Resort Owner Denies Violating City Codes

The corporation that owns the Ventura Beach RV Resort denied Wednesday that it had violated the terms of its three-year probation by stacking mounds of river silt in front of Emma Wood State Beach.

The not guilty plea to criminal charges of violating city environmental codes opens the door for a formal court hearing, during which the city will try to prove its case.

The corporation, owned by longtime county contractor Tom Staben, is not eligible for a jury trial. Instead, a judge will rule on whether Ventura Beach RV Resort violated city ordinances, Deputy City Atty. Karl Berger said.

The court hearing is set for Aug. 6, Berger said.

Facing possible criminal charges himself, Staben met a city-ordered deadline June 15 to remove dirt piled near the 19-acre resort, which sits in a flood plain where the Ventura River and the Ventura Freeway cross.

But his corporation still faces sanctions under city codes, including fines that could total $5,000 and a three-month extension of the resort's probation.

Officials say heavy flooding during last winter's El Nino storms deposited the dirt at the resort. The dirt was later stored next to the property at the entrance to the state beach.

City officials say the alleged violation occurred while the firm was under three years' probation for violating city zoning restrictions last summer.

The resort pleaded no contest in November to a charge of illegally storing 5,000 square feet of concrete construction blocks in an area visible from public streets, a violation of city code.

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