Federal Legislation to Override Local Property Rights Opposed by Community and Business Leaders
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Land Affirmation Act of 2017 to be Voted on Without a Hearing
(Santa Ynez, Calif.) – The Santa Ynez Valley Coalition today reiterated its opposition to the “Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Land Affirmation Act of 2017.” (H.R. 1491), controversial legislation that the House of Representatives will be voting on today. This measure is strongly opposed by the Santa Ynez Valley Coalition because of its far-reaching and negative consequences that would impact not only the Santa Ynez Valley, but communities throughout the country.
If enacted, H.R. 1491 would ratify the illegal last-minute action by the previous administration to approve the 138-person Santa Ynez Chumash Tribe’s application for the Camp 4 fee to trust land acquisition. If approved this would give the tribe a blank slate to ultimately develop the land however they wish, including massive commercial development or entertainment complex.
Congress is poised to act on this legislation, notwithstanding the fact that the federal government’s decision to approve this trust land acquisition is under legal challenge in in federal court.
In addition, the legislation would override all local zoning and land use controls and permit the Tribe to redevelop over time this largely agricultural area in the bucolic Santa Ynez Valley (where there are no chain stores or commercial franchises by design) into whatever commercial use the Tribe desires.
“The citizens who live in this area have a strong interest in preserving its character, as well as their property rights and quality of life,” said Bill Krauch, Chair of the Santa Ynez Valley Coalition. “Any major development, such as major commercial development or even ultimately a Casino resort will put a significant strain on the current infrastructure, and local taxpayers will end up footing the bill because the Tribe is exempt from paying property and sales taxes.”“The Chumash Tribe has sought to circumvent Santa Barbara County’s current land use policies by going straight to Congress with their demands, and found a Congressional sponsor for their bill who lives in another district more than 400 miles away. The bill has not received a proper Congressional hearing, despite multiple requests from affected citizens. Our financially strapped county has been bullied into this agreement by those seeking to skirt the rules, but Congress does not need to play along by acting as our County’s Zoning Board”, Krauch added.
Recently, with the threat of Congressional passage of H.R. 1491 looming, Santa Barbara County was forced to negotiate a wholly inadequate agreement with the Tribe governing future land uses on Camp 4. Land use restrictions contained in this agreement are unenforceable, do not address other tribal land holdings and allow tribal development on this land to circumvent local land use laws and regulations. Santa Barbara County Supervisor Joan Hartmann said at a public meeting that, “these were extremely difficult negotiations influenced by a number of outside factors and those made these discussions even more challenging and had a far greater urgency…” The most significant of the outside factors she cited was pending Congressional action on H.R. 1491.
Another Supervisor, Peter Adam, said that the County agreement with the tribe is, “…ambiguous as to the commitments the county is agreeing to and its ambiguous as to the cost that we are agreeing to and therefore it is a blank check and it is a bad deal for the county.”
“Essentially, Congress has determined that it is better suited to make local land use policies than elected local governments. This is a dangerous precedent for all local communities”, Krauch said.
The Santa Ynez Valley Coalition has expressed their specific concerns with the legislation, and suggestions for how the bill can be more fair and comprehensive. H.R. 1491 was written for a very specific special interest in Santa Barbara County, to attempt to claim victory in a land use battle that has been going on for over a decade. Seeking a reasonable compromise, the Santa Ynez Valley Coalition will continue to push for sensible changes to the ultimate land use agreement between the Tribe and Santa Barbara County, and strongly opposes the overreach of H.R. 149 into a local matter.
Upon House passage of H.R. 1491, the bill now goes to the Senate.
The mission of the Santa Ynez Valley Coalition is ensuring that the Santa Ynez Valley residents have a voice in land use decisions affecting our water, environment, public safety and economy and opposes “Fee to Trust” efforts by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. The Coalition engages in outreach and education efforts with policymakers and residents regarding the importance of maintaining local control of land use in the Santa Ynez Valley.
For more about the Coalition go to http://www.SYVCoalition.com