Gaviota Coast Plan before County BOS

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.” 

The Gaviota Coast Conservancy is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the rural character and the environmental integrity of the Gaviota Coast for present and future generations.

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Naples Full Moon Serenade

A wonderful time was had by all at the Full Moon Serenade! The moonlight with this eclipse, on September 16, was simply stunning. Thanks to Ken Palley of Naples Coalition, there were YOUNG folks joining in on the fun with us. Our Advisor, Lisa Stratton was there, along with Peter Schuyler and Goleta Waterboard drummer, Meg West. Terry Remick (our vintage train vendor) was also among the fun-loving guests. I didn't count, but I suppose there were about 20 of us on the bluff. Ken Palley gave a short talk to those present.
It was a spectacular evening and the cows seemed to like our presence. We were even serenaded by coyotes from over Paradiso way as we left for our cars. 
The full moon doesn't always rise so spectacularly on a weekend night... all gathered agreed that we want more events like this. We'll keep you posted when we schedule the next one. Here's hoping you can join us next time. 
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​Photo taken by Dave Basso, as ukuleles cast a full moon spell upon Naples
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Losing Ground: Gaviota short film

Protecting endangered coastal California Gaviota agriculture and open space

The Gaviota Coast Conservancy is pleased to share and celebrate the launch of the short film documentary, "Losing Ground", on urgent issues facing the Gaviota Coast. Created as a UCSB "Blue Horizons" environmental film project by filmmakers Trevor Lestak, Sara Battersby, Joseph Weston, Beverly Vasquez, and Brady Mears, the film interviews Gaviota Coast Conservancy board members Phil McKenna and Guner Tautrim, whose Orella Ranch features prominently. The filmmakers have granted us permission to share this treat here with you in its entirety... it's a delicious 14-minute look at a rare, unique and precious area of the world. Thank you for sharing it with us.

 

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Making Waves

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Another Mega Mansion Developer Chokes on Dust at Naples

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Naples Coastal Cow, photo by Reeve Woolpert

 

Applications have been submitted for the construction of two 7,500 square foot houses, replete with 800 square foot guest houses, 2,500 square foot barns and swimming pools, on two lots on the coastal portion of Naples (aka Santa Barbara Ranch).

The County Planning and Development Department has deemed the applications to be incomplete, but the applicant’s representatives appeared at the SB County Central Board of Architectural Review (CBAR) on Friday August 12, 2016 in Solvang for a “conceptual review” of the project.

Representatives of the Naples Coalition and the Gaviota Coast Conservancy were also there.

We objected to the development on the grounds that it induces growth, is incompatible with the rural character of the Gaviota Coast, and cannot even be considered without a full environmental impact report due to the sensitive nature of the property and the massive nature of the buildings. The CBAR must find that a proposed project shall be “compatible with the character of the surrounding natural environment”. The proposed development flunks this simple and clear test.

To approve a project, the CBAR must also find that structures “shall be sited so as not to intrude into the skyline as seen from public viewing places". The applicant claims they meet this test, due to the screening of the eucalyptus hedgerows planted along Highway 101 and the railroad corridor. However, the CBAR agreed with our position that vegetative screening is not durable and cannot be relied upon for such a purpose, flunking another simple and clear test.

While the following planning issues are not under the purview of the CBAR, they did recognize the substantial number of issues that must be resolved before the architectural character of this project can be considered. The difficulty of providing safe passage over (or under) the railroad tracks was not addressed. Water supply and delivery is assumed, but we question the assumptions. Human waste disposal or residential water runoff near the ocean bluffs could imperil the ocean water quality of the Naples Reef. Transfer of development rights is mandated where feasible by  Coastal Land Use Policy 2-13. Numerous legal issues surrounding the earlier EIR and entitlements remain unresolved. And a host of additional “changed circumstances” since the partial approval of the 2008 development in the Naples antiquated subdivision, least of which is the drought, create difficult, if not impossible, barriers to development. 

The CBAR held this one hearing on the conceptual review of Dr. Ma’s project, and members felt they would not likely hold another until most of the above issues are resolved. We are of the opinion they may never hold another hearing.

Speculators have been trying to develop the Naples property since 1888. One house has been built in the last century. A multitude of speculators have gone bankrupt or entered foreclosure. Naples is the place where developer’s dreams, and their money, go to die.

We at the Naples Coalition and the Gaviota Coast Conservancy and our numerous community allies are steadfast in our commitment to preserve and enhance the rural and scenic character, cultural significances and environmental integrity of Naples and the entire Gaviota Coast. We will fight this proposed development methodically and relentlessly, with the goal of securing these lands as open space for future generations to treasure and enjoy.

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LA Times on Gaviota Coast Conservancy and community coastal preservation

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Gaviota Coast Conservancy past president Phil McKenna and legal counsel Marc Chytilo were interviewed and featured in the LA Times piece (on 8/11/16) by columnist Steve Lopez, "Between Hollister and Gaviota, fighting to keep rural beaches rural — and public". Here's Steve's blogpost, that discusses the role community groups like Gaviota Coast Conservancy play in guarding precious coastal resources, as a pdf. Marc and Phil took the the reporter with LA Times photographer Allen J. Schaben to the stunning Naples coast. "We want to be able to save this stretch of coast as a wild and rural area for our children and our children's children to explore," said Chytilo. "We want it to serve as a refuge for wildlife and nature... and serve as an example of how people can protect the character of their own community."

