After three rapid-fire meetings in the Santa Ynez Valley to hear public comments on the Camp 4 agreement between the Chumash and Santa Barbara County, I came away with the feeling this is only the tip of the iceberg.

The tribe has purchased every single piece of property on the north side of Highway 246 from directly across from the casino to the eastern edge of the Camp 4 property. The word “contiguous” comes into play because the BIA looks favorably on tribes whose lands connect to the original reservation.

If Camp 4 becomes part of the reservation the rest of these holdings will fall like dominos, and then watch out. Do you like Westlake Village, because that is what our Valley will become.

The Chumash have already set plans with commercial development all along Meadowvale Road, and I can assure you it won’t stop there. Their agreement with the county allows for a setback along Highway 154 and that is all. Highway 154 is a corridor used by travelers to get from Hwy. 101 near Goleta to Hwy. 101 north of Los Olivos. The Camp 4 property only borders the highway for a very short distance and is not even traveled by valley residents that much.

What about setbacks along Armor Ranch Road and Baseline Avenue? This is where the impacts are greatest, not on the highway with cars whizzing by on their way to somewhere else.

The plans call for 800 acres-plus of open space. That is over a square mile. Does there have to be development right in our face?

Although the agreement specifies there will be no new casino on Camp 4, what happens to the housing on the original reservation when there are 140 new homes? Are they razed so another tower or two can be built and the casino can be expanded on that property?

Why is the proposed agreement specific only to Camp 4? Why not include all properties held by the tribe. Will this flawed process continue with every property they wish to annex?

I do not begrudge the tribe for the successes it has realized. I only question when is enough enough, especially at the cost of converting open space to high-density development.

It was very disappointing to attend the meeting of Oct. 5 and to have Supervisor Das Williams show up late and then tell us he hitchhiked from Carpinteria to Santa Barbara. Has Das heard of a taxi or Uber? It almost came as no surprise when he was a no-show at the Oct. 9 meeting. Where are his priorities? This was a slap in the face to the residents of the Valley.

There unfortunately is an overwhelming silent majority of residents opposed to further development by the tribe, unless it is on a level playing field. I see nearly 1,000 people a week at my business, and whether they are local or visiting our Valley the sentiment is the same — how is that monstrous casino allowed to be in such a rural, beautiful place?

It was said several times by Supervisor Joan Hartmann that without an agreement the county has nothing, but with an agreement at least we have something. How many of us settle for second-best? Why should the county settle?

I am fearful of what will become of one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Shouldn’t we all be fearful?

Jim Sobell is a resident of Santa Ynez.


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