Powerful forces continue to develop on the Gaviota Coast, but at every turn Gaviota Coast Conservancy stands up and advocates for protecting the rural character and environmental integrity of the Gaviota Coast for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations, as we have for decades. Here's a copy of our annual appeal letter, with a summary of Gaviota news below, before the upcoming Coastline newsletter. We're grateful for your donations, now, at year's end, and especially on #GivingTuesday (11/29).
(Gaviota Coast, image by Land Trust for Santa Barbara County)
Today, Gaviota Coast Conservancy is engaged in over 20 projects, campaigns and issues, all of which are focused on stopping harmful projects and finding permanent solutions to protecting Gaviota’s ecosystems and preserving its distinct rural character.
While some challenges are new, others have been simmering (and occasionally boiling) for well over a decade. Here are the highlights:
- The 128-year saga of Naples took a turn when a new owner of two coastal lots applied to build two massive residential complexes, complete with de rigueur barns, pools and guest houses. We objected to the project at the Board of Architectural Review, and were rewarded by Board members’ comments agreeing that the project is ill-suited to Naples and unripe for review, given the multitude of hurdles any such development faces. GCC believes these out-of-place houses should not, and will not, ever be built. Developers’ dreams will fail in the face of implacable opposition to inappropriate development.
- Six years in the making, the Gaviota Coast Plan was adopted by the County Supervisors on November 8. The plan provides a streamlined permitting process for many small scale agricultural endeavors, elevates protection of the public viewsheds along the coast, reaffirms the importance of the Coastal Trail and inland access, develops innovative design guidelines for appropriate development, and bars potential development of a large community on the Cojo-Jalama Ranch north of Point Conception. The Coastal Commission is expected to conduct its review of the plan in 2017.
- At long-last, Highway 101 between the Goleta city limits and the Highway 1 turnoff to Lompoc is poised to be a state-designated California Scenic Highway. The Conservancy served an integral role in this designation, providing considerable support to the County. The designation provides another level of recognition to the irreplaceable scenic character of the Coast.
- The County is poised to commit over $120,000,000 to a risky new venture to “cook” South Coast trash in a massive anaerobic digester on top of the Tajiguas Landfill. GCC has advocated for the closure of this landfill for a decade but the County’s solid waste department has pursued extending its life and perpetuating the presence of trash trucks on the Gaviota Coast by siting the so-called Tajiguas Resource Recovery Project at the landfill. Anaerobic digestion of trash is a risky technology that has yet to be proven as financially feasible when used with general household and commercial waste. A key problem is the contamination of compost that is otherwise needed for agricultural use and to combat global warming through carbon farming. If (when) the project fails, disposal costs will rise even higher, and virtually guarantee the expansion of the landfill into an adjoining coastal canyon. With the help of two leading solid waste consultants, we are making the case that enhanced recycling and traditional compost facilities will be much more effective and less costly, eliminating the risk of a disastrous outcome for the project.
- A generous landowner is poised to construct a missing segment of the Coastal Trail to create the first new Gaviota Coast coastal access in decades. More to follow as the details become finalized.
But we need your help! Help us sustain these efforts through a generous, tax deductible donation. We promise to use your money to defend the environmental and cultural integrity of the Gaviota Coast. Every dollar helps. Thanks!
For the Gaviota Coast,
Mike Brown, President
Gaviota Coast Conservancy Statement on the Gaviota Coast Plan before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, November 8
(Santa Barbara, CA) On Tuesday, November 8, the Board of Supervisors will consider approving the Gaviota Coast Plan (GCP) and its Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The GCP updates the County’s General Plan, Local Coastal Plan and zoning ordinance for the Gaviota Coast Plan Area, which spans the relatively undeveloped stretch of coastline between Goleta and Vandenberg Air Force Base. The GCP provides policy guidance and actions regarding natural and cultural resources stewardship, agriculture, parks, recreation and trails, land use, visual resources, and transportation, energy and infrastructure.
The County began the process of developing this long-term land use plan for the Gaviota Coast in 2009 by establishing the Gaviota Coast Planning Advisory Committee (GavPAC) to develop a draft plan. The Gaviota Coast Conservancy was engaged throughout the process from the beginning, with two board members sitting on the GavPAC. Phil McKenna, Gaviota Coast Conservancy Board member and appointed member of the GavPAC, explained, “The Gaviota Coast Plan is the product of an exhaustive stakeholder process that included many different perspectives. It reflects a vision that preserves the rural character that is the essence of the Gaviota Coast, encourages sustainable agriculture while protecting biological resources and allows limited development while promoting enhanced recreational opportunities for the public.”
GavPAC’s draft plan was refined by County staff and the Planning Commission, and initiated for environmental review by the Board in 2013. After receiving public comments on the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR), the Planning Commission reviewed the proposed final Gaviota Coast Plan, final EIR, and recommended that the Board approve the Plan.
The proposed Gaviota Coast Plan offers creative regulatory relief for small scale, sustainable agricultural endeavors while significantly protecting natural and cultural resources. The coastal and inland trail system is comprehensively envisioned, and Plan policies advance the creation of a world-class trail network along the Gaviota Coast, and up to and along the ridge-line of the Santa Ynez mountains. Visual resource protections are enhanced with the creation of a new Critical Viewshed Corridor, and important guidance is provided for residential development in the new Site Design Hierarchy.
Guner Tautrim, a 6th generation Gaviota Coast farmer, Gaviota Coast Conservancy board member and appointed member of the GavPAC, sought to promote policies and programs into the GCP that help small farmers hold onto their land and continue farming. “Farmers need to be creative to sustain agriculture on lands that are so desirable for development. I want to keep this land in productive agriculture for future generations and leave a legacy of a rural and rustic Gaviota Coast.”