Gaviota Goes to County Supes

Board to Decide on What to Do with Key Coastal Properties

Santa Barbara County Supervisors are poised to vote Tuesday,
November 7, on a deal that would pave the way for the sale of about
140 acres of their Gaviota land holdings while re-doubling their
intent to grant public access to the coastal Baron Ranch.

The 1,090-acre Baron Ranch, which sits just north of the Refugio
Road exit of Highway 101, was purchased in 1991 by the county’s
Public Works Department for $7.5 million. The county did so for two
reasons: one, to provide a buffer zone around the Tajiguas
landfill; and two, to one day offer recreational activities for the
public.

But in recent years, the resulting debt from the purchase —
currently sitting at about $4.7 million dollars — has become a
hindrance to the county and has blocked the dreams for public
access. Making matters worse has been the fact that the limited
cherimoya and avocado ranching activities on the property that some
felt would help pay off the ranch have averaged little more than
$93,000 of net income annually.

Looking to deal with the debt in one fell swoop and jump start
the trail endeavors with a little extra cash and show of
commitment, county staffers are proposing the sale of a 140-acre
portion of the ranch, which includes a residential structure and
much of the farming operations. The hope is that within a year or
two of the sale, the remaining county property will have a full
service internal loop trail that meanders through the rolling hills
and down along the Arroyo Quemado Creek. Further, money willing,
plans are in the works to one day link the loop with a trail along
Camino Cielo Road atop the Santa Ynez Mountain range in the Los
Padres National Forest. The county would also leave open the door
for one day using portions of the remaining acreage as a site for a
solid waste facility.

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