Three men charged with misdemeanor offenses by the state Depar tment of Fish and Game — all related to making illegal changes to Van Gordon Creek—pleaded not guilty on July 23, according to the county district attorney’s Office. The men are to return to court Sept. 10 so a trial date can be set.
Meanwhile, county representatives say the defendants — landowner Dave Robertson and associates Jeffrey Brown and George Christidis — “are being cooperative” in working with enforcement officers on re-mediating other violations.
Recent calls to Robertson and their attorney have not been returned.
Copies of the Fish and Game “Van Gordon Creek and Tributaries Stream Alteration Activity” report on “Riparian Habitat Removal and Disturbance, Excavation, Channelization and Sediment Disposal” shows wardens Brian Meyer and Jason Chance investigated at the site and issued a stop-work order on Jan. 19. They returned with environmental Scientist Robert Tibstra on Jan. 23, and Meyer and Tibstra continued the on-site investigation on March 1 and April 19.
The report cites construction of a 140-foot long pond that was 51.5 feet wide at one end. The report also said the pond had been created on a creek tributary, stockpiles of “spoils and sediments” were found within the area, eight locations of stream crossings had been modified (including two vehicle bridges and one footbridge) and a consistent swath of riparian understory vegetation had been removed. The report noted that “a hillside near the pond and channelized tributary was cleared of vegetation … The area cleared measured 0.57 acres,” the report said. Other violations also were mentioned.
According to Meyer’s report, a blueprint of work being done showed the project’s name as “The Reserve at San Simeon.” “The blueprint showed an elaborate plan for the creek and pond area including a mojito bar, a tented area and much more,” Meyer wrote. He seized the blueprint.
Fish and Game officials ordered temporary emergency measures, the report said, including jute netting on bare hillsides, covering stockpiles with plastic sheeting and putting fiber rolls at strategic locations on the bare hillsides. Those measures were designed to minimize erosion into the stream during a rainy season.
On another front, Supervisor Bruce Gibson told North Coast Advisory Council members July 18 that the county’s code enforcement process is “proceeding as it should.” He said the county “has people out there on a regular basis. If there’s an open code-enforcement case, and new evidence is presented, we’ll investigate … In no way is the county turning a blind eye to this issue.”
He said county planners have granted some permits to Robertson, but that those permits “are not related to violations,” such as constructing a road, building a pond or building an exceptionally large tree house, all without permits.
Gibson said the county’s new grading ordinance includes stiffer penalties, and can require restoration of damaged habitat back to the way it was, if that’s possible.
The North Coast Advisory Council Projects/Land Use Committee plans to discuss the issue at its meeting set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 6, at Rabobank, 1070 Main St.