Tribal Chair Vincent Armenta states the resort expansion has nothing to do with Camp 4.

Paul Wellman (file)

Tribal Chair Vincent Armenta states the resort expansion has nothing to do with Camp 4.

Chumash Expansion Ignites Valley Fever

County Negotiating with Tribe Over Controversial Plan

Thursday, August 28, 2014
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Dead horses, red herrings, and fruit metaphors peppered this week’s Board of Supervisors discussion on the Chumash resort expansion plans. First floated in March and elaborated on in July via a 556-page environmental study, the tribe’s idea to ease overcrowding at its existing hotel-casino involves the construction of a 12-story hotel tower, a five-story parking garage, and 75,000 square feet of additional gaming space. The plans have attracted the attention of not only four county departments but also State Attorney General Kamala Harris, a law firm representing the Santa Ynez Valley Airport Authority, and the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District.

On Tuesday, the supervisors made their thoughts known to county CEO Mona Miyasato, who is set to meet with tribal leadership on Thursday. Touched on most often were worries about the tower’s height and the resort’s water needs in an ongoing drought. But while concerned commenters ​— ​most of the supervisors and members of the public alike ​— ​accounted for much of the discussion, several speakers said the issue really stemmed from a divided vote to deny the tribe a government-to-government relationship with the county. That vote, a year ago this week, preceded the supervisors’ denial of the tribe’s request to annex the 1,400-acre Camp 4 property. Soon after, the tribe took its bid to Congress, where the annexation is now a piece of proposed legislation.

But 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr said the long-brewing Camp 4 issue and the newly proposed expansion are “separate conversations” and that she wants to focus on the size and scope of the additions, which she said would worry her no matter the applicant. “However, the concerns are exacerbated because this is a project on tribal land and does not go through the local land-use process,” Farr declared. “This is our opportunity to try to get all of those concerns expressed. I think that we are trying to negotiate here and have a real dialogue.”

<b>BIG AND TALL:</b>  The rendering in the lower image shows what the 12-story hotel tower would look like from Highway 246.
Click to enlarge photo

Courtesy Photo

BIG AND TALL: The rendering in the lower image shows what the 12-story hotel tower would look like from Highway 246.

Save for the supervisors’ comments that Miyasato will bring to the negotiations this week, a “second bite at the apple” for the board will only happen if discussions are “successful,” the county CEO said. According to County Counsel Mike Ghizzoni, the state will determine whether the tribe’s mitigation measures are in “good faith.”

In her letter, Attorney General Harris noted “deficiencies” with the Chumash proposal, questioning why the resort’s water usage wasn’t further studied and asking how the tribe could think that a 12-story building would mesh with the area’s otherwise rural landscape. The Santa Ynez Valley Airport Authority said the tower would impede the use of one of its two runways during bad weather and called on the tribe to “reconsider the location and height” of the 140-foot-tall building.

Chris Dahlstrom of the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District ​— ​which supplies the casino-hotel with 22,600 gallons of water per day ​— ​said the extra 35,700 gallons the expanded resort would require would be a tough sell for his department, already dealing with the drought and chromium-6 issues. The tribe hasn’t applied yet, Dahlstrom said, but he cautioned that no new water services are being issued now.

First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, who voted with 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino in favor of open dialogue last year, said the county could have been better off with a different approach. “Not to beat a dead horse any further,” he said, “[but] I still am a firm believer that if we had a government-to-government dialogue, perhaps we could have discussed this and other plans in advance.” Carbajal said the refusal hasn’t resulted in “fruitful outcomes.”

Tribal leadership has said previously that its expansion plans are unrelated to its Camp 4 push, and Chair Vincent Armenta said as much on Tuesday, using the phrase “scare tactic” to describe such allegations. “This has nothing to do with Camp 4,” he said, adding, “If they want to give us Camp 4, we’ll certainly accept it.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Photo caption: (Vincent Armenta quietly saying to himself) "I've had enough of this guy, if he opens his mouth one more time, I'm gonna whup him upside his head".

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
August 28, 2014 at 1:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Just remember Armenta's famous quote. We will listen to your concerns but don't tell us what to do. It still applies today folks. They win, you lose, game over! The County can do very little to stop them. That train left the station years ago!

rukidding (anonymous profile)
August 28, 2014 at 5:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Kidding is right on this one - what little chance the county had to have any influence what the tribe wants to do got thrown out the window when they rejected the g-to-g agreement.

Num1UofAn (anonymous profile)
August 28, 2014 at 11:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It would all be a moot point if people stopped patronizing that evil establishment. They prey on weak people and take advantage of them, plying them with food, hotel stays, and concert tickets, making them feel like high rollers. They ruin lives and families, all in the ultimate goal of stealing more money from unsuspecting gamblers. Wake up people, they are not your friend.

If they are denied water, how can they build that monstrosity!?

SBLover35 (anonymous profile)
August 28, 2014 at 11:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Wow! That west facing rendering of the proposed 12 story tower is just damn ugly! Talk about serious visual blight.

The S.Y. Valley is NOT Las Vegas, Chumash tribe! The County has said "NO!" The locals have said "NO!" Yet you take all your issues to a distant congressman for his hoped passage in Washington, DC. Unreal! Play by the rules!

Enough, please. We don't not need the financial crumbs you toss out in the community aka sponsorships, grants, etc.

Barron (anonymous profile)
August 28, 2014 at 12:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Aren't the Chumash the original ambassadors of the land in and around what's now Santa Ynez? It seems like they no longer want to care for a protect the lands and resources. Their facility is already taxing on not just water usage, but on the natural landscape and current town as established before the Casino. Personal beliefs about gambling aside, how to they expect water to magically appear for this development, where water does not currently exist? Why do they think their expansion deserves the water (that will hopefully come back someday), and not the long-existing local farms? Should the farms be denied water just so the Chumash can expand? And how will public safety be addressed? The Chumash will need their own fire department in case of emergency at the facility. The town of Santa Ynez does not need extra policing, but the area will for the added customers of the casino. Will SYV look like a police state soon?

It just doesn't fit. Stop the expansion.

z28racergirl (anonymous profile)
August 28, 2014 at 1:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"If they are denied water, how can they build that monstrosity!?"

They will drill wells into their "nation's" aquifer, and suck dry the SYV's groundwater basin. Oh, and it will all be legal.

I'm hoping the fuscia color is only for the rendering and not the intended color of the hotel, right?

Indyholio (anonymous profile)
August 28, 2014 at 5:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The level of ignorance about what the Chumash can and cannot do legally is amazingly high. They are subject to Federal control and the State also has some control over their operations. People are misled by the term Sovereign Nation. That term means that they are not under the complete control of any of the fifty states. They are subject to Federal water rights riles, however since their reservation sits on top of a river they may have rights that they are not presently using.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
August 28, 2014 at 6:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Too many people.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 28, 2014 at 6:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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