Friday, May 14, 2010

Naples Foreclosure Sale - Update

On Thursday, March 13, 2010, the County of Santa Barbara administered a bank auction/foreclosure sale of 1,035 acres of the Santa Barbara Ranch on the Gaviota Coast. First Bank, who initiated the foreclosure proceeding, set a minimum bid of $50,000,000.00 for the property.

No one present entered a bid, including the land’s former owner, Orange County developer Matt Osgood, who attended the foreclosure sale. As the institution foreclosing on the property, First Bank is the new owner, and will receive all the conditional permits and tentative entitlements according to the deed of trust.

The property, commonly referred to as “Naples”, had been slated for a massive development of 71 luxury-style homes averaging 8,000 square feet in size – double the current average Gaviota Coast home size – just two miles west of the urban limit line. Following today's action, the future of Mr. Osgood’s development plans is now, at best, uncertain.

Mr. Osgood has retained ownership of two of the parcels on the Santa Barbara Ranch that were part of a development approved by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors in October, 2008. Interviewed after the foreclosure sale, Mr. Osgood indicated that he will likely attempt to regain control of the foreclosed property in the future.

While the value of the Naples property remains uncertain, it seems clear from today’s action that it is less than $50 million; how much less is still an open question.

Whatever happens, we now have an open door to begin discussions with First Bank. We hope those discussions can lead to an opportunity to purchase all or some portion of the property in fee and/or easement.

We look forward to this challenge as we are confident that the Santa Barbara community can and will rise to this large conservation effort as they did with the Carpinteria Bluffs, the Wilcox property, and Ellwood Mesa.

Recognizing that our efforts to preserve this property will require constant vigilance and resourcefulness, the Santa Barbara Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation will continue to monitor all aspects pertinent to today's action, as well as work toward permanent solutions for preserving both Naples and the entire Gaviota Coast - the last remaining stretch of undeveloped coastline in southern California.

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