Thursday, December 10, 2009

THIS FRIDAY! Save Gaviota Holiday Fundraiser

The Surfrider Foundation's Santa Barbara Chapter
cordially invites you to join them in celebrating the Holidays
and help support their ongoing effort to preserve the Gaviota Coast.

SOhO Restaurant & Bar - 8PM
THIS FRIDAY, December 11th
dinner seating begins at 6PM

"The Old One" by Jeremy Harper - up for auction during the Holiday Fundraiser

for event details and previews of the artwork in the silent auction!

The Future of The Gaviota Coast

Ways YOU can help us SAVE GAVIOTA

We understand... Many of you lead busy lives, work full time, and simply don't have time to support the Save Gaviota campaign. There are other ways to show your support.

  • Donate Directly via Pay Pal

    send checks to:

    Surfrider Foundation, Santa Barbara Chapter
    P.O. Box 21703 Santa Barbara, CA 93121-1703

    Tax Id 501c3 #953941826


    Huge savings at restaurants and scores of local businesses available through this discount book. 30% of the book price can go to Surfrider if you select SB Surfrider as the benefit. SB AXXESS


    Ralph's supermarket will now donate 3% of everything you spend when you swipe your Ralph's card straight to Surfrider Foundation's Santa Barbara Chapter! How cool is that?! It costs you nothing and helps us raise much-needed funds. It’s the easiest way to support the Surfrider Foundation- at no cost to you! Just register your Ralph’s Club Card online. Enter your information by going to and clicking
    "Participant." Surfrider's"NPO" number is 90317. Or, you can call Ralph’s at 1-800-443-4438 to learn about alternative sign-up methods.


    Learn how to surf while helping to protect our oceans! Contact Vanessa Rivers, <> . 10$ of every surf lesson you buy will go directly to the Santa Barbara Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation! Change Your Life. Learn How to Surf!

    Big thanks to Carribean Coffee, local supporters
    click here to buy

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why Gaviota Is Worth Protecting

Reposted from the Santa Maria Times:

Mike Lunsford/Commentary | Posted: Friday, November 13, 2009 11:00 pm

In a long, complicated project like preserving the Gaviota Coast, it’s a good idea to occasionally step back and remind ourselves why we bother. What’s so important about the Gaviota Coast anyway?

As a consequence of its inconvenient remoteness and its mixture of natural landscapes and agricultural uses, the Gaviota Coast was spared the wholesale change visited on so much of coastal Southern California. That was a very fortunate thing. As it turns out, the Gaviota Coast lies within a globally recognized zone of biological transition where important ecological interactions between terrestrial and coastal-marine environments occur.

The fact that so many southern species reach their northern limits and northern species reach their southern limits on the Gaviota Coast make it nationally significant. Furthermore, its many intact habitat types harbor the highest density of imperiled species in the nation, making it a safe haven for those species and a kind of biodiversity bank for the region.

And so it is with this backdrop that we celebrate two recent milestones in local stewardship of this important place.

Continue to the full article:

Friday, October 23, 2009

County Takes Steps to Rescind a Giveaway at Naples

On Tuesday, Oct 20th, the Board of Supervisors initiated rescission of two ill-conceived development agreements for the Santa Barbara Ranch Project at Naples. The Board also took steps to facilitate Coastal Commission review of the Project and restated its own commitment to reviewing Naples related issues with a wide lens and an open mind.

Exactly one year ago, an Orange County developer obtained approval from the County to develop a 71 unit luxury residential development on a portion of the Gaviota Coast known as Naples. In addition to approving a subdivision and other entitlements for the controversial project, the former Board of Supervisors approved two "Development Agreements", which are contracts between the County and the developer that lock in the approvals and prevent the County from changing the law or rules applying to the project. Today, the current Board introduced an ordinance rescinding the development agreements, and took an important step toward protecting the County's interests and ability to respond to changed circumstances.

Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr had asked County staff to evaluate the potential for canceling the development agreements at a hearing in June. Supervisor Farr's request followed the developer's unusual action in February of rejecting some, but not all, of the project approvals, and threatening to develop the coastal portion of Santa Barbara Ranch at much higher densities than the approved project.

In addition to their action on the development agreements, the Board also directed Staff to further investigate the status of the project description and to then send a single revised Notice of Final Action to the Coastal Commission for review.

The Board is scheduled to consider adoption of the ordinance rescinding the development agreements at the October 27, 2009, Board hearing. EDC and our friends at Surfrider and the Naples Coalition hope that you can attend!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oct 20 - County Board of SUP's Consider Rescission of Development Agreements

P.O. Box 1099, Goleta, CA 93116
COALITION Ph: 805.683.6631Link

For Immediate Release
October 13, 2009


When: TUESDAY OCTOBER 20, 2009
Estimated time of hearing is unknown at this time. Meeting agenda and staff report can be found at
Where: County Administration Building, 105 East Anapamu 4th fl, Santa Barbara
Broadcast on Channel 20 and streamed at in real time.

The Santa Barbara Ranch development is a 71 large lot residential development located two miles west of Goleta on the rural and agricultural Gaviota Coast. The development received tentative approval by the Board of Supervisors in late 2008 after unanimous opposition by the community (not a single citizen, unaffiliated with the developer, spoke in favor of the project over the years of public testimony).

The Supervisors conditionally approved separate Development Agreements in Ordinance 4694 for the inland and coastal portions of the Naples development specific to Santa Barbara Ranch on October 21, 2008. This ordinance embodies conditions which must be satisfied before the Development Agreements are effective including project approvals by the California Department of Conservation and the California Coastal Commission. These conditions have not yet been satisfied and therefore the Development Agreements are not in full force or effect.

The conditions that the County relied upon in approving the development agreements changed materially in February 2009 when the developer withdrew his application for the coastal portion of the Project. This in effect revoked most of the purported County benefits in the development agreements and undermined many of the mitigation measures required in the EIR. Further, the developer has failed to respond to Coastal Commission requests for biological information. Finally, Santa Barbara Ranch’s partner, Dos Pueblos Ranch, recently announced they had placed Dos Pueblos Ranch on the market. These conditions provide a basis for revoking the development agreements.

The Naples Coalition strongly urges the Board of Supervisors to cancel the development agreements so that future Boards may be able to respond to changes in circumstances.

Canceling the Development Agreements will not cancel the underlying project approvals.

About The Naples Coalition:
The Naples Coalition is a Santa Barbara County, CA-based public benefit corporation with representation by local non-profit groups including the Citizens Planning Association of Santa Barbara County, Gaviota Coast Conservancy, League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara County, Los Padres Chapter of the Sierra Club, Santa Barbara Chapter of Surfrider Foundation, Santa Barbara Chapter of the Audubon Society and Santa Barbara Community Action Network. The Naples Coalition is dedicated to the preservation of the rural character of the Naples property on the Gaviota coast. Specifically, the Naples Coalition is responding to Vintage Communities, an Orange County development company that purchased the Naples town site lots and has an application pending with the County of Santa Barbara to build up to 72 large luxury houses on the rural Naples property. The Naples Coalition seeks to preserve the rural character of the Naples area from this development’s impacts.

Visit for complete information regarding the development at Naples.
Visit of information about Naples and the Naples Coalition.
Visit for a summary of the 120 year development history of Naples.

Marc Chytilo, Esq Phil McKenna
Attorney for the Naples Coalition Naples Coalition Board Member
Phone: 805-682-0585 Phone: 805-682-0302
Email: Email:

SAVE THE DATE! December 11, 2009

You are invited to join the Surfrider Foundation's Santa Barbara Chapter in celebrating the Holidays and helping support their ongoing effort to preserve the Gaviota Coast.

