A campaign launched a mere two weeks ago to purchase and preserve the San Marcos Foothills west mesa has already raised $5 million.
Foothills Forever set a goal of raising $18 million in 90 days to purchase the property, preventing eight multi-million dollar homes with large lots to be constructed on it.
“I am thrilled to announce that the Foothills Forever campaign to purchase the west mesa of the San Marcos Foothills has reached our first milestone!” Marc Chytilo, attorney for the organization, said in a news release. “In just two weeks, the community has solidly demonstrated its commitment to preserving this property as open space.”
More than 2,300 individual donations have been given to Foothills Forever, and some of the donors indicated they never even visited the property and only saw it from afar or while passing on State Route 154. A local donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, provided the first $1 million.
The Santa Barbara Foundation stepped in to be the fiscal sponsor and help establish the Foothills Forever Fund.
Under the terms of the purchase agreement, an additional $4 million in cash and pledges was required to be presented to the seller by Thursday. Montecito Bank and Trust’s support allows the campaign the time needed to secure the necessary donations from the community. All funds received are held in a secure refundable escrow account, pending the group’s ability to meet the funding milestones and complete the purchase.
“Every effort to protect open space in Santa Barbara has faced daunting moments in the campaign’s early phases,” said Mr. Chytilo. “Our community has always risen to the challenge. Today we count the Douglas Family Preserve, the Sperling Preserve at Ellwood, the Carpinteria Bluffs and Veronica Meadows as permanently protected open space thanks to community persistence. In two short weeks, over 2,000 families, businesses and individuals have contributed over $1.5 million to save the west mesa. If people continue to step up, this campaign will succeed.”
An additional $5 million must be raised by April 13, with the final $8 million required to be deposited into escrow by June 1.
In addition, the Foothills Forever campaign must cover administrative transactions, including title insurance, and campaign costs. To establish an endowment for the long-term stewardship of the property and to cover all campaign costs, a total goal of $20 million is needed.
Marianne Parra, a member of the leadership team for the campaign, said, “Now is the time to act. The clock on our opportunity to purchase the property is ticking. We must reach our total goal of $18 million by June 1.”
In response to the tremendous interest in preserving the site, campaign volunteers will be leading tours of the area on Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m., starting from the north end of Via Gaitero Road. More information is available at foothillsforever.org.