county.”

But Supervisor Janet Wolf, who spearheaded the effort with Supervisor Salud Carbajal, urged them to continue.

“When there’s something that is so important to our environment and our ocean’s health, it is incumbent on us to move forward,” she said.

The overwhelming majority of public commenters supported moving forward on a ban, and Farr said her family in San Jose, which has an extensive bag ban, has adjusted.

“You go into T.J. Maxx and you don’t get a bag,” she said. “The results have been quite dramatic in the results of plastic bag litter that they have.”

Recognizing that some in the northern part of her district might not support the ban, she asked if county staff could look at various ways to phase in the ban.

Responding to Adam’s comments, Carbajal said the coast isn’t just for South County residents, but for everyone.

“This is for all of us,” he said. “Nobody owns the coast, and nobody owns north or south county.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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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