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Hot Topics > Tribal Land Acquisition & Expansion > Planning Commission Transcript

Transcript of the 10/05/05 County of Santa Barbara Planning Commission Meeting.

One of the commissioner’s: For the Chumash land issues, Jim Laponis and Shane Stark, our general counsel. Welcome Mr. Laponis and Mr. Stark.

Jim Laponis : [inaudible] Mr. Chair and members of the commission. Mr. Stark and myself are here, we have a brief presentation, is the plan at any rate, and then respond to any questions, comments or concerns the commission might have. My understanding of our presentation is that we are going to focus on the fee-to-trust portion of the tribes’ acquisitions as differentiated from whatever other land that the tribe may or may not own. But rather, exclusively on fee-to-trust applications that they have made recently. With that Mr. Stark might want to start.

County Counsel for Santa Barbara Shane Stark:

Good afternoon members of the commission. Pleasure to be here again. I handed out a little two pager. Approximately the first page and a little bit of the second essentially tells you how we got to where we are today. If you want, I could just pop through the history real fast without dwelling on it.

To start from the beginning, we’re talking about a Native American tribe known locally as the Chumash also referred to, technically to as the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians. I assume you know that the Chumash were the original inhabitants of what is now Southern California. They used to occupy a whole large territory running from Paso Robles in the north all the way down to Malibu and maybe beyond in the south and from Central Valley in the east all the way to the Channel Islands many, many years ago before the Europeans came and my understanding is, gathered from various historic sources - I don’t claim to be an expert on it. I was, my son and I were the [inaudible] Indian guides. We were the Chumash. We were the local Chumash. We learned about – this is before they had the casino. We were the little poor tribe. We had the little – the affordable Section 8 tents and things like..

One of the commissioner’s: Do you have rights as a result of that?

Shane Stark: None whatsoever. I’ve tried. I tried claiming Henry’s Beach as an ancestral reservation in which to put up a casino. It didn’t work. I’m still here. If it had worked, I wouldn’t be here. I’d be on the Riviera somewhere.

In any event, they are the original inhabitants of California. When the Spaniards settled California, they established the missions up and down the coast including three of them in our county. And they got the Chumash to primarily move from their tribal villages into the missions. When Spain took over the governance of California from Mexico after a bit – while they secularized the missions and started getting rid of the private land holdings. Kind of forced the Chumash out and when California became a State we didn’t do much better by the Chumash.

The United States gave the land to California. They didn’t reserve any tribal land. There’s a small band of Indians that lived near the old Santa Ynez reservation that basically and eventually became the recognized Santa Ynez Band or Chumash. The federal government recognized them, I think in 1890 and established their current reservation. Actually, they’ve added a little bit to their reservation. It’s now about 140 acres.

There’s 157 enrolled, I believe it’s 157, I believe it’s in the 150’s, enrolled tribal members, official members of the tribe. You have to have at least one-quarter blood, Chumash blood, to be considered an enrolled member of the tribe. That’s up to the tribe and I’ll get to that expansion in a bit because it becomes significant in their land use plan. In any event, these 150 some odd people on 139 acres, for the purpose of United States law, are considered – this is a tricky term – they are considered dependant nations and they are considered to be a sovereign nation. They are a sovereign nation that doesn’t have inherent rights of sovereignty except as respect to their own internal tribal affairs. The courts recognize that with respect to the internal affairs of the tribe, that the tribe is supreme.

Other than that, they are subject to the control of the Congress of the United States under the powers of Congress that are specified in the Constitution. So when people talk about sovereign rights, for the most part, you’re talking about sovereignty that is controlled by the Congress. One of the things that Congress has done is they’ve established a reservation system, which the tribe has a reservation, and they have established a process whereby a tribe can take land that it owns, just as any other individual, or group of individuals, owns. They can have land that it owns and they can apply to the United States government, specifically the Department of Interior, to take the land into trust. That means the federal government owns the land and holds it in trust for the Indian tribe. They do so under an act, which I believe is called the Indian Regulatory Act of 1934. There’s a process. We call it the fee-to-trust process, because the tribe owns the land in fee and they petition the federal government to acquire the property and take it into trust. That is the process which is at the heart of the current controversy between the county of Santa Barbara and the Chumash.

