WE Watch is an environmental watch-dog group in the Santa Ynez Valley, formerly known as Women’s Environmental Watch. The organization was founded in the early 1990s to help develop the Valley-wide Community Plan. Now members of both genders work to promote the sustainability of the Santa Ynez Valley, its natural beauty, and agricultural way of life.

Because of its commitment to the Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan, which was incorporated into the County General Plan by the Board of Supervisors on October 6, 2009, WE Watch has opposed the development of the 1,400 acres known as Camp 4 in anything other than the 100-acre minimum lots specified in its agricultural zoning. A similar development proposed by Fess Parker, the former owner, was turned down.

We understand the Chumash Tribe’s need to build houses for its current 143 members, and we are willing to support a modification of the General Plan in order to accommodate this housing and a new tribal center, but we believe that all available parcels should be considered, including the 350-acre triangle property adjoining the town of Santa Ynez, that the Chumash already own. The last thing we want is leapfrog development.

At the same time, we stand firm in our opposition to the annexation of Camp 4 to the reservation either through federal legislation or by administrative action because it would exempt this 1,400 acres from current zoning and building regulations and from local property taxes. Once it is in trust, not even the federal government can control what is built there.

In order to prevent this from happening, WE Watch has joined a coalition of like-minded organizations in the Santa Ynez Valley that are pursuing political and legal remedies. In the belief that there are better solutions to the dilemma before us, the SYV Coalition, with WE Watch, is urging Santa Barbara County to continue the fruitful discussions with Tribal leaders initiated by the Ad Hoc Committee. We hope your readers will do the same.


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