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Not All Bike Trails Are Good

Good news fellow Modoc Preservationists…
Kathy Rosenthal, and her Santa Ynez Valley equestrian group, just got a favorable ruling from Judge Anderle against Santa Barbara County and the SB County Supervisors in the Live Oak Trail lawsuit

Here is a link to the Santa Barbara News-Press article…COURT SIDES WITH EQUESTRIANS

There are a number of similarities in our lawsuits…namely lack of proper environmental review and lack of public input…

This is CAMP’s complete statement on Judge Anderle’s ruling…

“California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) law is constantly being undermined and attacked by developers. We have been told by California state regulatory agencies that activist citizen groups like Community Association for the Modoc Preserve (CAMP), and Santa Ynez Valley Riders (SYVR), are the “CEQA police” and the court system is the environmental protection system mechanism.

The County’s approval of the Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Modoc Multi-Use Path Project on November 1st was done with seemingly little to no discussion of a number of CEQA law based, legally backed comments from CAMP, Land Trust for Santa Barbara County (LTSB), La Cumbre Mutual Water Company (LCMWC), and California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) alleging multiple violations of provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act in the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND).

The Modoc Preserve is publicly shared private property, owned by La Cumbre Mutual Water Company and it’s shareholders, that has a Deed of Conservation Easement managed by Land Trust for Santa Barbara County signed in 1999 protecting it from development “forever” and “in perpetuity”. Former 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart referred to this legally binding document as “just words written on paper 30 years ago”. One of CAMP’s missions is to prove Mr. Hart wrong, and to help the Land Trust fulfill its obligation to protect the Conservation Values of the Modoc Preserve for this generation and the generations to come.

So, CAMP is suing Santa Barbara County and the SB County Board of Supervisors for violating California state laws governing environmental review under the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). CAMP challenges the county’s failure to conduct complete and accurate environmental review, prepare an Environmental Impact Report, as well as other procedural and substantive violations of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in approving the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND).

CAMP members and volunteers are encouraged with the ruling of Judge Anderle in favor of the SYVR over the Santa Barbara County Supervisors because there are a number of similarities between their lawsuit and ours. Judge Anderle’s ruling sets legal precedent for other path / trail / open space development projects in Santa Barbara County such as the Modoc Multi-Use Path (MUP) at the Modoc Preserve. Judge Anderle is very experienced in environmental law and CEQA. He is known for fairness, and for the record, is the judge in our lawsuit.

Our lead attorney, Sabrina Venskus, is also very experienced in CEQA law and is a fierce litigator that has prevailed in a number of high stakes environmental lawsuits. She sued the City of Los Angeles in helping to save the Ballona Wetlands, fiercely defends the urban forests, and is also currently suing the City of Ojai and the Ojai City Council. She believes in our case and its ramifications for other nature preserve and open spaces in Santa Barbara County and throughout California.

The environmental review process for County Public Works projects is flawed. They are allowed to decide, in-house, the level of environmental review for the project and oftentimes, like in the case of Phase I of the Modoc MUP project, are allowed to categorically exempt themselves.

There is no real system of checks and balances or environmental oversight, when the County is allowed to wriggle out of doing a more objective Environmental Impact Report (EIR) by checking the exemption box themselves. They are not required to implement mitigations or further study. Instead, they simply dismiss and ignore CEQA based comments, even from regulatory agencies like CDFW, in this case. So again, we are encouraged by Judge Anderle’s ruling on the Lake Cachuma Live Oak Trail with awarding the Santa Ynez Valley Rider group $300K in attorney fee justice, as it’s not fair that the nature loving citizenry in SB County has to absorb the monetary burden for necessary environmental oversight.

After falsely marketing to the public and BOS that none of the iconic Canary Island Date palm heritage trees would be destroyed in Alignment B approved by the County BOS, County Public Works is now indicating that at least one of them would be destroyed. We have advocated for a Multi-Use Path (MUP) being built on Modoc Road in County right-of-way (ROW) outside of the tree line in existing asphalt infrastructure.

We demand that the County eliminate the Class II bike lane on the north side of Modoc Road as they stated they would in their $5.35MM ATP grant application, because of its inherent danger to cyclists and vehicles.

There are 20 points of contact on the north side of Modoc Road between bikes and vehicles on this short 3/4 mile long section of MUP.
Failure to yield and failure to signal accidents continue to happen at the Obern Trail entrance between bikes and vehicles. Not eliminating this bike lane would open the County taxpayers up to costly and unnecessary negligence lawsuits.

We look forward to joining forces with folks like Kathy Rosenthal and the Santa Ynez Valley Riders, Ted Rhodes and Citizens for Carpinteria Bluffs, and other groups that are currently forming to help save our precious open spaces in the Goleta Valley and elsewhere from succumbing to urbanization creep.

Once open space is gone…it’s gone forever.”

Our goal is to keep this ecologically valuable open space from encroaching urban development. Please contribute to the Modoc Preserve Legal Fund to continue to help save these 100+ year old iconic, and historic, heritage trees before it’s too late. Everything helps!


You can also donate by check in name of MODOC PRESERVE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND…please EMAIL us for mailing details…


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