I should tell you that the Chumash were pretty poor until the 1990’s. They had an existence, it is my understanding, that they had a tribe, they had a bingo hall on their tribe - on their reservation. They weren’t doing all that well. In the late 1990’s, the people of California passed two, count them, two initiatives that allowed tribal gaming if there was a compact with the governor. Under federal law, another federal statute called the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, Congress has permitted tribes to engage in various types of gaming. And the gaming that is familiar to people is called Class III gaming. Wide open, Las Vegas style gaming. Texas Hold ‘Em. Foreign to my – I saw, are you ready for this? The son of the Supervisor for the 3 rd district of Santa Barbara County on a TV celebrity poker show down, apparently losing his shirt. I don’t want to [inaudible] but Celebrity Texas Hold ‘Em. In any event, you can play cards at the Chumash casino, you can slot machines, you can have Black Jack, Roulette and various other forms of gaming.

In order to do that, there must be a compact between the state in which the tribe is located and the tribe that allows that and sets the terms of the gambling. The people of the state of California have adopted two initiatives. The first one was a statute and was struck down. The second one was a constitutional amendment and is upheld which now allows that. In 1999, our tribe, the Chumash, executed a compact with the governor. One of several gaming tribes throughout the State that has such compacts and they got permission to erect a casino and they did. What is significant about this from a land-use planning standpoint is that for things that occur on a tribes’ reservation and that includes the original reservation and any land that is subsequently taken into trust. The tribe is exempt from local, land use regulatory controls. Tribes are subject to local police power, local penal codes. They are subject to law enforcement, but they are not subject to general land use regulatory activity. They are also exempt from property taxes. So it is a fairly large advantage from a regulatory standpoint for a tribe to take property into trust.

One of the commissioner’s asks: Does that extend to building codes?

Shane Stark: Building codes are a little tricky. I think they’re required to have their own building codes and that’s part of the compact. They have to have some form of building codes and when they built the casino, they had to comply with some structural codes. They did not have to comply with the full panoply of regulatory things. That’s kind of a wobbler.

The regular – what people think of as normal street crime, the tribe is subject to the penal codes of law enforcement in the state of California, but building codes and that sort of violation. That’s tricky. They have to comply with ocean and safety codes, lay safety codes for their workers. In fact, the Chumash got in a bit of trouble, I believe, when they constructed their casino. They had a death. I think it was a worker death. As you can see, there now – what is depicted on the screen is a map showing the reservation, the tip of the reservation in yellow and the property that is subject to two, two separate applications by the tribe. I should back up for a second.

The tribe is subject to some sales taxes, but exempt from others. It is my understanding that if what they sell is related to the reservation or to a tribal member, they are exempt from sales tax. If they sell regular goods to off-reservation people, they are suppose to pay sales tax, Transient Occupancy Tax. They don’t pay Transient Occupancy Tax. They’ve got a casino..

One of the commissioner’s: They do not pay TOT?

Shane Stark: They do not pay TOT. They pay income tax. Their members, that which have income, they pay income tax. They are not exempt from income tax, but the tribes pay neither property tax nor Transient Occupancy Tax.

Chair: Does the casino itself – is that – are you saying that the tribe and whatever profits the casino generates..

Shane Stark: No. The individual members - the money that the individual members receive from the tribe is taxed, I believe, as ordinary income, but I don’t think the casino pays any taxes per se. Okay?

