SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Santa Barbara County has agreed to a new, expanded law enforcement pact between the County Sheriff's Department and the Chumash Indian Tribe in Santa Ynez.
The new security agreement was approved in a unanimous vote by the County Board of Supervisors meeting in Santa Maria on Tuesday.
"The importance of law enforcement in the Santa Ynez Valley, the Tribe takes adequate service very seriously", says Chumash Tribal Chairman Kenneth Kahn, "so in working with the Sheriff we have developed an agreement, it passed 5-0, so apparently the Supervisors also agreed that it was a good thing for Santa Barbara County and for the residents of the Santa Ynez Valley.
The new security agreement with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department includes the Tribe contributing more than $400,000 a year to the County to pay for one, new full-time patrol deputy and a new community resource officer, along with other expenses including new vehicles.
In return, County Sheriff Bill Brown and Santa Barbara County 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr withdrew their official protests to the Tribe's application to expand alcohol sales at its Santa Ynez casino to include the entire gaming floor.
The Tribe's application is currently under review by the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.
"We understand their concerns, we addressed their concerns, we went through a process through the state Alcohol and Beverage Control with public comments", Tribal Chairman Kahn says, "we have a hearing coming up, and so we felt addressing it directly with them, to be able to mitigate that ahead of time was very important."
"Our Tribal community really loves having the officers around and I see them in Santa Ynez and I hear about them on calls around the valley, so we feel that extra coverage, especially at a time when the County is struggling with officers, is extremely important", Kahn says, "so the old contract and the new contract combined are just going to provide more balanced service to the entire community."
The new, expanded law enforcement pact includes the Tribe's agreement to a sovereign immunity waiver.
"This was sort of a new development in that we've come to an agreement on a good waiver of sovereign immunity language and so this was our first opportunity to use it", said Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors Chair Peter Adam.
The County Board of Supervisors also agreed to resume Ad-Hoc Committee meetings next week with the Tribe on its future land use plans including the annexation of more than 1,400 acres of land in the Santa Ynez Valley also known as Camp 4.