(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.
Below is the full statement from Santa Ynez Valley Coalition Chair Bill Krauch:
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. 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.
While yesterday’s decision is good for ALL residents of the valley, we must remain vigilant against efforts on the part of the Chumash to circumvent the courts and deny citizens their rights for judicial relief. The Coalition successfully fought against H.R. 1491 along with 2 previous bills which would have confirmed this illegal action and extinguished any legal challenge. We hope that the politicians that previously acted to further enrich the Chumash will take a careful look at this court decision.
The issues decided by the federal judge yesterday do not directly address the issue at dispute in the Santa Ynez Valley Concerned Citizens lawsuit in which the Coalition is participating. We are hopeful that our success in that lawsuit will further add to the protection of the Valley.
Finally, I want to express the Coalition’s heartfelt appreciation to Nancy Crawford-Hall and her relentless legal team. She stood up and took action to right this wrong. Thank you, Nancy.
Editors Note: For more background, click here to access the press release from the Cappello & Noël law firm.
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.