Shane Stark: In any event, they built this large casino, which has been – they’ve got a hotel and a stage in which if you will excuse a lot of retro rock acts. If you wondered where Tom Jones has been for the last twenty years, he’s at the Chumash Casino. They’ve got Starship, James Brown. The reason is fairly simple, their core audience are people that are in their 40’s and 50’s that like to come up and gamble and that’s who they like are the acts that were popular 20 or 30 years ago. So in case you’ve ever wondered, don’t they have modern acts to play the Chumash casino, the answer is they show the acts their customers like to see.

In any event, they are doing a fairly booming business and the tribe has recently made fee-to-trust applications for two..on two occasions, and they have development plans or at least development goals for a substantially larger project which I think would be the thing that is of primary interest to your commission. The first thing they applied for is the area in blue which we refer to as the 6.9 acre trust application on which the tribe proposes to build a cultural center, a museum and a small shopping complex with some offices and some retail space across the Highway 246 from their reservation. I believe a park is included in that project as well.

That is the application that the county initially had some comments about, because we have some policy differences with the tribe, had some comments about and then reached what I would call a conceptual agreement with the tribe that we would agree that they could build their project. We wouldn’t appeal and they agreed that it would not be used to support gambling.

Unfortunately we did not complete the conclusion of the contract. It fell apart primarily because we couldn’t reach an agreement on the length of the agreement, the duration of the agreement. So at present, some citizens’ groups - I think there are four or five specific citizens groups all of them located in the Santa Ynez Valley. We call them generally, the Concerned Citizens or the Concerned Citizens of the Santa Ynez Valley as one of the groups is appealing the decision of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take this property into trust. We have recently sent a motion to intervene in that appeal supporting the citizens. We have also sent a letter asking the Secretary of Interior to consolidate that application with the second application which is that shown – it was pink when we put it up [digresses about the color]

The second fee-to-trust application involves two discreet kind of areas of land. The one that abuts the yellow, the reservation, is primarily an access point and landscaping property. The one next to the 6.9 acres – that block – that’s commercially zoned property and it’s right next to the village of Santa Ynez. So that’s of significant concern. That’s undifferentiated commercial property. The 6.9 acres, for your information, is zoned Highway Commercial.

Although, I should tell you that the Board of Supervisors indicated that it found that project, the concept of that project, acceptable, it really is inconsistent with the zoning. People think you can build a lot of stuff in Highway Commercial and you can, but to get the museum and various other things, I believe you’d need a zone change if not an actual general plan change. So it’s a little bit out of zone even though it’s located in a Highway Commercial. Those are the two applications that are pending.

In addition, what I think is probably the most significant for the county as well as the tribe. The tribe has publicly stated that it wishes to buy additional land or acquire additional land and take it into trust because they want to develop it for two significant purposes. One is to construct tribal housing. They have mentioned that they would like 150 units more or less of tribal housing. You’ll notice that’s about the same number as current members of the tribe.

The tribe is foreseeing a time when it might need to expand its membership criteria by reducing the qualifications for becoming an enrolled member from a quarter Chumash to an eighth Chumash, which would enlarge the size of the tribe considerably so they would need some land for housing. That is their stated goal.

The second thing that they have indicated a desire to do is to develop a hotel and golf course or some sort of resort complex and my understanding is that they foresee the possibility that they will need to expand their economic base, diversify their economic base beyond reliance of the casino as an eventuality against the possibility, one possibility, that one of two things – one of three things will occur. One is that they will change the constitution of the state and prohibit tribal gaming. The second is that they will open up gaming to people other than tribes and the third and probably is not exclusive - what they’re really concerned about is somebody’s going to put a casino somewhere on the 101 between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara County which would substantially compete with the Chumash.

Being in the gambling business, the way this generally works, is a person who is a dedicated gambler. We’re not talking about the person who wants to go out and see Tom Jones. We’re talking about a dedicated gambler who will get in their car and go to the nearest casino where they can get to the tables as fast as they can. At the present, if you’re going from Los Angeles and you’re going north. We’re it. If you’re coming from San Luis Obispo south. We’re it. And if you’re coming from the San Joaquin Valley. It’s, it’s - we’re pretty much the closest one. So the Chumash Casino presently configured is very, very favorably situated competitively.

