Federal Agency Approves Controversial Expansion Of Tribe's Reservation On Central Coast

Jan 23, 2017

A federal agency approved a controversial proposal expanding the Chumash tribe’s reservation land in the Santa Ynez Valley.

After years of review, the Bureau of Indian Affairs okayed the tribe’s request to add nearly 1400 acres of land owned by the tribe into federal trust.

The property, known in the community as “Camp 4”, is mostly undeveloped land northeast of the intersection of Highway 154, and 246. The tribe bought the land in 2010, and announced the intention to build more tribal housing on the site.

But, some neighbors and Santa Barbara County objected to the trust application. Reservation land in federal trust doesn’t have to go through the traditional local planning approval process, so it’s up to the tribe as to what they build on it. The county also loses the property tax revenue. Some people were also upset that the tribe tried to bypass the federal agency’s review process by getting Congress to approve the proposal, but that effort failed to get the necessary support to pass.

The tribe offered to negotiate a deal with the county, but both sides failed to reach agreement. Tribal officials say the expansion of their land is a significant milestone in their history.