Gaviota Trails

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On January 24, friends and I took a hike up on the Gaviota Coast. The Bill Wallace trailhead is at the El Capitan Canyon Resort’s Ocean Meadows campground (pets are not allowed on this trail). Well, actually the parking lot is just BEFORE you go into the gate to the campground. We did a short loop of about 4 miles and the views were SPECTACULAR, especially because we followed the signs that read “hard” rather than the “easy” routes. Resting in the iridescent green fields we watched the beautiful sets of waves roll in, one point after another, from Coal Oil Point almost to Refugio. San Miguel Island, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and Anacapa all saluted us. Gaviota Peak dared us to push ourselves harder. This was enough amazing beauty for one day. The word “WOW” was way overused. I recommend this hike for a reminder of why we need to save these treasures. Remember that many volunteers spend endless hours protecting this place. Thank you. I am also grateful for the farmers and ranchers who work hard to preserve a rural way of life on the Gaviota Coast.

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President’s Update

All of the coastal properties between the Bacara and El Capitan State Park, with the exception of a small holding just to the east of El Capitan, are actively being marketed or are engaged in development proposals. Here’s a few of the specifics from east to west (Bacara to El Capitan).

The coastal parcels immediately to the west of the Bacara known as “8501 Hollister Ave,” encompassing Driftwood Cove, has submitted a development plan that includes a bluff top house and a coastal trail dedication. We are in conversations with the owner’s representatives to seek community enhancements to their proposal.

We are engaged in settlement meetings with the County and the principals at Paradiso del Mare to resolve the major issues of our CEQA lawsuit against those parties. (Paradiso is to the immediate east of Naples.) The substance of these meetings is confidential but we are attempting to resolve significant issues.

On another front at Paradiso, we filed a suit against the Coastal Commission at the end of May. The Commission closed the public hearing on our appeal of the Paradiso approval and then continued to negotiate with the developer from the dais. We were not provided with the new information in advance or allowed to comment on proposed changes to the project before the Commission cast its vote. In the confusion of the vote, we lost. It was a tawdry affair, undemocratic, and an affront to the progressive heritage of the Commission.

At Naples the owner, First Bank, has appointed Mark Massara as their new representative to market the property. While Mark has championed the environment and community rights in other fights and issues, here he is working to advance development at Naples. The Bank has been unwilling to work with the community to achieve a conservation outcome and is instead moving ahead to prepare the property for development. The County’s 2008 approvals remain deeply flawed, and the Coastal Commission has directed the Bank to restudy various elements of the project and the environmental conditions, including a new comprehensive biological inventory, which is expected to take a year to prepare. In the meantime, the entire Santa Barbara Ranch property remains open for public visitation. The Conservancy and the Naples Coalition remains highly engaged and available to achieve a suitable workout and preservation of Naples.

Dos Pueblos Ranch was reportedly in escrow earlier this summer, but the deal fell out.

Finally, the Planning Commission took public comments on July 30 on the Revised Final EIR (environmental impact report) for Las Varas Ranch (just east of El Capitan). The Las Varas project is designed to increase the developability of the Ranch for luxury residential development, despite its agricultural zoning. Further, the Project routes the Coastal Trail incorrectly, in some places north of Highway 101 and not on the coastal bluff as may be easily accomplished.

Teed up later this fall is the public comment period on the County’s proposed expansion and repurposing of Taijiguas Landfill followed by the Gaviota Community Plan EIR.

The development and planning issues on the coast have never been so numerous and active. GCC is stepping up its efforts to respond to these threats, but needs your help. Please make a generous tax deductible donation and consider attending one of our monthly volunteer meetings, where a dedicated group of individuals are helping save the coast and having fun too.

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