Legislation that would affirm the secretary of the interior’s decision to take the land known as Camp 4 into trust for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians was introduced Jan. 8 in the House of Representatives and referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources the same day.
Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, the former chairman of the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs who represents California’s 1st Congressional District, introduced House Resolution 317, the fourth bill he’s sponsored for placing Camp 4 into federal trust.
This time, he has Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, who represents the 24th Congressional District, on board as co-sponsor.
Carbajal’s website said Thursday the text of HR 317 had not yet been received, and both his and LaMalfa’s website said a summary of the bill was being prepared.
The bill wasn’t even listed on govtrack.us, an independent website that tracks federal legislation and legislators’ votes.
Carbajal’s website said in most cases, bills are sent to the Library of Congress by the Government Publishing Office “a day or two after they are introduced on the floor of the House,” but it noted there can be delays if there are a lot of bills to prepare or a very large bill has to be printed.
HR 317’s title reads: “To reaffirm the action of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for the benefit of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians, and for other purposes.”
The title is similar to that of HR 1491, which LaMalfa introduced in the 115th Congress. The bill died when Congress adjourned without the Senate voting on it, but without the text it’s unclear if the new legislation has the same language as HR 1491 that would void all appeals of the trust decision.
Kenneth Kahn, Chumash tribal chairman, said HR 317 will protect the tribe’s 1,400 acres of Santa Ynez land known as Camp 4 and affirm the Bureau of Indian Affairs decision of Jan. 19, 2017, to place the site into federal trust.
“We continue to seek the opportunity to place our Camp 4 property in federal trust through legislation,” Kahn said. “We were successful in placing Camp 4 in federal trust through the BIA’s administrative process, and we’re confident that with the progress we’ve made over the last two years, the legislative process will be just as successful.”
Kahn said the progress he was referring to includes a memorandum of agreement between the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and the tribe, Kahn’s testimony before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and the committee’s subsequent unanimous approval of HR 1491.
Bill Krauch, chairman of the Santa Ynez Valley Coalition, which is opposed to the legislation and the county agreement with the Chumash, said the coalition will continue to oppose the action.
“This is the third time the Chumash have gone to Congress to deny residents their rights to challenge the illegal Camp 4 fee-to-trust decision in court,” Krauch said.
“We are disappointed our congressman would sponsor a bill on behalf of a wealthy special interest group that will violate the Community Plan, allow unregulated development and be partially subsidized by the taxpayers of Santa Barbara County,” he said. “We will continue to oppose this action.”
Krauch previously said if HR 1491 had passed, it would have allowed the tribe to build a development that massively violates local zoning and planning restrictions.
Inconsistency with the community plan is one of the main points for opponents, which include individuals as well as local grassroots organizations.
Opposition also has been fueled by a loss of local control and tax revenues, fear of a casino on the site as well as an unsightly development along Highway 154, and an expectation of increased water use, among others.
The Chumash purchased the 1,400-acre tract, located east of Highway 154 in Santa Ynez, in 2010 from the Fess Parker estate for a reported $42 million in order to build housing for tribe members and descendants as well as a tribal center.
Tribal governments can petition to add land to their reservation through an administrative process under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, adopted by Congress as a means to promote native self-governance.
By making the land part of the reservation, it is no longer subject to state and county laws regarding development and is exempt from property taxes, although the memorandum of agreement calls for the Chumash to follow state and county codes and provides compensation for services provided by the county.
Under the memorandum of agreement with the county, the Chumash will build 143 homes and a 12,000-square-foot tribal administrative center on the site.
Kahn said the “vast majority of the property” will be protected as agricultural land or environmental open space.
“Our main focus for Camp 4 is housing,” he said. “Our current reservation is one of the smallest in the country and only provides enough space for 17 percent of our tribal membership to live.
“It is our inherent right to secure Camp 4 as part of our reservation to restore tribal homelands, promote self-determination and bring many of our members back home.”
The Santa Ynez reservation was established and officially recognized by the federal government on Dec. 27, 1901, and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians remains the only federally recognized Chumash tribe in the nation.