Credit: Katie Lydon

The near-quixotic quest to raise $20 million in four months to buy 100 acres of the San Marcos Foothills met its first $4 million goal on March 24, said attorney Marc Chytilo, through a combination of a kicking social-media push — get 10 friends to pledge $10 for 10 days, for instance — generosity from the community, and a loan through Montecito Bank & Trust. Now a new target of $5 million by April 13 looms — bringing the necessary total to $9 million — and the Foothills Forever Fund needs a spark from the large-donor community, said Chytilo, who represents the activists, “ideally a $3 million pledge that would kick us into viability.”

An anonymous donor gave $1 million to the first fund-raising effort, and a second gave $500,000 to the March 24 goalpost. More than 2,700 individuals, mostly from Santa Barbara, have sent checks or pledged funds in the $5.7 million raised so far. “We need one big lead gift to crack this open,” Chytilo said. “If we can’t pull that in, the campaign is not going to work.”

To contribute, visit the Foothills Forever fund, which is being managed by the Santa Barbara Foundation. Should the group fall short of its goal, they have agreed to refund all monies.

As to the underlying matter, Chytilo had filed appeals on behalf of the Save the San Marcos Foothills activists against the developer for each of the eight homes scheduled to be built, as well as a lawsuit over a procedural defect in obtaining an easement. The parties negotiated for several days after the bulldozer standoff, in which eight people were arrested for blocking their way into the development area, finally arriving at the agreement to purchase the property from Chadmar for $20 million, $18 million of which was for the property and $2 million for costs and future maintenance, in exchange for dropping the appeals and lawsuit.

Musician and videographer Cody Westheimer answers the question “why save the foothills?” in the video below.

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