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AV Land Trust Sues Peachland Family (Part 13)

AV High Principal Jim Snyder, landlord Barbara Goodell, and very busy Steve Wood, among others, sued me to try to add county code to my conservation easement with the Anderson Valley Land Trust. Their lawsuit said: “Failure to comply with any such codes or regulations shall constitute a breach of the Agreement.” 

As I’ve mentioned before, this bummed me out, since Barbara likes breaking county code on her AVLT easement restricted rental property, and she hasn’t sued herself. Here’s what Barbara said about it under oath in her testimony;

How many residences do you have on your property?

Barbara: We have three.

And are there county permits for all those residences?

Barbara: For all the buildings.

Are there permits to allow them as residences?

Barbara: Not -- not completely, no. One of them is – was a — yeah.

Two are permitted and one is not?

Barbara: As a residence. It's a permitted building.

Is it used as a residence, the one that is —

Barbara: Yes.

Is that a violation of your conservation easement?

Barbara: No.

Why is that?

Barbara: Because we're allowed a third residence in our conservation easement as a — as a caretaker unit or granny unit, whatever.

Is it a condition of occupancy of a residence under your conservation easement to have a permit from the county? 

Barbara: As we said earlier, the land trust does not enforce that.

Ok. I find that interesting. I guess Barbara decided the Land Trust does enforce it, just not on her property. Since, you know, she’s on the board of the AV Land Trust and all…

Or, maybe ‘ol C.T. is just real special. Everyone’s always told me I’m kinda special. “You’re one real special type a guy, C.T.” Never knew quite what they meant. ‘Til now.

It’s also interesting to hear Barbara call her unpermitted rental residence a “granny unit.” 

Here’s what Barbara’s AVLT easement says about that; 

Any residential use or the maintenance, construction, reconstruction or placement of any residential structures of any kind additional to the following is prohibited: two residences (and outbuildings) already existing within the Original Homestead Zone, as identified in the Report on APN 029-150-47; one new family care unit for restricted to persons fifty-five (55) or older.

So… Barbara’s easement allows her to “use” two regular houses, which she already has. Then it also allows “use” of a third house, restricted to persons 55 or older, which she also already has. That kinda sounds like a granny unit. Problem is, the third unpermitted granny unit is rented to a family of 4 that’s not quite 55 years old. 

But AVLT vice president Steve Wood disagrees; 

“C.T. apparently believes that the separate apartment which was already in existence when the easement was signed is the ‘new family care unit for persons over 55’ and has been carelessly rented to younger persons. The option to build an additional dwelling for persons over 55 has never been exercised.”

I’m not sure I “believe that”… But I think it sounds like Barbara believes that! What I “believe” is that Steve is claiming Barbara can build a fourth rental house, in direct violation of her conservation easement with the Anderson Valley Land Trust that limits her to things things “used” for housing. “Ahhh, it’s good to be the king!” (Mel Brooks reference, for you younglings) (And I love that Steve Wood calls it an “apartment.” Good one, Steve. Wait ‘til you hear how Barbara refers to it!)

But C.T., I’m getting confused! Well then, if you’d like to be as confused as me, I recommend you go to my Facebook page, Peachland Ranch, and click on “learn more” so you can read Barbara’s full testimony.

Well hey, maybe I can clear things up a bit. Barbara testified that she has three residences on her property. She also testifies that her easement only allows three. Then Steve jumps in and says she has never “exercised her option to build a third house,” even though Barbara thinks she already has three. Never mind. I guess I can’t clear that up. Maybe Steve can help:

“Goodells’ original family compound has a main house and a cluster of outbuildings including a separate apartment which was occupied by their sons at the time of signing of the easement… When their sons moved to independent homes elsewhere, various tenants succeed them.”

Ok Steve, let’s just quickly go back to Barbara’s sworn-under-oath testimony;

Was the age restriction in your conservation easement placed there at the inception? It's been there all along?

Barbara: Yes.

And were you and the occupants of your propertyover 55 at the time that that age restriction was put in place?

Barbara: Nobody's — nobody was living in it at the time that we did the — I mean, it was a guest house, but nobody was living in it at that time. But since I can'tremember exactly when the conservation easement was, itwould be — we were somewhere around 55.

Which was the guest house? What do you refer to as the guest house?

Barbara: The one that is the third residence.

The unpermitted residence?

Barbara: It's a permitted building, but not a permitted residence.

Nope. Thought that would help. Barbara says her unpermitted third granny-residence-guest-house was unoccupied when she signed her easement. Steve says it was occupied. Darn. Even more confusing. 

Next part, where Anderson Valley Land Trust president and empty Philo vacation home owner Patrick Miller jumps in to clear everything up entirely.

PS: All kidding aside, we all know the Valley needs more housing for locals. And just yesterday I happened to receive a letter from the Anderson Valley Housing Association. This is a great organization that provides housing in the Valley. I wish I had the money to donate to them. I’m still in debt from the $130,000 it cost me to fight Jim and Barbara and Steve’s made up county code lawsuit. But I ask you, my friends and neighbors, to do just that. Especially to those of you who have donated or might be thinking of donating to the Land Trust. Please take your donations to the Housing Association instead. One will use your donations to enrich themselves and deny seniors a place to live. One will use your donations to help provide housing to locals. I wish I had the resources to make a real difference here, but maybe you do. The land trust is mandated by the IRS to take the $84,000 (or more?) that Barbara has illegally gained from her rental. I wish the Housing Association had that $84,000 to actually help locals. As I wish you a Happy New Year, think of the people over 55 who may be looking for housing. Let’s try to look out for those less privileged than us in our community. –C.T.

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