Santa Ynez Valley Alliance
Solarize Santa Ynez Valley
[15 March 2013] The Santa Ynez Valley Alliance and the Santa Barbara Community Environmental Council (CEC) have partnered to offer the Solarize Santa Ynez Valley program, which makes it easier and cheaper for local homeowners to go solar. Our group purchasing model helps local homeowners install solar electricity through a streamlined and hassle-free process at a discounted price. CEC's 2011 and 2012 Solarize Santa Barbara Programs helped nearly 80 local homeowners go solar!
How does Solarize Santa Ynez Valley work?
The Santa Ynez Valley Alliance and CEC first carefully evaluates and selects experienced solar installer professionals for the Solarize program. A limited-time, discounted price is then negotiated to local residents who "go solar." By gathering residents together in a community-led effort to go solar, Solarize Santa Ynez Valley offers tremendous discounts made possible by collective purchasing. For more information about the Solarize Santa Ynez Valley program, contact Jefferson Litten, Solarize Program Coordinator at the CEC.
SYVA Urges Santa Barbara County Planning Commission to Oppose Latest Mattei's Tavern Development Plan
[14 December 2012] The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission will be considering the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern development project at its hearing of Dec. 19th. Although Mattei’s Tavern itself is now a County Historic Landmark, there remain many reasons why the development project should not be approved as currently proposed. The Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) identifies some of these reasons and includes many concerns expressed by members of the public regarding safety, access, traffic, noise, visual impacts, groundwater contamination, and historic preservation.
[NOTE: Reader's may read the entire text of the Santa Ynez Valley Alliance's 15-page December 11, 2012 brief to the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission by clicking here.]
Many commenters pointed out the danger of the Hwy. 154 / Grand Ave. intersection and the hazard of adding more traffic to the location of so many accidents and fatalities. The intersection has an accident rate twice the statewide average for similar intersections. The conflicting turning movements of the adjacent Grand Ave. / Railway Ave intersection, which will undoubtedly be used by much of the project’s traffic, multiplies the problem. The project proposes no improvements or changes to either intersection.
Many residents use the Hwy. 154 / Calkins Rd. connection to Railway Ave. to cross, exit or enter the state expressway due to better sight distance. The project now proposes to leave this access point open, but driving through the project’s parking lot on an easement smaller than the existing road will undoubtedly discourage and impede the public’s use of it.
Caltrans has expressed “concern about this proposed project and the SR 154 / Calkins intersection. It is Caltrans’ perspective that if the intersection is to remain open, the project should be conditioned to improve the intersection by adding left turn channelization or two-way left turn striping…” Despite a higher than average accident rate and Caltrans’ concerns, no improvements are proposed.
Caltrans has also questioned the allocation of traffic and the threshold of significance (used to evaluate impacts) for the state highway, used in the project’s traffic study.
The project proposes to install an onsite wastewater treatment system in a Special Problems Area although the County is proposing a community wastewater treatment system for Los Olivos. The project proposes to connect to the community system if and when it is constructed.
Residents have pointed out that the projected wastewater flows the system is based on, are unrealistically low. The average flow is estimated to be only 19% more than the existing restaurant and cottages, even though the new restaurant will be expanded and a 64-unit hotel and spa developed. Despite the lowballed flow rate the proposed system will exceed the recommended nitrogen discharge flow rate established by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Basin Plan.
The project proposes to triple the development on site, for a total of almost 50,000 sq. ft. and add twenty-one new structures. The project’s location alongside a scenic highway and at a gateway to Los Olivos, supports the FEIR’s determination that the visual impacts of the project will be dramatic.
“The project’s contribution to the transformation of the (community’s) visual character is considerable. Therefore, the cumulative impacts associated with visual effects on visual character would be significant and unavoidable (Class I).”
The FEIR concludes that a reduced density version of the project would have fewer impacts and would be the “Environmentally Superior Alternative.”
The project assumes the abandonment of 11/2 acres of public right of way (most on Railway Ave.) that will be dedicated to project parking, access, construction and wastewater disposal. Considering Los Olivos’s ever-expanding parking problem, increasing traffic, and the hazard posed by the limited number of safe Hwy. 154 access points, it would be foolhardy for the County to abandon all of Railway Avenue.Citizens who believe public safety and public health should be considered before private profits, should attend the Planning Commission hearing or write the commissioners. E-mail can be directed to SB County Planning Commission, c/o David Villalobos - email@example.com
SYVA Urges the Santa Barbara County Board of Trustees to Appeal BIA Decision
[03 July 2012] In response to the Bureau of Indian Affairs decision to take into trust 6.9 acres in the Township of Santa Ynez on behalf of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians — and in unison with several other local citizens' groups — the Santa Ynez Valley Alliance has issued a letter to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors urging an appeal to the trusteeship decision due to overwhelmingly negative financial and environmental impacts on the Santa Ynez Valley and County.
