Resnicks’ deforestation ignites battle

June 15, 2016
Deforestation by Justin Vineyards

Deforestation by Justin Vineyards


In the rolling hills that surround northern San Luis Obispo County communities, some farmers have planted grapes among the oaks. Locally, there has been an emphasis on stewardship of the land and protecting the oaks.

Almost 20 years ago, amid concerns sparked when the owners of Kendall Jackson winery bulldozed 843 oaks to create a vineyard in Santa Barbara County, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors discussed enacting an oak tree ordinance. However, a group of local farmers argued against the ordinance because they thought it would be onerous and in the past farmers had avoided clear cutting large swatches of oak trees.

But now, a group of farmers and San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Debbie Arnold say it is time to reconsider adopting an oak tree ordinance.

Truckloads of lumber being removed

Truckloads of lumber being removed

Prompted by the cutting of thousands of oak trees along with plans to create a 20-acre-foot agricultural reservoir that will drain millions of gallons of water out of the ground during a time of drought, many North County farmers no longer believe we can trust local property owners to self-regulate.

“This is the third property they have deforested,” said Matt Trevisan, with Linne Calodo Winery. “It is thousands of trees not hundreds. There is a bully in our county and they need to leave.”

Justin Vineyards and Winery, a company owned by Stewart and Lynda Resnick, violated a county code when it failed to get the permit required to grade on slopes in excess of 30 percent. Their company did submit a permit application for the construction of the water storage pond. However, the permit application stated no trees would be removed as a result of constructing the pond.

County staff responded to the violations with a stop work order.

“I am committed to providing more protection for our beautiful, native oaks,” Arnold said. “It is unfortunate we have to enact expensive and onerous regulation because not all landowners respect this amazing resource.”

Arnold said she contacted county Administrator Dan Buckshi and asked him to begin the process of bringing an oak tree ordinance proposal to the Board of Supervisors.

Following the clear cutting of oaks by Kendall Jackson winery, Santa Barbara County enacted an oak tree ordinance. That ordinance exempts oaks that are dead, within 50 feet of a home or are deemed dangerous. Property owners are then limited from removing more than a set amount of non-exempt oaks per acre, such as no more than 11 oak trees from a property between 800 to 899 acres.

“My goal is to bring forward an ordinance that includes common sense exemptions,” Arnold said. “I feel we need protection from this kind of abuse.”

While many bemoan the loss of our county’s forested lands, Resnicks neighbors fear the Resnicks will drain underground water sources to fill their reservoir, leaving their neighbors without the vital resource. And while several supporters of the failed Paso Robles water district claim its passage would have stopped the deforestation, the land Resnick recently deforested is outside the Paso Robles Basin’s boundaries.

Who are Stewart and Lynda Resnick?

The Resnicks own, among numerous other entities, POM Wonderful, Fiji Water, Roll Global, Paramount Farms International, and Justin Wines in Paso Robles. They are famed for their domination of pistachio, almond, pomegranate, and citrus agribusiness in the Central Valley.

Stewart and Lynda Resnick

Stewart and Lynda Resnick

Starting in 2010 with the purchase of Justin Winery, Resnick, through his wholly-owned The Wonderful Company, has been purchasing multiple acreages in the Paso Robles area. Since then, Resnick company holdings have grown to more than 1,600 acres in San Luis Obispo County.

A primary proponent of the proposed Paso Robles basin water district, the Resnicks donated $12,000 to the effort rejected by 77 percent of voters.

The Resnicks, whose agricultural empire of more than 3 million acres in the Americas, have garnered more than a 70 percent monopoly of several crops including almonds, pistachios, pomegranates and peaches.

In the 1980s and 90s, the Resnicks – through Paramount Farms – began buying up Central Valley land and water rights. Through their purchases, along with other wealthy landowners, they created the Kern Water Bank using public funds. This provided the Resnicks with an unlimited water supply for their ventures and the ability to resell water for big profits.

Nevertheless, some of their neighbors were left without clean water, and eventually lost their farms.

Another example of the Resnicks commandeering natural resources for profit, was their creation of a bottled water company called FIJI Water. While the Resnicks profit from exporting water, the Island residents don’t always have access to clean drinking water.

When the Fiji government wanted to impose a higher tax, Roll Global shut down operations in Nov. 2010 in protest. The shutdown lasted only a few days — until Roll Global executives and Fiji government representatives were able to reach agreement on future relations.

