The Anderson Valley Land Trust recently sent out their latest newsletter, and they gave me a quick mention. Unfortunately, the mention was that I’m the only person they’ve ever decided to file a lawsuit against. I find it strange that I somehow did something that brought on their first and only lawsuit. Or, was it something I “didn’t” do?
Why was I the only one they’ve ever decide to sue? Steve Wood wrote in the AVA that it was because the Land Trust “couldn’t meet their responsibilities” without “clarification from a judge as to the legal meaning of certain words and phrases in the easement contract”. Uh, ok. Nice thorough explanation.
What were these specific “words and phrases”? Again, Steve wrote in the AVA that “the major bone of contention was” the term “transient hospitality” and what that term allowed. My family claimed it was a fairly clear term and its meaning was pretty straight forward. The judge agreed. But why did this term confuse Steve so much? Basically identical terms appear in other easements as well. But it didn’t concern or confuse Steve at all on those other easements. Why not?
Maybe I’m alone in feeling that Steve’s above explanation leaves things more than a bit vague. And take a moment to really think about Steve’s explanation; he’s not saying he sued me for actually doing something wrong that my contract prohibited…he’s saying he sued me over the “words and phrases” in my contract. And if you read the lawsuit, you’ll see that it was an attempt to get the court to rewrite my contract. The judge clearly stated in her ruling that it was not a legal option and the AVLT was wrong to have attempted it.
Why then, did they need clarification from a judge on only my singular contract when other AVLT easement contracts have the same “transient” “words and phrases” as mine?
One such AVLT easement on Anderson Valley Way allows for “transient habitation” in the easement language, almost identical to mine. There was no transient hospitality or habitation occurring or planned on my easement when Steve and Barbara decided mine was so confusing they had to sue. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that this other easement didn’t have any occurring transient activity, just like mine. Why wouldn’t they have included this other easement in the “clarifying” lawsuit as well? Why would Steve and Barbara be so confused by mine… wouldn’t they have needed the same court clarification on this one?
Surprisingly, or maybe not, AVLT Vice President Steve Wood makes money off of this AV Way easement. Additionally, the Anderson Valley Land Trust itself profits from its use of this easement property on AV Way. This particular AVLT easement property is significantly financially profitable. It is, of course, everybody’s favorite creek drainer; a vineyard. This doesn’t sit quite right with me. I’m sure Steve and the other board members could come up with another vague reason of why the transient wording on this easement was as clear as could be, yet mine mandated swift “clarification from a judge”. As I have previously suggested, could it have anything to do with AVLT President Patrick Miller’s overpowering personal animosity? Could it have anything to do with Vice President Steve Wood not feeling like suing the hand that feeds him? I doubt we will be hearing an explanation. I still can’t get anyone at the AVLT to talk to me about why they sued me, much less their own conflicts of interest.
You’d think that I might know why I was sued by now. And if you’ve read any of Parts 1 through 10 you know I have my theories. Maybe you have a theory. Please read the lawsuit or any Part for yourself at peachlandranch.home.blog. But I legitimately still don’t understand why I was the only one to be sued for having the “wrong” words in a contract. And the AVLT won’t tell me, other than the whopper Steve made up in the paper about me supposedly wanting to “develop the property as a camping resort”. (More on this in Part 12)
All of this starts to pile up, from my perspective; Barbara Goodell continues breaking her easement and pocketing tens of thousands of dollars to deny housing to local seniors, while Steve Wood and the rest of the AVLT claim that Barbara’s easement allows unlimited and unrestricted rental use (or, to use a familiar term, unlimited “transient habitation”). It most definitely does not. Steve Wood gets paid by another easement where “transient habitation” is listed as part of the contract, a term he found so shocking and confusing when he saw it described as “transient hospitality” in my easement that he quickly sued me. Steve Snyder keeps a motorhome on his property, which, by the logic he used when threatening me with a lawsuit over my motorhome, “creates a new illegal residence” that violates county code and Steve’s easement contract. Seems like Steve Snyder is just fine with using HIS motorhome for transient habitation.
I’m sure AVLT President Patrick Miller has some justifications of how these are all just random, unconnected, coincidences. Barbara apparently doesn’t see a connection with Patrick Miller allowing her to break her contract by cutting protected redwood trees and then suing me to add county code to my contract. Steve Snyder sees no problem with falsely claiming in the AVA that he never threatened to sue me. Steve Wood sees no conflict of interest in making money off of an easement that has the same transient wording that caused him to aggressively sue me.
I’ve heard from many people how this lawsuit makes them sad. They say they like the people at the AVLT. They are “good” people. They must mean well. I get it. Some of them are good people. But even some “good” people will do morally questionable things when they think no one is looking. Good people sometimes let carpet baggers run a local non-profit. Good people sometimes look the other way because they’re “busy”. Good people can have very bad things done in their name when they “don’t want to get too involved”.
Steve Wood, Barbara Goodell, and other AVLT board members have many questionable financial entanglements in their role at the AVLT, and in this one lawsuit they’ve ever filed.
The AVLT’s recent newsletter asks for your money. I ask that you please consider that carefully. Be safe, be well.