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Scenic Highway Hearing

Santa Barbara County planners are holding a meeting (Thursday, August 18 at 6pm) on a proposal for a Gaviota Coast Scenic Highway Designation. Their invitation is below. See you there!

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Good afternoon,
 
Santa Barbara County Planning & Development invites you and other interested persons to a public meeting on August 18, 2016 at 6pm, to discuss the Gaviota Coast Scenic Highway Proposal. The County is completing an application to CalTrans to designate 21 miles of Highway 101 on the Gaviota Coast as a State Scenic Highway. The State Scenic Highway Designation will apply to the section of Highway 101 from the City of Goleta’s western-most boundary to Route 1 at Las Cruces.
 
The purpose of the proposed Scenic Highway Designation is to recognize the scenic and visual qualities along the Gaviota Coast Highway 101 corridor. No new land use policies or ordinances will be adopted in association with the Proposed Scenic Highway; existing policies are sufficient to protect the corridor’s natural and aesthetic resources.  
 
 
Staff will be holding a public meeting to provide information to all interested parties; please pass along this information to others that may be interested in attending this meeting. The meeting is scheduled as follows:
 
Thursday, August 18th, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.
Goleta Union School District
Jack Kramer Administration Center
401 North Fairview Avenue, Goleta, CA 93117
 
For more information, Please contact Alyssa Krag-Arnold, akarnold@co.santa-barbara.ca.us or call (805) 884-8060.
 
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Sherpa Fire

Gaviota Coast Conservancy will be posting fire updates on the #SherpaFire that began on Wednesday, June 15, on the Gaviota Coast (El Capitan, Las Flores and Venadito Canyons) by social media. Check our Twitter (@GaviotaCoastC ) and Facebook (@GaviotaCoastConservancy) for the latest posts from Santa Barbara County Emergency Operations and local media outlets.

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2016 Spring Tajiguas Update

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On Tuesday, 4/5/2016, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to direct the Public Works Department to proceed with the risky (and mis-named) Tajiguas Resource Recovery Project, to be constructed with public funds. Use of public financing shifts the considerable risk of project failure to the County and public, instead of private investors, as originally planned.  The cost is projected to be at least $110 million, making it one of the most expensive capital projects undertaken by the County.

Gaviota Coast Conservancy opposes the Project as inappropriate industrial development on the Coast, and because the EIR admits that the output from the anaerobic digestion process will be contaminated and result in poor quality compost that cannot be used by agriculturalists. The Conservancy believes traditional composting is a better approach that can generate high quality compost useful in carbon farming on the Gaviota Coast.  The Gaviota Coast Conservancy's legal counsel sent a detailed letter to the SB County Board of Supervisors on April 1st, detailing the many Project flaws. GCC joins in those concerns expressed in a letter sent by Community Environmental Council regarding the County Resource Recovery Project.

A final decision is projected for later this year.  The Board has tentatively scheduled approval hearings for July 12, which will be followed by hearings for all participating cities, and then a final Board hearing in October.

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Spring 2016 Coastlines Pres Msg

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Gaviota lupin image by Jill Frandsen
Spring flowers are blooming all over the Gaviota Coast. Hiking out to Naples is a visual explosion of intense green hillsides and delicate wildflowers popping up all over the place. It’s beautiful. 
Many thanks to Phil McKenna, who recently stepped down after two years as President of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy (GCC). Phil served during a critical transition following the long-time leadership of Mike Lunsford, one of the founders of GCC, and as a key voice on our Board. Phil’s leadership led to a stronger financial base, and newly active committees that do the majority of GCC’s work. Phil will remain on the Board and continue his critical role in helping protect the Coast.
Also, I'd like to welcome two new board members to our crew: Nancy Black and Karen Feeney. Each bring critical skills, proven track records and well-developed talents to our team, and we're grateful for their participation.
I’ve assumed the Presidency earlier this year after joining the Board several years ago. For those of you who may not know me, I’ve been active in local environmental issues for several decades, serving on the boards of Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, Environmental Defense Center, and Santa Barbara County Action Network, where I was a representative on the Naples Coalition. More recently, I'm currently a Governor’s appointee to the Ocean Protection Council.
While my kids are scattered across the country and the globe, they find time to regularly come back and visit my wife and I, and spend time enjoying this special part of the California coast. In my professional life, I’m a partner in a sustainability consulting firm with clients across North America, Europe, and Israel. 
This is a critical time for the Gaviota Coast. All that is special about the coast, the unique confluence of varied habitats and biological richness, complemented by Chumash heritage, a strong ranching culture, agricultural productivity, abundant marine resources, and incomparable waves and beaches, make it a place worth saving. 
Currently, GCC tracks 27 separate issues that have the potential to adversely affect the integrity of this coastal area. The California Coastal Commission recently voted 7 - 5 to fire their Executive Director, Dr. Charles Lester. Perhaps there has never been a time in the last 40 years when coastal California appears to be subject to greater risk of inappropriate development. Regardless of who takes over the Executive Director role, it appears that the Commission is moving in the direction of quicker development approvals and fewer opportunities for coastal advocates to intervene and offer changes that would enhance protection of the coast.
Now, more than ever, we need to find permanent solutions that protect and restore this special place. We invite you to join with us in these efforts. Whoever replaces Dr. Lester, we will continue our work and, as always, we value your ongoing support in our efforts to protect the Gaviota Coast.
In respect for the earth,


Michael S. Brown, President

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