Pictured: One of the ponds at Camarillo Springs golf course. Photo submitted. 

by Kimberly Rivers

Local Chumash members have expressed opposition to the plans being proposed for a smaller golf course and 254-unit senior residential project at the site of the current Camarillo Springs Golf Course. 

Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, Chumash leader and elder with the Ventureño-Barbareño Band of Mission Indians, said the existence of cultural resources in the area presents a strong case for the project to not be approved. According to Tumamait-Stenslie, artifacts were uncovered by then-developers in the 1980s. 

At that time, the Los Angeles Times (“Destruction of artifacts angers Indian activists: Accidental clearing in Camarillo halts work on 1,000-unit housing tract,” by Thomas Omestad, March 3, 1986) reported on development that unearthed stone bowls and obsidian rock pieces. 

“Where are those artifacts today?” Tumamait-Stenslie asked. She’s concerned that the planned increase of homes, parks and walking trails will lead to cultural resource sites in the project area being found by the general public and disturbed. 

According to the Cultural Resources Assessment conducted by Rincon Consultants for Cadence Environmental Consultants, “Ms. Tumamait-Stenslie provided information relating to the presence of three tribal cultural resources in the vicinity of the project site, including one buried resource.” Details of the resources, including the type and location, are kept confidential in accordance with state law. The assessment notes her “concerns regarding the project, including that the project site is highly sensitive for Native American resources, that housing in the area may increase foot traffic and possible looting, and other concerns related to flooding and wildfires.” 

As part of that survey a field assessment on site was conducted, which “identified prehistoric cultural resources within the southeast and southwest portions of the project site.”

The local Indigenous people, some of whom descend from those who lived in the area where the project is proposed, are not the only ones opposing the plan. 

Local residents have organized into a group, Oppose Camarillo Springs Building, with about 650 members, according to the group’s spokesperson Brian Morris. That group opposes the building of the homes, and has concerns that promises of a new golf course are unenforceable. Morris said the first issue that will come before the Camarillo City Council is a rezoning of the land being considered for the new homes. Currently it is part of the existing 18-hole course. 

This week the Camarillo Springs Redevelopment Advisory Committee, an ad hoc committee made up of members of the Camarillo Springs Golf Course men’s golf club, announced that a purchase agreement for the site has been reached between Gary Lewis, Camarillo resident and golf industry executive; Tom Szwedzinki and Rich Wagner, locally based golf professionals; and New Urban West Inc., a Santa Monica-based real estate developer, for the sale, development and management of the proposal and ongoing management of the new course and development. Under the terms of the agreement, New Urban West will have no interest or ownership in the new golf course.

The new project being proposed by private interests includes a new 12-hole course, $3.5 million for flooding prevention in existing homes and 254 new single family homes for seniors. The plan includes a dog park, walking trails, a clubhouse and “rooftop” restaurant. 

In 2019 Tumamait-Stenslie submitted a letter of concern to the city that expressed the group’s objections to the project. She said an archeological survey was conducted during the Environmental Impact Report but has concerns about whether there can be any true mitigations to impacts of the cultural resource sites. She pointed out that oil seepages in the ponds have been noted and there is a flooding issue there following the recent fires. 

Last year oil seepage increased into one of the larger ponds at Camarillo Springs and trapped several species of birds including protected species. The oil seep material is still being removed daily and held by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

For information on the plans from the private parties seeking approval visit: www.camspringsseniorliving.com

For information about the group opposing the project visit: www.opposecamspringsbuilding.com