Live Oak Forest Destroyed Illegally in Ojai Valley

On August 6, 2002, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors found William Kaddis “responsible” for the largest violation of the Protected Tree Ordinance in Ventura County’s history.  Kaddis was found responsible for the destruction of 301 Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) trees on 20 acres south of Baldwin Road/SR150 in the Ojai Valley.  In additional to violating the tree ordinance, Kaddis violated biological deed restrictions that had been placed on the property when the site was originally subdivided in 2000.  The clear-cutting of the mature woodland and associated native grasslands also resulted in violations of the Ventura County Grading Ordinance and Hillside Erosion Control Ordinance of the Ventura County Resource Conservation District (RCD).  The Public Works Agency and the RCD are also pursuing enforcement actions for these violations.  Although technical violations may have also occurred of the regulations of the Regional Water Quality Control Board and CDFG, these agencies decided not to prosecute. 

The basis for the County case rests largely on pre-destruction and post-destruction tree surveys done by arborist Paul Rogers.  Paul found that 109, 230 square inches of cumulative cross-sectional area of trees had been destroyed with an appraised value of $941,948.  The Protected Tree Ordinance lists a range of possible mitigation measures for such violations.  In this case, the high end would be to plant the same number of square inches of trees as were lost, and maintain them for five years – just buying the nursery stock and planting them would cost approximately $3,000,000, not counting the cost of the land and the five years of maintenance.  The low end of the mitigation measures would be to purchase a 20-acre oak woodland and ensure that it would remain permanently in open space through donation to a conservation organization, or deed restrictions, etc.  This is assumed to cost perhaps $300-350,000.  Mr. Kaddis has now filed several lawsuits against the County, and the Ventura County District Attorney and County Counsel are evaluating the case to see what if any suits they may file.  CNPS will monitor this case as it progresses. - Scott Ellison