Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

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Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed
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Camp 4 land (Photo: Santa Barbara County)

By edhat staff

On February 13, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Wilson found the 2017 decision to take the land known as “Camp 4” into trust for the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians was unlawful.

The plaintiff's attorney Barry Cappello, with Cappello & Noel LLP Trial Lawyers in Santa Barbara, released a statement with the announcement.

Camp 4 property was purchased by the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians in 2010, and is comprised of over 1,400 acres in rural Santa Ynez Valley. The land had been dedicated to low-density agriculture under a specific community plan that took several years to develop after many meetings with Santa Ynez Valley residents and under California’s Williamson Act.

Source: County of Santa Barbara

In 2013, the Band filed an application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), asking the BIA and the Department of the Interior (DOI) to take the land into trust under the Indian Reorganization Act. This would allow the Band to avoid all local and State land regulations, while it developed a high-density housing and tribal facility plan. The BIA conducted an Environmental Assessment but did not perform a complete Environmental Impact Report. It then issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), and a 2014 Notice of Decision to take Camp 4 into trust, according to Cappello's statement.

Plaintiff Anne Crawford-Hall filed an administrative appeal of the 2014 decision as her family had previously owned Camp 4, and her properties sit directly across the street.

The court’s ruling came down to Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn, who resigned before the ruling. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Lawrence Roberts held Washburn's position for 210 days before returning to his deputy role. In 2017, on the final day of President Obama’s administration, Roberts issued the Department of the Interior's final decision affirming the 2014 decision to put the land into the trust, then resigned. 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs put Camp 4 into the Federal Trust, transferring ownership of the land to the Band, which would then add to its Reservation. 

Last week, the Court vacated the 2017 Decision of the Principal Deputy, and vacated the Band’s transfer of Camp 4 to the government. The Court sent the case back to the agency to handle the matter properly, and retained jurisdiction to review their action.

"Crawford-Hall’s success in this litigation was of enormous benefit to the entire valley, and she is to be commended for single-handedly fighting the entire U.S. government to preserve the natural beauty of the valley," says Barry Cappello, managing partner of Cappello & Noël LLP who is representing Crawford-Hall.

The Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians had previously stated the land would be developed for tribal housing. 

"Our client didn't want to watch as this agricultural valley became filled with casinos and high rise hotels," says Wendy Welkom, an attorney at Cappello & Noël who worked on the case.

Kenneth Kahn, the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians Tribal Chairman, released the below statement to KEYT after the court's ruling:

“Today’s ruling on Camp 4’s trust status was unfortunate, and we firmly believe, as does the Bureau of Indian Affairs, that Deputy Roberts was within his authority to issue a final decision on our fee-to-trust application in 2017.  The tribe purchased the Camp 4 property in 2010 with the intention to build homes for our tribal members, and nine years later, we are still working on making that dream a reality. Camp 4 has always been historic tribal land, and the tribe will continue to fight to ensure adequate housing for its members.

The 36-page decision from the court is available below.


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Gregory G. Campbell Feb 22, 2019 09:22 AM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

What this tells me is there is rule of law in this country. Great news Who ever the winners are they had their day in court and got to say what they wanted to say. That is not true in other parts of the world. I would also like to see more real names associated to comments here.

Flicka Feb 21, 2019 02:27 PM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

So Congressman Carbajal is encouraging people to keep losing money by gambling. If people don't have enough sense not to throw their money away whose fault is that? Their own fault! The Santa Ynez Valley was much nicer before L.A came up for all the cute little "ranchettes" that were carved out. Now they want no more development. The Chumash were given a reservation on about the crummiest land the government could find for them, even built them housing that couldn't be lived in because it was too shoddy to pass the final permit process. Now that they figured out a way to make money they are vilified.

RHS Feb 21, 2019 12:07 PM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

Native tribal lands are only subject to the SGMA if they agree to be so. Does anyone now if the Chumash have so agreed? I really doubt they would do that. See https://water.ca.gov/-/media/DWR-Website/Web-Pages/Programs/Groundwater-Management/Sustainable-Groundwater-Management/Best-Management-Practices-and-Guidance-Documents/Files/Guidance-Document-for-Sustainable-Management-of-Groundwater---Engagement-with-Tribal-Governments.pdf

salsa guy Feb 20, 2019 04:24 PM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

About time someone came to their senses. How much money did the Chumash spend on various judges, administrators and legislators to swing the vote their way? Congratulations to Ann Crawford Hall for hanging in there. Looks like Salud will be looking for new trough to feed from.

