County Supervisor Joan Hartmann went to Washington, D.C., this week to urge Congressmember Doug LaMalfa to pump the brakes on legislation that would immediately annex the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indian’s Camp 4, a 1,400-acre property in the Santa Ynez Valley. “We’re making a lot of progress locally,” Hartmann said in a telephone interview as she boarded a plane at LAX. “The community understands the need for housing and a tribal center, [but] we need a little more time to solve this locally.”
Nearly two years ago, County CEO Mona Miyasato went to D.C. to ask LaMalfa the same thing. It did not go well. Northern California’s LaMalfa — and members of the House subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs — slammed county government for failing to negotiate with the tribe. They threatened to move the bill forward. So county officials started public negotiations with tribal leaders, including Kenneth Kahn, who is now the chair. (The public meetings were painful and ineffective; Kahn and Vice Chair Raul Armenta now meet privately with Hartmann and County Supervisor Das Williams.) For his part, Kahn said he doesn’t know what Hartmann is expecting to hear from LaMalfa. “The tribe is confident that the process we followed is by the book,” he said.
By Paul Wellman