Lindsey Holden, THE SAN LUIS OBISPO TRIBUNE
The site where oaks and steep slopes were cleared for a vineyard is a 315-acre parcel at 750 Sleepy Farm Road owned by Estate Vinyards LLC, a subsidiary of the multinational Wonderful Co. — Justin Vineyards is one of the company’s brands.
Oaks are more than just trees in North County — to many, they’re a crucial part of the Central Coast’s delicate, drought-ridden ecosystem.
On Tuesday, that was the message dozens of farmers, residents and environmentalists delivered to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors as they protested the recent clear-cutting of hundreds — some speakers said thousands, based on their own investigations — of oak trees on land managed by Justin Vineyards & Winery, just west of Paso Robles.
Supervisors responded by taking the first steps toward adopting the county’s first-ever tree protection ordinance.
“There are people out there right now probably sharpening their chainsaws,” said Diane Burkhart, who presented the board with a petition signed by about 400 people requesting protections for oak trees.
The site under fire is a 315-acre parcel at 750 Sleepy Farm Road owned by Estate Vinyards LLC, a subsidiary of the multinational Wonderful Co. — Justin is one of the company’s brands.
After neighbors protested the tree removals and construction of a large water-storage pond on the property, the county issued a stop-work order on June 9. Officials said they’re evaluating potential penalties for grading violations, but not tree removal because the county has no oak protection ordinance in unincorporated areas.
After hearing more than an hour of often emotional public comments Tuesday from residents, supervisors said they were ready to move ahead after decades of false starts on oak ordinances.
Read more at: Emergency ordinance to protect oak trees to be considered by supervisors | The Tribune