The silent auction will feature unique hand-painted surfboard fins from Robert Heeley, Larry Iwerks, Rebecca Lovejoy-Stebbins, Matt Moore, Sean Kirkpatrick, Ned Evans, Rob Havassy, Rick Rietveld, and Jesse Balmer... along with fine art and photographs. Please check back as we post updates on the auction items.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Save The Date! Save Gaviota Holiday Fundraiser

The Santa Barbara Chapter’s Save Gaviota Holiday Fundraiser is scheduled for Friday, December 11th at the SOHO Restaurant & Bar in Santa Barbara. Live music, food, a silent auction, fun raffle prizes and Surfrider Foundation merchandise will round out a really fun evening. Get your holiday shopping done, celebrate the holidays and show your support for this very important cause. Additional details will be added soon, so please check back for more info.

The goal of this event is to raise funds crucially needed to continue their outreach, education, and legal battles to Stop all development south of Highway 101 and preserve the Gaviota Coastline for future generations to enjoy. The theme of the event is a simple celebration of the natural and pristine beauty of the Gaviota Coast and the general public’s overwhelming desire to keep it that way.

The Chapter is presently seeking unique silent auction items that capture the evening’s theme through original paintings, photographs, or mixed media pieces. The Chapter also welcomes donations for the evening’s raffle; gift certificates to local restaurants, movie tickets, surf merchandise, etc.

We hope you will consider donating to this event, and we would be grateful for any suggestions you may have of other businesses or individuals who would be interested in supporting this cause to help make this event a huge success! Email to donate or for more information on this event.

Save Gaviota - Background:
The Gaviota Coast in Santa Barbara County, CA is the last undeveloped stretch of coastline in southern California and is facing an increasing threat of development. While the Gaviota Coast represents only fifteen percent of the 300-mile Southern California coastline, it contains about fifty percent of its remaining rural coastline. Even though most of the Southern California coastal areas have been dramatically altered and biologically degraded by expanding human occupation, the Gaviota Coast retains a high degree of biodiversity. It is a rich and vital natural resource that should be preserved and protected for future generations to enjoy.

What’s at Risk:
There are presently more than a dozen development projects being planned, the most significant of which (known as Naples) would permit 72 luxury homes, which would average 8,000 square feet in size.

Since its inception, the Surfrider Foundation Santa Barbara Chapter has been a leader in local efforts to halt and/or limit further development of the Gaviota Coast.

Santa Barbara Chapter website –

Friday, July 17, 2009

Community Takes First Pass at a Gaviota Coastal Plan

Workshop identifies initial areas of concern, interest as stakeholders begin blueprint process
By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Santa Barbara County energy specialist Kevin Drude, left, confers with Chris Shaeffer and Leonadi Ward at Thursday’s Gaviota coast workshop. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

It’s the stretch of majestic, rolling landscape you encounter as you leave Goleta’s western edge and travel north. With its abundance of open space and coastal grassland, it all makes up Gaviota, about 100,000 acres of land that stretches between the Pacific on the south, follows the watershed along the Santa Ynez Mountains to the north, Vandenberg Air Force Base to the west and the Goleta Valley on the east.

This expansive area was the subject of the Gaviota Coastal Plan Workshop that was held Thursday night in an effort
by Santa Barbara County planners to gauge what residents feel is importan

Many localities in the county are in the midst of updating their community plans. Gavioa lacks such a blueprint, however, and falls under the jurisdiction of the county’s General Plan, which was last updated in 1980. Now, the county is soliciting applications for th
e Gaviota Coast Planning Advisory Committee, which will provide community input and bring it before the Board of Supervisors for consideration as it updates the county-wide plan.

“You don’t have to live in this county very long before you know how rich this area is,” sa
id 3rd District Supervisor Dorreen Farr, whose district includes Gaviota. “Now we have this wonderful opportunity for our residents to craft a local vision of what we want.”

Large, colorful maps were placed on easels throughout the pac
ked Goleta Union School District board room, and participants rotated from different areas to express their ideas. Planner Justin Feek stood by a large map of Gaviota and offered passers-by red and green stickers to place on the map, signaling areas of concerns and interest.

