Approves a Procedural Path to Reject Settlement Agreement
Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Colleen K. Sterne issued her long-awaited ruling in the latest chapter of the battle to gain public access to Hollister Ranch on Santa Barbara County’s Gaviota Coast. Like earlier rulings, Judge Sterne endorsed the engagement of the Gaviota Coastal Trail Alliance, an alliance that includes Gaviota Coast Conservancy, and outlined a path to litigate issues to be resolved in order to achieve more meaningful public access to the beaches and coastline of Hollister Ranch.
Judge Sterne’s February 8 ruling rejected all of Hollister Ranch’s objections and upheld the tentative ruling she had proposed on January 14, 2019, when the parties and their attorneys last met in court. The final ruling supplemented the prior tentative ruling by adding an explanation of why the circumstances of this case required that the court consider the public’s interest in determining whether the closed-door Settlement Agreement between the Coastal Commission and Hollister Ranch Owners Association should be approved or rejected. The Gaviota Coastal Trail Alliance argued the Settlement Agreement is both unfair and illegal, and must be rejected.