Three men accused of illegally altering a tributary to San Simeon Creek are due in a San Luis Obispo County courtroom Monday.
The men altered the Van Gordon Creek — allegedly creating a large pond, building bridges and otherwise damaging the fragile habitat —without a permit, said county Deputy District Attorney Kristy Imel.
Landowner Dave Robertson and associates Jeffrey Brown and George Christidis plan to plead not guilty and begin the process of “settingthe case over for further discussions” leading to working out an agreement under which they would remediate any damage done, said theirattorney, Jeffrey Stein.
“This isn’t going to be about getting into a big fight about what’s right. It’s to do what’s right,” after getting a consensus aboutwhat’s appropriate and necessary to do, Stein said.
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Robertson also is charged with polluting the water with elements that “would be harmful to animal life, fish life or bird life,” said JerretGran, a spokesman for the DA’s office.
Several agencies and state coastal protection laws have identified San Simeon Creek as having environmentally sensitive riparian and wetlandhabitats for federally protected species.
Robertson and Christidis are to appear for their arraignment Monday.
Brown was arraigned on July 9; his prehearing also is set for Monday.
All are connected to Red Mountain Farms, Off the Grid and Centrally Grown, all corporations that own properties in Cambria, including TheHamlet at Moonstone Gardens, a restaurant currently closed for remodeling.
Gran said, “We don’t get a whole lot of these kinds of cases Fish and Game doesn’t file a lot of them.” Usually, when state Departmentof Fish and Game wardens see a violation, he said, it’s most often “someone doing something — for a lack of a better term — innocently,and most people are pretty cooperative” about rectifying the matter.
But some situations, especially those with serious damage, can’t be rectified. Fish and Game Lt. Todd Tognazzini said this case hadwarranted detailed investigation, including by one of the agency’s environmental scientists.