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Paul Hobbs pays penalties for unlawful vineyard development in Sonoma County


Paul Hobbs pays penalties for unlawful vineyard development in Sonoma County


District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced today that her office’s Environmental Consumer Law Division has resolved a civil environmental enforcement action alleging unlawful vineyard development against defendant Paul Hobbs and Paul Hobbs Winery, LP.  The civil complaint contained allegations of unlawful vineyard development at three separate projects.  The enforcement case was filed after an investigation and reports of violations at each of the three projects from 2011 to 2013.   The civil complaint filed on May 28, 2014 sought civil penalties and injunctive relief in the name of the People of the State of California.  The settlement and order were signed on January 30, 2015.

The resolution reached between the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office and Paul Hobbs and Paul Hobbs Winery, L.P. provides for civil penalties, costs and restitution in the amount of $100,000 and permanent injunctive relief prohibiting unlawful vineyard development in violation of environmental laws in Sonoma County.  The three vineyard projects that were the subject of the complaint are located at 11835 Highway116 in Forestville, 3800 Vine Hill Road in Sebastopol and 622 Watertrough Road in Sebastopol. Of the $100,000, a $35,000 penalty was obtained for consumer and environmental protection, a $30,000 penalty was agreed upon for unlawful stream bank alteration and $20,000 was imposed for restitution ($10,000 will go to the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office for equipment and training to assist with environmental investigation and $10,000 will go to the Twin Hills Union School District in Sebastopol (adjacent to the Watertrough Road project) for environmental education and creek restoration).  Additionally, investigative costs of $15,000 are to be paid to the Regional Water Quality Control Board, to the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office and to the District Attorney’s Office.   

District Attorney Ravitch stated, “This settlement reflects the collaborative efforts of many agencies in bringing about a just result.  In addition to the financial settlement, the injunctive relief affords the community protection from unlawful practices, such as occurred here.  We will continue to hold accountable those who put our fragile environment at risk.”

The multi-agency civil enforcement case has been handled by the Environmental and Consumer Law Division of the District Attorney’s Office.  Deputy District Attorney Ann Gallagher White, assisted by District Attorney Investigator Lisa Chapman, handled the case.  Kimberly Sone of Cal Fire, Dan Cahill of Sonoma County’s Permit and Resource Management Department, Inspector Gail Davis of the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, Warden James Reed and Environmental Scientist Adam McKannay of the Department of Fish and Wildlife and Scott Gergus and Stephen Bargsten of the Regional Water Quality Control Board assisted with the investigation.