The legal wrangling over the Makar property — the coastal bluff immediately east of Naples and a once-upon-a-time site for a proposed golf course — took a decidedly anti-preservation turn last week as the California Court of Appeal ruled on behalf of the hopeful developers. The court decided that an annexation forged more than a decade ago — that aimed to put some 130 acres of the 208-acre property into the Goleta Water District as a means of delivering water to the planned golf course — is still valid and should be allowed to go forward so as to make the new plans, which call for two mansions and a host of outbuildings, logistically feasible. Moreover, the ruling overturns a decision by Santa Barbara Judge Thomas Anderle, prompted by a lawsuit from the Gaviota Coast Conservancy and the Surfrider Foundation, that declared illegal the longstanding annexation approved by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) — though never actualized — because it was based on the old golf course plan and had, in Anderle’s opinion, been expired since 2005.
Conservancy counsel Marc Chytilo bemoaned the ruling this week, saying, “The ruling is unfortunate — allowing a 12-year-old conditional annexation based on an entirely different project to substitute for a current LAFCO review of the new residential project … But it still has substantial hurdles before it.” With the way now paved for water to be delivered to the property, the project — officially known as the Paradiso del Mare Estates — is safe to continue running the county’s approval gauntlet. Paradiso is currently in the later stages of the draft environmental review process, which found several “significant” impacts on viewsheds and biological and cultural resources. Once that is complete, the project should move forward to the county’s zoning administrator early this summer.