by Ethan Stewart

Several issues related to the Gaviota Coast had
environmentalists and land conservationists alternating between
smiles and frowns at the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors
meeting this week.

¤  Supervisors heard a lengthy report on how
Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) might help mitigate the
proposed development of the Santa Barbara Ranch. TDR allows for the
conversion of rural land in exchange for increased development in
other areas. While all boardmembers expressed desires to protect
Naples, they uniformly speculated that local communities would
never support increasing urban density to preserve open space up
the coast. As a result, none seemed particularly supportive of the

¤  The Board voted unanimously to designate 140
acres of the Baron Ranch surplus property and directed staff to
draft a proposal for its sale. They requested that the proposal
include deed restrictions to prevent excessive development, and
special considerations for a trail system.

¤  Heralded as a landmark compromise between
developers and preservation advocates — the Board conceptually
approved the revised plans for the Bean Blossom house. The new
plans call for a one-story home instead of a two-story; no barn;
reductions in the size of the garage, cabana, and guest house; and
a square footage of just under 10,000 square feet. The house is to
be nestled into the hillside, rendering it “nearly invisible” to
passersby on Highway 101. Bean Blossom will return for final
approval on April 18.

¤  The Board also unanimously amended
ordinances governing oil and gas consolidation to reflect changes
at the former Gaviota oil and gas processing site and to prevent
future oil tank farms in the coastal zone. The amendments — which
were applauded by the Environmental Defense Center and Gaviota
Coast Conservancy — also call for the removal of large oil tanks
just south of the 101; the land may be reused as a county park.


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