Chumash Indians seeking to increase reservation size
August 31, 2013
The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians’ proposal to increase their reservation size 10 fold has been met with vocal opposition from Santa Barbara County officials and residents.
Currently, the Chumash reservation, which sets northwest of Santa Barbara and includes a profitable casino and housing, is restricted to 138 acres. In 2010, the tribe purchase 1,400 acres a few miles away from its reservation and announced plans to build 143 single family homes for tribal members.
Instead of going through the Santa Barbara County’s planning process, the tribe applied to the federal government to have the newly acquired property added to the reservation. The annexation would exclude the tribe from having to conform to county planning rules and from the requirement to pay property taxes. Even though the federal government has the final say on the proposed annexation, federal regulations require officials to consider objections from local governments while making a decision.
Opponents of the annexation contend the tribe should not be permitted to exclude such a large piece of land from county rules and requirements to pay property taxes. The land is currently zoned agricultural which would only permit approximately a dozen homes.
Tribal leaders offered to pay the county $1 million a year for ten years and requested a government to government dialog with the county.
Last week, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 against permitting the proposed dialog after listening to approximately 400 residents speak out against the property’s annexation.
Tribal leaders argue that the supervisor’s decision was based on hatred and biases against the tribe.