On Election Day, November 8, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the Gaviota Coast Plan, as documented here by the Santa Barbara Independent, in their story, Gaviota Plan Stamped, Signed, and Delivered. Gaviota Coast Conservancy was fundamentally involved, and is pleased with this result, after seven years with the GavPAC and 130 meetings... although it's really been about three decades of conversation. Thanks to Dorreen Farr (who championed this project in her district), Janet Wolf, and newly-elected US Congressmember Salud Carbajal!
Wins and Losses
Local Efforts Help Protect Gaviota Coast, While Presidential Election Raises Concerns
It’s been an interesting Fall on the Gaviota Coast. After seven years and 130 public meetings, the Board of Supervisors approved the Gaviota Coast Plan, which establishes forward-looking strategies to balance protection of the many environmentally sensitive areas of the Gaviota Coast, preservation of viable agriculture, and development. The Conservancy’s former President, Phil McKenna, and Board member Guner Tautrim (who is the 6th generation of his family to farm and ranch on the Gaviota Coast), served as a members of the Gaviota Planning Area Committee and helped create the Plan and shepherd it through the long public participation process.
We also saw the resolution of the Paradiso proposed project to develop two residential lots on the eastern Gaviota Coast. The Conservancy has been part of a decades-long fight over the project, and without staunch advocacy, it would now be a golf course in a very visible portion of Coast.
We successfully fought for and won:
- interim access to the Seals Trail and to the beach until a permanent trail is available;
- a ban on extending the water pipeline onto Naples;
- as well as protection and monitoring of white-tailed kites and seals and sea lions that use the beach below the Paradiso bluffs as a haul out and rookery.
The two Paradiso lots were recently put up for sale and join the three other coastal properties on the eastern Gaviota Coast that are on the market: Las Varas Ranch, the coastal portions of Dos Pueblos Ranch, and Santa Barbara Ranch. This presents a potential opportunity for permanent protection from development for significant portions of the Gaviota Coast that are closest to an urban population. Gaviota Coast Conservancy will explore a wide range of options for protecting this rural habitat within 20 minutes of downtown Santa Barbara, Goleta, and the University.
In 2017, the Conservancy will continue to be an advocate for protecting the Gaviota Coast, raising critical issues of concern over the flawed project at the Tajiguas Landfill, as well as the proposal for seven more homes on Naples lots. And we will continue our work with landowners who share our vision for a rural Gaviota Coast, and who want to expand coastal access opportunities.
The recent presidential election does not bode well for environmental protection at the federal level. It reminds us that we can protect the places we love when committed individuals and communities take a stand at the local level. It is up to all of us to be vigilant and strategic advocates for the Gaviota Coast.
Thank you for your stalwart support,
President, Gaviota Coast Conservancy
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