More than 3,500 individuals, businesses, and foundation have given more than $7.6 million toward the purchase of the West Mesa at the San Marcos Foothills. The steep total goal of $20 million got a mid-April burst of momentum from a $3.6 million zero-interest loan from the Allemall Foundation of Maryland. “The moment that we learned of the community efforts to save this important grassland open space, we knew we wanted to help,” said Ed Scott, executive director for Allemall.
West Mesa is currently slated for a development called The Terraces of eight large homes of three to 20 acres each, including private open space, by the Chadmar Group of Santa Monica. Developer and CEO Chuck Lande struck a deal with the fledgling activists who had formed Save the San Marcos Foothills to hold off on the development for 90 days if the group could raise $20 million to buy the property and create a management fund. The group’s supporters in the Chumash community gained wide publicity when members chained themselves to the property gate, and eight protesters were arrested as they stood before bulldozers that had arrived to begin a construction road in February.
Anonymous donors have participated, donating $1.5 million, and a short-term loan came from Montecito Bank & Trust, but the fundraising has a ways to go. To secure the legacy of the 100 acres of land, $12.4 million is needed before June 1, said Peter Schuyler, cochair of the fundraising effort. “We now need angel donors to step up, as well as the wider community to continue to support the campaign,” he said.
“We can’t do it alone,” Ed Scott added, “but we can help the Santa Barbara community with additional resources, to help meet your incredibly tight timeline.”
Save the San Marcos Foothills members offer tours of the property and information sessions on the grasslands. See FoothillsForever.org for more.