On December 14th the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors cast a preliminary vote in favor of an appeal filed by the Gaviota Coast Conservancy together with the Environmental Defense Center and Surfrider Foundation. The appeal challenged the Director of Planning and Development’s determination that the Santa Barbara Ranch (Naples) developer has complied with their Development Agreement. The Development Agreement locks in the 2008 approvals and protects against changed land use requirements for 20 years in exchange for a specific public benefit, namely creek restoration on the Gaviota Coast. A majority of the Board agreed with GCC and our co-appellants that the developer’s failure to ensure that any actual creek restoration occurred showed a lack of good faith compliance. The 3-2 vote directed staff to come back at a subsequent hearing (in January or later) with findings that the developer is not in good faith compliance with the Development Agreement and to write a letter noticing the developer’s default.
This is the latest chapter in California’s longest-running land-use dispute, which began in 1888 with the recordation of a paper subdivision before the railroad was completed. In 2008 the Board of Supervisors approved a 71 unit residential subdivision straddling the coastal and inland zones. The coastal development agreement was invalidated in early 2009, and it is questionable whether any part of the 2008 approvals can proceed. The developer defaulted on loans in 2009 and the ranch was sold several times since, and is currently owned by Standard Portfolios, operated from Arcadia. GCC is committed to protecting Naples for future generations. Naples can be accessed by parking along Dos Pueblos Canyon Road and walking to the north side of the gate, near the freeway onramp.