OXNARD : Homeowners Sue Over Sign Removal

Two homeowners in the Oxnard Dunes subdivision sued a neighboring homeowners association Friday, claiming that association members trespassed on their property to remove protest signs.

The signs protested the toxic chemicals buried beneath the houses.

Dunes residents Stephen Blanchard and Lynda Paxton filed the suit in Ventura County Superior Court against the Oxnard Shores Community Assn., Lamb Realty and real estate agent Thomas Conway, charging that Conway acted on the association's behalf.

The suit claims that Conway and association members Shawn Ryan and Patrick Ryan trespassed and vandalized Blanchard's property last Oct. 25 when they climbed onto his roof and cut down a 44- by 11-foot sign reading "TOXIC."

The men then descended to the patio where the sign had fallen and chain sawed it into small pieces, the suit alleges.

The suit also accuses Conway of hiring unidentified people to trespass on Paxton's property on Oct. 26 and vandalize it by painting over the sign that covered the side of her house and a neighboring fence. The signs read, "OXNARD'S OWN LOVE CANAL" and "OUR HOME TOXIC DUMP."

The suit further accuses Conway of libel and slander for making false statements in newsletters and to reporters about Blanchard and Paxton.

Conway declined to comment on the suit Friday, saying he had not read it.

However, he said the Oxnard Shores Community Assn. was justified in having the signs removed from the houses in the neighboring Oxnard Dunes because both subdivisions are covered by the same homeowners' agreements. Those agreements forbid homeowners to erect signs saying anything other than "For Sale," "For Rent" or "Open House," Conway said.

Meanwhile, Blanchard and Paxton have replaced their signs. Blanchard alleges in the suit that the defendants owe him $1,500, in addition to unspecified damages, to pay for the lumber and hardware he needed to replace the sign.

The city of Oxnard issued a building permit for that sign, and charges against Paxton for violating the city's sign ordinance were dropped, said attorney Kate Neiswender.

Conway said the Oxnard Shores Community Assn. has filed for a Superior Court injunction to order the signs removed.

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