Camp 4

Santa Ynez Valley Alliance appeals BIA “Camp 4″ decision.

The Alliance is appealing the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) decision to accept into trust the Camp 4 property. The Alliance seeks to preserve as much of the Camp 4 property as possible, and in addition, seeks to ensure full disclosure and consideration of the proposed project’s impacts to the environment and community. The Alliance contends that the project as proposed clearly raises substantial questions as to the environmental impacts of the project, warranting full environmental review through development of an environmental impact statement (EIS). Only through an EIS will the community and decision makers be able to fully understand the impacts of the proposed project.

PDF: SYVA Camp 4 Fee to Trust Appeal


Solarize Santa Ynez Valley

On Wednesday, The Santa Ynez Valley Alliance (SYVA) and the Community Environmental Council (CEC) announced the launch of “Solarize Santa Ynez Valley” community led, group-purchasing program designed to make solar simpler and more affordable for Valley residents. Solarize Santa Ynez Valley is the second Solarize program that the two organizations have run in the Valley – last summer’s Solarize program helped 52 homeowners switch to solar and start saving on “After the success of last year’s Solarize program and the positive reception from the community, we are happy to be offering the program again this summer,” said Solarize Program Manager, Jefferson Litten.

The Santa Ynez Valley Alliance shares this enthusiasm over last year’s success and is happy to be offering the program again in 2014. “The Valley Alliance is proud to co-sponsor this very important program. It is entirely consistent with our mission to reduce our carbon footprint. Programs like Solarize help create a healthier environment and a responsible stewardship of our natural resources,” said Mark Oliver, Valley Alliance President.

Solarize Santa Ynez Valley is available for three months – July 9, 2014 through October 19, 2014. During this time, residents in the Valley can purchase or lease solar panels at a fixed, discounted price from two solar installers: California Solar Electric and SunRun. After a rigorous evaluation process, CEC and SYVA vetted and selected these two companies based on their experience, quality of work and pricing.

“Some homeowners find it difficult to assess their contractor and whether they are getting a fair price,” said Jefferson Litten, CEC’s Solarize Program Manager. “Solarize eliminates much of that guess work by locking in a set price for all participants and pre-
vetting the partnered installers.”

The program also offers local residents education and guidance through the process of going solar. “With Solarize Santa Ynez Valley, we help guide homeowners through the entire process as an unbiased, expert resource and we clearly outline the benefits of solar,” said Litten.

Solvang resident, Donna Will, was one of the 52 “Solarizers” through the program and is now enjoying the savings from her family’s 3.5 kilowatt solar array. Will learned of the benefits of solar by attending a free Solarize homeowner workshop. “At the workshop I learned that going solar was a great solution for my family and we now save about $100 a month on our PG& E bills. We are very happy solar owners,” said Will.

Litten added, “With recent drops in the price of panels and a 30% federal tax credit, solar has become not only accessible but actually a sound financial investment.”

Solarize Santa Ynez participants will also provide support to the SYVA and the CEC and their missions as both organizations will receive a modicum of funding included in the purchase price of each system installed. These funds will allow the CEC and SYVA to continue to bring beneficial programs to the Central Coast and help them to be self-

To learn more or apply for Solarize Santa Ynez Valley, homeowners can go to or call 805.963.0583 x105.

About the Santa Ynez Valley Alliance

The Santa Ynez Valley Alliance (SYVA) is a local non-profit whose mission is to work collaboratively with individuals, groups and governments to protect the rural character of the Santa Ynez Valley and support good stewardship of natural and agricultural
resources through education, comprehensive planning and public participation.

About the Community Environmental Council

Since 1970, the Community Environmental Council (CEC) has led the Santa Barbara region – and at times California and the nation – in creative solutions to some of the toughest environmental problems. Today CEC is focused on moving the Central Coast region away from dependence on fossil fuels in one generation. Find CEC on the web at on Twitter @CECSB and on Facebook at


Santa Ynez Valley Alliance Announces Release of Valley Blueprint Progress Report

The Santa Ynez Valley Alliance has announced the release of The Valley Blueprint: A Progress Report. The report is a review of the original Valley Blueprint published a little over ten years ago.

