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US House could take up Santa Ynez Valley's 'Camp 4' land this fall

Randol White, KCBX News

Santa Barbara County leaders said Thursday they're disappointed by a nearly unanimous Congressional committee vote on Wednesday regarding nearly 1400 acres of controversial land in the Santa Ynez Valley.

The Natural Resources Committee vote moves the issue before the full House of Representatives, where it could face another vote sometime this fall.

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians wants the land, commonly known as "Camp 4", moved into a federal trust so it can build 143 homes on the property.

Assistant Santa Barbara County Executive Officer Terri Nisich told KCBX that if this land trust is approved, then all of the impacts related to development on the land won't be fully addressed.

"The County would not be able to receive critical property tax and other revenue to provide for the services that go along with any type of development," said Nisich. "In this case, what they are proposing is housing as well as some ancillary activity such as a recreation center and a community center."

The bill (HR 1157) passed the committee 29-1 with only Central Coast Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) voting against it. Capps said she was hoping the issue could be resolved locally.

The Chumash tribe released a statement that said leaders understand the Congresswoman's position. However, relatively new Tribal Chairman Kenneth Kahn said the Chumash have been negotiating with the county on this issue since 2011.

"The strength of this vote coming out of the Natural Resources Committee demonstrates that Congress fully understands progress needs to be made to address the desperate housing situation facing the members of our tribe,” said Kahn. “To that end, the leadership of our tribe remains committed to working with the county in finding common sense solutions to the issues of concern to both of our communities.”

Nisich said she's hopeful the negotiations will continue despite the committee vote.

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