Santa Ynez Valley residents won't give up the fight against Chumash reservation expansion

Apr 28, 2017

Although the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians succeeded in their efforts to fold the 'Camp 4' property into the Chumash reservation through a federal land trust, opponents throughout the Santa Ynez Valley continue to oppose it.

Over 75 community members gathered Thursday night at the Solvang Veterans Memorial Hall, just a few short miles down the road from the reservation.

The group that put on the meeting, the Santa Ynez Valley Coalition, have been combating expansion of the Chumash reservation land, saying that placing the land into the trust allows the tribe to develop the area without the same building or environmental restrictions that are applied to all non-reservation properties in Santa Barbara County. It’s under the control of the tribal government, rather than the County government.

The tribe said it plans on building 143 homes on five-acre plots on the new rural property to fulfill a housing shortage on their reservation.

In March, another group called the Santa Ynez Valley Alliance filed a legal brief with the federal government asking for the expansion decision to be reversed.

C.J. Jackson, one of the Coalition’s founders and a former County Planning Commissioner, said there should be more community input from outside the tribe as to what is built.

“I believe this is a unique environment that has aesthetics that need to be preserved,” Jackson said. “If we are going to have a beautiful community, let’s have good land use.”

Kenneth Kahn gives a tour of the Camp 4 property in November.
Credit Bree Zender

Tribal Chairman Kenneth Kahn said the tribe has been meeting privately with Santa Barbara County since Camp 4 was placed into trust to develop a plan that works for everyone. Kahn said he’s opposed to one of the Coalition’s proposed solutions--that they build tribal housing on land that isn’t under the jurisdiction of the tribal government--but rather, the county.

“It does not achieve the protections of preserving tribal cultural system through language and tradition,” Kahn said. “The tribe is putting land into trust to protect the future of tribal government.”

Kahn said the tribe plans to hopefully break ground for new housing in the fall. The Santa Ynez Valley Coalition encouraged residents to reach out to federal and state representatives.