Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development title=
Oak Surrounded by Flowers at San Marcos Foothills Preserve (Photo Credit: Cody Westheimer)
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By edhat staff

The nonprofit organization Foothills Forever has officially raised $18.6 million to save the 101 acres of San Marcos Foothills from residential development.

In three short months, the first phase of funding was achieved by contributions of cash, pledges, and bridge loans from over 5,500 community members.

The 101-acre West Mesa area of the foothills will now join the already protected San Marcos Preserve to include 300 acres of "contiguous wildlife habitat, honor Chumash heritage, maintain open space, and provide environmental education opportunities," according to a statement by Foothills Forever. 

The nonprofit stated, their legal team is working to complete the complex transaction to acquire the property and it may take a few days. Phase 2 of funding will soon begin to reach the $20 million mark to allow the group to retire short- and long-term loans, create an endowment, pay any final costs, and help to restore and steward the land into the future.

"We do not anticipate major changes to the land. The West Mesa is being preserved by a community led effort to maintain this grassland open space for future generations to enjoy," the statement read.

In March, the nonprofit announced they reached an agreement with an option to purchase the land from the developer, The Chadmar Group. Grading and development were halted for 90 days, allowing the group to raise money. If the funds were not met by the agreed-upon cut-off date, both sides agreed developers could proceed with the housing development.

This agreement came after activists blocked heavy machinery from gaining access to the property for several weeks starting in February. 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 the 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 101-acre West Mesa area of the foothills owned by the Chadmar Group had previously received permits for eight large homes on 25 of those acres.

Over the next few weeks and months, Foothills Forever stated it will continue docent-led tours of the property on a regular basis to be announced on their website. After the rains next winter, the group plans to bring sheep through Channel Islands Restoration to help control the invasive vegetation.

Donations are being accepted to reach the Phase 2 goal at https://www.foothillsforever.org/.

Related Articles

 February 25, 2021: Eight Activists Arrested While Protesting San Marcos Foothills Development

 March 19, 2021: Activists Raising Funs to Purchase Land Near San Marcos Foothills Preserve

 April 7, 2021: San Marcos Foothills PSA

 May 19, 2021: San Marcos Foothills Impact

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oops Jun 11, 2021 04:53 PM
Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

This is really great news! Regarding all the homeless, we9 taxpayer) have been throwing millions each year at this this for decades. In fact, the folks that are being funded to "solve this problem" are in fact exacerbating the problem only to profit off of it. "Tolerance and $$" for this problem had not been the solution then, now or tomorrow.

Byzantium Jun 11, 2021 03:00 PM
Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

2:46 and PITMIX: Homeless Inc - is a collective term of art, for all the various "homeless" outreach enablers that each contribute in their own way to growing this problem as well as obstructing any and all accountability for the millions of dollars spent for decades, while accomplishing only their own "administrative" security and growing the client base. Success would end this grift, therefore they can't actually do or solve anything. So they exaggerate, deflect and obstruct. The same amount of money spent on Homeless Inc would be better served by the City Attorney fighting all these alleged legal mandates that have so far stopped at the trial or district court level. Courts cannot mandate an unfunded open-ended obligations for a city to "house" every vagrant who chooses to park in our public spaces. Get a city council who will fight back legally and form a consortium of other cities who are also getting destroyed by these court imposed unfunded mandates. Any city council member who keeps repeating the courts are making us do this, just told you why they should never be elected to public office anywhere, ever again. Going to court and getting legal review that applies to everyone in the state, not just the prime areas vagrants love to target is the task our city council. They have failed 100%, with no help from the failed City Attorneys office too. Glad you asked what is "Homeless Inc". Your hair will curl when you see the long list of enablers and the amount of money spent, with virtually zero results. Shall we start naming names? Name any "charity" who picks away at this problem with the net result of maintaining the status quo. County funded vagrant outreach, city funded vagrant out reach, religious institution vagrant out reach, grant funded vagrant outreach, federally funded vagrant outreach, non-profit funded vagrant outreach. There is your "Homeless Inc".

Byzantium Jun 11, 2021 10:47 AM
Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

PitMix, Homeless Inc is not "alleged". It is a multimillion dollar local operation with only its own self-perpetuation and growth of the vagrancy population to show for its combined efforts. Plus providing an endless supply of city council virtue-signaling proving they are "doing something". I see former mayor HeleneSchneider in the press today, still touting her own credentials as a member of Homeless Inc, well past her due date promise of 10 Years to End "Homelessness". The Homeless Inc scam needs to be busted wide open.

biguglystick Jun 10, 2021 11:31 AM
Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

This is the BEST news EVER! I'm so thrilled and a little surprised that we pulled this off. I painted signs, attended the protests when the bulldozers and cops were there. I donated a painting... donated money and so did all the others, and WE DID THIS! I am so proud of our community! Thank you to everyone who put in money and effort to protect this precious sacred open space. Hooray for our wild neighbors who will benefit from this. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU ALL! And if you're wealthy and you didn't help or donate... shame on you! Don't hike there.

