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Donation Might Preserve Property on Central Coast

June 19, 2003

The Campaign to Save Ellwood Mesa, a 40-mile coastal stretch in Santa Barbara County, has received $5 million from a private contributor, potentially saving the area from commercial development.

Led by the Friends of Ellwood, the campaign will now be able to meet the deadline of raising $6 million by June 30 to prevent a developer from building luxury homes on the property. Under an agreement with the developer and owner, the group must raise $20.4 million in private and public funding by December to buy the Gaviota property, said campaign director Suzanne Moss.

Peter and Stephanie Sperling, who pledged the $5 million, joined more than 3,000 people who have contributed. The campaign now has $6.9 million in pledges.

Campaign directors estimate that the value of the property is more than $40 million. To make up the difference, the city of Goleta has offered the developer, Comstock Homes, and the landowner, Santa Barbara Development Partners, 38 developable acres inland in exchange for the coastal strip.

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