SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - A major development in the campaign to save open space in the Santa Barbara Foothills was revealed Wednesday.
"We are delighted to announce today that we have an option to purchase the 101 acres of the west mesa of the San Marcos Foothills," said attorney Marc Chytilo.
Chytilo represents the Save the San Marcos Foothills Organization. He was flanked by dozens of local residents, environmentalists and, members of the Chadmar Group, an upscale development company.
Longtime local resident, Peter Schuyler, addressed the crowd gathered at the trailhead off Via Gaitero before Chytilo revealed that a tentative deal had been reached between the developer and those hoping to preserve the open land.
"I think this is a great opportunity for the community," said Charles Lande, Founder, President and CEO of Chadmar Group. "I credit Marc and his team on the great work. Glad that we're here and, hope it's very successful."
Lande has agreed to temporarily halt grading and development of new housing on a 100 acre parcel near the pristine preserve for 90 days. The window will allow the Save the San Marcos Foothills organization to try and raise $20 million dollars to buy back the land.
"Probably the most important thing is to start by thanking the Tellechea family who's owned all of this land," said Lande. "I think the original assemblage was over 400 acres. They donated, as you know, 200 acres to what is now the San Marcos Preserve."
Chytilo told NewsChannel 3 that the purchase price of the land is $18 million dollars. June 2 is the cut-off date for the fundraising effort. Chytilo said if the money isn't raised by then, Lande can continue with his development plans.
"We're looking for gifts to kick off the campaign," said Chytilo.
He said the organization received a $250,000 gift Tuesday. To date, Chytilo said the land preservation group has raised $1.7 million dollars from roughly 1,000 donors. In the past, Chytilo cited other open spaces that the public helped preserve, including Elings Park.
Supervisor Gregg Hart is credited for helping negotiate the contract between Lande and the Chadmar Group and members of the San Marcos Foothills organization.
For more information about the Chadmar Group's project click here.
To learn more about the San Marcos Foothills Preserve or to make a donation to help buy back the land, click here.