If there was a big casino in Ventura County or Los Angeles County, the tribes’ got legitimate worries about their business so that sort of explains why they want to expand. How much land they want, is they say they want about 300 acres. They had a preported deal with Fess Parker. I’m sure you’ve read about it. Recently it was announced that it had fallen through, I think for issues of development control. That was for a substantially larger parcel. I think it accommodated Mr. Parker’s development desires as well as the tribes’ development desires. What they’ve said they have needed is 300 acres. They would prefer to be closer..close to the reservation, but who knows. They have not identified a site. That’s sort of the problem.

Here’s the policy, our policy, the county’s policy is similar to the statewide policy of the state association of counties. Tribal gaming or to be specific, the land use impacts of tribal gaming. There’s gaming impacts of tribal gaming. Gaming is not a 100 percent clean industry. It’s an industry in which some percentage. You can get an argument or debate about what percentage. Some percentage of the people that feed that industry are gambling addicts and with gambling addicts, you wind up with UCSB students losing their rent money and things like that. It’s got negative social consequences. So the whole gaming infrastructure is suppose to address - set aside some measure to deal with problem gaming.

I’m talking about the land use impacts. The traffic, the noise, the fact that casinos are sited where the tribes have land and not necessarily the best location in terms of putting such a facility from a county or city perspective. This is a statewide problem. It’s said basically that there are two classes of counties with respect to Indian gaming: Those that have Indian Gaming and those that are going to get Indian gaming. It’s a big problem. [inaudible] pays a great deal of attention to it and basically what the county policy is both ours and statewide is – No fee-to-trust, no future fee-to-trust acquisitions unless the tribe reaches an enforceable agreement with the local government to account for the mitigation of the impacts of the development including both the traditional mitigations that you are familiar in the planning sense as well as your lost revenue.

That’s our policy. That’s the policy that we’ve advocated to the Department of Interior in these existing trust applications. It is a policy that is shared by the present governor of this state who has written a fairly strongly worded letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in opposition to the second, this 5.8 acre acquisition and has sited in addition to the policy reasons that we’ve sited; no agreement and if you consider the impacts of gaming, of fee-to-trust, we say consider them all. Look at all the tribal development plans, look at the cumulative impacts, evaluate it all at once, don’t just dribble one fee-to-trust application after another and piecemeal it.

The governor has weighed in and in fact has sort of upped-the-anti with respect to this controversy by challenging the need of the tribe to take this property into trust based on the fact that the governor said, and I think he’s got a fairly convincing argument, that the tribe has indeed reached economic self-sufficiency. That with the advent of gambling, they can meet their development goals without the federal government stepping in and basically, if you look at it from our standpoint, ousting the state and local governments of their land use regulatory authority and inquiring law.

That’s where we are. We have backed our way into a national test case. That, I think, is precisely what we’ve done and we’re still engaged in discussions with the tribe, but at the moment we are also litigating with them. That’s where we are.

One of the commissioner’s: Thanks Mr. Stark. It’s fascinating and you are unusually concise today so I appreciate that. I aahhh but, but one question was raised, first of all, you mentioned the appeals. To whom are the appeals directed? Who are the ultimate decision makers on this within the government and then is there an opportunity for court action beyond that?

Shane Stark: That’s a fascinating question. There is an administrative agency within the Department of Interior that is known as the Interior Board of Indian Appeals. It’s got sort of it’s own little administrative unit, judicial unit. The fee-to-trust decisions of the Bureau, the administrative bureaucracy are appealable to that appeals board. After that appeals board makes a decision, there are two judicial challenges that can be made: one is under the Federal Administrative Procedures Act which provides a means to challenging decision of federal administrative agencies and the second is under the national Environmental Policy Act because this is a federal agency decision, they have to do a NEPA review so you could go to court and challenge the NEPA.

