<b>FALSE FURY:</b>  Sam Cohen, the Chumash band’s government affairs officer, has refuted worries that the tribe will attempt a development bait-and-switch should it successfully annex the 1,400-acre Camp 4 property.

Paul Wellman

FALSE FURY: Sam Cohen, the Chumash band’s government affairs officer, has refuted worries that the tribe will attempt a development bait-and-switch should it successfully annex the 1,400-acre Camp 4 property.

Chumash Reach Out to County Planning

Tribe Follows Up on Tuesday Decision; Supervisor Reaches Out; What About Existing Rez?

Friday, August 23, 2013
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One day after receiving the Tuesday’s bad news that the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors would not be engaging in a government-to-government dialogue with the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, the tribe’s government affairs officer Sam Cohen reached out to Glenn Russell, the head of the county planning department, to see what options were on the table.

On Thursday, upon hearing that news, 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr — who, like many of her constituents, vehemently opposes the tribe’s ongoing attempt through the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to annex the 1,400-acre Camp 4 property into its Santa Ynez Valley reservation — sent a letter to the Chumash, stating that she was “pleased” to hear they contacted Russell and explaining that she directed county CEO Chandra Wallar to attend that meeting as well “to assist the Tribe and answer any questions Mr. Cohen may have about the County’s entitlement process.”

Cohen confirmed that outreach but did not seem overly optimistic about the opportunity, explaining that he was simply following the direction given by the board. In an email to The Santa Barbara Independent, Cohen said he is “not sure what realistic options exist” but that it was “still worth a staff meeting.”

Tuesday’s board decision came after dozens of residents spoke out against an official government-to-government dialogue, as many fear that would make it easier for the tribe to annex Camp 4 as well as future properties through the federal fee-to-trust transfer program. Those fears were compounded this week when it was discovered that, as part of the Camp 4 application, the BIA had approved the tribe’s designation of 11,500 acres of Santa Ynez Valley land as their “tribal consolidation area,” or TCA.

That move, which was based on historic records of what was once considered Chumash country, does not implicitly mean that the tribe intends to take over an area the valley the size of, as critics have estimated, the cities of Goleta and Carpinteria combined. But it is seen as a strategic way of making it easier to annex Camp 4, which is technically an “off-reservation” property, meaning that the BIA is supposed to take a more critical look at such a proposal. Though making Camp 4 part of the Chumash tribe’s TCA doesn’t mean that it’s suddenly an “on-reservation” annexation — it’s easier for tribes to take over lands already surrounded by or adjacent to a tribal reservation — it presumably makes the BIA look more favorably on the request. Cohen has also pointed out that Camp 4 is a mere 1.6 miles from the existing 127-acre reservation, not very far away, at least in the eyes of the feds.

Another lingering question for many in the valley is that if Camp 4 is annexed and developed into the 143 homes that the tribe keeps promising for housing its members, what might happen to the existing residential part of the reservation, which surrounds the Chumash Casino and Resort along Highway 246? Might that become a new resort development once all of the housing is moved to Camp 4?

Cohen says that’s a hollow worry, pledging that “all current land assignments on the existing Santa Ynez Indian Reservation shall continue to be maintained unchanged.” He explained that the reservation lands are “highly constrained due to a variety of physical, social, and economic factors,” most notably that most of the property is in a floodplain that’s susceptible to flooding and drainage problems. Only about 26 acres, or 18 percent of the reservation, has residential capacity, Cohen explained, and another 16 acres, or 11 percent, has economic development possibilities. The remaining 99 acres, or 71 percent of the reservation, is consumed by creek corridors and steep slopes, which Cohen said would be “difficult to impossible to develop.” The usable size totals about 50 acres, said Cohen, most of which is already developed.

He further explained that of the 136 tribal members and roughly 1,300 lineal descendants, only 17 percent have housing on tribal lands, hence the tribe’s desire to develop Camp 4.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

The use of the land in question was taken from the Chumash. Why is this even an issue? The use of the land should be handed back with a thank you and an apology. Period. Chumash tolerance of immigration is undeniable. Residents should be thankful SYBCI haven't taken the same attitude toward immigrants that the US government currently practices.

bythesea (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2013 at 2:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Bythesea: Think about what you are saying. Every square inch in the western hemisphere belonged to the Indians Apply your argument this way and either you have the potential of kicking everyone out who doesn't share your DNA or if the ancestors of the original inhabitants decide you don't belong here than you'd have to leave.

Whether or not they should get the annexation isn't my point, it's the slippery slope of the point you are presenting--whatever your intention may be.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2013 at 4:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I get your point bythesea, but the USA isn't about to give the entire island State of Hawaii back to the lineal descendents of pre-existing Polynesian tribes (and amazing seafarers). The is some sort of historical statute of limitations, for example, California won't be going back to Mexico or Native Americans who lived here before the Chumash migrated in...invasions, migrations, population expansion, has been going on for tens of thousands of years.
Best bet now that the Tribe is reaching out to the Co Planning Dept., is for Farr to lead a compromise that gets the Co to recommend, say, another 150 acres on USABLE land [Cohen's point here is good] in the 1390 acres, and fast-track that for excellent tribal housing under County regulations (but sped up), and the rest of Camp 4, which Tribe already owns, to remain in sacred status [it's mostly not too usable anyway]...

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2013 at 4:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's not as if they are "taking" the land back. They are paying for it. Ironic since they got nothing for it when it was taken from them.

BeachFan (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2013 at 5:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Here's another thought:

Why not have the Chumash follow the same rules as every other person residing in the Santa Ynez Valley? They have scads of money, brought in to them by all the "winners" visiting their casino every day. America is supposed to be the land of equal opportunity. Why not actually make it so?

Awarding special perks and privileges to some supposedly "different" racial or political group is against our constitution and blatantly unfair to everyone else who plays be the rule of law.

SamRedDog (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2013 at 7:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

at the same time, our legally elected US Government gave them some of these particular "perks" and legal privileges in 1901...should we not honor them?? though I am vs. fee-to-Transfer.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2013 at 11:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

......the assumptions made by the knee-jerk pro- casino bloggers are largely false in re: whether or not this was "tribal land" at some historical point in time.......and the end-game of such poorly applied logic is that, basically, any piece of land along the coast of sb/slo/vta county would meet the same equation, and thus not be subject to taxation or any form of local or state land use requirments. Follow the money, whether it be COLAB or that of any elected official wanting to remove local land use control on these parcels purchased by the tribe. This debate is not about "righting wrongs". It is about subverting the intended purpose of laws and policies.

whosecityisthis2012 (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2013 at 2:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's impossible to ignore the analogy between the Chumash v the county in this debate and the residents of Santa Barbara in having a newcomer in the community whose positions are 180 degrees from those of city residents claim to represent our city. It's encouraging that the disagreement between the Chumash tribe and the county has remained civil and stopped short of name-calling, character assassination and other anti-social behavior.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2013 at 6:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Leaving aside the controversial issue of "return" of Chumash to land they previously owned there is another issue not being discussed. That is the issue of County land use controls. To be honest navigating through Planning and Development is a nightmare. It is a bureaucracy that can drive a person to tear their hair out. It is especially intolerant to those wanting something "original" on their land. Say a Chumash wanted to live in a traditional Chumash dwelling. Nope, not permitted. Say a Chumash wanted to compost their own waste to return it to the soil. Nope. Planning and Development has a rule book that must be two feet thick. It is designed to make everyone live the lifestyle the planners think is "normal". Think tiki tac. Take a drive around the Santa Ynez Valley. That is P&D at work.

dontoasthecoast (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2013 at 7:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Let's try to elevate this discussion. Isn't the problem based on the fact that the Tribe is "sovereign" but totally within the borders of the U.S., CA and SB County? That means that the impacts of what the tribe does on its own land affects everything surrounding. If it puts things in the soil or creates runoff, it can affect everyone's ground water. If it generates traffic, it affects surrounding streets and highways.

Think about similar situations. The Vatican is a sovereign nation surrounded by Italy. If the Vatican bought land in Rome and tried to annex it to the Vatican, there would be an uproar. Or what if Windsor Canada bought up the relatively cheap land in bordering Detroit? Could Canada annex U.S. territory just by buying it?

When the U.S. bought Alaska from the Russians, or the Louisiana Purchase from the French, it was with the seller's willing understanding that annexation to the U.S. was part of the deal. But SB County was NOT party to Parker's sale of land to the Tribe. If Parker had had the authority to sell SB County's and CA's interest along with the land, he could have sold it to China or Germany for a much higher price.

The tribe hasn't made the case of why it can't do everything it wants with this land without annexing it to their nation. If it is to be a sovereign nation it should act like one.

dprince (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2013 at 8:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree with Sam red dog, they can buy whatever land they want to as long as they abide by the rules the rest of us have to abide by.

buckwheat (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2013 at 8:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is a land use issue, period. Read the Chumash application. It calls for building 134 3,000 to 5,000 sq ft houses, 1-5 ac next to a state scenic highway, on a lot zoned for 100 acres. One of the plans includes a 30 acre spot for "government" buildings. If the current government buildings, and residences are consolidated on Camp 4 site, the Chumash would have much more acreage on the casino property to build out the casino. The people of Santa Barbara signed off on a 20 year plan which includes keeping this land agricultural, and the supes need to back the citizens of their county.

Cohen's promises are completely unenforceable by the county. They can build whatever they want on reservation land. If Camp 4 is approved by the BIA, all the tribal buildings and residences will be moved to Camp 4, and the size of the casino will be doubled. Count on it.

ReadtheFinePrint (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2013 at 9:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Don, combined the County's zoning ordinance and the Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan are only about six inches thick at the most. Want to live in a traditional Chumash dwelling? Sorry, the State Uniform Building Code does not allow that. Want to compost your own waste and bury it outside? Sorry, the State Uniform Plumbing Code doesn't allow that. Not sure what parts of Santa Ynez Valley are tiki-tac [sic].

discoboy (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2013 at 12:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This is ridiculous.

They *own* the land.
They were decimated by invading Europeans.
They were lied to, cheated, raped, pillaged and diseased by the invaders.

The least we can do and the least they deserve is to build on their land in compliance with a safe building code.

Pay taxes? Pay fees? Pay for permits? Really? And yet the are doing all this now - just not enough for some people.

Good grief!

willy88 (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2013 at 2:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There seems to be some confusion as to the 'soveriegn" status of Native American Tribes or Bands. They are most like counties that have special legal rights. They do not have most of the powers that the fifty states have, for example they have to have state authorization for gaming and they do not have the power to tax. They certainly have none of the powers that the US government has except for calling themselves a nation.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2013 at 4:09 p.m. (Suggest removal) know what racial-drift is? Do you know the definition of 'American Indian' according to Noah Webster? The intention of the casino was to pack the remnants of the tribe with riches so when they are released into the general population they have a good start. its silly to think the reservation will remain a reservation when the Chumash blood quantum is SO dissipated nobody is more than %10.

Hemlockroid (anonymous profile)
August 27, 2013 at 7:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hemroid, the idea of "ethnic purity" which underlies most of your posts is ugly. You’re a narcissist that thinks you know better and can tell everyone how to look at a situation. I know, I’ve read your hateful posts. Personally, I don’t consider blood quantum to define Chumash people. Mixing occurred before the coming of the Spanish, and the Spanish weren’t really Spanish now, were they? At the time Columbus set sail, they were a newly created nation-state after being conquered by the "Moors" for 750 years. Spanish contains a lot of Arabic. The ethnic purity filter you propose everyone see through is antiquated and, in my opinion, employed by you out of a sense of hatred and bigotry. Please give readers a break and/or come with some real opinions on the matter at hand.
Fact is, the Chumash people at the Reservation are a separate nation with a government to government relation with your Federal government. The land they’ve purchased and wish to develop should not be subject to local jurisdiction, but federal. There is plenty of precedence for relations between Feds and tribes and land put into trust. If the county is going to lose some revenue, big deal.... they have plenty. "Your daddy’s rich and your ma is good lookin, so hush little baby, go ahead and cry." The Chumash should be able to thrive.

rebuttal (anonymous profile)
August 30, 2013 at 11:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

agree with first part of your post, rebuttal, the ethnic purity stuff is BS and has nasty historical associations (think: Aryan). However, it's certainly true that Cohen's statements of "intent" and so on are ambiguous as best, and totally unenforceable; admit it, they want to build more than just houses on Camp 4.
You also shoot yourself in the foot: the Chumash ARE THRIVING financially, and I am very glad about that fact!
Uh, the county does NOT have plenty of revenue. I've suggested elsewhere that either the Tribe make a sort of legally binding covenant about building only houses on Camp 4 and a few (on 10 acres?) of their governmental buildings there: but no more casinos. No fee-to-transfer.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 30, 2013 at 11:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Let the Chumash be a separate nation -- but let's put up border control on all the entries and exits. Let's charge road fees like they do between many European countries. Let's charge duty on anything going in or out of the Chumash Nation.
Can't have it both ways.

loneranger (anonymous profile)
September 2, 2013 at 5:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

but your "between European countries" is on the same continent, but the Europeans/pioneers came to where these Native Americans lived (N.America), decimated them through conquest and disease, and finally gave them a tad of respect via these treaties declaring, e.g. the Chumash, separate "nations" [with MANY limitations, as, no army etc.]. The Santa Ynez Band [1901 treaty with USA] CAN have it both ways since our US government established these treaties after participating in the "slow genocide" of these indigenous peoples.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
September 2, 2013 at 5:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Correction: The reservations in California were made by Executive Order, and not through treaties. Treaties were signed between leaders of California tribes and representatives of the Federal Government, but these representatives were followed back to DC by businessmen who successfully lobbied for the treaties to NOT be ratified. A 50 year seal was placed on the documents and these are known as "The 18 Lost Treaties of California." More information can be read here:

Lone Ranger, you could use a dose of book learnin’. Why don’t you invest in inquiry more and read, ask questions and learn something. Your bigotry and hatred has no place in educated debate. Come correct.

rebuttal (anonymous profile)
September 6, 2013 at 7:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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