Whither Santa Ynez?

by Martha Sadler

The draft Santa Ynez community plan was unveiled to decidedly
mixed reviews at Tuesday’s county Board of Supervisors meeting,
with Supervisor Brooks Firestone being the plan’s biggest booster.
Seventy-two square miles of his 3rd District are covered by the
plan, including the three unincorporated towns of Santa Ynez,
Ballard, and Los Olivos. Not everyone shared Firestone’s enthusiasm
about the work of the Valley Planning Advisory Committee. Several
valley residents — from ranchers to homeowners to a spokesperson
for the Alisal Guest Ranch — expressed outrage at a map marking
potential public access through their properties to rivers or
mountains. Others objected to 60 units of high-density housing for
very low-income workers proposed along Highway 246. Most of the
projected need for additional housing was accounted for in the form
of worker housing on ranches, mixed commercial-and-residential
properties in town, and second units.

Andy Caldwell — spokesman for the Coalition of Labor,
Agriculture, and Business — said that development rights for
state-mandated affordable housing should be transferred to
Buellton, Solvang, or the Santa Ynez Chumash Indian Reservation.
Planners responded that the county does not have authority to
transfer its housing requirements to those jurisdictions. Nancy
Emerson from the Save Our Stars committee strongly urged the county
to follow Solvang’s lead in adopting outdoor lighting controls to
protect views of the night sky. And Naomi Kovaks of the Citizens
Planning Association was among those calling for down-zoning to
protect agricultural land, rather than the plan’s proposal for a
Historical Overlay District, which would forbid or permit
development on a parcel-by-parcel basis. This policy, Kovaks
warned, leaves the door wide open to subdividing into five-acre
“ranchettes.” Former supervisor Gail Marshall concurred, calling
the Historical Overlay a “sham” that sought to avoid difficult
decisions. The board did not discuss or take action on the plan,
and will continue to hear comments next week.


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