In what was music to the ears of opponents to Matt Osgood’s Naples development dream, the Santa Barbara County supervisors voted 3-0 this week-boardmembers Joni Grey and Joe Centeno abstained-to further delay the permitting process for the controversial 71-mansion plan. “Obviously, we are very pleased with what happened today,” explained Environmental Defense Center attorney Nathan Alley.
Despite a previous approval of Osgood’s plan by a different incarnation of the board last fall, the project has been in limbo for the past six months while legal teams for the county, the developer, and the preservationists argue over what comes next. The debate has seen Osgood’s camp threaten legal action and terminate a long-standing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the county stemming from a dispute over whether the inland portions of the project are linked to the coastal regions. Paramount because the California Coastal Commission must approve all coastal regions of the project, separating the project in two is something Osgood and his legal team have banked on. It means he can build non-coastal houses while the ocean-side lots run the gauntlet. Opponents of the project, however, say the physical links between the areas of the development such as water treatment infrastructure and the nuances of existing Williams Act land transferring into an agricultural conservation easement are too obvious to ignore.
Tuesday’s vote directed county staff to return later this summer with a better explanation of what a terminated MOU means for the various conditions of approval and land use permits approved last fall. Until the supervisors get that information, they will not send Notices of Final Action to the Coastal Commission, a procedural requirement that kicks off the state approval process. “I just don’t know how staff could go forward to the Coastal Commission right now,” opined 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr. “We really don’t even know what [type of project] we are looking at here, now.”
The matter is scheduled to return to the board on August 18.