Gaviota coast workshop participants packed the Goleta Union School District board room Thursday to provide input on the area’s future. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Several circles and areas of concern were placed
on Naples, the 800-acre tract that has been at the center of a development standoff for several years.

“Most people don’t want to see more of that in the future,” Feek sa

Tajiguas Lan
dfill, which is located incongruously in Gaviota, was also an area of concern mentioned to Feek on Thursday.

“It’s been expanded before and people don’t want to see it expanded again,” he said. “They’d like to see it in some other area of the county, instead of the Gaviota coast.”

The facility will be shut down in the next decade or so when the landfill reaches capacity.

“The whole purpose of the GavPAC is to figure out what the community wants to do on the Gaviota coast,” Feek said. “Do they want to see it preserved? Do they want to see more recreation?

County planner Allen Bell talks open space and agriculture with Santa Barbara resident Joanne McGarry. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

“It doesn’t happen overnight, but through all of our hearings, we try to come up with a plan that most people can live with,” he said.

“There’s never been a plan for Gaviota,” he added. “Without the community’s input, we can’t do anything.”

Rick Sawyer has lived in Gaviota since 1971, on the sprawling 14,
400-acre Hollister Ranch. Not much has changed in the four decades he’s lived there, except for the occasional fence and a few more homes, he said.

“Right now you have a fairly consistent natural area, even though you have railroad, highway and state parks,” he said But having it potentially dotted with lots of homes is a concern for many residents, he said. Other concerns comes from rules and regulations that may stem from having a community plan that could prohibit property ownership.

“This is the time to look at this,” he said.

Joanne McGarry, a Santa Barbara resident who grew up in Los Angeles, said she’d like to see open space and agriculture emphasized going forward.

“I lean toward wanting to preserve this patch of coastal lands in a more open way,” she said. “We really need to step back and look at the big picture, and design our projects big and small to do less harm.”

People who couldn’t attend the workshop can still apply for a position on the GavPAC until Aug. 21. The county is accepting applications from Gaviota residents, business and property owners, and other
stakeholders. Click here to download an application or pick one up at the Board of Supervisors Office, County Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu S
t., Room 407.

— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can
be reached at lcoope

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Naples development project runs into another wall

by Sam Womack/Staff Writer

June 24, 2009

True to form when dealing with the contentious luxury-housing development at Naples on the Gaviota Coast, confusion reigned Tuesday before the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

The board majority directed planning staff to return in August with analysis of the complicated situation and recommendations for moving forward.

“It seems like just another major stall — that the board majority is stalling the project again,” said 4th District Supervisor Joni Gray, who abstained from voting along with Joe Centeno, representing the 5th District.

The project was approved in October for 71 homes stretching from the Gaviota coastline to the hills north of Highway 101 on Santa Barbara Ranch and Dos Pueblos Ranch property.

Since then, a legal decision by the Board of Supervisors in February, prompted the developer, Matt Osgood, to reject a seven-year contract with the county, causing speculations to abound.

Project opponents said Osgood’s rejection nullified the coastal portion of the project, while Osgood’s attorney, Stanley Lamport, said the 16 homes approved for the coastline are a go.

“We’ll move forward, but without the terms of the (memorandum of understanding),” Lamport told the board Tuesday.

But the board was still unclear, and in her motion, 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr requested that a hearing be noticed and scheduled to “consider possible recision of the ordinance that governs the development agreement.”

After approving the Santa Barbara Ranch project, the county entered into a development agreement with Osgood for the coastal and inland projects.

Both agreements lack essential approvals from outside agencies that would be required before they are considered effective, according to county staff.

Farr’s motion reveals a desire to investigate whether those agreements could be annulled considering the real or perceived changes initiated by the county and Osgood.

The environmental groups that have dogged this project since it was first proposed a decade ago were satisfied by the hearing’s outcome.

