The Rich Get Richer

Camp 4 Is Robin Hood in Reverse

The Chumash Tribe’s need for housing is described as dire, with a tribal spokesperson saying elders live in poor conditions and that the reservation’s restricted road system cannot accommodate fire trucks. Why has the Tribe, in the top one percent of income brackets in the United States, allowed their elders to live in such dangerous conditions? I am saddened to think the Tribe’s elders are being used as pawns in the Tribe’s quest to annex Camp 4. Tribal members have the financial resources to treat their elders with dignity.

Simply put, the push to annex Camp 4 is all about money.

The Tribe has been quoted as saying that they offered the county $1 million for 10 years to offset a project $82,000 annual tax loss during negotiations over Camp 4. What this “offer” doesn’t address are the long-term financial and environmental impacts to the County of Santa Barbara if the Tribe annexes Camp 4 and builds 143 homes and a Tribal Center of 50,000-plus square feet per their current stated development plan. And, once annexed, the Tribe can change its mind about the uses and density of its development at any time in the future.

Schools, roads, traffic, water, parks, public service, the environment will be impacted forever. The Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan, which the community worked on for 15 years to achieve the preservation of our agricultural land, our most valuable asset, will be damaged forever.

If the Tribe’s development happens, it pays no property taxes forever. For its proposed development, the county projected the cost for 50 years at over $300 million.

Who pays for all this? We do. The taxpayers of the County of Santa Barbara.

An offer of $1 million a year for 10 years, using Armenta’s word, is “asinine.” This is what the business world calls frivolous and/or not in good faith. The scolding the county CEO got, as if she were a 2-year-old, should have been addressed to the Tribe.

And who benefits? The Tribe; a small group of less than 150 members that is less than one percent of the thousands of Chumash in the Central Coast. They do not share their wealth with the other Chumash. So, Congress wants to force the county to let the extremely wealthy build housing and not pay for any of the effects of their development forever? This is Robin Hood in reverse.

This is a significant issue for everyone, not just Santa Ynez Valley residents. Congress is only listening to the Tribe. Why?

I am not in a “handful of haters” as the Tribe’s leadership describes anyone who questions their actions. I am a citizen among many. My children grew up and played with the children on the reservation. I voted for the state initiative allowing gaming on reservations. I thought that the profits would better the lives of Chumash descendants. This is not the case. This is about a small group of individuals avoiding taxes and accumulating wealth.

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