The eight people arrested during a protest against development of the San Marcos Foothills Preserve won’t face prosecution.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Monday that her office will not file criminal charges against those who were arrested and cited for obstructing the free movement of people on a public street on Feb. 25 on Salvar Road near the San Marcos Preserve.

They were released later in the day.

In addition, the contractor, the Chadmar Group, which was blocked from entering the property by the protesters, did not want charges to be filed, Dudley said.

Initially, Dudley said, the Chadmar Group sought law enforcement’s involvement, on the day of the protest. 

Those arrested were peacefully protesting construction crews trying to obtain access to the housing site, according to the county Sheriff’s Department. Most were Indigenous Chumash elders.

The Chadmar Group is looking to build the final eight homes in a 20-unit project on the San Marcos Land Preserve. 

The area is sacred to the Chumash tribe, and environmentalists have formed the group Save the San Marcos Foothills and want to buy the land and spare it from development.

An organization called Foothills Forever is looking to raise money to buy the land in the San Marcos foothills.

The group hopes to raise $20 million to cover the cost of acquisition, the campaign, and an endowment for maintenance and management of the property, by June 2. The developer and the preservationists have agreed that if the group cannot raise the money by the deadline, construction can proceed on the site. 

The San Marcos Foothills project has been the source of ongoing litigation and legal challenges for several years.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.