“I think that certainly we’re all pleased that the Board of Supervisors is taking a hard look at these issues, and taking their time to really figure things out,” said Nathan Alley, an attorney with the Environmental Defense Center, representing the Surfrider Foundation.

“They should proceed carefully because the future of the Gaviota Coast is essentially at stake,” he added.

In past hearings, hundreds of mainly South Coast residents gave impassioned pleas to the board urging protection of the largely undeveloped coastline.

The supervisors must also decide if the coastal and inland portions of the development are linked.

Based on interpretations of the agreement between the county and Osgood, the homes and infrastructure located outside of the coastal zone could be put on hold until the residences on the coastline are approved by the state Coastal Commission.

If the answer is no, there is still infrastructure necessary to the inland construction that would be located in the coastal zone, and would also be subject to commission approval.

At any time during the approval process, opponents of the development can appeal applicable decisions to the Coastal Commission.

The ace in the developer’s sleeve is that if the Santa Barbara Ranch project is not salvaged, then the land zoning reverts back to an “antiquated subdivision” map that includes 274 legal parcels.

“Do you want ... 16 lots in the coastal zone or we could go with 150 lots south of Highway 101?,” Lamport reminded the board.

June 24, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

NAPLES ACTION ALERT! Come show your support for saving Naples!!

On Tuesday, June 23 the Board of Supervisors is holding a hearing to consider the County's next steps concerning the processing of the Naples project. The Naples Coalition and Surfrider Foundation have reviewed the Staff Report and developed a letter describing the specific steps we are asking the Board to take. Supporters are asked to attend. Given the complex technical issues involved, non-speaking support at the hearing is sufficient. Public comment should be limited to expressions of support for saving Naples and endorsement of the testimony of the Naples Coalition and Surfrider Foundation representatives.

If you want to check the hearing's agenda items, go to and, in the right column, click on Board of Supervisors "Agenda and Minutes". Any changes of date will be listed here.

Supporters can also email members of the Board of Supervisors and ask them to make decisions at this hearing that will help SAVE NAPLES.

So that you can cut and paste email addresses, Board of Supervisors Salud Carbajal, Janet Wolf, Doreen Farr, Joni Gray and Joseph Centeno are listed below:,,,,

Friday, May 29, 2009

Vote Today to Save Gaviota!


Save Gaviota by voting online now at Barefoot Wine!

The Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project and Surfrider Foundation have an easy way you can help do your part. To raise awareness about major Surfrider Foundation environmental campaigns in celebration of Surfrider’s 25th anniversary, Barefoot wine is donating $25,000 to directly help support local Surfrider Foundation Chapters and their efforts to protect America’s shores. Beginning May 1, 2009 through August 15, 2009, Barefoot and Surfrider are encouraging everyone to learn more and cast their vote for one of four Surfrider Foundation campaigns in need of more awareness and financial support.

The four selected campaigns will each receive a minimum of $5,000. The campaign that receives the most online votes will take home an additional $5,000 to help put toward the cause.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Paddle board odyssey from Gaviota to the Mexican border


photo by Branden Aroyan

Chadd Konig and Nole Cossart are following their hearts on a coastal paddle board odyssey from Gaviota to the Mexican border to raise awareness for NAPLES on the Gaviota Coast. They know this is a pristine part of California that could be ruined forever by planned development. Through the paddle they hope to share their passion for unspoiled space and spread the word about the importance of preserving what is left of our natural coastline.
Follow their journey by visiting where you can donate, learn more, share your thoughts and be part of the adventure.
The Surfer's Journal has leant their support. Starting now, 10% of anything you order from their website via the link below, will be given back to the Naples Coalition. Subscriptions, books, t-shirts - if you buy it, we'll get 10%. Their Reader Supported Publication and hardbound books make great Father's Day, Mother's Day or graduation gifts. And your gift will help save Naples. Click here:
May 11th - Departing Gaviota
May 13th - Stearns Wharf landing and press conference 12 to 1:30pm by the dolphin fountain
May 16th landing at the Sacred Craft Surf Expo at the Ventura Fairgrounds
Arrival date at the Mexican boarder - unknown
Journey to be documented by Branden Aroyan for The Surfer's Journal
*** of further interest, the May 5th hearing on the Naples MOU has been changed to June.  We will let you know when this date is determined ***