Citizens are urged to attend the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors' meeting on July 10th at 10:00 a.m. in Santa Maria to tell them to appeal the BIA decision to allow the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians to add 6.9 acres to their reservation.
Third District Candidates Forum Held May 2, 2012
Santa Barbara County Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr (left) and
Board of Supervisors Designates Mattei’s Tavern Santa Barbara County Historic Landmark
[03 November 2010] On Tuesday, November 2nd, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to designate Mattei’s Tavern as Historic Landmark number 47.
The Supervisors confirmed the designation consistent with the Historic Landmarks Advisory Committee (HLAC) action of September 13. The HLAC designated Mattei’s as County landmark, but the ninety-day designation would have lapsed if not confirmed by the BOS.
The Santa Ynez Valley Alliance nominated the site for Historic Landmark status almost 10 months ago, on January 13, 2010.
The Valley Alliance had been deeply troubled that the proposed construction of a large-scale resort at Mattei’s Tavern would dramatically impact the iconic character of the historic site of the former hotel, stage and rail terminal, restaurant, and gardens.
The Valley Alliance's meticulously researched, fifty-page peer-reviewed nomination document was consistent with Action HA-SYV-2.1 of the Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan which directs that, “The County and the community should continue to work to identify structures and places that qualify for nomination to Landmark Status and forward these requests to the County Historical Landmarks Commission.” The Valley Alliance is a non-profit organization which seeks to protect and preserve the agricultural, rural, and historic character of the Valley.
Eight notable institutions supported the designation, including the Pearl Chase Society, the Native Sons of the Golden West, the Santa Barbara Conservancy, and the Goleta Valley Historical Society. Californians from around the state and county wrote letters of support.
On May 10, 2010, the HLAC voted to pursue Landmark status and established a subcommittee to meet with representatives of Santa Rita Land and Vine LLC, the owners, to work out an agreement. The owners eventually agreed to the HLAC suggestions to "landmark" status prior to remodeling and demolition.
The landmark protection includes the historic elements of the Tavern itself, including the lobby, the bar, the glass-enclosed “Wicker Room,” the former stage office, a small dining room, and the upstairs hotel rooms. Apart from the exteriors, specific elements of the interiors are protected. Areas at the rear of the Tavern subject to more recent construction and revision, such as the kitchen, are not protected and are proposed for remodeling.
Also designated for protection are the water tower and base (known as the Tank Room), the historic exteriors of four cottages, and thirteen “character-defining” specimen trees located in the surrounding gardens. The existing Keenan-Hartley House moved to the site in 1998 is already a County Historic Landmark. The resolution adopted by the BOS recognizes the Tavern as "the most important historic landmark of the post-Gold Rush era in the Santa Ynez Valley." The only comparable historic structure in the Santa Ynez Valley is the Santa Iñes Mission, which is a National Historic Landmark.
The Valley Alliance wishes to thank all of those who made the landmarking possible, including the members of the HLAC, the Board of Supervisors, and especially the citizens of the Santa Ynez Valley who fought long and hard to preserve this legacy of the past. They deserve this.
Valley Candidates Speak to Voters
[01 October 2010] Local Valley candidates for Water Conservation District ID1 and the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District Board of Trustees spoke at a forum sponsored by a coalition of local non-profit citizens groups. The forums were held on Tuesday, September 28 and Wednesday, September 29 from 7:00–9:00 pm at the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Little Theater, 2975 E. Highway 246, Santa Ynez, CA to enhance public awareness of local voter issues and candidates. To view the forums, click on the links below.
Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District ID1
Board Candidates Voter Forum
Click here to view ID1 forum video
Both forums were sponsored by local non-profit organizations, including: the Santa Ynez Valley Alliance, Women's Environmental Watch, Santa Barbara Action Network, and the Citizen's Planning Association.
Santa Ynez Union Valley High School District
Board of Trustees Voter Forum Click here to view SYVUHSD Forum video
HLAC Designates Mattei's Tavern County Landmark #47
[13 September 2010] The Santa Barbara County Historic Landmarks Advisory Commission (HLAC) voted Monday morning, September 13, 2010, to designate the Mattei's Tavern in Los Olivos as Santa Barbara County Historic Landmark #47. The resolution for the designation had the consent of the property owners and passed with a unanimous 6-0 vote. This designation goes into effect immediately but will expire in 90 days unless the action is confirmed by the Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors may confirm, modify or disapprove the designation within that period. The action of the Board of Supervisors is then final.
The Santa Ynez Valley Alliance nominated Mattei's Tavern for Landmark status in January and the HLAC voted to pursue Landmark status in May. At which time the HLAC established a subcommittee to discuss the issue with the property owners, establish the conditions that would apply and compose the resolution.