“Beginning in 1998, 40 residents of the Santa Ynez Valley spent more than 5,000 hours, meeting for almost two years in an attempt to answer the following question: “What will the Santa Ynez Valley be like in 2020?” stated Mark Oliver, President of the Valley Alliance. “Ten years later, the Santa Ynez Valley Alliance deemed it timely to evaluate the goals put forth in the Blueprint.”

The original Valley Blueprint was borne out of a desire to protect the unique qualities and characteristics of the Santa Ynez Valley region while maintaining a sound base for economic prosperity and the sustainability of the Valley’s quality of life. The document filled an important need at a critical time: to complete a community visioning process prior to the creation of the first Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan (SYVCP). Using the Valley Blueprint as a starting place, the SYVCP was adopted in October 2009.

“The Valley Blueprint: A Progress Report provides a thorough examination of the accomplishments that have been made since the original Blueprint was published,” stated County Supervisor Doreen Farr. “Additionally, the Progress Report brings to the public’s attention those issues which have surfaced during the last ten years, making it very timely.”

The Progress Report specifically assesses numerous goals that have been achieved, and many others that have yet to be addressed. But the Progress Report is also an effort to revitalize the community in assessing the Valley’s future, given the many challenges that have emerged since the original Blueprint was completed.

“It is so encouraging to have this Report that reminds us of all the positive progress that has been made in the Valley during the past decade,” stated John Evarts, one of the original 40 Valley Blueprint Volunteers. “However, perhaps more importantly, the Emerging Issues Section of the document points out the areas that need our attention during the next decade.”

“It is our hope that this interim assessment will serve the community in continuing to ensure that the goals and vision stated in the VB can be reached where needed and feasible,” concluded Mark Oliver.

Download the complete report here.


Santa Barbara County Fracking

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a process used to extract oil or natural gas from shale and other deep geologic formations. Fracking is under intense scrutiny nationally, and fracked wells with poor construction have been linked to groundwater contamination and other environmental impacts. In California, it is the responsibility of local governments, alongside the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), Regional Water Quality Control Boards and other state agencies, to regulate oil and gas production.

Background: Venoco fracked two wells near Los Alamos in 2011, spurring the County to “clarify” its Land Use & Development Code to specifically require (discretionary) permits and environmental review for any proposal to frack. There has been no fracking in Santa Barbara County since. However, fracking continues to be of concern in neighboring jurisdictions (for example, Ventura and Kern Counties), statewide and even offshore.

A group called the Water Worriers recently completed gathering signatures for the Healthy Air and Water Initiative which would ban fracking and other well stimulation techniques in Santa Barbara County. The group was successful in gathering the 13,000 signatures required to place the initiative on the ballot in November. Most environmental groups, including the Valley Alliance, have endorsed the measure.

Status: On May 20, the Board of Supervisors held a hearing on the item and requested preparation of a report to address economic, planning and other issues. The report was presented to the Board on June 13, at which time the Board placed the measure on the 2014
November ballot.


Onshore Drilling from VAFB into the Tranquillon Ridge Field

In January, 2007 (during the Tranquillon II permitting process), Sunset Exploration, with partners Exxon/Mobil, submitted an application to the County for the Vahevala Project, an onshore slant drilling alternative to drill and process the oil from Vandenberg AFB. The application was found incomplete due to the lack of consent from the property owner, US Air Force. The Air Force sent a letter on April 28, 2008 indicating that any access and use of the base would require a competitive bid. The US Air Force sent another letter on June 25, 2008 indicating that Sunset/Exxon’s proposed location would present a wide range of significant operational constraints. Congressman John Garamendi sent a letter to VAFB in December 2011, asking the Base to reconsider.

