Reason TV: Zoning vs. Eminent Domain - How Ventura County Shut Down The Pine Mountain Inn

In the northernmost reaches of California's Ventura County, a two-lane rural road called Highway 33 runs into the rugged and mostly undeveloped Transverse Mountain Range. Though it's mostly raw wilderness, a few businesses catering to adventurous explorers have long existed there, some for more than a century.

But now the local government is shutting those businesses down, one by one, using arcane zoning and building-code laws to get the job done.  

"If there isn't someone complaining, and there isn't really a serious public health and safety issue, why do they spend so much of their time pursuing these kinds of cases?" asks Lynne Jensen, executive director of the Ventura County Coalition of Labor and Business (COLAB).

Tom Wolf owns the Pine Mountain Inn, a restaurant that's been serving biker groups and local community organizations since the 1930s. Wolf temporarily had to shut the doors when he suffered a heart attack in 2002, and he was never able to reopen when the county informed him that his property had been rezoned as an "Open Space" back in the 1980s without his knowledge.

"[The county] wanted everybody out of here," says Wolf. "And they wanted a complete open space with nothing but deer and frogs... and no people."

No matter how hard Wolf tried to comply with the ever-changing codes, the county just wouldn't relent, at one time even ordering him to remove a chicken coop that had never actually existed on the property.

Wolf isn't alone, says Jensen. Several other small businesses along Highway 33 have been hit by multiple county agencies for no apparent reason.

"They had every department hit us with violations to make sure that they shut us down," says April Hope, who, along with her husband Bob, owns a bed and breakfast called The Wheel, which has existed in the area since the 1890s.

Since the Hopes purchased The Wheel in early 2000, they've never been able to open it to the public. While officials from the county supervisor's office and the planning department refused to speak with ReasonTV for this story, Jensen says that the county is using code enforcement to drive these businesses off the land without compensation.

"This rezoning is really a way to get around eminent domain, because eminent domain means you give up your entire property. And here, you only give up part of your rights," says Jensen.

Invoking eminent domain to seize private property would not only require the county to compensate landowners, but also to demonstrate that the taking served a "public use." 

"They have been very successful in taking people's property in a number of different ways without compensation as long as they don't take ownership of it," says Jensen.

Approximately 5:42.

Written and Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Alex Manning, Tracy Oppenheimer, and Weissmueller. 

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  • Enough About Palin||

    Someone needs to assert their Fourth Amendment rights.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Seriously. That is some beautiful country up there. The wife and I like to mosey through there every couple of years. Apparently, County officials don't want anyone to enjoy it.

  • fried wylie||

    It's solely for the enjoyment of frogs and deer.

  • Harvard||

    [Someone needs to assert their Fourth Amendment rights.]

    Or his second amendment rights and respond to the zoning administrator from ambush

  • ||

    In the northernmost reaches of California's Ventura County, a two-lane rural road called Highway 33 runs into the In the northernmost reaches of California's Ventura County, a two-lane rural road called Highway 33 runs into the rugged and mostly undeveloped Transverse Mountain Range.



    I think that sentence needs some editing.

  • sarcasmic||

    You cured his stutter!

  • sarcasmic||

    Several other small businesses along Highway 33 have been hit by multiple county agencies for no apparent reason.

    Obviously a case of "Fuck you, that's why."

  • Mike M.||

    This is obviously part of the stealth campaign by left-wingers to try and depopulate rural America, especially in the west, where for some reason the war on people who aren't sheep always seems to be the most intense.

  • BikeRider||

    "campaign by left-wingers to try and depopulate rural America"

    I think you're onto something here. Government intrusion can make more sense to people who live right on top of each other. If you share a work cubicle with someone who bathes only once a month, you might be tempted to support laws requiring more frequent bathing.

    Maybe the left thinks that herding us all into mega-cities will make us big-government converts. Even if the conversion fails, it will be easier to keep an eye on us.

  • Mike M.||

    You hit the nail right on the head. The left is utterly ruthless in its neverending quest to acquire power. And they're not stupid; they know that by and large rural Americans don't support them. And to these folks, when your enemy won't support you, you destroy him by any means necessary.

