The Bluffs provide unlimited public access to open space and to our coastal wonders for the citizens of the City of Carpinteria, the Carpinteria Valley and the greater South Coast area. Additionally, the Bluffs continue to attract tourists and school groups to its spectacular vistas and harbor seal overlook. The volunteers of Seal Watch of Carpinteria logged 12,500 visits to the Bluffs in 1996 of people coming to view the seals during the six month pupping season between December and May.
The direct benefit to a community from public open space acquisition is often difficult to quantify. Many studies have shown that there is an overall economic benefit to having greenbelts and open spaces in urban areas. As pressures of population growth and urbanization continue to transform the California landscape, open spaces and greenbelts become increasingly important for us urban dwellers by protecting those special places where we can still breathe the open air and reconnect to the natural wonders of the land. The City of Carpinteria has grown from a population of 6,754 in 1970 to a population of 14,600 in 1998 with El Carro Park being the only substantial acquisition of additional parkland. Open space is as necessary for the health of a town as streets and sidewalks. Twenty years from now, the acquisition of the Carpinteria Bluffs as open space will seem as visionary as Santa Barbara’s decision years ago to keep its stretch of land from East Beach to the harbor in open parkland instead of hotels and commercial development.
Our Fundraising Strategy
In the March of 2000, Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs finished its extensive fundraising campaign to complete the community acquisition efforts to purchase 52 acres of the Carpinteria Bluffs. Working in partnership with the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, the Citizens group was able to meet the landowner’s asking price of $3.95 million. In addition, the grassroots organization has raised a $500,000 endowment fund to offset maintenance costs for the city when the city takes over stewardship of the property.
The property is being gifted to the City of Carpinteria, with a “conservation easement” held by the Land Trust defining permitted and prohibited uses for the property. This will help ensure that the majority of the property remain forever as public, natural open space dedicated to passive recreation. A small portion of the property at the eastern end will be devoted to active playing fields, a commitment we made to the community from the very beginning of our acquisition campaign. The fields will be designed to have minimal visible impact upon the passive and natural character of the bluffs property.
Several board members of Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs are members of the City of Carpinteria’s Bluffs Advisory Board that has been working for several years on crafting a long-term management plan for the Carpinteria Bluffs. This plan, now in final draft form, is about to go to the City’s Planning Commission for approval. The plan articulates maintenance and enhancement practices that will be minimal but will adequately protect and, in the case of native plantings, enhance the conservation values and natural open space integrity of the property.
a. Reached an agreement with the landowners as to the purchase price and timing for acquisition of all or part of the Bluff property. Date: August 1998.
b. Secured iud grant funding and pledges of $1,085,000. Date: August 1998.
c. Secured option to purchase 52 acres of Shea/Vickers Bluffs property. Option ended: December 31, 1998.
d. Launched high profile fundraising campaign, including submittal of grant proposals to foundations and government grant programs. Approached potential large donors for significant acquisition money and challenge grants. Original Target Date: September 1998.
e. With the landowners lawsuit against the City of Carpinteria postponed, sought agreement from the City as to the long-term management of the property. Original Target Date: December, 1998.
f. Completed fundraising, executed option and closed escrow, reimbursed bridge financing. Original Target Date: August through December 1999.
h. Facilitated the preparation of a park development plan for the Bluffs with community participation, and continued fundraising for endowment. Original Target Date: 1999 – 2000.
i. Carpinteria Bluffs property transferred to the City of Carpinteria as the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve and the Viola Playing Fields. Date: October 16, 2000.
j. Official Celebration of the public acquisition of the Carpinteria Bluffs including the unveiling of the donor acknowledgement marker. Date: May 25, 2002.
k. Official dedication ceremony for the Viola Fields, Lois Sidenberg Overlook, and the Rhodes-Fleming Coastal Trail at the Carpinteria Bluffs. Date: July 3, 2003.
The campaign to acquire the 52 acres is finished. However, our mission still remains to acquire all 81 acres of the Carpinteria Bluffs property eventually. If the parcels to the west (29 acres) ever become available and we are able to purchase the property, we will complete that goal.
We do know of several major funding sources immediately available to us, if the remaining 29 acres of Bluffs were to become available to the community for purchase at or below the land’s appraised value (which most foundations require). So far, however, the current landowners have not yet offered the property to us at a fair market price. You bet we’d be interested if they do!
Of course, it was a great disappointment to learn that new owners had purchased the Serena/Brown parcels of the Carpinteria Bluffs, but we remain open and eager to negotiate a public purchase of the property, should present or future landowners consider that option.
And of course, we still welcome donations.
The goal of the Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs is to preserve forever the Carpinteria Bluffs as open space.
We use educational and promotional activities to raise public knowledge and appreciation of the Bluffs and its natural features. We aim to ensure that the Bluffs remain an area for active and passive recreation.
As Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs, we assert that the Bluffs property is a symbol larger than itself, a legacy we should bestow to future generations, and a treasure crucial to the quality of the coastline that is worth presenting for all.
Taking Stock… …And Giving It to the Bluffs
Some donors to the Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs have chosen to make their major gifts in appreciated securities rather than cash. There can be a substantial tax advantage to this. Donors receive the regular charitable tax deduction if they itemize their taxes. They avoid paying tax on capital gains. In addition, if they have owned the security for more than one year, they may claim a tax deduction for the full market value rather than the purchase price of their securities.
How does this work? Let us say that you purchased 100 shares of “Y Company” stock in May 1990 for $25 per share for a total cost of $2,500. Let us say these same shares are now selling for $75 per share for a market value of $7,500. By giving these 100 shares of Y Company stock to Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs, you 1) avoid paying capital gains tax on the $5,000 gain and 2) you can deduct as a contribution the entire market value of the $7,500 gift on the day you instructed the stock to be transferred.
If you would like to make a gift of stock to Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs, please contact:
[co-chair of Major Donor Committee
Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs]
c/o Cate School
Phone: (805) 684-4127 x 254
Fax: (805) 684-6897
Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs]
Phone: (805) 684-9474
Fax: (805) 684-3963