Bear in mind, I think as you probably already know, that a NEPA challenge never goes to the substance of the project, it goes to whether the environmental review is adequate and as you may have been told, and I don’t know whether you have, NEPA’s a little bit different than our California Environmental Quality Act. NEPA, you have to examine a broad range of effects including sociology and socioeconomic impact, but you don’t have to mitigate them. All you have to do is identify them and discuss them, but you are not required to mitigate affects under NEPA. So to put it in crass terms, a successful NEPA suit only results in a delay of a project, but you cannot stop a project with a NEPA suit. You can challenge and successfully stop a trust decision on the grounds that the agency didn’t make the appropriate finding under the act. That is that there was the need for the trust application: That if successful, would in fact stop the project. Does that - hopefully not too succinct - to answer your question?

One of the commissioner’s: No..no. My second question Mr. Chair, is with regard to the definition of member of the tribe. Is that something that is entirely within the discretion of the tribe? In other words, could the tribe, by definition go even further to say and indicate that anyone who could demonstrate a blood connection with the tribe was a member and thereby greatly increase the stakes, if you will, of taking property out of county and state control?

Shane Stark: I’m reasonable sure of this. I don’t claim to be an expert on Indian law unlike one of our fine deputies, Jennifer Kline our office who really is an expert in Indian law. My understanding is that the determination of who is eligible for tribal membership is exclusively for the tribe. It is theoretically possible that the tribe could broaden the criteria for membership beyond even an eighth. You should understand that they are sort of a dichotomy of interests. The tribe on the one hand is interested in having enough members to maintain a cohesive unit. On the other hand when you expand your membership, you’re diluting how much revenue each individual - each tribal member gets. So there’s different – there are different competing tensions with respect to that.

One of the commissioner’s: But the last thing - Mr. Stark- the connection though, in my mind, at least potentially, is the ultimate legal question which the county might participate in, is to whether the tribe needs to add additional land to its reservation could be impacted by the number of tribal members that it is seeking to support..

Shane Stark: Yes..that’s corr..

One of the commissioner’s: In other words, the definition of self-supporting for example, as the Governor has indicated, might change dependent upon the number and wealth of the members.

Shane Stark: That’s possible. That is possible. I think it’s a fair statement to say that if the tribe, our tribe, this tribe, expands the criteria for membership, there is a distinct probability that they will need more land or at least evidence, a desire to take more land or have more people to take care and they will want for reasons of a community to keep those people relatively close together – probably on the reservation.

Commissioner Montgomery: I just wanted to point out that nothing stops the tribe from acquiring real estate that doesn’t go into trust. And that as a resident of Santa Ynez Valley, we recognize the importance to the valley of the tribe and the importance of the economy of the county of the tribe and there has never been, as far as I know, any objection to the tribe or any other individual or association to acquire land. The issue is solely whether there should be separate rules. Is that - am I..

Shane Stark: That is accurate. The tribe is treated like – umm - with respect to their operations on their reservation, they are treated like a government. When they operate outside of their reservation and outside of the trust context, they are treated like a regular citizen. They have the right to own land, they are subject to the same rules as anyone else. That’s a - you can own a house, you can live in it, you can buy a commercial property and seek to develop it - subject to the same rules that apply uniformly elsewhere.

Commissioner Montgomery: At a very early stage in the public proceedings, I had recommended along with others an old fashioned Pow-Wow which did take place. It was limited however, at that time, to the specific issues that you have been describing. I’m not - I haven’t been privy to any of those conversations, but I was hoping as a resident of Santa Ynez and as a planning commissioner with responsibility to the county as a whole, that the Chumash, just as with other important members of the community, perhaps sit down with the county and determine what would be perhaps a good long-range plan for, not just these sites, but overall, is there a compact that could be reached? Because, in the long run, the law will change if the citizens’ aren’t comfortable [inaudible]. I know that it would be wonderful to find a happy, peaceful profitable resolution.