The above message comes from: Gaviota Coast Conservancy, PO Box 1099, Goleta, CA 93116. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Judge Invalidates Water District Annexation of Gaviota Coast Lots


From: Santa Barbara Chapter Surfrider Foundation
Date: April 14, 2009
Press contact:  Ken Palley (805) 967-9938 and Ellison Folk, legal counsel, (415) 269-6699, Santa Barbara Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation 
Mike Lunsford (805) 967-5828 and Marc Chytilo, legal counsel, (805) 682-0585, Gaviota Coast Conservancy

 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------Judge Invalidates Water District Annexation of Gaviota 
Coast Lots

A lawsuit filed by the Gaviota Coast Conservancy and Surfrider Foundation resulted today in a decision invalidating a 2008 action by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) annexing prime Gaviota Coast parcels into the Goleta Water District.  Without water service, development of the lots 
is more challenging. 

“This is a second significant ruling in two weeks for the Gaviota Coast” explained Gaviota Coast Conservancy President Mike Lunsford.  “The laws and policies protecting the Gaviota Coast, mean very little if they are not followed by local decision makers.  This decision restores reason and fair play in the permitting process, and puts Orange County developers on notice that this community will not stand by and allow them to play fast and loose with the Gaviota Coast.”

Ms. Ellison Folk, lead attorney for the legal team, stated “This decision required analysis of a complex legal and factual setting, but reached the core issues regarding whether the developer, GWD and LAFCO could rely on the incomplete 1998 annexation for a golf course to provide water service for a completely different residential project ten years later.  The Court recognized that the new residential project needed a new application for annexation and could not rely on the ten year old incomplete golf course project.” 

Attorney Marc Chytilo explained: “This case has a long and convoluted history.”  The two environmental groups first challenged an attempt by the Goleta Water District to annex the parcels in 2007, since the District didn’t comply with CEQA by preparing an EIR.  To avoid a losing lawsuit, GWD withdrew that project, then arranged to reactivate the 1998 golf course annexation, bypassing CEQA.  But the 1998 annexation had never been finalized, as all parties had agreed at that time to merge 25 Naples antiquated lots as a required element of the project, but the merger never happened.  The golf course project received full approval from the County and Coastal Commission, but then was stopped when red-legged frogs were discovered on the site.  The developer sued the Coastal Commission, who entered into a tolling agreement that contemplated 10 houses on the 25 Naples lots, in addition to two other large agricultural lots with mansions.  Only one of these lots had water service, so the developer had to apply to the GWD to annex the rest of the lots to get water service. 

In 1998 the planned water service was to be almost exclusively reclaimed water for the golf course, and the developer paid GWD $4.5 million for the District to expand its reclaimed water facilities.  When the golf course was stopped, the developer shifted and pursued the residential project that requires all potable water.  The developer demanded that the GWD help them with the annexation, or else would demand return of the $4.5 million, even though the money had been spent for infrastructure to deliver reclaimed water for the golf course.  In 2008, GWD convinced LAFCO to use the 1998 incomplete annexation as a means to get water for residential development. 

Chytilo continued: “Surfrider and the Gaviota Coast Conservancy fought these efforts through a series of lawsuits, and today prevailed.  The judge ruled that there had been no annexation, and a new application would have to be filed for Makar’s residential development.”  Makar has a development application pending before Santa Barbara County to develop two massive, luxury residential compounds.  They also own 25 antiquated “Naples” lots totaling 57 acres that are zoned agricultural.  These lots are similar to the lots owned by another Orange County developer, Matt Osgood and known as Santa Barbara Ranch.  But now they have no water and face growing community hostility to oversized mansions on the Gaviota Coast’s prime agricultural lands.  With new board members on the Goleta Water District Board of Directors, at LAFCO and at the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, the Makar residential project faces an uncertain future.   

