Imminent Development at the San Marcos Foothills Preserve Spurs Locals to Action

Notice of Development signs at the San Marcos Foothills Preserve, off Highway 154 just above Route 192, has spurred locals to action. The following text, from Channel Islands Restoration’s website about the preserve, explains the situation nicely.

[In 2005] two hundred acres were protected by the County of Santa Barbara and constitute the San Marcos Foothills Preserve, but the rest was approved for development of single-family homes. Construction of new homes off Cieneguitas Road is being completed right now, and there are 8 more new homes are in the final stages of getting permits to build at the north end of Via Gaitero Road. Each new home would be about 5,000 square feet and would be accompanied by a guest house and associated development. All in all, the 8 new homes would occupy about 24 acres, and the remaining 80 acres would be permanent open space with a dedicated public trail. For more information about the development, click here. The part of the San Marcos Preserves that is about to be developed is what the development advertising calls “the Upper Preserve.”

Final permits will soon be issued by the County to begin construction. Yet, there is a chance that the community of Santa Barbara could buy it from the owners, protect it, and add it to the San Marcos Foothills Preserve. We intend to pay the fair market price for the undeveloped land, which is estimated to be $5.5 million. Let’s raise the money together as a community and make an offer to pay fair market value for the undeveloped land. We believe that we need to raise the money by November 1.

The 104-acre property is currently undeveloped and we want to keep it that way. It provides important habitat for rare birds called white-tailed kites and other wildlife as well as native grasses and wildflowers that depend on grasslands for their survival. From the property there are views of the mountains, Santa Barbara, Goleta, the ocean, and islands.

Please join us and contribute today by clicking here or the button below. All funds that are donated to this effort will be deposited into an account only to be used for the purpose of acquisition of the property. If the effort fails, we promise to return all funds. It will help the effort if you a) donate, b) add your name and the name of your organization as a public supporter of the effort, and c) if you invite your friends to join you.

This map, also from the Channel Islands Restoration site, shows the protected area in green and the target area in red. (The Santa Barbara Soaring Association is a group for hang-gliding and paragliding.) As of Sunday morning, the effort has raised $20,660, with an additional $41,870 pledged.

Chuck Lande of Chadmar, the developer, released a statement to KEYT pointing out that the development process has been going on for a long time, with many community meetings, so none of this should come as much of a surprise. He notes that “we are approved to build 20 homes, however only 15 of the homes are market rate, the remaining 5 are affordable.” As for selling the land, he has this to say: “A group has met with us indicating there [is] interest in buying what is remaining of the 10% of the land—the current home sites—and we continue to be open minded and willing to meet and talk with them more.”


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