Dune moved at Ventura beach may be a crime


Officials said the sandy area was part of a protected wildlife habitat. The California Coastal Commission has declared much of the area of Ventura Beach protected because it is filled with dunes that provide a nesting ground for the western snowy plover.

The plover is an endangered bird that makes its home on certain beaches on the Pacific coast. That's a problem for some residents in the community of Pierpont. They said without routine sand removal, their homes are being overrun by sand.

"The sand had encroached on the people's property and was breaking out the glass area and breaking the stone," said a resident who only wanted to be identified as Steve.

Ventura city officials said they used to provide routine sand removal for residents until the Coastal Commission barred the city from continuing the service to protect wildlife in the area.

On Saturday, city officials said a resident brought in a bulldozer without a permit from the city and started removing the sand in front of their property. State officials are trying to nail down the identity of the resident.

"I was very irate. This is our dunes. This is our beach. You can't grade beach. It's against the law," said Pierpont Beach resident Martiv Revis.

Others said they appreciated it.

"All I know is that when I came down here, and saw the relief that was taking place for not only myself, but my neighbors, I was happy to see it," said Pierpont Beach resident Gary Wright.

Ventura officials said part of the beach close to homes is owned by the city while a larger portion closer to the ocean is owned by the state. They said unauthorized vehicles, including bulldozers, are not allowed on it without an encroachment permit or grading permit.

City officials said that while beachfront residents recently won a lawsuit making the city liable for providing sand removal in addition to finding a way to protect or relocate the dunes, the cost to do the job may be too much. They said the initial sand removal job alone is at least $1 million.

"There's not a lot of grant money, for example, that's available for beach restoration or sand removal, so we would be looking to city funds to do the work," said Rick Raives of the Ventura Department of Public Works. "There's no question there needs to be a buffer area between the homes and the dunes."

City officials said residents can apply for a permit to do minimal sand removal.

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