RHS Feb 20, 2019 10:02 AM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

The hidden, unspoken issue in all of this is that of water rights. I have suspected for years that the tribe's interest in this land is to access the Santa Ynez aquifer which could only be touched in its shallow end from the present tribal land holdings. Watch out for the deep well to suck out the water for new residences, new shops, new casinos.

PitMix Feb 21, 2019 08:26 AM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

You are assuming that State Groundwater laws apply to reservations which are separate nations from us. I bet they don't and they can pump anything they want.

a-1568608587 Feb 20, 2019 12:45 PM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

New (legal) private, unlimited use wells are a thing of the past due to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). New wells are only approved if they do not further deplete existing groundwater levels.

Red Creek Feb 20, 2019 09:22 AM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

The tribe can still develop any area zoned for housing. They just have to purchase land and follow the rules like any one else. Getting additional "res" land only meant they could ignore the rest of us in their development plans. Nice. Shame on Carbajal.

Luvaduck Feb 20, 2019 09:01 AM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

About gamblers losing money: No one holds a gun to their heads though some believe it's an addiction like alcoholism. As to changing the landscape, there's a reason for zoning laws and they shouldn't be open to interpretation for irrelevant reasons such as ethnicity. As to being the "indigenous" inhabitants of the area, it would be interesting to see what DNA would turn up. For a group so reverent of their past, it's odd they aren't interested in genealogy, and ironic that some profiting by claiming tribal membership may be full-blooded descendants of the men who mistreated and subjugated them so thoroughly that the last full-blooded Chumash, a woman, died in the late 1940's. Before it's impossible to trace, it would help trace human migration paths to know where indigenous genes came from 13-15, 000 years ago.

RHS Feb 21, 2019 10:26 AM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

Factotum, your review of history makes it clear that all property is theft by and large. With the world overflowing with people there needs to be a better way of sharing resources than "I was first" nonsense.

Factotum Feb 20, 2019 10:25 AM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

Allegedly the Bering Straights migration came originally from Taiwan, when genetics are traced. Too bad in 13,000 years they did not develop a land registry system to perfect their claims. But I believe there ethic was "land belonged to everyone". And without the invention of the wheel, their territorials claims extended only as far as they could walk and defend. There was a lot of empty, unclaimed land when European settlers arrived. They came they took it, fought for it, or purchased it. And developed a land recording system to bring final settlement to land ownership issues.

Lucky 777 Feb 19, 2019 06:57 PM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

You have only to look at the architectural monstrosity that is the Casino to have a sense for the aesthetic destruction that is in the plans for the Camp 4 land.

Factotum Feb 19, 2019 04:46 PM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

Good call. With the amount of money they are making off gamblers they can afford to buy the property outright and pay taxes to support the community they are taking their gambling profits from. Love to see more information about who patronizes this place, how much money they lose and how their live their lives outside of gambling at casinos. We get plenty of articles about "homeless". How about articles about this unique breed of hopeless.

a-1568608587 Feb 19, 2019 02:46 PM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

Congratulations on a battle well-fought. Many many heartfelt thanks to Crawford-Hall.

CoastWatch Feb 19, 2019 02:38 PM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

This is fantastic for the Santa Ynez Valley as a whole... That is such a beautiful open space.

PitMix Feb 19, 2019 02:17 PM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

No mention of HR 317 co-sponsored by our Rep Carbajal in January 2019 “To reaffirm the action of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for the benefit of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians, and for other purposes.” Local newspapers say that because the judge recalled the original action, then HR 317 may not be valid. Or is it an end run around the judge's expected decision?

SantaBarbaraObserver Feb 20, 2019 08:50 AM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

Because he’s a shill and does what his benefactors dictate. The man is worthless as a leader and as a representative. A true wet noodle who stands for nothing.

PitMix Feb 20, 2019 08:28 AM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

He's hoping that they donate big time to his campaign. They say that a Rep spends about 50% of their time raising money because they are essentially running all of the time in their 2-yr election cycle. So they have to take whatever they can get.

Factotum Feb 19, 2019 04:48 PM
Camp 4 Trust Decision Reversed

Why does Rep Carbajal support gambling and encouraging people to keep losing so much of their money every year that makes the few members of the SY Band of Indians very, very wealthy people?.

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