AV Land Trust Sues Peachland Family (Part 2 of 17)

There are many confusing aspects to the Anderson Valley Land Trust filing a lawsuit against me and my family. 

One of the most confounding is that many board members who sued me know me personally and could have approached me about the things they apparently think my family is doing that are not allowed by our agreement with the AVLT. Why they felt that a lawsuit was better than picking up the phone or just talking to me at the post office is a real head scratcher.

It gets even stranger when AVLT board members Barbara Goodell and Steve Snyder, both have apparent conflicts of interest with a lawsuit over vehicles, county code, and AVLT easements being violated. (See part 1 of this series)

Let’s look at AVLT board member Barbara Goodell’s easement with the AVLT.

The basics are; Barbara Goodell sued me to have a court rule that anything on my property must conform to county code. The irony is that Barbara’s own property does not conform to county code. And Barbara’s property has an easement on it held by the AVLT, very similar to mine, but Barbara’s easement is much more restrictive than mine. And Barbara has, and is, violating her easement with the AVLT.

Barbara’s easement allows three houses on her property. My easement allows three houses on my property. Barbara’s easement goes even further and requires the third house to be used by residents 55 years of age or older. A seemingly noble restriction that could help with senior housing in the Valley, a cause I care deeply about. My mother, Briana Burns, left the Valley in her golden years due to the lack of housing. That inspired me to build a second house on my property, hopefully for my mom to live in. Unfortunately, my mom was never able to move back. 

Barbara already has a thirdhouse, and has it rented to a young Valley family. And by young, I don’t mean 55 or older. The other conflict of interest arises in that this house is not a county permitted residence. 

This starts to really rub me the wrong way. So, here I have Barbara filing a lawsuit against me, to claim that anything on my property is required to conform to county code because of my easement with the AVLT. My easement doesn’t say anything about county code. Neither does hers. But somehow, she has decided that my easement was meant to enforce county code, and hers was not. Even though a quick read of mine compared to hers reveals two very similar easements, with Barbara’s being much more restrictive than mine in many sections.

Barbara’s lawsuit didn’t even claim that I am breaking county code. (I’m not.) It just claims that if I did, then that should now be added as a violation of my easement. And I’ve been sued for this; a code violation that has not yet, and will never occur. I’ve been sued for not breaking county code yet, but maybe I will in the future, and Barbara wants a court to change my easement to reflect that. But when Barbara is, actually, currently, breaking county code with a non-permitted residence on her property? No action. 

Barbara’s non-permitted house creates additional traffic on a County road. We all pay for the maintenance and repair of the county bridge and county road that Barbara and her tenants drive on. And WE do pay for it. Well, we, as in you and me, just not Barbara. We pay for it with our property taxes, which are assessed based on the number and size of residences. When I built a second house on my property, I paid thousands of dollars to the county, as well as to the Anderson Valley Unified School District that I attended and graduated from. That’s so our schools have the money to educate the children living in a new house in our community. Something Barbara hasn’t paid.

Barbara has not sued herself. You might think the AVLT board of directors would have decided to sue Barbara Goodell. Barbara is actually doing the thing I was sued over. But insanely, the lawsuit against me was hypothetical. I was sued in case I am not up to code at some imaginary point in the future. And right now, today, yesterday, and tomorrow, Barbara has a rental residence on her property that has no county permits.

Could I have some facts wrong? Maybe I missed something. I’ll be happy to make corrections in Part 3 of this seris if I got something wrong. Maybe someone else can shed some light on this situation that will explain more of what is happening. 

But I’m flabbergasted. I cannot begin to explain how ridiculous it is to be sued by Barbara Goodell for code violations, which I have none of, when Barbara has such a major county code violation and direct violations of her AVLT easement currently existing on her property. I truly cannot understand how she can square this in her mind or to the AVLT board. 

And how the AVLT board members can look the other way for Barbara and file a lawsuit against me when I have none of the code or easement violations that Barbara has — is mind blowing.

Not to belabor the point too heavily, but Barbara’s situation is dramatic; This rental house is their third residence, and it is not only violating county code, but it is also violating her easement. As I’ve said, her easement requires age 55 or older tenants in a third house. Barbara’s easement additionally prohibits cutting redwoods of a certain size, and that was also violated. 

How can Barbara so blatantly violate these provisions of her agreement with the AVLT? Is it because she’s on the Board? Is the AVLT morally compromised? 

I would like to hope that it’s not. I sincerely hope that this is an oversight by people too interested in suing me, for some reason, to take the time to look at themselves. (I have seen no evidence to support the theory that this is an oversight, but I continue to hope.)

But that brings me back to why the AVLT is so interested in suing me in the first place? If the reason was to enforce county code, or easement violations, it seems like they would have sued the worst offenders first. It makes it seem like county code, even though it’s in the lawsuit against me, is not the real motivation of the lawsuit. I think I know what is motivating the AVLT to sue me. I don’t think it has anything to do with county code or a golf cart being used as a work truck. 

It’s going to take a bit of explaining, but I hope I can share with my valley community, the real reasons behind this lawsuit. 

In Part 3, I’ll take a look at AVLT board members Steve Snyder, Steve Wood and Glynnis Jones.… 

4 Responses to "AV Land Trust Sues Peachland Family (Part 2 of 17)"

  1. Jonah Raskin   January 22, 2020 at 10:24 am

    Go get ’em Mr. C.T. Rowe. Sounds like you have good arguments on your side. Maybe AVLT will back off and or back down.

    Reply
  2. Tammy   January 22, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    There is some shady stuff going on at the Mendocino Land Trust in Fort Bragg as well. I think it has to do with MLT head honcha Ann Cole and a tax scandal that you can read about by searching “Billion Dollar Loophole.” If you lookup the Land Trust Alliance for info on their role in this scheme, you will find some blatant contradictions.

    Oh, you might also be interested in checking out the Land and Water Conservation Fund which is a very important funding source for the LTA, of which MLT, and I think AVLT also, are members. It was the source of the funds that caught my attention… OK, spoiler alert – the dinero comes from a portion of profits from offshore drilling for gas & oil!! Needless to say it is a hefty chunk of change that member land trusts (whose physical work is largely carried out by volunteers) compete for.

    Reply
  3. George Hollister   January 22, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    It is always good to remember that conservation easements are forever, and the Boards that oversee them are forever, too. But the people sitting on those Boards do change as do their perspectives and motivations.

    Reply
  4. C.T. Rowe   January 22, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    Hmmm. 1. I hope so, but I think they will very likely dislike me more and not back off. But at least my conscience will be clear. 2. I find it unlikely that there is anything funny going on at MLT. They are a member of the LTA, and I don’t see any funny business at the LTA in any of these articles about the people taking advantage of the easement tax write off. AVLT is not a member of LTA. 3. The people sitting on the board are the real problem. In every situation. Thanks for reading and commenting. More at peachlandranch.home.blog

    Reply

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