About The Surfrider Foundation:

The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's oceans, waves and beaches for all people, through conservation, activism, research and education.  The Santa Barbara Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has been deeply involved in efforts to preserve the Gaviota coast for more than ten years.  The Chapter fought the “ARCO Golf Course” project successfully before turning to save that very same property from residential development at the hand of the Orange County-based Makar properties.  For more information see: <> . 

About The Gaviota Coast Conservancy:

The Gaviota Coast Conservancy is a private, non-profit organization that promotes the permanent protection of the Gaviota Coast's unique natural, scenic, agricultural, recreational, and cultural resources.  GCC monitors all significant development on the Gaviota Coast, acting as a watchdog, reviewing EIRs, submitting comments, and filing appeals where necessary.  Working through partnerships with other land conservation organizations, local landowners, resource agencies, and government entities, the Conservancy is promoting long-term strategies to protect the Gaviota Coast from the rapid urban expansion that threatens this region.  For more information, visit <> . 

--  ##  --

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Photo Tour of the Gaviota Coast

Click HERE for a wonderful slide show of the Gaviota Coast presented by Mike Lunsford, GCC president, on November 12, 1999, at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. The tour starts at the west end of Goleta and moves up the coast. Many people have not seen much of this coast except from the Freeway at 65 miles per hour. These 35 pictures show you more, including areas where public access is restricted. Be patient, the pictures are worth your time. 

Posted on the Gaviota Coast Conservancy website.   Thank you, and ENJOY!

Where is Naples?

This map will help you understand where one of the major developments (Naples) is located.

Save Gaviota - No Development South of Hwy 101

The Gaviota Coast in Santa Barbara County, California, lies between Coal Oil Point in Goleta and Point Sal near Lompoc, and includes the coastal watersheds from the top of the ridge to the ocean.  The coastal Mediterranean ecosystems of the world are among the world's most threatened environments. The Gaviota Coast is the largest intact remnant of such an environment in the United States.  The Southern California Coastal Province (Pt. Conception to Mexico) contains the highest density of imperiled species of anywhere in the United States.

While the Gaviota Coast represents only fifteen percent of the 300-mile Southern California coastline, it contains about fifty percent of its remaining rural coastline. Even though most of the Southern California coastal areas have been dramatically altered and biologically degraded by expanding human occupation, the Gaviota Coast retains a high degree of biodiversity.  This is true because of three key factors:

  1. Natural and agricultural landscapes still prevail;
  2. The area is a transition zone between two distinct eco-regions;
  3. The Santa Ynez Mountains serve as an effective wildlife migration corridor from large interior wildlands.

The marine ecosystem of the Santa Barbara Channel is also a mixing zone between the northern and southern marine biota, due to dominant current patterns.  The ocean current patterns in the Channel connect the mainland watersheds with the offshore marine ecosystem, including the Channel Islands and the Marine Sanctuary.

The Gaviota Coast faces an increasing threat from development.  There are numerous development projects being planned, the most significant of which would permit 72 luxury homes – some as large as 13,000 square feet – on the property known as Naples, an antiquated subdivision located just two miles west of the urban limit line in Goleta.  The development would occur on and amidst land currently zoned for agriculture with a minimum lot size of 100 acres, parcels on which the average home size is 4,000 – 5,000 square feet.

Since its inception in 1992, Surfrider Foundation’s Santa Barbara Chapter has been a leader in local efforts to halt and/or limit further development of the Gaviota Coast.  SB chapter members co-founded the Gaviota Coast Conservancy in 1991, initiated a letter-writing campaign opposing the building of a hotel on Haskell’s Beach, and successfully blocked ARCO from its bid to build a golf course on the parcel that adjoins Naples to the east.  The chapter has spent years attempting to negotiate the preservation of this land in perpetuity with the new owners of this parcel, the Makar Development Corporation.   Surfrider Santa Barbara is currently a co-plaintiff, with the Gaviota Coast Conservancy, in a lawsuit challenging the illegal annexation of the Makar property to the Goleta Water District.  Annexation would provide Makar the water it needs to develop its parcels.

