SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara County Sheriff's deputies arrested eight people and cited one during a protest against development at the San Marcos Preserve Thursday morning.
The sheriff's office said they became aware of the protest around 8 p.m. Wednesday night when contractors called to report a potential for conflict with the protestors at their construction site on the north end of Via Gaitero.
Deputies responded to monitor the situation overnight and said they spoke with protestors multiple times.
As morning came, construction equipment arrived, and a group of protestors mobilized to stop the contractors from entering private property on the north end of Via Gaitero.
Deputies said the contractors did have a valid permit allowing them access to work on the property, however, the protestors obstructed their access to the area.
The deputies said they repeatedly informed the protestors that blocking access was illegal and could result in arrest.
They said some of the protestors complied and moved, while another group refused to budge.
As a result, six women and two men were arrested at the site. Deputies said they did not use any force other than handcuffing to conduct the arrests. No injuries to protestors or law enforcement were reported during the incident.
The arrested protestors were transported to the County Main Jail at 7:19 a.m. and booked for the misdemeanor of willfully obstructing the free movement of any person.
After being booked, each protestor was issued a citation and released from jail. They are due to appear back in court at a later date.
One additional man was also issued a citation by deputies for reportedly locking himself to a gate post at the entrance to the private property during the protest.
The sheriff's office said the man used a V arm tube which made it difficult for him to be removed from the post safely.
Deputies remained at the protest site until shortly after 12 p.m. Thursday, when the contractor and protestors settled on an agreement that made law enforcement no longer needed to access the property. It is unclear what that agreement was, we have reached out to both sides for more information.
Environmental groups have rallied against a development planned next to the San Marcos Preserve in the Santa Barbara foothills for years. The group hopes to buy back land that has already been approved for new homes.