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Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Tribal Chairman Vincent Armenta

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Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Tribal Chairman Vincent Armenta


Facts on Camp 4 Federal Trust Application


Monday, August 19, 2013
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Last month the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians filed an application with the Pacific Regional Office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to place 1,390 acres of land — a parcel known as Camp 4 — into federal trust.

That simple act of filing an application with the BIA has created quite a stir among those following tribal issues. I would like to clear up some misconceptions and provide information on placing land into federal trust.

There are two ways to place land into federal trust: administratively through the BIA or legislatively by introducing a bill in Congress. Initially, we had planned to take the legislative route with our Camp 4 land and were working diligently through that process. However, one of the stipulations made by congressional representatives was to work with county government prior to introducing a bill. And that’s where we have faced a significant roadblock.

As of this writing, it has been more than 800 days since we submitted our Camp 4 Draft Cooperative Agreement to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. That’s more than two years of inaction on the county’s part. More than two years of refusing to speak with us to negotiate an agreement that would provide significant economic benefits to Santa Barbara County.

We know that one of the major objections of taking land into federal trust is the loss of property taxes. So one of the key features in our Draft Cooperative Agreement included our pledge to provide a payment in lieu of property taxes that would have resulted in a million dollars per year for Santa Barbara County.

We don’t know why there has been indecision from the county to even begin a dialogue on Camp 4. It couldn’t be because an agreement like this is untested or unusual. The Revenue Neutrality Agreement between the County of Santa Barbara and the City of Goleta exists — and it’s based on many of the same factors we are suggesting in our draft agreement.

That agreement ensures that Goleta will be able to operate in the black financially from the outset without a net loss to the county. That’s what we propose. It agrees to provide an annual fee to the county for a designated period. That’s what we propose. It ensures that the county is compensated for its loss and Goleta maintains services critical to its residents. That’s what we propose.

Interestingly, prior to her role as 3rd District Supervisor, Doreen Farr was instrumental in getting the Goleta agreement established with the county. But she has been steadfast against any type of negotiation with our tribe and publicly vocal about her opposition to taking land into federal trust.

In fact, based on what she has said in the past, Supervisor Farr has made it quite clear to us that she has no desire to ever meet with us — whether to discuss our fee-to-trust application for Camp 4 or our fee-to-trust application for 6.9 acres across the street from our reservation where we would like to build a museum. Listening to what she has said over the years has been telling.

At first, Supervisor Farr said she didn’t want to meet because we hadn’t filed a fee-to-trust application. Then she didn’t want to meet with us because the application hadn’t been approved and it was “premature” to meet. All the while, she has been working to fight our journey to place our land into federal trust. Apparently, for Supervisor Farr, it is never the right time to meet with the tribe.

During her candidacy for 3rd District Supervisor, Farr ran on the idea she is open to talk to everyone. But “everyone” just doesn’t seem to include our tribe.

A small group of local and vocal tribal opponents — who, incidentally, represent less than one percent of the total population of Santa Ynez Valley — continue spreading misinformation about placing land into trust. Let me just dispel their myths in one fell swoop:

• The tribe is a government.

• The tribe was officially recognized as a tribe in 1901.

• The tribe will follow rules — federal rules.

• In trust, land is under the jurisdiction of two governments: the feds and the tribe.

• We are not building a casino on Camp 4.

When our tribe purchased Camp 4 in 2010, one of the primary goals was to build housing for tribal members and their families. Currently, only about 17 percent of our tribal members and lineal descendants live on our reservation. This federal trust land application for Camp 4 is an integral part of accommodating current and future generations of Santa Ynez Chumash and creating a meaningful opportunity for tribal members and their families to a part of a tribal community revitalization effort that rebuilds tribal culture, customs and traditions.

Vincent Armenta is the tribal chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

Comments

Independent Discussion Guidelines

I don't trust this guy .No amount of sugar coating this proposal will camouflage their designs on massive land acquisition in the area. As Susan Jordan said recently-
"The vision here, if I may be blunt, is not to build a few houses. In fact, when the tribe was looking at buying just half of Camp 4 (745 acres), they described the development potential to their members as including a 300-room resort hotel/spa, two 18-hole golf courses, and up to 500 homes of which only 150 would be for tribal housing."
Look out Gainey Vineyard and the Gaviota Coast . Oh ...and water in the valley? Forget about it.

