Gaviota Village Property Now Part of State Park (CA)

SANTA BARBARA, CA 9/29/2009: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and California State Parks, along with numerous dignitaries and elected officials, “cut the symbolic ribbon” between the recently acquired 43-acre Gaviota Village property and the 2,000-acre Gaviota State Park last Friday afternoon.

On hand for the festivities were State Parks Director Ruth Coleman, County Supervisor Doreen Farr, former Supervisor Brooks Firestone, Jonathon Saur from the office of Congresswoman Lois Capps, D-Calif., as well as Goleta Valley Land Trust President Harriett Phillips.

Debra Geiler, Southern California Director for TPL, told the group of approximately 50 community leaders about the history of the project, including its ups and downs, beginning from the point where the property went on sale in 2006 until the race to the finish line in July of this year. Noting that between the five key partners (TPL, State Parks, County of Santa Barbara, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Goleta Valley Land Trust), over 30 individuals were involved in the successful completion of the Gaviota Village project, Ms. Geiler stated, “It literally took a ‘village’ of champions to save Gaviota Village.”

Director of State Parks Ruth Coleman spoke about the importance of adding the land to Gaviota State Park despite the current recession. “At State Parks, we think seven generations into the future and today’s celebration is all about those people that will enjoy this property in the future, just as all of us have been able to enjoy the land here that was preserved by the people that came before us.”

Early in the process, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and U.S. Representative Lois Capps, D-Calif., secured federal funding and supported the project to the finish line.

“The community has long looked forward to this day,” Senator Feinstein said. And this ensures the preservation of an important 43-acre property to a popular state park in Santa Barbara County.”

“As those of us who live here know, the Gaviota Coast is one of the jewels of California’s Central Coast. Preserving this parcel is just the beginning in preserving the entire western gateway to this spectacular stretch of coastline we call the Gaviota,” said Congresswoman Lois Capps.

Both former Supervisor Brooks Firestone and current Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr also spoke. Firestone said he had received calls about developing the property, including one proposal for a truck stop. “Now that’s not going to happen and that’s a big deal for the Gaviota Coast.”

Farr agreed the commercial zoning on the property was indeed a threat to the coastline. “In addition to this threat, I was also motivated to support additional County funds for the project to protect both the natural resources and breathtaking views from the property and to provide for recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike,” she added.

Harriett Phillips, President of the Goleta Valley Land Trust, said, “The acquisition of this property means that a very important part of Santa Barbara is going to stay the way it is into the future.”

A ribbon was cut between two original posts that once separated the Gaviota Village property from Gaviota State Park. At the same time, a sign was unveiled that will be located on the property acknowledging TPL for its work, as well as the three funders that made the acquisition possible.

Located above the coastal marine terrace at the western edge of the Gaviota Coast, the property provides ocean views and has a variety of habitats, including grasslands, chaparral and coastal sage scrub. Canada del Barro flows through the southwest portion of the property. Some of the sensitive species that may be found on the property include Gaviota tarplant, California red-legged frog, globose dune beetle, yellow-billed cuckoo, two-striped garter snake, San Diego horned lizard, and cactus wren, all of which are protected under both federal and state endangered species laws.

Funds for the project came from the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (NOAA-CELCP), Santa Barbara County’s Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund (CREF) and the Goleta Valley Land Trust (GVLT).

The CELCP program, which provided $889,062 to this project, provides a critical tool to respond to the mounting pressures on our coasts and protect the most sensitive areas. CELCP funds have been effectively leveraged non-federal matching funds in numerous projects, including this one. The Santa Barbara County CREF program, from which the County Board of Supervisors allocated $1,360,938, was established in 1987 to mitigate the impacts of oil and gas development to coastal aesthetics, recreation, tourism and resources. Founded in 1992, the GVLT, which contributed $600,000 to this acquisition, is a non-profit organization which focuses on the Goleta Valley and Gaviota Coast.

A portion of the Gaviota Village property, which was zoned for highway commercial use and under significant development threat prior to this acquisition, is part of a larger effort to piece together up to 10,000 contiguous acres, streaching from the Los Padres National Forest to the beaches of the Channel Island Marine Sanctuary.

TPL is a national land conservation organization dedicated to conserving land for people as parks, greenways, wilderness areas and natural, historic and cultural resources for future generations. Founded in 1972, TPL has protected more than 2.8 million acres nationwide. TPL depends upon the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations.