Friday, May 25 , 2018, 11:38 pm | Fair 62º


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County Supervisors Uphold Denial of Transfer Agreement for Naples Development

The board cites a lack of information about Standard Portfolios, questioning the company's ability to bring the Gaviota Coast project to fruition

Developer Matt Osgood, front right, sits next to attorney Stanley Lamport, who is representing Standard Portfolio Asset Management. The company asked that the Naples property be transferred to them on Tuesday, but the Santa Barbara County supervisors said they didn’t have enough information to make a decision.
Developer Matt Osgood, front right, sits next to attorney Stanley Lamport, who is representing Standard Portfolio Asset Management. The company asked that the Naples property be transferred to them on Tuesday, but the Santa Barbara County supervisors said they didn’t have enough information to make a decision. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Tuesday represented another setback for the beleaguered developers of the Naples project, as the Santa Barbara County supervisors stated flatly that they needed more information before they could approve a transfer agreement to the company that bought the property on the Gaviota Coast.

The item passed 3-1, with Supervisor Peter Adam dissenting and Supervisor Steve Lavagnino absent.

The controversial plans for the homes are slated for the Naples area, which sits two miles west of Goleta and consists of 71 lots on more than 1,000 acres.

In 2008, supervisors gave approval for the development, but that approval was challenged by environmental and preservation groups who questioned the certification of the project's environmental documents. In 2009, the supervisors rescinded the development agreement for the coastal portion of the project, but the development agreement for the inland portion of the property above Highway 101 remains effective.

The project's developer, Matt Osgood, was foreclosed upon in 2010 and the property was sold to Standard Portfolios.  

Osgood had asked that the county accept the property's transfer of ownership to the company be approved, but county staff denied the request, and on Tuesday supervisors upheld that denial.

They argued that little information on Arcadia-based Standard Portfolios could be found, and that they had serious questions about whether the company had the chops to bring the project to fruition.

There to make the case for the company was attorney Stanley Lamport, who argued that the company had $2 million set aside for developer obligations, almost seven times the required amount. He also said that $100,000 for creek restoration in areas around Dos Pueblos Creek has already been paid.

Hand-drawn signs protesting the Naples development sit outside the board meeting Tuesday. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

The company manages $288 million in assets, but supervisors lamented that they had not been given more than a few numbers making up a scattershot balance sheet.

About 30 speakers also took to the microphone, almost all of them imploring the supervisors to deny the appeal, citing Osgood's reputation and failed previous deal and the company's obscure financials.

The Naples project also brought out vocal opponents to any kind of development on the Gaviota Coast.

"The coast there is precious," said Eric Singer, a farmer at adjacent Dos Pueblos Ranch. "It would be a travesty to subdivide this historic tract and turn it into 1,000 mansions."

Singer also raised a point that many others did — that much had changed since the 2008 agreement was made, including the state's debilitating drought, which leaves unanswered questions about where water for new development would even come from.

Supervisor Doreen Farr, whose district includes Naples, said she wasn't able to find out a lot of information about the company and called it "disappointing" that they did not provide more financial documentation. Information she could find said the organization was a management company, but Farr said she couldn't find information about how experienced they were with coastal development.

Supervisor Peter Adam was the lone holdout on the vote.

"If we never let anyone develop in the coastal zone, we're not going to be able to get anyone with experience," he said. "Nothing will ever be enough."

Supervisor Salud Carbajal was more dubious of the company. 

"If you look under the dictionary of enigma, you will find Standard Portfolios," he said. "We can't even corroborate the $2 million."

"We need better documentation going forward," Supervisor Janet Wolf agreed.

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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