The Santa Ynez Chumash Indians can move forward with its plans to build 143 houses for its tribal members, per a House Committee on Natural Resources vote on July 13.
The committee voted 29-1 to pass HR 1157, which would allow the Chumash to take 1,390 acres in Santa Ynez known as Camp 4 into federal trust under the tribe’s sovereign territory.
U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, was the lone dissenter who argued the issue should be resolved locally. The Chumash have been negotiating with the county over the Camp 4 land since 2011. If the bill passes the House and Senate and is signed into law, the land would be removed from county tax rolls and oversight.
The tribe plans to build 143 houses for its members on the acreage as well as designated open space and vineyards. The $179 million project would have a projected $80 million to $100 million annual impact, officials estimate. It is slated to begin in 2022.
The Chumash paid $40 million to the late Fess Parker for Camp 4 in 2010 and shortly after began the process of placing the land into trust.
In July 2013, the tribe filed a federal trust application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In October 2013, federal legislation (HR 1133) was introduced to take land into trust and it was reintroduced to Congress in February 2015 as HR 1157.
The bill prohibits gambling on the site but does not include other development restrictions, which has drawn concern from county officials and local residents.
The county estimated that it would lose up to $311 million in tax revenue over 50 years.
The tribe recently appointed Kenneth Kahn as its new chairman, who took over for Vincent Armenta after he stepped down in March to pursue culinary school.
“The strength of this vote coming out of the Natural Resources Committee demonstrates that Congress fully understands progress needs to be made to address the desperate housing situation facing the members of our tribe,” Kahn said in a news release.
Armenta helped the tribe build a business enterprise, including a recently expanded Chumash Casino Resort, Hotel Corque, Root 246, the Hadsten House, two gas stations, Kita Wines and a growing real estate portfolio throughout the Santa Ynez Valley. The Chumash employ more than 1,800 county residents.
• Contact Alex Kacik at [email protected]