trace the Carpinteria community's effort to preserve the Carpinteria
Bluffs at least back to 1968, when groups such as the Carpinteria
Valley Association mounted a successful opposition to a large
oil refinery proposed for the site. Since then, at
least five proposals for intensive residential and commercial
uses have been denied through fierce opposition from residents
of Carpinteria. Beginning in 1975, Chevron and others proposed
a number of intensive residential/commercial developments for
the Bluffs. The 1980 Carpinteria Local Coastal Plan supported
the priorities of the California Coastal Act and acknowledged
that the best land use for the Carpinteria Bluffs was public open
space and recreation.
when a Serena & Brown proposal to develop the Bluffs was still
at a conceptual stage, over 3000 signatures in opposition to the
development were gathered in Carpinteria in less than 3 weeks.
The Bluffs subsequently became a key campaign issue in the Carpinteria
City Council election of 1990, when three incumbents lost their
seats to three new council members supporting the preservation
of the Carpinteria Bluffs as open space. The Bluffs continued
to figure prominently in subsequent local elections. The
future of the Bluffs was also the focus in 1994 of a major Local
Coastal Plan Amendment, later adopted by the city and approved
by the State Coastal Commission.
for preservation of the Bluffs is widespread in the Carpinteria
Valley as is evidenced by the 4,000 people who have signed up
to help with the acquisition effort. There was also consensus
in the recent City-sponsored community visioning process for the
year 2020 that one of the community's future actions should be
public acquisition of the Bluffs. Community sentiments to
preserve the Bluffs in passive or active recreational open space
remain strong to this day. Preserving the Bluffs is simply
an issue that will not go away.
the Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs was formed after two nights
of public hearings before the City Council, when hundreds of people
from the community showed up to voice opposition to yet another
development proposal for the Bluffs. The purpose of
the Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs was to secure public acquisition
of the Carpinteria Bluffs. Although our group was new, it
consisted of many enthusiastic, dedicated, credible individuals
with a long and proven commitment to preserving the Bluffs.
We were granted tax exempt status from the state and federal governments.
encouraged by the successful acquisition efforts in Santa Barbara
of the Wilcox property by Small Wilderness Area Preserve (SWAP).
The SWAP group worked for years to keep the Wilcox acres in open
space and finally hit the jackpot in 1996 when the owners of the
property made an offer to sell. With a deadline of only
seven weeks, SWAP rallied all their supporters from over the years
and raised the $3.5 million needed to purchase the land.
In the fall
of 1997, the Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs contracted with
the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County to conduct negotiations
on their behalf with Bluffs' landowners and to assist us in our
fundraising efforts. At that time, Shea/Vickers, the owners
of the largest portion of Bluffs properties, indicated they were
willing sellers [see maps & aerial photo on next 2 pages],
and negotiations for a "fair" purchase price began in earnest.
On August 5, 1998, a purchase option of $3,950,000 for the Shea/Vickers
property was approved by the landowner, the Land Trust and Citizens
for the Carpinteria Bluffs, with escrow to close by December 31,
price was below the value for the property determined in an appraisal
from a year ago - and well below, we believed, the property's current
market value. It seemed doubtful we would ever be able to
negotiate a price more favorable to the community.
However, the amount we needed to raise seemed staggering.
It meant raising over $35,000 a day for the rest of the year
seemingly impossible challenge for a community as small as Carpinteria.
and onlookers expressed their doubts about the community being
able to realize such a goal. Yet, in just four months time,
we launched a massive grassroots effort to acquire the Carpinteria
Bluffs in partnership with the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County.
Offering honorary deeds to the property starting at $174 for 100
square feet on up to the opportunity to name the property itself
for a 1 million dollar donation, we gathered support from the
entire community that, by the end of December, became astonishing.
end, we had gathered over 3.55 million dollars in cash and
grants--just $400,000 short of the purchase price.
We were, however, able to close escrow on December 30 taking advantage
of an interest free loan from the Coastal Conservancy.
The Coastal Conservancy also gave us their endorsement along with
a generous grant of $500,000, our largest to date.
our behalf, the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County held title
on the property pending Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs ability
to pay off the Coastal Conservancy's land and to raise a $500,000
endowment fund, so that the property not become a burden upon
the city or the taxpayers. Having now paid off the land and successfully
raised the endowment fund, Citizens and the Land Trust formally
transferred the 52-acre Bluffs property to the City of Carpinteria
in October 2000, for permanent stewardship.
grateful to Shea/Vickers for publicly supporting our acquisition
efforts. This is the first time a landowner has reached
out to the community in the spirit of cooperation to become a
partner in the fulfillment of a community's dream to preserve
the Carpinteria Bluffs.
coastal property between Goleta and the Ventura county line already
either developed or pending development, preservation of the Carpinteria
Bluffs is a crucial priority.
Tar boils to the surface near here, and has for centuries. It forms
big, billowy black mounds on the edge of the sand just south of
Carpinteria State Park. The Chumash used this area for boat-building,
using the tar for waterproofing. Because of the Indian boats built
here the Spaniards called the area "Carpinteria", or carpenter shop.
The Spanish named the area Carpinteria
because the Chumash tribe, which lived in the area, had a large
seagoing canoe-building enterprise, or "carpentry shop" there. The
tribe had chosen the location because of naturally-occurring surface
tar which was used to seal the boats. Seals and sea lions can be
seen in the area December through May, as well as an occasional
The Chumash indian village of "Mishopshnow,"
discovered by Juan
Rodriquez Cabrillo, August 14, 1541, was located one-fourth mile
here. Fray Juan Crespi of the Gaspar
de Portola expedition named it "San Roque," August 17, 1769. Portola's
soldiers, observing the indians building wooden canoes, called the
village "La Carpinteria" - the carpenter shop.
|The Bluffs provide
an extraordinary gateway to our valley and Santa Barbara County.
The 51.8 acres of the
Bluffs property, originally zoned as Planned Unit Development (PUD), was saved
in 1998 from development through the efforts of Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs
in partnership with the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County. With the help of an
intense, community-wide grassroots campaign, these two organizations were able,
successfully, to raise the money needed to purchase the land from Shea Vickers Development LLC.
Shea Vickers had acquired the Bluffs property in 1996 when they bought statewide holdings of
Chevron Land and Development.
The current land use designation of the Carpinteria Bluffs
site is Open Space Recreation (OSR), under the City of Carpinteria's General Plan Local
Coastal Land Use Plan.