Following three months of fundraising, Save the San Marcos Foothills announced on June 8 that it reached its $18.6 million goal to purchase the San Marcos Foothills West Mesa from the Chadmar Group.
Save the San Marcos Foothills (SSMF) made a deal with the Chadmar Group, the development company in ownership of the currently undeveloped land, to purchase the West Mesa on March 10.
If the Chadmar Group honors the purchase, it will halt the planned development of luxury homes on the 101-acre West Mesa property and add the land to the directly adjacent 200-acre San Marcos Foothills Preserve. The existing preserve is owned by Santa Barbara County.
The land purchase itself is $18 million, and the remaining $600,000 will be used for “preliminary campaign and escrow closing costs,” according to SSMF’s Foothills Forever website.
The $18.6 million raised concludes the first phase of SSMF’s fundraising for its “Foothills Forever” campaign through a fund set up by the Santa Barbara Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting community initiatives in Santa Barbara County. SSMF now needs to raise an additional $2 million to create an endowment for land stewardship and cover any final costs.
June 1 was the original deadline for the $18.6 million to be raised; however, following negotiations, the deadline was extended to June 9. Over 5,500 donors contributed to the $18.6 million raised, according to the Foothills Forever website. The purchase of the land has not yet been finalized.
The deal made on March 10 followed protests and demonstrations from earlier this year — including one that resulted in the arrests of eight individuals who blocked a bulldozer from breaking ground on the West Mesa on Feb. 25.
SSMF has campaigned since summer 2020 to prevent the planned development on the West Mesa property. The land has historical ties to the Chumash Nation and is one of the last native grasslands in the county.
According to their website, along with maintaining an open space and creating “300 acres of contiguous wildlife habitat,” SSMF will “include members of the Chumash community in the planning, stewardship, and uses of the land,” and support future Chumash rituals and ceremonies on the land.