SANTA YNEZ, Calif. - A new defense budget bill making its way through congress is set to place the controversial parcel of land known as Camp 4 into the federal trust, paving the way for the Chumash Tribe to develop the land for tribal housing.
The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians purchased the land from the estate of the late Fess Parker in 2010.
By moving the plot of land into trust, the land would become part of the Chumash reservation, which would give the tribe the ability to develop it as they see fit. The tribe has repeatedly stated they plan on building tribal housing on the land.
The decision to move the land into trust has been an ongoing legal battle for years. Some residents of the Santa Ynez Valley, including a neighbor on the adjacent property, have taken legal action to stop the transfer to the trust.
The primary concerns include a lack of a full environmental impact study. Despite a lack of full study, the Bureau of Indian Affairs during the Obama Administration had greenlit the move to the trust in the final days of the administration.
In February, a United States District Court judge ruled that a 2017 decision to transfer a 1,400-acre parcel of land known as "Camp 4" to the Chumash Reservation was unlawful, citing that the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs did not have authority to move the land into the trust.
Weeks later, the acting Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney reaffirmed the 2017 decision to place Camp 4 into the federal trust, making the land part of the Chumash Reservation. A discovery of an endangered species near the land put the hold on the trust once again weeks later.
The defense bill will remove restrictions on the land, pursuant to state laws, and gaming on the land will be prohibited.
The transfer of the land to the federal trust has been opposed by some Santa Ynez Valley residents and county officials.