The Santa Barbara Chapter is a member of the Naples Coalition, a group of local environmental organizations (Audubon Society, Citizen’s Planning Association, Gaviota Coast Conservancy, League of Women Voters, Sierra Club, and the Santa Barbara Community Action Network) that since 2000 has been working to ensure there is no development south of Highway 101, and to move all development at the adjacent property, Naples, to an inland portion out of the viewshed.  The long-term goal is to protect the Gaviota coastline from any future development.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bacara Scoping Hearing Draws Public Criticism

Foes of Haskell's Beach project express concerns over extent of required General Plan policy changes

Voicing concern over what one speaker called a “total reversal to the usual, acceptable planning process,” members of the public met with Goleta officials to air their grievances about policies involving Bacara Resort & Spa’s latest project. The hotel would like to see 55 condominiums along Haskell’s Beach, and a scoping hearing was held Thursday evening in council chambers to gather public input on the policy changes the project would require. The purpose of the hearing was not to discuss the project, but the guidelines governing it. Because the proposal would require 12 General Plan amendments, the city is collecting public comment and will be shaping a scope of services for an environmental impact report work to be undertaken.

That scope of services report will be brought before the City Council, which will decide whether to initiate a contract to prepare the EIR, said Steve Chase, planning and environmental services director. Goleta is also in draft stages with a concurrent EIR for the city’s track-three General Plan amendments, and a final version will be ready in a couple of months.

Connie Hannah, representing the League of Women Voters, took issue with the Bacara project requesting amendments while final environmental review for the track-three amendments remained to be seen.

“The project should not even be considered until the track-three amendments have been properly analyzed,” said Hannah, who added that the changes would not be project specific and would apply citywide.

Hannah also said the buildings would interfere with the public’s use of Haskell’s Beach.

Michael Lunsford of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy took issue with a large resort requesting changes to city policy.

“The question is, ‘Would this kind of treatment be given to me or any other homeowner in the city of Goleta?’” he asked. “It’s been my experience that you don’t get past the planning desk until you’re consistent. And yet, in this case, we have a massive change.

“I’m afraid that what you’re doing is setting yourself up for a constitutional issue of equal treatment,” he said. “The rooms that are being anticipated are larger than my remodeled house. I suspect that is consistent with most people who live in Goleta.”

Brian Trautwein, speaking for the Environmental Defense Center, discussed the location’s environmentally sensitive habitat areas, or ESHAs. The General Plan designates that the area where the condos would be built is such a habitat, but efforts are under way to change that designation, he said.

“That’s significant, because under the Coastal Act, you can’t build on an environmentally sensitive habitat area,” he said, adding that even if the city were to change the ESHA in the General Plan, the Coastal Act has jurisdiction over this project.

Meanwhile, one speaker drew attention to the presence of prehistoric Chumash archaeological sites. Frank Arredondo described himself as one of about eight people who can trace their genealogy to prehistoric Chumash, and he challenged the city to conduct consultations with the tribe.

“This project is very important to me,” he said.

Arredondo said he’s placed calls to Bacara, saying he was an interested Native American party, but that he has yet to receive a response.

Members of the public who missed the scope hearing may submit written comments to City Hall until 5:30 p.m. April 16.

Once staff has analyzed the environmental report, Chase said the city would bring that document through the Planning Commission process to the council.

“I don’t want to prejudge that outcome,” he said. Public hearings before the council and planning commission will help determine the adequacy of that document, and also whether the General Plan will require modification.

“We get the whole issue of cart before the horse,” he said. “And we struggle with that ourselves. But this is a public planning process and we have an obligation, under due process, to guide it carefully and judiciously.”

— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at

Friday, February 27, 2009