(SANTA YNEZ, CALIF – Feb. 14, 2019) Members of the Santa Ynez Valley Coalition on Tuesday cheered a decision by a U.S. District Judge invalidating the federal government’s decision to add the 1,400-acre Camp 4 parcel to the Chumash reservation and allow the Tribe to develop it in violation of the County’s land use plan.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson, released Wednesday, now means the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians must comply with local zoning regulations with its plans to develop the environmentally sensitive land. The Tribe sought to circumvent those regulations by winning approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in January 2017 for a “fee-to-trust” annex of Camp 4 to its reservation, thus allowing the Chumash to exert its sovereign powers to build 143 homes and a tribal center – ten times what zoning allows on the environmentally sensitive tract.
“We are heartened that the federal judge ruled that the Camp 4 fee-to-trust decision was illegally made and ordered it to be reversed,” said SYV Coalition Chair Bill Krauch.
“As we have asserted all along, we believe that the Tribe should be able to use their property to address their housing needs, but they must comply with the land use regulations required of every other every homeowner and business.
Krauch cautioned, however, that opponents of the development need to remain vigilant, as the Tribe has been determined to ram it through. It has tried and failed three times to get special-interest legislation passed by Congress approving the project [full statement below].
On Wednesday, Wilson vacated the BIA’s approval because the official in charge lacked legal authority to grant it.
The lawsuit that resulted in this decision was brought by long-time valley resident, Nancy Crawford Hall and litigated by the Cappello & Noël law firm in Santa Barbara.
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