Capps opposes 'Camp 4' bill in letter
Statement reflects ongoing stance on Chumash annexation
From Santa Maria Times - Staff Report Mar. 12, 2014
In a letter to a member of Santa Ynez Valley Concerned Citizens, Rep. Lois Capps has restated her opposition to a bill in Congress meant to place the Chumash tribe's rural 'Camp 4' in Santa Ynez into federal trust.
Gerry Shepherd said Capps, D-Santa Barbara, coming out in writing that she is opposed to House Resolution 3313, or HR3313, is a major step and something she should be applauded for.
"This is a huge help to the community, due in no large part because of the community's support of Santa Ynez Valley Concerned Citizens and other community groups who opposed legislative annexation bill HR3313," she said.
The March 5 letter addresses HR3313, introduced in October 2013 by Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, which would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to take the 1,400-acre property into trust for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources, of which LaMalfa is a member, where it awaits further action.
While seeking to add the agricultural land at the northeast corner of highways 154 and 246 and Armour Ranch Road to the reservation as sovereign land rather than private property through the federal fee-to-trust process, the tribe has also sought acquisition through legislation in Congress.
If made part of the reservation, the land would become exempt from local and state taxes and local planning and zoning laws.
Purchased in April 2010 from Fess Parker Enterprises, the Camp 4 property, which is the size of Solvang, would be subdivided to solve a housing shortage for its members on the Santa Ynez Reservation with the construction of 143 single-family homes on part of it. The tribe is also seeking to expand tribal government programs such as education and health care.
Although the tribe, which owns and operates the Chumash Casino Resort about two miles west of Camp 4, has said it would make no economic sense to build another casino, nothing could stop them from building one or some other high-density development if Camp 4 becomes part of the tribe's sovereign reservation, opponents have noted.
Opposed and appealed by county officials and several Santa Ynez Valley community groups, including SYV Concerned Citizens, the fee-to-trust application, formally submitted last summer, is under consideration by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
After HR3313 was announced, Capps said she opposed the bill and backed talks between county and tribal officials.
In the meeting, Shepherd said she strongly told Capps aide the congresswoman must state her opposition in writing.
"That is what her constituents in the county need and are waiting for," Shepherd said.
Last week, Shapiro said Capps, whose 24th Congressional District includes all of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties and a small portion of Ventura County, has made her position clear from the start and has answered queries about the bill with similar letters.
Capps wrote in the letter she both opposes the "misguided legislation" and efforts to move the bill forward in Congress, including holding a hearing because the issues surrounding Camp 4 should be decided locally between the tribe and the county.
"I know this issue has been a source of considerable controversy among Valley residents and understand how important it is for the community and county as a whole. That is why I firmly believe a locally produced decision is crucial to achieving the best results for everyone involved. Rest assured that I will continue to follow this issue closely and welcome your thoughts and comments," she said.