MORGAN HOOVER, NEWS-PRESS CORRESPONDENT
September 1, 2009 6:58 AM
In a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Monday, First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal asked for reinstatement of the Open Space Subvention -- allowing counties to continue to participate in the Williamson Act -- in the 2010-11 state budget.
The Williamson Act allows local governments to enter into contracts with private land owners to restrict certain pieces of land for strict agricultural use.
If the funding for the subvention is not restored to the state's budget, the county could be looking at a loss of approximately $600,000.
According to Mr. Carbajal, state lawmakers need to be kept abreast of the impact of such an item to local governments throughout the state.
"I'm hoping that I add to the many letters that the governor receives on this matter," he said. "I'm just doing my little part ... to continue to keep the issue alive."
Mr. Carbajal said he has concerns about the amount of budget cuts that have been made in Sacramento.
"I question whether they actually understand the impact that they're having on local governments," he said.
The district supervisor also said he worries about those most affected by the subvention's exclusion.
"Farmers ... are the ones that will be most directly impacted," he said.
Mr. Carbajal said he knows that to maintain the beauty of Santa Barbara, open spaces must be kept viable and that if the Williamson Act is not protected, zoning for agriculture could see a decrease in the county "because of growing pressure, the price of land."
"We are not one of the most beautiful places in the world by accident," he said.
If the funding is not restored, development of the Gaviota Coast might be inevitable, according to Mr. Carbajal.
"We all know what it means to our residents," he said.
Mr. Carbajal said he and other local officials are doing all they can.
"We can only do so much," he said. "The state, to a great extent, holds the purse strings."