By Raiza Giorgi

Buellton has agreed to take the lead in pursuing Proposition 68 funding for the Santa Ynez Valley Community Aquatics Foundation, which is leading a community campaign to build a two-acre pool complex at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.

Prop 68 is the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2018, approved by voters in June 2018. The purposes of Prop 68 include creating parks, enhancing river parkways, and protecting coastal forests and wetlands.

Only a government agency can request Prop 68 funding, so neither SYV Aquatics nor the high school are eligible.

Solvang is eligible for $200,000 in Prop 68 money, and agreed on July 9 to give that money to SYV Aquatics if the city receives it.

Santa Barbara County has agreed to give $250,000 in developer fees to the effort, and SYV Aquatics is still seeking a portion of the county’s Prop 68 funds as well. 

In a recent presentation to the Buellton City Council, SYV Aquatics Executive Committee member Lisa Palmer said that she was thankful to the city for deciding to be the lead agency for a project that will provide recreation for the entire valley community.

“This won’t just be a high school pool. There will be opportunities to make this the center of our community, which all people of all abilities and ages will be able to use,” said Superintendent Scott Cory of the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.

The two-acre SYV Aquatics and Sports Science Complex is intended to replace the deteriorating 53-year-old pool on the Santa Ynez High School campus.

In addition to an Olympic-sized 50-meter competitive pool, other features will include a 25-yard warm-water therapy pool, changing rooms, lockers, storage, a sports medicine/science building, family play area and an “In Memory of Those Who Serve” entry plaza.

The pool has already been purchased by the foundation as modular components from the manufacturer that installed one of the pools at the last U.S. Summer Olympics swimming trials in Omaha.

Buellton Recreation Coordinator Kyle Abello, a member of the SYV Aquatics advisory team, said the group intends to seek $6.3 million from Prop 68 to get started on construction.

Abello said the foundation is also asking the Solvang and Santa Barbara County to request funding toward the project. The city can also apply for a 20 percent matching grant that would provide another $40,000 toward the pool project.

SYV Aquatics just secured a $1 million anonymous donation, bringing its fund drive within $2.6 million of the $11.2 million it needs.

“We have a vested interest and have full trust in Kyle’s (Abello) ability to help lead the Aquatics Foundation. I will even volunteer to be on the joint-use committee,” said Buellton Councilman Art Mercado.

Also involved in the project is the LA84 Foundation, which was created with a share of the surplus funds from the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. LA84 began operations in 1985 as a grant-making and educational foundation that supports hundreds of nonprofit youth sports organizations throughout Southern California, trains coaches, commissions research, and convenes conferences.

To learn more about the SYV Aquatics Foundation, visit