geeber (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 4:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I generally support the Chumash and the Santa Ynez Band, despite misgivings about the Casino. Armenta makes many good points here [see Susan Jordan's recent piece in Voices for comparison].
But Armenta, very smart guy, has honestly told us the key point: they have only come to the County and now try this BIA approach because their preferred approach is via Congress (legislative), and it's been delayed... since this Congress wants the federally-recognized Santa Ynez Band to first try to work with (SB) "county government". Maybe Farr is quite clever here, since once the SB County officially meets with the Band, as apparently Carbajal wishes, then the Band has made effective efforts to "meet with county government". And the 800-day delay proves, to Congress then, that heck the Tribe has really tried and tried. Then, back to the preferred route through Congress. But since Congress is also pretty corrupt, like they have with Das Williams [$38,000], the many Calif. tribes will nudge Congresspeople with various helps and financial helps (within the law, which is loose).
Armenta wrote above: "However, one of the stipulations made by congressional representatives was to work with county government prior to introducing a bill."
At the same time, retired boutique liberals in the Valley holler, but maybe that's because their little pastoral paradise is being used more by the original inhabitants? Do these same vocal folks yell as loudly at their own wineries and anglo development. Complex!
I don't mind leaving it to the feds. If Armenta would come up with some sort of covenant with the County promising that NONE of the 1390 acres of Camp 4 would be developed for casinos or retail stuff, and only for Chumash-descended families, and that some of the coastal band and other deprives Chumash be let in on these spoils and money.... then I support the annexation to the tribe.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 4:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This guy is a liar.
The NIMBY group are intellectually dishonest as well.
Simple.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 9:01 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The white man giveth, and the white man taketh away.

That was meant to inject a little humor, and perhaps some long perspective, on what appears to be a pretty acrimonious issue. So much distrust on both sides. Good thing this isn't the Balkans.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 10:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

LATimes editorial today came out strongly vs. the Tribe's fee-to-Trust application. They point out only 12 homes could be built on the 1390 acres so homes now seems a misleading point. It's a capitalistic society here, let the Tribe buy it and develop it like others would have to. The Times was very concerned by the idea that if this gets approved, then the Tribe could buy others parcels anywhere [say, the beautiful Gaviota coast] and develop them without County controls (feds would still have say so).

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 10:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The anti-tribe groups in the Valley have no credibility and are in the same faction as the anti-Obama birthers. With that said I completely support the tribe's successes financially with the Casino and wish them the best in the future. The problem with Camp 4 is the effort to avoid County land use planning and CEQA issues, particularly water. The newly discussed issue of water is dangerous and critical. Indians do have unique and powerful water rights under the law and that is scary. If they really just want housing, they can now afford to buy the best housing in the Valley and/or develop it themselves on land within County jurisdiction.

sbreader (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 10:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

suits ties and crooked smiles are no longer associated with trust in this world. Try not to act like the wealthy and intitled.

spacey (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 1:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

why should the proud and wonderful Chumash wear the coats&ties of western civilization? Gandhi got rid of all that non-Bharatiya crap and returned to his dhoti. Will we hear about how the very fortunate Sta. Ynez Band (137 members) plans to share its casino and other windfalls with their less fortunate tribal members??
Agree sbreader, and the precious and sacred water resource land management issue makes fee-to-Trust look even more dubious. We can support the Tribe, but gently oppose making beautiful Camp 4 part of the Reservation. The judicial principle, if Congress went ahead, would allow Armenta and the Sta. Ynez Band to develop Camp 4 more easily, and honestly it doesn't seemed destined for 12 homes. Gainey Vineyards could be next, and hey, how about some ranchos over in Gaviota?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 3:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

" Do these same vocal folks yell as loudly at their own wineries (?)" -DrDan-
Answer: No.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 5:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

if a citizen or government agency of a foreign nation bought land in the US, they would continue to be responsible for any federal, state, and local taxes on the land. So should the Chumash. A million dollars is peanuts compared to the property taxes that would be paid if the land were developed. They already have their tax free land. No more. Enough national guilt.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 6:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

though against fee-to-transfer, John, according to several treaties these tribes are in fact sovereign nations, with some limits. They are not an outside "foreign nation ", their holdings predate 1775 and all that. It isn't any supposed "national guilt", that is simply your take on it.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 6:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"The tribe will follow rules — federal rules."

SPEAKS VOLUMES

"suits ties and crooked smiles are no longer associated with trust in this world. Try not to act like the wealthy and intitled. "

UH-HUH

losolivoslocal (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 8:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"This guy is a liar.
The NIMBY group are intellectually dishonest as well.
Simple."

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 9:01 a.m.