Santa Ynez Valley Alliance Holds Fourth Annual Membership Meeting
[12 September 2010] The Santa Ynez Valley Alliance held its fourth annual membership meeting on Sunday, Sept. 12 from 2:00 to 3:30 pm at the Los Olivos Grange. This year's keynote speaker was Jim Poett, a sixth-generation Santa Ynez Valley resident and rancher. Mr. Poett's talk was entitled, "Agriculturalists and Environmentalists: Opportunities to Work Together." More details and photos to be posted soon.
HLAC Votes to Pursue Landmark Status for Mattei's Tavern
[12 May 2010] The Santa Barbara County Historic Landmarks Advisory Commission (HLAC) met on Monday, May 10th, to consider the Santa Ynez Valley Alliance nomination of Mattei's Tavern for historic landmark status. On a 6-to-1 vote, the Commission voted to pursue landmark status for Mattei's, establishing a sub-committee of two commissioners to meet with the property owner in an attempt to work out the details of the nomination and bring back their results to the larger Commission. For background information on the effort to preserve Mattei's, see below.
Santa Ynez Valley Alliance Nominates Mattei’s Tavern for Historic Landmark Protection
Mattei's Tavern as it appeared in 1888.
[14 January 2010] At a press conference held Jan. 13, 2010, the Santa Ynez Valley Alliance formally announced that it was nominating Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos for designation as a Historical Landmark. The nomination was submitted to the County’s Historic Landmarks Advisory Commission (HLAC) for consideration.
The nomination is consistent with the Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan, which speaks to community involvement in historic preservation:
HA-SYV-2: "Historic resources shall be protected and preserved to the maximum extent feasible."
Action HA-SYV-2.1: "The County and the community should continue to work to identify structures and places that qualify for nomination to landmark status and forward these requests to the County Historical Landmarks Commission."
On May 12, 1997 the Santa Barbara County Historical Landmark Advisory Committee voted unanimously "to designate the entire Mattei's Tavern property as a Place of Historical Merit"; however, the appropriate paperwork to finalize the designation was not completed by the owner. To this day, Mattei’s Tavern still cannot be found among the 68 historic places or landmarks recognized by the County.
“Like most people in the Santa Ynez Valley, we always thought that Mattei’s Tavern was an historic landmark. After all, following Mission Santa Ines, it is the second most recognized and beloved historic site in the Valley. We were shocked to learn that Mattei’s has no formal historic landmark status. And that is simply why we are here today, to ask the County’s Historic Landmarks Advisory Commission to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that the Mattei’s Tavern site be designated an historic landmark,” stated Mark Oliver, President of the Santa Ynez Valley Alliance.
Mattei's Tavern as it appears today.
Watch January 13, 2010 Press Conference
[Video running time: 36:51]
- Santa Ynez Valley Alliance Press Release (Jan. 13, 2010)
- Mattei's Historic Timeline, 1880–1962
- Historic Landmark Nomination (excerpts)
Valley Resident Jody White Honored
SYVA Coordinator (2009), Mark Preston (left), with honored
SYVA board member emeritus, Jody White (right).
At its third annual meeting on September 13, 2009, the Santa Ynez Valley Alliance honored long-time activist and former Valley Alliance Board Member Jody White (above-right) with the Environmental Stewardship Award. "Having been part of preserving what is great about the Santa Ynez Valley for nearly three decades, Jody more than deserves this Award,” stated Board Member Gail Marshall.
Several years ago the County formed a "Process Improvement Team" to look at ways that
the Planning Department processes and policies could be streamlined for greater ease and efficiency. Some of the changes which have subsequently been made have been positive, for example the reformatting of the zoning code and putting more information on their website that is "user friendly." However, many changes to the permitting process are "downshifting" the level of decisionmaker on land use permits. This results in the general public having little or no chance to participate in the process in a meaningful way. For example, someone building or remodeling a house used to have to go through a land use permit process which required the posting of the permit on the property as to what changes were being proposed. This gave the neighbors and other interested community members ten days to learn about the project and ask questions. If issues arose, a neighbor could appeal the decision. Now, with permit streamlining, in most cases there will be no posting of the permit and no opportunity for the neighborhood or surrounding community to know about what is to be constructed before it happens and no right to appeal the decision. This permit streamlining is being applied to many types of land use decisions in all zone districts, particularly residential and agricultural.
Get Your VA Shopping Bag!
Once again, this year I want to thank those in the Valley who have stepped forward to
support our mission. And once again, more than 100 of you have joined the effort to
keep the Valley rural, as we know it.
SYVA Board Treasurer, Donna Will (right), hands out VA
shopping bags at Solvang Farmers Market.
And even more, this year you can show your support for our community and the Valley Alliance by using our very own environmentally-friendly shopping bags. Made of recycled material and slightly larger than most bags, they’re ideal for shopping at the local farmer’s markets in Solvang and Los Olivos. Support your Valley farmers and businesses. Buy local and use your bag! — Mark Oliver, President