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

Background

The Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians (Chumash) has used the enormous profits from their gambling operation, plus taxpayer funded subsidies, to acquire numerous parcels and businesses throughout the Santa Ynez Valley. The stated objective of the Tribe is to ultimately annex the undeveloped parcels through the controversial federal "fee to trust" process. This development blueprint has been implemented by many other wealthy gaming tribes throughout the country to the demise of many local communities. Perhaps the most noteworthy being the quaint New England town of Ledyard, CT; which is now home to two giant casinos, one of which is the largest gaming facility in the world.

Among other things, federally mandated fee to trust through the Bureau of Indian Affairs effectively removes any and all local development and zoning restrictions, which then allows for unrestricted development, regardless of the impacts to the community whether they relate to scenic beauty, environment, water supply, increased crime, declining property values, etc. In effect, it is as if the property were owned by a sovereign foreign government. Success with this type of development, leads to even greater tribal wealth and the ability to increasingly influence local politicians at the expense of the voters who elect those politicians.

At the forefront of the Chumash Casino Tribe's strategy, is the 1400 acre "Camp 4" property. This particular parcel sits prominently at the "gateway" to the Santa Ynez Valley at the intersection of Highways 154 and 246. It is a beautiful open space that is zoned for agricultural use.

Camp 4 has been in the sights of the Tribe for many years. In [2006] they attempted to develop it in partnership with its owner at the time, the late Fess Parker-using their tribal status as a means to skirt zoning and development laws, and facilitate commercial development. This effort was met with severe opposition and righteous indignation from Valley and County residents, as well as local politicians. Those plans were ultimately shelved.

Current Status

On April 4, 2010 the Tribe announced that they had purchased the Camp 4 property from the estate of Fess Parker. The purchase price exceeded $40 million and is a testament to the great wealth generated by their large casino, resort and hotels. Simultaneously, the Tribe announced that it planned to annex the property, through fee to trust, to their existing reservation - notwithstanding the fact that the property was miles away from their reservation.

The tribe has claimed that it is only interested in providing housing for its members. However, these wealthy tribal members own nice homes throughout the Valley and elsewhere and once the land is annexed they can develop it in any manner they choose, with no legal recourse from the community or local government.

On August 24, 2011 a Town Hall meeting, sponsored by SYVCC and other opposition groups, was held in Solvang to inform the community on the various issues and concerns relating to the potential annexation. The Fire Department had to turn attendants away as the standing room only crowd overwhelmed the building and many were forced to listen on from speakers on the grounds outside. The huge turnout was testament to the grave concerns the community has about the Tribe's intentions.

In June 2011 the Tribe sent a "Cooperative Agreement" to the County offering $1 million per year for to offset costs and impacts to the County. The Board of Supervisors did not formally respond to the Agreement.

On January 21, 2013, the Tribe held a meeting for the public to hear their plans for development of the Camp 4 property. The meeting was moderated by Das Williams (__37th__district representative). It was at that meeting that Tribal leadership announced they were pursuing a legislative "solution" to fee to trust. In other words, they were shopping for a federal politician to insert language into a bill going through Congress that would transfer the land into trust on their behalf. The legislation, tagged onto unrelated legislation, would be voted on by out-of-area and out-of-state politicians, who have no connection to the Valley and do not answer to its voters. The Chumash meeting, which was prematurely stopped by the Tribal chairmen Armenta when the questions became uncomfortable, left the public even more skeptical about the Tribe's true intentions.

In June of 2013 the Tribe approached the Board of Supervisors with a request to re-engage in negotiations for a Cooperative Agreement regarding Camp 4. Local government support (Board of Supervisors) has become a federal requirement tribes must demonstrate exists in order to proceed. For there to be assistance of a federal congressman to sponsor legislation for Camp 4, the Tribe needs be on a "dialogue" basis with our County Board of Supervisors. Hence, to be successful in utilizing the legislative process, the Tribe must be engaged in active dialogue and negotiation with the Board of Supervisors.

On August 20, 2013, the Board of Supervisors will hold a public meeting to determine whether or not to engage in negotiations with the Tribe. SYVCC along with many other community groups and residents adamantly opposes any form of dialogue between the BOS and the Tribe regarding development of Camp 4.