A Response to Steve (& Janet) Snyder

Steve:

Since you are on the “advisory committee” for the Anderson Valley Land Trust, I'm glad you might be engaged and thinking about the issues that face the AVLT. I'm glad you’re calling me out for whatever you see as inaccurate in my "rant" of a story. It is from my point of view, and I think anyone else might also come off as a bit rant-ish after being sued by the AVLT for made up lies that cost me over $100,000 to fight and win in court.

But beyond my diatribe ranting, you claim that I have numerous inaccuracies in my account. You haven’t listed any in your letter from last week. I count at least two provably false statements in your letter. Are you offering to send a retraction letter? I am. Tell me where my facts aren’t straight or presented accurately and I will write a front page article retracting anything that you show I’ve said that’s false.

I certainly agree that I did not include the entirety of your easement. 

But the section you filled in actually shows how your easement is more restrictive than mine. Your easement only allows vehicles in the two zones you mention. Contrary to your incorrect claim (false #1), mine has no comparable wording and nothing in my easement prohibits a motorhome (or any vehicle) in a specific zone on my property. (When you were on the board, the AVLT tried to claim this, but has backtracked since losing the lawsuit. But I welcome you to try and quote the section of my easement that you claim prohibited my motorhome in any zone. I can send you my easement again if you lost your copy.) 

Both our easements prohibit “abandoned vehicles in permanent storage,” on the entire property regardless of zone. My point in Part 4 was that neither your motorhome nor mine was abandoned or in permanent storage. So how did the AVLT label mine “abandoned in permanent storage,” but not yours? No answer.

And the judge agreed. Her ruling states "interests not transferred and conveyed...by the easement shall remain in the grantor of the easement, including the right to engage in all uses of the land not affected by the easement." The judge then goes on to describe how no vehicles have ever violated my easement. Since you claim that easements are complex, maybe you find this ruling complex. The cliff notes are; if the easement doesn't mention it then it's still allowed and not prohibited. Your easement mentions vehicles in zones, so you have to keep your motorhome where it’s allowed. My easement didn't restrict that, so I can put my motorhome where I want. If you haven't yet, I recommend you review the ruling at peachlandranch.home.blog.

Also, you are demonstrably incorrect (false #2) when you state that I was not asked to remove my motorhome. First, I was asked to move it to a new location, and I did. Then came the retaliation. I was threatened with legal action if I did not remove it entirely from the property. Not move it to a house, as you claim, but that it couldn’t be on the property. I can email you multiple documents that corroborate this. The first one is on official AVLT letterhead, dated May 13, 2016. In the first paragraph it says, “If you do not cure those violations by the deadlines stated below, AVLT intends to take legal action to achieve the necessary cure of each one.” Then on page two, it says, “The RV has been moved, but not removed. Apparently it is now being permanently stored on the property in the Agricultural Zone. This violates Exhibit C, Section I.10. The deadline for removing the RV from the property is June 30.” Then further down page two is where all the board members signed, including you, Steve. I know you want to tell yourself you’re the good guy in all this. If I owe you a retraction on something, let me know. But you really owe me one here. And Exhibit C, Section I.10? That’s the one we quoted in Part 4 that says neither of us can have abandoned vehicles stored on the property.

As well, you don't point out any actual inaccuracies regarding Barbara's rather severe easement violation of her profiting tens of thousands of dollars by denying those over-55 rental housing. Did you read the sections of Barbara’s easement in Part 3.5? You have read Barbara's full easement. Why not explain how Barbara is not profiting by denying housing to seniors? (False #3?) 

I think I know why. I think you know that if you speak out, your preferential treatment will come to an end. You might have to remove your motorhome. I welcome hearing why I'm wrong. 

Seriously, I'd be relieved to hear that Barbara is not violating her easement. I considered Barbara a lifelong friend before she sued me. I would be honestly happier to know that Barbara wasn't suing me while profiting by violating her contract. But you don't say what I've got wrong, just that I’ve somehow got it wrong.

We can agree wholeheartedly on your statement that "Those charged with oversight…have a responsibility to make sure those restrictions are enforced.” As I think I’ve made clear, I’m wondering why this isn’t happening in Barbara’s case? Crickets.

I strenuously disagree when you say "a conservation easement is a complex legal document." That is pure fear mongering and inappropriate for an AVLT "advisory committee" member. It’s a dog-whistle for “simple folk can’t understand the tax code maneuverings of the land (trust) owner class.” Any interested person capable of reading can easily comprehend and understand an easement, whether it's yours, mine, or Barbara's. You don't have to be a lawyer, judge or "fancy" person to be able to fully understand it. That’s why an AVLT board made up of volunteers without easements and without training or land trust experience can even sometimes find the truth. 

Complex? Please. That's just embarrassing.

As you know Steve, I find you to be a generally rational person. And I can see that it’s a rational desire (albeit unethical) to want your and Barbara’s special treatment to continue. I don't expect you to agree with all my theories, and I'm open to hearing yours. The truth can be hard to acknowledge, but I’m willing to hear it out. I hope you would do the same.

As always, I’m willing to meet with you or anyone for coffee and to talk like adults, instead of writing letters back and forth in the paper. So far I've had no takers. 

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