Or to put it another way, the enemy of your enemy isn't always your friend.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 21, 2013 at 3:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

but the enemy of my friend has to be my enemy as well, nicht Wahr? The ancient Greeks thought this...

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 21, 2013 at 5:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

spacey, am agreeing that it's a form of humiliation that Armenta the Chumash leader, wears the urban imperialistic regalia, and why should he act like the wealthy and entitled, eh? Agree it's a grand thing we're not in the Balkans, and there is also beautiful land there around Pec and the Black Mountain.
The Chumash in Santa Ynez are an officially recognized tribe, and a sovereign nation (not from outside), so they usually deal with the feds. In land use and land management issues, I feel better with the County involved, but naturally worry about corruption at this level, too. Seen as another country and as a business, SB County can deal carefully and strictly with the Tribe; don't let them make the 1390 acres Reservation, but cut deals to help them develop a little bit of it (closest to Hwy 154). Don't accept the $10 million brive to SB County.
As a shrewd foreign minister, Armenta is simply another CEO getting the best deal for his people (company). But others, and I am with Jordan on this, want the best for ALL the various peoples in SYV, AND the best arrangement to protect the rustic land and wildness of the area...if necessary, from avaricious Tribal business leaders.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 21, 2013 at 5:53 a.m. (Suggest removal)

DrDan I don't understand the distinction you're trying to make between "sovereign nation" and "foreign nation", as I think that foreign nations are also sovereign nations. In any case, it appears from today;s news that there are rather a lot of people, as compared to the relatively few actual Chumash, are against this deal. Hard for me to understand how the federal gov, which at least in theory gets its power from the people, can direct a state to give up private property like this. Of course, CA such a history of abusing private property rights that this plays right into the Chumash' hands.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
August 21, 2013 at 8:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"A million dollars is peanuts compared to the property taxes that would be paid if the land were developed. They already have their tax free land."
-- JohnLocke

The property currently generates $84,000 in property taxes per year. The tribe offered to pay $1,000,000 per year for 10 years.

http://www.independent.com/news/2013/...

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
August 21, 2013 at 9:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"Hard for me to understand how the federal gov ... can direct a state to give up private property like this"

Legal aspects and a summary of case law related to fee-to-trust:

http://turtletalk.files.wordpress.com...

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
August 21, 2013 at 9:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"The property currently generates $84,000 in property taxes per year. The tribe offered to pay $1,000,000 per year for 10 years".

With no one living on it- it is ag land in its current form.

Add 140 homes- and you get taxes from EACH residential- possibly A LOT more than what it gathers now...

losolivoslocal (anonymous profile)
August 21, 2013 at 9:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

A couple of things to keep in mind:

1) The opposition to fee-to-trust by valley residents is not a "small minority" as Armenta suggests, Rather, the vast majority of valley residents are vigorously opposed to this "deal", and with good reason. Unrestricted "development" of the SY Valley will turn it into a combo of North Van Nuys and Vegas. And it is primarily to avoid current limitations on growth, which are applicable to everyone else in the county except the Chumash Reservation, that the fee-to-trust application is being pushed forward by any means available. Money talks; bulls**t walks.

2) Note the correlation between the Indy giving a platform to Armenta to espouse his stories and the number of lavish, full-page ads published in this paper by the casino every month. A coincidence . . . . natch!

SamRedDog (anonymous profile)
August 21, 2013 at 4:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A free press will report on such things as Armenta, leader of this wealthy tribe (like a CEO to me), responding to intense criticism of his tribe's plan to go fee-to-Trust (into the Reservation status = casinos). They gave Susan Jordan a very good platform in her recent Voices piece; I think we need to hear the words and views of both sides.
Interestingly, both sides say "most of the Valley" is with my view...

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 21, 2013 at 4:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

But then both sides always say that or something similar.

Re the speculation about Chumash contributions to Carbajal: Is a "sovereign nation" allowed to contribute funds to influence elections in the US?

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
August 22, 2013 at 8:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

good question, JL. You had asked me about "sovereign nation" and "foreign nation" -- with specific limits in their treaties with the USA (e.g. they can't have their own army or foreign policy!), the Chumash can deal with US governing bodies like, say, Poland. So the Chumash have limited sovereignty (unlike say Bacara if they wanted to expand), but they are not located on soil outside N. America, and they PRE-DATE the existence of the USA. I know it's confusing. Armenta's idea seemed to be that if he could just get SB County to deal with him as a distinct government, government to government, he would get advantages for the tribe AND it would enable him to go back to BIA saying we've met, now we want to go to US Congress.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 22, 2013 at 10:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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