Shane Stark: Well, we’ve been talking with the tribe. There have been meetings ongoing between the county, first on a staff level; between county staff and the tribal administrator and their attorneys and more recently there have been meetings involving county supervisors: Supervisor Firestone, Supervisor Grey – met with the tribe, that is where we got the conceptual agreement on the 6.9 acres. As recently as last week, there was a meeting, involving Supervisors, the CEO, and the tribe in which we discussed matters. The county has consistently expressed a willingness to discuss any subject in intergovernmental relations. I should point out that there is something called the Community Benefit Committee, which is established under a state statute that takes money from gambling tribes and parcels it out to local governments within the effected community. It’s administered by a committee that has tribal members on it and has county members on it and, in our case, has representatives of the City of Solvang, which is within 4 miles of the reservation and they get money from the state and they allocate it through grants that are sponsored by the tribe. In our case, the Sheriff gets a fairly substantial amount of money, the fire department gets some money and there’s some road money. So there is this prospect - process for the tribe to distribute.

Do you have an elmo (?) here? You got the elmo (?)

Jim Laponis: While Mr. Stark is putting up his dazzling graphic, I would like to add that the Indian Gaming Community Benefit Committee, here locally, received about 1.1 million dollars last fiscal year and about 1.3 million dollars this fiscal year. As Mr. Stark has indicated, those funds go to in a sense to help deal with and/or mitigate some of the issues that are in the community relative to the casino. The major dollars are going to the sheriff and to fire. Fire for a paramedic; Sheriff for a patrol officer. Other monies are going to road issues both for the county and for the city of Solvang. I believe the largest portion of that, $530,000, something like that, goes to the Sheriff. About $275,000 goes to Fire and the remainder to the Public Works Department or the city and the county to public works projects. I just thought it would be good for you to know that relative to the situation at hand and if I could, I know Mr. Stark is going to have the last say relative to the Elm tree photo you’ll be looking at. During the lunch break commissioner Valencia allowed us to [digresses about some lapel pins that he will hand out after Mr. Stark is finished]

Chair: Do we have public comment on this item? [someone indicates no] No? No. But Mr. Stark, we do have a couple more commissioners with questions, but please go ahead.

Shane Stark: I put this up on the board. It’s a picture of William Penn and the Delaware Indians, known as the only treaty the white man ever kept. That’s what they call it. That’s what the city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania has followed. That’s an intergovernmental agreement. That’s a government-to-government agreement between the Quakers and the Indians that has lasted a whole bunch of years. I went to school – actually elementary school and high school – I used to walk passed a big ‘ol picture of William Penn making a treaty with the Delaware’s every morning and that’s what we’re taught.

Basically the way you deal with Indian tribes is to reach agreements with them. It’s the unanimous sentiment of government levels: the Department of Interior, the state governments and local governments generally that given the present reality of Indian gaming, being what it is, it is highly preferable for the government to reach a government to government; that a local government to reach a government to government agreement with the tribe. What we tell the tribe is: you don’t need the feds, you don’t need the state, sit down with your neighbors and reach an agreement with us. I understand that Supervisor Firestone has offered the tribe a seat on VPAC. So, there are big principals at stake, don’t get me wrong, there are big principals at stake. There are major issues and major impacts on the community, but I think there is a commonality of interests. The goal is to reach a long lasting agreement in which we can sit down and resolve the problems in a cooperative and long-term, forward-thinking manner.

Commissioner Valencia: I have a question concerning the limitations. Other sovereign nations buy property, like if the Japanese bought a country club and so on. What are the limitations of these sovereign nations versus private citizens owning property?

Shane Stark: Sovereign nations – the Chumash are not quite the same as a sovereign foreign nation. Sovereign foreign nations, they own property, they aren’t paying taxes on it, they’re not doing anything, I believe. That’s my recollection.

