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Lawsuit: Marriott plans encroach on Chumash tradition

GOLETA, Calif. – The coastal city of Goleta did not consider the loss of access to a historical and ceremonial site to Chumash Indians when it approved the building of a Marriot Hotel, a lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit, filed Dec. 19 in Santa Barbara Superior Court by the local preservationist group Friends of Saspili and resident Frank Arredondo, asks for a full environmental report to consider Indian access and other impacts.

It alleges the city council’s approval of the project violates the California Environmental Quality Act because it was made without an environmental impact report. The city relied on an initial study to bypass the full review that had determined no significant environmental effects will occur because modifications and mitigation measures have been or will be made to lessen all potentially significant impacts.

The lawsuit disagrees, alleging the site will experience considerable impacts by building a 140-room hotel on an 11-acre site.

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“(It) fails to fully avoid cultural resources, so (it) causes a significant impact; mitigation measures (are) inadequate,” said the attorney for the plaintiffs, Marc Chytilo.

Two archeologists, Jon Erlandson and Ann Munns, gave testimony to the city explaining the cultural relevance of the site to the Chumash Indians and urged for a full environmental report.

“There have been huge cumulative losses of village sites and important areas of occupation throughout the south coast. … we’ve seen far too much,” Chytilo said.

Goleta City Attorney Tim Giles and Information Officer Kirsten Deshler did not return calls seeking comment. The city has not responded to the complaint either, Chytilo said.

The lawsuit claims the three-story hotel would violate the “visual integrity” of the area and is asking the court for an injunction on building the project until an environmental report is prepared.