Today is the Foothills Forever campaign’s last day to meet another milestone that would bring them one step closer to raising $18 million to purchase the San Marcos Foothills West Mesa.
The campaign met the March 25 milestone of $5 million, and now must show $5 million Monday in pledges and gifts. As of Saturday, the campaign has raised a total of $5,798,073.
“The campaign — to raise this much money this quickly — requires a significant gift to be able to move forward,” said Peter Schuyler, a leader on the campaign’s lead gifts committee.
Members of Foothills Forever hope to buy the property to prevent eight multi-million dollar homes with large lots to be built on it. If they meet Monday’s deadline, an additional $8 million after that must be deposited into escrow by June 1.
Some of the supporters of the movement include the Santa Barbara Foundation, Santa Barbara Audubon Society, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, More Mesa Preservation Coalition, Santa Barbara Fish Market, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Dune Coffee Roasters, CARP Growers, and Rincon Brewery, among others.
Through the campaign’s network of advisors and solicitors, a number of people are being approached to provide the lead gifts needed to advance the campaign. In the event that the campaign does not succeed, gifts over $250 may be designated elsewhere by the donor or refunded. Written pledges count towards the upcoming April 12 milestone.
“Every successful open space campaign in Santa Barbara’s history has had moments when the goal looked out of reach” said Marc Chytilo, one of the campaign’s leaders and a veteran of numerous open space campaigns over the past 30 years. “The Foothills Forever campaign is highly compressed to just 90 days, but with over 3,000 donors to this campaign in the first month and over $6 million in funds committed to date, including a bridge loan for a part of the first payment, it is clear that the San Marcos Foothills is important to the community. We encourage anyone that is considering a gift to do so this weekend to help advance the campaign to the final stretch.”
Tours and Zoom information sessions are being held for donors and community members interested. Tonight’s Zoom donor information session will be held from 4 to 5 p.m., and Monday’s will be held from 5 to 6 p.m.
In addition, Foothills Forever and Channel Islands Restoration are giving tours at the San Marcos Foothills, where participants can learn about geology and history today and on April 17 and 18.
“We are working to save San Marcos Foothills in continuation of our community’s legacy of saving important open space lands for the community’s use in perpetuity,” Foothills Forever wrote on its website. “The Douglas Family Preserve, Carpinteria Bluffs, Sperling Preserve at Ellwood, Veronica Meadows and Elings Park all faced daunting odds at first, but were successful through strenuous effort and the community rallying to save lands we treasure. We need to make San Marcos Foothills’ West Mesa the next addition to our community’s incredible portfolio of public open spaces.”
Earlier this year, a group of 100 protestors gathered on the land and eight people were arrested on suspicion of willfully obstructing the free movement of any person. Each was cited and released, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
A citation was also issued for a man who “had apparently locked himself to a gate post at the entrance to the property,” said Raquel Zick, sheriff’s spokeswoman, following the February protest.. “He utilized a V arm rube, a device that makes it difficult for protestors to be removed safely from an object to which they have affixed themselves.”
The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office announced last week that no criminal charges will be filed against the protestors.
Visit foothillsforever.org to learn more or donate.