One of the commissioner’s: So there is a difference?

Shane Stark: Oh yes there’s a difference. The Chumash are a sovereign nation and they are treated as a sovereign nation and again with respect to their own internal tribal affairs. With respect to their external affairs and again, that goes to taxation, that goes to land-use controls, that goes to being subject to criminal laws, that goes to enforceability, that goes to contracts and things, sovereign immunity from suit. That’s all subject to the control of Congress. As Commissioner Montgomery points out, if the regulatory climate in Congress changes, there could be a change in the sovereign status of the tribe. Unlike, for example, the government of Japan. Congress does not have the authority to unilaterally change the sovereign status of a foreign nation. Indian tribes are considered – I think they are considered – conquered dependent nations. They are regarded as sovereigns. There is no doubt that..

One of the commissioner’s: Sudo-sovereign?

Shane Stark: Not exactly sudo. Sudo is limited – it’s more limited sovereignty. There is an element of true sovereignty that is recognized in the Constitution. They say, it’s limited and the Constitution gives the exclusive power to regulate commerce with the Indian tribes to Congress.

One of the commissioner’s: Certainly it is in the interest of local government to negotiate with the Chumash and other native people who have these sovereignty rights. Because they now, for the first time since they were conquered, oppressed and annihilated, have some bargaining power. They really do have some strong bargaining power, by virtue of their special status under the United States Constitution…

Shane Stark: And their income. I should point out that it is a reality of life that Indian tribes, particularly gaming tribes are major political contributors both on a federal level and on a state level and have a good deal of influence not only in their own location but throughout the various legislatures.

One of the commissioner’s: That too is an [inaudible] observation in terms of their political power to wield in Sacramento and elsewhere. So I just want to make this observation as a person that is involved in the planning process, is to say that I think that it is really important that Chumash that hold this power not abuse it. That they were abused for so long and it’s an axiom that those who were abused tend to become abusers. We see that in several contexts. I would just hope that the Chumash will practice careful diplomacy and not mere power politics so they can achieve their long-term welfare. And I would also hope that the communities who see their economic development as a threat, would also check themselves to see that they are not being disrespectful of the legitimate concerns of the Chumash who were so long abused. I mean it wasn’t more than 25 years ago that they were just completely ignored. Hardly anyone cared about them or for them. They felt like they were the victims of racism as well as the earlier genocide, which in fact took place. So there is a lot of healing to be done. So I hope that in these negotiations that are inevitable because of the balance of power now, that both sides can proceed with the utmost sensitivity and respect and I just wish both sides well in this.

[digress – we do need to wrap this up]

Commissioner Montgomery: I just want to add to the contribution that the tribe makes to the county in addition at the Sheriff’s gala a week ago, they contributed $125,000 to the County Sheriff’s gala and at the gala they contributed $50,000 as part of a match for Hurricane Katrina victims. They are present, and not just in the Valley, but countywide.

One of the commissioner’s: Can I ask just one question, or do we have any idea, which I’m sure we do, how much land in fee do the Chumash own outside of the reservation? And do we know what the ag land versus commercial is?

Shane Stark: I believe we have an inventory. I don’t have the number off hand. I believe that most of the land that they acquire is urban [inaudible] - commercial rather than ag land. In order to meet their long-term housing development goals, they would need to acquire a significantly large parcel which probably would be ag land.

One of the Commissioner’s: Would Ms. Kline have that information if I were to call her?

Shane Stark: You can call her and she’ll give you any information she’s got. She would be the person that would have the best information.

One of the commissioner’s: Gentleman, thank you very much. We appreciate the update. Very fascinating. Thank you.

 

P.O.L.O. is a non-partisan, non-profit organization. P.O.L.O. was founded in 2002 for the purpose of being an advocacy group for the preservation of Los Olivos and the Santa Ynez Valley.
 
 
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