By Raiza Giorgi

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians announced Jan.9, that legislation to affirm Camp 4’s trust status was reintroduced recently, as the former bill H.R. 1491 failed to pass Congress before they adjourned their last session. 

H.R. 317 was introduced into Congress on January 8, 2019, by Congressmen Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Salud Carbajal (D-CA). LaMalfa is the former Chair of the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs while Carbajal represents Santa Barbara County in Congress. LaMalfa became a key player by submitting three bills over the last several years to allow Camp 4 to be taken into trust. 

“We continue to seek the opportunity to place our Camp 4 property in federal trust through legislation,” said Chairman Kenneth Kahn said in a press release. “We were successful in placing Camp 4 in federal trust through the BIA’s administrative process, and we’re confident that with the progress we’ve made over the last two years, the legislative process will be just as successful.”

Photo contributed by Santa Barbara County

Since buying the property in 2010, the Chumash tribe has sought to place the land in trust with plans to build housing for tribal members. The land is currently zoned for agriculture and the process of converting it to residential and commercial can be a long and difficult process under current county and state regulations. 

In December 2014, the Pacific Region Director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved an application by the tribe to accept title to the Camp 4 property in trust. The Chumash Indians’ membership plans to build 143 housing units and a Tribal Administrative building while keeping the majority of the property as agricultural land or environmental open space. The Bureau of Indians Affairs (BIA) approved on January 19, 2017, the decision to place that land, known as Camp 4, in federal trust. 

The Santa Ynez Valley Concerned Citizens has vehemently opposed this decision as they state it violates the Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan. The SYVCC also stated instead of requiring a more comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the BIA relied instead on a more limited Environmental Analysis (EA).

“We saw that there was another bill submitted and we have yet to discuss our position on it as the language of the bill wasn’t available yet. I am disappointed to see Carbajal’s name attached to this which states he more about representing a special interest group than 400,000 taxpayers who will have to subsidize this legislation if it passes,” said Bill Krauch, chairman of SYVCC. 

Since the property would be under the tribe’s jurisdiction, it would mean loss of property revenue to the county as well as local governmental control and oversight as to what is built on the property, Krauch explained. 

The SYVCC has stated they are not opposed to the tribe building homes and furthering their cultural goals, but like everyone else in the valley that wants to build they have to follow county code and pay permitting fees and subsequent taxes. 

There is already a signed memorandum of agreement between the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and the County of Santa Barbara regarding the Camp 4 land. The tribe’s membership approved the agreement and the county Board of Supervisors followed suit with a 4-1 vote (with Supervisor Peter Adams dissenting) on Oct. 31, 2017. As part of the agreement, Santa Barbara County pledged to support the tribe and dropped its federal lawsuit.

The agreement allows for 143 one-acre residential lots developed on 194 acres, with 869 acres of open space and 206 acres of agriculture. The agreement also allows the tribe to build a tribal hall on the land, holding up to 100 events annually.

The tribe will comply with the terms of the state Williamson Act, keeping the property in agricultural use until Dec. 31, 2023. Then the tribe would begin making annual payments of $178,500 upon completion of the first home and continue paying through 2040. Those payments over 17 years would total about $3 million.

At that county hearing, Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann said the agreement wasn’t about selling out the valley, but with the threat of House Resolution 1491, the county had two options: to either work with the tribe or have no say at all. Her office has yet to comment on the new legislation introduced by the Chumash. 

“Our main focus for Camp 4 is housing. Our current reservation is one of the smallest in the country and only provides enough space for 17 percent of our tribal membership to live. It is our inherent right to secure Camp 4 as part of our reservation to restore tribal homelands, promote self-determination, and bring many of our members back home,” Kahn said. 

The full draft agreement is available at