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Santa Ynez Valley
Concerned Citizens
P.O. Box 244
Santa Ynez, CA 93460

Letters : Opinion: Camp 4 bill needs to be rejected

Charles "C.J." Jackson

February 23, 2014 12:40 AM

Dear Representative Lois Capps:

Soon you will be asked by the sponsors of HR 3313 - the bill to take Camp 4 into the Chumash Reservation by congressional action - to agree to a first-step hearing on the bill. This bill, sponsored by congressmen with no ties to Santa Barbara County, seeks to circumvent the public review and approval process made law in 1934. Your constituents in the Santa Ynez Valley respectfully ask that you say "no" to this request.

You have been vocal about your opposition to solutions imposed upon communities by outsiders and indeed to this particular trust acquisition, and have always stood for public participation in decision-making and for economic and environmental analysis of significant government actions. This bill violates those principles, and cripples your capacity to represent the interests of your constituency. The impacts of this annexation are huge and should not be enabled without thorough analysis and public input.

Numerous writers within these pages cite the fiscal calamity of intensive development that burdens the county with significant mandated expense without corresponding revenue. On Camp 4, the tribe seeks to set the debate about tribal housing, only 14 percent of the total, while holding over 85 percent in the nebulous and undefined "land banking." We need look no further than the tribe's proposed development with Fess Parker in 2003 and its ill-conceived Tribal Consolidation Plan to understand its intent.

Should HR 3313 pass, the Chumash could broker their tribal status to large developers eager for property devoid of commensurate tax burdens, relieved of zoning, local regulatory constraint, and unburdened by local and state resource protections. The value of eliminating these costs would induce potential developers to maximize the intensity per square foot, much like the tribe's casino complex.

Little has been said about the land-use conflicts posed by a trust acquisition of this magnitude surrounded by rural, agricultural and low-density residential use. One side of Baseline Road will be required to comport with zoning and pay their property taxes to support public services and infrastructure. On the other side, a property the size of Solvang, unconstrained as to use and intensity. Secondarily, you could have a tribal government fueled by wealthy developers and gambling revenues unfettered by the cost of public services and infrastructure maintenance, and enriched with discretionary resources dwarfing the coffers of their governmental neighbors.

With HR 3313, there is no incentive for the tribe to meaningfully negotiate with their neighbors, nor to equitably and thoroughly follow the procedures and public processes of 25 CFR 151, the mandated route for trust acquisition. At a minimum, an acquisition of this magnitude should follow the rules to the letter, not circumvent them.

Madame Congresswoman, please do not allow a political calculus removed from this impacted jurisdiction guide your response or temper your resolve. HR 3313 is pre-mature, ill-conceived, and violates the principles you have articulated and stood for during your tenure. Give Rep. Doug La Malfa and his co-sponsors a resolute "no" to both a hearing and to HR 3313.

The author was the GOP lives in Solvang.