Chumash museum

An article appearing in the July 22, 2012, edition of a local newspaper discussing the proposed Chumash Museum and Cultural Center was printed after a heated discussion before county supervisors on July 10. The result of these discussions was a favorable vote (3 to 2) to allow a fee-to-trust process whereby the land in question, 6.9 acres, would be added to the existing tribal reservation. Two Valley Groups immediately filed an appeal to this decision.

After the county supervisors meeting, an article appeared in another local newspaper expressing the opinions of the Chairman of the Tribe, part appreciation, and lamenting what he described as “the same group of rich and biased newcomers to the Valley” who object to anything tribal. There was reference to returning the land to its original sovereign owners. If I have misquoted, I apologize as I didn’t retain a copy of the article but the reference has often been stated by the chairman.

For the record, most of the objections to the 6.9 acre cultural center were to the fee-to-trust process. This removes the property from county control and tax rolls. It allows a development to occur which does not have to adhere to zoning regulations and ignores the “county plan,” which has taken years to complete. The portion of the proposed development that calls for a retail center will compete with retail shops in the Santa Ynez Community that have to pay retail sales tax and cannot possibly control their overhead in a subsidized manner which the tribe can.

The real issue that exists with the community as it relates to the tribe is its insatiable desire to expand and change the character of the Valley. The tribe has methodically been on a “buying binge” ever since it built its casino. They are playing a different type of Monopoly, as depicted by the popular board game, with the Valley property. Instead of Boardwalk and Park Place, it is the Royal Scandinavian and the Hadsten House. No need to put hotels on these properties since they already exist.

They acquired two of the four gas stations in Santa Ynez and Solvang towns, plus several separate sites around Santa Ynez. They now own most of Highway 246, across from the casino and the site of the 6.9 acres from Edison Street to just south of Refugio. The most controversial of their acquisitions was the former Fess Parker Vineyard 1,400-acre property on which they have stated that they want to place tribal housing, and of course, place it into trust. The traffic that the casino generates has probably doubled the traffic in the access roads, especially Highway 154.

In order to facilitate travel to the casino from local communities, they have established “park and ride” areas in Lompoc and Santa Maria to promote their operations further. They have now become the official sponsor of the Ventura Fairgrounds.

If there is a biased opinion regarding all of these developments, it is that the primary goal is to continue to expand their gambling revenues, regardless of the impact to the quality of life in the Santa Ynez Valley. The “fee-to-trust” process ignores all the rights of property owners in the surrounding areas, eliminates desperately needed tax revenue and lowers housing values of the most immediately affected surrounding areas. The dispute between the tribe and the Valley community is not “denying the Chumash heritage as a people” but reducing the impact of a voracious gambling enterprise.

Allen M. Segal

Santa Ynez


Round and round

I attended the City of Solvang council meeting on July 23 to listen to the presentation by Caltrans concerning the proposed roundabout at the intersection of Highway 246 and Highway 154, to see if there were any changes from the 2011 public meeting. After the meeting in 2011, I checked with the CHP office in Buellton and discovered that the figures being used by Caltrans were out of date.

They were using figures from Sept. 2, 2002 to Sept. 1, 2007 that showed a total of 20 collisions at the intersection while the accident figures from the CHP showed a total of 13 collisions from Jan. 1, 2005 to Jan. 1, 2011. Last year, I brought this information to the attention of the Caltrans project manager and was told that accident rates may vary over time. Are these the figures Caltrans used for the Environmental Impact Report? If so, the report should be redone.

Caltrans made signification changes in the intersection approximately 5 to 6 years ago, when they changed the angle of the left turn lane from Highway 246 to westbound Highway 154, to approximately 90 degrees. They also put in new lighting and added signs telling traffic coming off Armour Ranch Road and Highway 246 that cross traffic does not stop. These changes alone probably account for the almost 50% decrease in accidents.