  • JoshSN||

    I feel like Nelson and saying "Ha, Ha"

    Ventura County distinctly leans Republican.

    So, what is actually happening is a bunch of rich, white Republicans are trying to drive out people who run biker bars, and to make more natural habitat (i.e. non-poor people habitat) around them.

  • SKR||

    Actually, it looks to me as though the Dems are taking the county, mostly along the coast, and putting the screws to the inland Republicans.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    You hit the nail on the head SKR. There have been movements to actually split some of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and form new counties. The split always is predicated on Democrat coastal/ Republican inland demographics.

  • perlhaqr||

    "If there isn't someone complaining, and there isn't really a serious public health and safety issue, why do they spend so much of their time pursuing these kinds of cases?" asks Lynne Jensen

    Because they're dicks?

  • JW||

    Further evidence that we're all just renters.

  • Suki||

    ^^This!^^

  • Raston Bot||

    IJ to the rescue?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It's amazing how seemingly casual people are about ending the livelihood of others.

  • sarcasmic||

    That's government job creation, in action!

  • WarrenT||

    "We need regulation, no doubt about it."

    You just lost the whole game you dumb bitch.

  • ||

    While officials from the county supervisor's office and the planning department refused to speak with ReasonTV for this story

    Prevent Urban Sprawl

    Supervisor Bennett is upholding and strengthening protection for farmland and open space through the County General Plan and Zoning Ordinance, SOAR Ordinances, and Greenbelt Agreements.

    How the fuck did this guy ever get elected?

    His district looks entirely rural.

    My suggestion is elect a new Supervisor for your district.

  • ||

    Steve feels strongly about decreasing the role of money in politics. He authored one of the state of California’s toughest campaign finance reform laws for the City of Ventura as well as the County of Ventura.

    Oh I see. He has cemented his position.

  • WarrenT||

    Shit like this goes on even in the absence of business. People who like to use the outdoors are finding roads gated and access to public land eliminated.

    Not to mention all the code enforcement goons that wander about looking to write people up for any little thing or even nothing at all.

    They are ignorant of what the laws are and will write a citation even though the subject activity is perfectly legal.

    So its not about protecting anything its about driving people out of the wild areas so they can be better controlled and also the so sight of them doesn't spoil the of the Party members when they build their new dachas.

    The King owns all the land and peasants are not allowed! And all these lefty types want to be King.

  • Hyperion||

    And all these lefty types want to be King.

    And are far too stupid level delusional to realize that 99% of them are going to be the peasants. They don't even know that the 99% is yet. It will be more like 99.999% and the global unelected royalty as the .001%. Wonder how they will like their new utopia?

  • Tulpa the White||

    How does this not amount to a regulatory taking? If the county says that your business needs to be leveled and depopulated and left for the frogs.

  • sarcasmic||

    "Fuck you, that's how"

  • Hyperion||

    "[The county] wanted everybody out of here," says Wolf. "And they wanted a complete open space with nothing but deer and frogs... and no people."

    This totally reeks of the sustainability cult. Look deeper and I bet that is what you will find.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Just for the record, the 33 going up from Ojai is the awesomest, awesomest, awesomest bike road I've ever been on.

    It's so effing wonderful.

    Sweeping curves. Twisties galore.

    You go up there right now, I'm sure more than 90% of the vehicles on that road are sport bikes.

    Don't try it with a Harley. I've passed hawgs in my car on that road.

  • sweeterjan||

    They have been very successful in taking http://www.vendreshox.com/nike-shox-r2-c-7.html people's property in a number of different ways without compensation as long as they don't take ownership of it," says Jensen.

  • sweeterjan||

    hey have been very successful in taking http://www.ceinturesfr.com/ people's property in a number of different ways without compensation as long as they don't take ownership of it," says Jensen.

  • sweeterjan||

    fered a heart attack in 2002, and he was http://www.maillotfr.com/maill.....c-3_6.html never able to reopen when the county informed him that his property had been rezoned as an "Open Space" back in the 1980s without his knowledge

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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