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Chumash Leaders Attempt to Moot Appeals

The chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians announced at Tuesday’s Santa Barbara County board of supervisors meeting that the tribe had voted Oct. 9 to withdraw a controversial tribal land consolidation area plan known as a TCA.

The withdrawal without prejudice means the tribe can pursue the consolidation at later date.

The tribe’s government affairs officer Sam Cohen said he hopes the change will moot appeals, but added that it does not mean the tribe won’t try again.

The TCA had already been approved by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs without public comment.

The government shutdown makes it unclear what the BIA will do with the request.

The TCA designated 11,400 acres as historic Chumash land, paving the way for future expansion.

The tribe only owns 1,390 acres of the land near the intersection of highways 154 and 246. The tribe bought the land from the late actor/developer Fess Parker for $30 million. They hope to build tribal housing on the land, but first they want the reservation to be able to annex the property.

That has sparked controversy, too. Critics, including current and former supervisors, said it will take it off the tax rolls, hurting county coffers and schools.

Supervisor Doreen Farr said it puts the needs of 143 Tribe members above the needs of 420,000 county residents.

Tribe Chairmen Vincent Armenta said he would like to meet with government leaders to mitigate concerns.

But the tribe could still build a case for federal legislation that won’t require mitigation.

The Chumash already owns a casino, a hotel and a couple of gas stations in the Santa Ynez Valley.

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