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AV Land Trust Sues Peachland Family (Part 10)

I think you can file my experience of being sued by the Anderson Valley Land Trust in the category of “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.” You could also file it as the most wasteful lawsuit ever in Mendocino County, but I bet there would be a few other hot contenders for that title.

Over the last few years the Anderson Valley Land Trust has spent massive amounts of your donated money on suing me (close to $100K) and continues to deny a legally mandated senior housing unit to the valley. But that is just 2 of their 30ish easements around the valley. I have no idea about the goings-on of most of those others. 

My concern is this; if the 2 AVLT easements I know the most about are this badly operated, what’s going on with the others? What if there is more housing that could be available to locals that the AVLT has decided not to enforce? What if there are other families like mine trying to make a living and being harassed out of spite? I’ve tried to get anyone on the AVLT board to talk to me about this, but I’ve been thoroughly denied. So I’m hoping that members of the community and those with an AVLT easement will reach out to them.

Currently, there are nine volunteer board members who run the AVLT. Only ONE out of those 9 actually has an AVLT easement on their property. That one member, Barbara, profits financially by violating her easement. I hope this can change. I see significant continuing problems arising from a board that oversees easements but does not actually have easements themselves. Sounds a lot like a government full of men passing laws on female reproductive issues. 

I’ve been volunteering to be a board member for a year. I actually have an easement on my property. And I’ve spent the last 5 years studying land trusts and easements in painstaking detail. I suggested to the AVLT that adding me to the board was a good way to move forward in reconciliation and partnership after a lawsuit. They disagreed, and added a new member who does not have an easement. I’ve been told repeatedly by board members that they are too busy to talk with me. My suggestion was that adding me as a board member would free up the workload of others. They disagreed again. The AVLT has told me that they want and need new members. I encourage anyone, but especially those with an AVLT easement, to become a board member of the AVLT. I hope this might be a first step in the right direction.

I’d love to be able to talk with any of the AVLT board members; Karen Altaras, Barbara Goodell, Steve Wood, Rachel Turner Williams, Jesse Rathbun, David Hopmann, Nancy Horner, Glynnis Jones and Patrick Miller. (Well, maybe I’d love to talk with 8 of those 9…)

Those board members are the ones making the day to day decisions about who to sue and who can collect rent money. But if you look at the AVLT web page, there is an “advisory committee” of other involved supporters. 

This “committee” has people such as Thom Elkjer, Kathy Bailey, Micki Colfax, John Scharffenberger, Steve Snyder, Alan Porter and others. I’d very much like to talk with any of the people on this advisory committee to hear their reasoning for being involved with supporting lawsuits and denying housing options to local seniors. Maybe they didn’t know about the lawsuit. Maybe this is the first they’ve heard about an AVLT board member profiting by violating an easement contract.

If this is all new to them, I would hope to see some action or interest. I’m not sure that I should be the only one to speak out about the Anderson Valley Land Trust. I think these Advisory Committee members owe an explanation to any locals over 55 that might be looking for housing. Since all these AVLT advisors and board members already have rather comfortable housing for themselves, maybe they just can’t be bothered to take the time to provide that explanation.

My main hope is that positive changes come from my story. I don’t want to be sued again, and I don’t want to see the AVLT unnecessarily suing anyone else. I know some people feel my story being in the paper is objectionable. I can’t disagree. Naming names is not great. I get that. But articles mentioning your name are like being tickled with a feather. I would have accepted it if Barbara Goodell and Steve Wood had written articles in the paper about my golf cart. I would have had the same options that Barbara and Steve have now; saying nothing, or responding. But Barbara and Steve sued me. In court in Ukiah. That’s a whole ‘nother level. That’s not a feather. That’s a sledgehammer. I know my articles are not the best method, but they are a far cry from being sued in court in Ukiah.

Talk with your friends or neighbors. Let’s try to make things better, and use our local non-profits for doing good, instead of good-old-boy-backscratching and denying seniors housing. 

If you haven’t read all the Parts, or the lawsuit, please do. (AVA website at; Writers; C.T. Rowe, to read all the Parts. to read the lawsuit) If you have read all those, you can make a mostly informed judgment. And if your judgment is that I still suck, and the AVLT is a bunch of great people that are also super awesome, well, OK… at least you’ve got the facts. 

I won’t bore our community with any more articles for now. There are bigger issues we all need to focus on at the moment. Be safe, care for each other. I’ve tried to be thorough, clear, and factual. (And sarcastic) I hope you contact me on I hope some of you (looking at you, “advisory committee”) try to enact change at the AVLT. I will continue to volunteer my time to the AVLT. I have experience in (winning easement lawsuits,) how easements and land trusts should be operated, and I have the desire to help and improve the AVLT.

For now, I’ve got winter trees down on roads to chainsaw, fences that need repair, and a million other spring-time fixes that need attention on my AVLT protected property. Time for some social distancing. I wonder if I should use my golf cart…

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