Babycakes Jun 09, 2021 03:50 PM
Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

Word on the street is that by some estimates, over 3/4 of this money has come from the folks at the Chumash Casino. Apparently they want to remain v-e-r-y quite about their involvement though (like when Oprah does all the things she does for our local schools and programs). If true, good for them and their super-generous donations to keep this land pristine. I completely doubted that this would happen, but when one group or person steps up like this, we all benefit, as well as future generations.

Julia Laraway Jun 10, 2021 08:16 AM
Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

The entire community of Santa Barbara as a whole has stepped up in amazing ways for this campaign, from the indigenous youth who were arrested protesting the bulldozers, the volunteers who spent thousands of hours getting the word out about the property, to the individual donors and businesses who raised money for the foothills. No "single" entity funded 3/4 of the money. AND, you are completely correct in stating that we all, as well as future generations, will benefit.

MountainMan4865 Jun 09, 2021 06:34 PM
Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

Many native tribes existed with the philosophy of what their actions would mean for the next seven generations, not just what was happening then and there. It seems that that thoughtful approach has largely been ignored, given our current situation, and now.... we have toilet paper branded after that philosophy.

sacjon Jun 10, 2021 10:20 AM
Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

LUVADUCK - Some good ideas, but.... "Vagrants are arrested and serve out their terms at an isolated abandoned army base." So.. what charge(s) do you arrest and incarcerate vagrants for? And why do they not get the same benefits as murders and rapists in a controlled prison environment? You're on to something with the others, but I struggle to see how we can just round up and intern people against their will for being (willfully) homeless?

Luvaduck Jun 10, 2021 09:53 AM
Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

Seperate the can't work from the don't work and won't work: Homeless w/mental issues belong in well-run custodial asylums. Hobos hit the road or are charged with vagrancy. Addicts, whatever variety, belong in custodial rehab. If they refuse or become recidivists, they get regrouped with vagrants. Vagrants are arrested and serve out their terms at an isolated abandoned army base. They live in barracks and work off their sentences growing their own food, doing their own KP and cleaning quarters and latrines, thus not being a drain of resources. (Those who refuse get one healthy meal a day and unlimited water.) The remainder can be helped with charity, education and job training. Those who can't work should be given training in line with their disabilities so they can find jobs if they can.

Zenyatta19 Jun 09, 2021 02:04 PM
Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

Much more than 20 million has been raised and obtained through donations and government grants for the homeless. This has nothing to do with that issue. Preserving this land benefits all of us, especially the wildlife who depend on this land for survival. This is amazing and all involved should be incredibly proud.

bosco Jun 09, 2021 11:46 AM
Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

wow, not gonna lie, I am surprised. I wonder how many other places around the world could raise $18M in less than 90 days. Don't get me wrong, it's a great outcome. But it does beg to think how much disposable income people in this community have and how some causes get huge donations while others not so much. I'm pretty sure the Ortega Aquatic Facility could get funded with less than what was raised here.

biguglystick Jun 10, 2021 11:28 AM
Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

Bosco, I would LOVE to see the Ortega aquatic facility get some much needed funding. We really need more public pools in this town, and a roller rink too! Family entertainment and exercise is so important to build a healthy community (and to fight crime)! What can we start to make that aquatic center thrive?

sacjon Jun 10, 2021 10:13 AM
Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

MOUNTAINMAN - you're right, but I'd refine that statement humans without any vested monetary interest. You through greed and profit in there and it's a much different situation. So happy to see the generous donations to save some precious land. I hope this is a sign of things to come! We need as much natural space as we can cling to. There are more than enough homes in this country for everyone who wants one. No need to build more on our land just to accommodate more people in a small town.

Bird Jun 09, 2021 06:37 PM
Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

Maybe about the Ortega Park aquatic facility BUT they did not/do not have the support of the public as a whole, including the City Council for a competitive-sized swimming pool and all the associated buildings in a small neighborhood park. San Marcos is about saving the land for wildlife and access by the people.

bicyclist Jun 09, 2021 11:19 AM
Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

Thank's for the effort here! I really enjoy this area, snakes & all. The skunks not so much, but they usually don't mess with you unless you startle them. (I'm not actually admitting to riding the mountain bike there...) Everyone I've met on those trails were very polite & talkative. This is really cool to be here while this is happening. Thank you to all the "Donors"!

Curmudgeon Jun 09, 2021 11:07 AM
Grassroots Activists Raise $18.6M to Save San Marcos Foothills from Development

Looks like the proverbial "win-win."
Community gets a nice preserve and Chadmar laughs all the way to the bank - raking in the bucks without having to do any actual developing of the eight homes.
Reminds one of the "ransomware" game currently being played, "Hey, pay us $18million and we'll leave you all alone."

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