I was at least expecting Caltrans to provide updated accident figures at the Solvang Council meeting presentation; however, I discovered they are still using the figures from 2002 to 2007. They have not taken into consideration the improvements made at the intersection that have undoubtedly helped to reduce collisions and they are still saying the angle of the intersecting of Highway 246 and Highway 154 is much less than 90 degrees. I find this information extremely deceptive and can only assume they are using these figures to justify the installation of a roundabout.

During the presentation by the Caltrans employees, they both stated the right of way at the intersection was held by the left turner from westbound Highway 154 to Highway 246 and not the right turner from eastbound Highway 154 to Highway 246. That is completely wrong, as the CA Vehicle Code 21801(a) makes it clear that a left turner “shall yield the right of way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement…” These are the people who are designing our highways to make them safer and they don’t even know the basic traffic laws.

Caltrans said before the stop signs were installed at the intersection of Baseline/Edison and Highway 154 that they wouldn’t work. Well, they were wrong. During the last 18 months, there have been no reportable collisions at that intersection.

We hear from Caltrans that the placing of stop signs at the intersection of Highway 154 and Highway 246 will cause a longer queue for those turning left from westbound Highway 154. I disagree, since currently the queue could be extremely long if the traffic traveling eastbound is moderately heavy. By placing four-way stop signs, a significant savings in cost, then all traffic will have to stop and the queue may back up at certain times of the day, but overall it would be quicker and safer to get through the intersection. The traffic continuing westbound on 154 would not back up any more at 246 than it now does at Baseline/Edison.

The current configuration of the roundabout proposed by Caltrans would not avoid the potential of a broadside, T-bone, collision. A councilmember pointed this out to the representatives from Caltrans, and their response was that may be true but the accidents would be at lesser speeds so the damage would be less. And I thought the idea was to reduce accidents. Caltrans uses the argument that people don’t stop for stop signs, and I find that somewhat offensive. If that is the case, then maybe we should remove all the stop signs in the state. In actuality stop signs do work, especially when there is traffic enforcement.

The bottom line on this roundabout is that it would probably not reduce accidents and cause a steady flow of traffic coming off Highway 154 at certain times of the day. This flow of traffic would make it extremely difficult to get on to Highway 246 for those attempting to do so between Highway 154 and Santa Ynez.

During the presentation, Caltrans stated they have not received one complaint about the roundabout on Highway 246 in Lompoc. I have yet to talk to anyone that has used the roundabout who hasn’t complained. If you have a complaint about that roundabout, please contact the project manager, Paul Martinez, who can be reached at (805) 549-3407 or by email at: paul_martinez@dot.ca.gov.

Mike Hadley

Santa Ynez


Affordable, indeed

Regarding the Affordable Care Act: It has been passed by Congress, signed by the president, and upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Whether the fine for non-compliance is called a penalty or tax is irrelevant, except to politicians. It will only affect a projected 1-2% of the population who can afford to buy insurance and might choose not to do so.

The estimated penalty or tax will be $700-$750 per year for individuals. According to Section 5000A (g)(2) of this law – “Waiver on criminal penalties – In the case of any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure.” The IRS will not be given the power to impose jail sentences as penalties for non-compliance.

Thirty to 40 million additional U.S. citizens (including those with pre-existing conditions) will be eligible for health insurance coverage, many for the first time. These policies still must be purchased through private insurance companies.

The Affordable Care Act, therefore, does not make us “European socialists,” and it is not a precursor to a government takeover of health care. It’s the law and it’s about time.

Robert Baruch

Goleta


True friends

I can’t believe anyone would want Israel destroyed our only true friends. We have always been close to Israel what kind of America have we turned into one who would turn our backs and not stand by our dearest friends, when has this begun? Unbelievable if this president has forsaken Israel; is he for America? God help America, we are in trouble real trouble. We need to stand with Israel always. God bless Israel.

Sylvia Huffman

Santa Maria