Activists are Raising Funds to Purchase Land Near San Marcos Foothills Preserve
By edhat staff
Local activists are working to raise funds to purchase the West Mesa area of the San Marcos Foothills that is slated for housing development.
Last week the Save the San Marcos Foothills Organization announced they've reached an agreement with an option to purchase and preserve the 101 acres from the Chadmar Group, developer of the land.
Grading and development of the land will be halted for 90 days, allowing the nonprofit organization to raise $20 million to purchase the land. The price of the land is $18 million and $2 million will go toward and endowment and campaign efforts.
The cut-off date is June 2, 2021, if the funds aren't met by then, both sides agreed developers can proceed with the housing development.
This agreement comes after activists blocked heavy machinery from gaining access to the property in the past few weeks. During one exchange, eight people were arrested by Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Deputies and transported to the County's Mail Jail for willfully obstructing the free movement of any person, a misdemeanor violation. The charges were later dropped.
The Chadmar Group purchased 377 acres of foothills in 2005 with the intent of donating 300 acres to the county. The San Marcos Foothills Preserve is a protected area of 200 acres between Santa Barbara and Goleta in the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains. The West Mesa area of the foothills, 101 acres, is still owned by the Chadmar Group where 25 of these acres are permitted for eight large homes.
As of Thursday, the group had raised just over $1.6 million from more than 1,000 donors. They have a March 24th deadline to reach $5 million.
Organizers plan to purchase the property and place a permanent restriction that prohibits development, establish an interest-bearing endowment that will fund long-term habitat restoration and management, and then convey title of the property to Santa Barbara County or another appropriate entitey.
Tax-deductible donations can be made here or a tax deducible contribution by check can be sent to the below address:
Foothills Forever Funds
c/o Santa Barbara Foundation,
1111 Chapala St, ste. 200
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(Include “Foothills Forever Fund” in the memo line)