The fate of the Naples property remains undecided as Santa Barbara County Planning Commission opted Wednesday to postpone their decision concerning the Transfer of Development Rights program until next month.
After a three and one-half hour-long discussion, the commission determined it lacked insufficient information to make its decision and instead decided to do more research in preparation for a June 4 hearing on the subject. Required by a 1980s county ordinance, the TDR is a bank established to raise funds so that the county can buy the development rights on the Naples coast – the last remaining stretch of undeveloped coastline in Southern California – for the purposes of preservation.
Purchased 10 years ago by Matt Osgood, the land sits approximately two miles west of Goleta and is currently a battleground between developers and preservationists.
Environmental Defense Center staff attorney Nathan Alley said that while his organization disagrees with certain aspects of the TDR, he is happy to see the county making progress.
“I would say generally we are happy that the county is moving forward with the TDR program but that we also hope that the program the county ultimately comes up with is effective,” Alley said. “At this point, if the county needs more time to craft a program that will protect the Naples town site, I can’t complain.”
If the planning commission comes to an agreement at the June 4 hearing, they would then pass that recommendation onto the County Board of Supervisors, who have the final decision on the matter.
Additionally, all development on the coast must also gain the approval the California Coastal Commission before construction begins.
While the idea of a TDR program has the support of most environmental groups, others disagree with how the county is planning on implementing the program.
According to Alley, the lack of any obligation by the landowner to participate is a major concern the EDC has with the county’s program.
“We believe there should be some controls on the landowner at Naples so that if the county has money to retire some of the land at Naples, the landowner would be required to participate,” Alley said. “If we are going through all the trouble to develop this program, we want to make sure that it will work.”
Attorney Marc Chytilo of the Naples Coalition also said changes need to be made to the county-proposed TDR program, but that he remains hopeful the commission will work toward a more suitable program.
“My sense is that [the planning commission] is actually interested in coming up with a program that will work and is mindful of our objections and beliefs that the way the program is currently set up won’t work,” Chytilo said.
The planning commission will hold their first of three entitlement hearings to come to a final consensus on the development at Naples on June 30. The second and third meetings will be held on July 10 and July 31, respectively.