Status: On July 17, 2013, the Air Force announced its plans to prepare an Opportunity Assessment (OA) to review the possibility of drilling from a location on VAFB into the Tranquillon Ridge field. The OA was to consider constraints related to the Base’s mission, environmental impacts, political ramifications, etc. Several environmental groups expressed their concerns to the Air Force in a conference call and EDC followed up with a written confirmation of those concerns. The OA is not a public process and the document will not be made public. The Air Force released an Executive Summary of its decision in May 2014 and is now taking steps to look at the possibility of drilling from VAFB.M/p>

Camp 4 Coalition for Good Governance

The Santa Ynez Valley Alliance, in conjunction with the Santa Barbara County Action Network, the Citizens Planning Association of Santa Barbara, and the Montecito Association, have formed a Coalition to retain Santa Barbara County jurisdiction over 1,400 acres of agriculturally zoned land in the heart of the County.

The Coalition therefore opposes efforts to annex the Camp 4 property to the reservation of the Santa Ynez Band of the Chumash Indians.

The following groups have joined to support the goal of the Camp 4 Coalition for Good Governance:

Citizens Planning Association
Montecito Association
Santa Barbara County Action Network (SB CAN)
Santa Ynez Valley Alliance

Read the complete Camp 4 Coalition document here: Camp-4-Coalition.pdf

Santa Maria Energy Cyclic Steam Injection Proposal

Santa Maria Energy proposes to develop a lease located between Orcutt and Lompoc using the process known as “cyclic steam injection.”

Background: Santa Maria Energy operates an existing 32-acre site with 26 “pilot” wells; this project would add an additional 110 wells on-site. The project would produce oil using a large-scale steam injection operation. Steam injection technology is one of a suite of “enhanced oil recovery” (EOR) techniques, which also includes hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and acid stimulation. Steam injection uses large amounts of fresh water to “soak” and heat oil-bearing diatomaceous earth formations, thereby coaxing a more ready flow of hydrocarbons into company production wells. EOR activities have been known to create localized impacts such as groundwater contamination, earthquakes and subsidence, and exacerbated onshore oil seeps and sinkholes. The Project would remove up to 62 oak trees and destroy nearly 16 acres of California tiger salamander habitat, and it would emit more than 87,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases per year at peak production. Other projects in Santa Barbara County, San Luis Obispo County and other neighboring jurisdictions, are considered to be “significant” emitters at 10,000 MTCO2e/yr or less. The County has proposed to limit Santa Maria Energy’s emissions by roughly 30 percent. That approach will only address a portion of the Project’s impacts in the first 8 of 50 years of its expected life. It is critical that the EIR address (and mitigate) all of the Project’s impacts for the entirety of its operations. A Draft EIR was released in 2012, and a proposed Final EIR was made available at the beginning of 2013. The County Planning Commission held two hearings in April and May, and ultimately ordered staff to revise the EIR to better address GHG emissions.

A revised EIR was released on July 15, 2013, and on September 25th, the Planning Commission voted 3-2 to set the threshold of significance for GHG emissions at 29% below business as usual (resulting in approximately 60,000 MTCO2e/yr) rather than the zero emission (or 10,000 MTCO2e/yr) requested by environmental groups.

Status: On October 4th, the EDC appealed the Planning Commission’s decision to the Board of Supervisors. On 11-12-13, the BOS supported the appeal and set the threshold for analyzing impacts from GHGs at 10,000 metric tons per year. The County APCD is moving forward with an offset program and the Planning Department will now begin the process of set the new GHG emission thresholds under CEQA. The Planning Commission added this task to the P and D Workplan as a future short term item and the BOS approved the PC recommendation. Funding decisions will be made during the budget process in June. The APCD is also considering adoption of a GHG emission threshold for stationary projects under its jurisdiction. Workshops were held in May and comments are due June 5, 2014.