Locally, not everyone is eager to continue purchasing Resnick brands. Farmers and property owners are asking people to attend the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisor’s meeting next Tuesday to voice concerns.

“We are seeing an uprising,” Trevisan said. “This needs to stop. They need to answer the hard question, why are you doing this?”


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Boycot wood fired pizza ovens.

First, a sincere thanks to Mr. Matt Trevisan of the Linne Calodo Winery for having the courage to voice the truth. Sam for the Big Sky Cafe down in SLO.

Second, this wine crap is really beginning to do a number on the county. It leads to: deforestation, empty aquifers, the squeezing out of far more worthy crops, the growing influence of POSs like the Resnick here locally and worst of all this repugnant and ever more pervasive “wine culture” that really nothing more than an socially acceptable excuse to be a drunk.

It’s NOT just cutting down oak trees. It’s the lack of grading permits, stealing neighbor’s water sources, etc . This is a corporation who does what they damn well please, where they damn well please because they have been able to ‘buy’

themselves out of their poor business practices. It’s time this county pulled up their big girl pants and stand up for itself. Revoke their business licenses – This disrespect for our community and environment will not be tolerated. Set an example to any company

who wishes to follow in these footsteps. We don’t want or need their goods or services in our county and we will not be ‘bought off’.

Where was all the “belly aching” when the schools cut down all their trees to put up that corrupted green-energy solar fiasco? So a land owner cannot clear-cut trees to try and turn a profit, but public employees CAN clear-cut public lands to pad the pocket of their back-room dealing sleazeballs?


O Oysters, come and walk with us!’

The Walrus did beseech.

A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,

Along the briny beach:

We cannot do with more than four,

To give a hand to each.’

The eldest Oyster looked at him,

But never a word he said:

The eldest Oyster winked his eye,

And shook his heavy head —

Meaning to say he did not choose

To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,

All eager for the treat:

Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,

Their shoes were clean and neat —

And this was odd, because, you know,

They hadn’t any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,

And yet another four;

And thick and fast they came at last,

And more, and more, and more —

All hopping through the frothy waves,

And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

Walked on a mile or so,

And then they rested on a rock

Conveniently low:

And all the little Oysters stood

And waited in a row.

The time has come,’ the Walrus said,

To talk of many things:

Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —

Of cabbages — and kings —

And why the sea is boiling hot —

And whether pigs have wings.’

But wait a bit,’ the Oysters cried,

Before we have our chat;

For some of us are out of breath,

And all of us are fat!’

No hurry!’ said the Carpenter.

They thanked him much for that.

A loaf of bread,’ the Walrus said,

Is what we chiefly need:

Pepper and vinegar besides

Are very good indeed —

Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,

We can begin to feed.’

But not on us!’ the Oysters cried,

Turning a little blue.

After such kindness, that would be

A dismal thing to do!’

The night is fine,’ the Walrus said.

Do you admire the view?

It was so kind of you to come!

And you are very nice!’

The Carpenter said nothing but

Cut us another slice:

I wish you were not quite so deaf —

I’ve had to ask you twice!’

It seems a shame,’ the Walrus said,

To play them such a trick,

After we’ve brought them out so far,

And made them trot so quick!’

The Carpenter said nothing but

The butter’s spread too thick!’

I weep for you,’ the Walrus said:

I deeply sympathize.’

With sobs and tears he sorted out

Those of the largest size,

Holding his pocket-handkerchief

Before his streaming eyes.

O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter,

You’ve had a pleasant run!

Shall we be trotting home again?’

But answer came there none —

And this was scarcely odd, because

They’d eaten every one.”

It is rather amusing to hear the conservatives who always rail about private property rights pitch a bitch about extremely wealthy folks from LA, via corporate ownership, actually excercising their rights as defined in laws and regulations. You are reaping what you have sown. You should be proud of the Resnicks, not pissed off. They did EXACTLY what you profess to support. Maybe you should step back and think things through with more clarity, now that the results of your beliefs have been exposed.

Debbie Arnold is all about private property rights, and is quoted as being unhappy with someone who doesn’t follow the customs of being a good neighbor and responsibly managing land so as not to negatively impact the neighbors. She is opposed to “regulation of property rights” and thinks we shoud depend on the good will and neighborliness of property owners. How did that work out Debbie? Does this event provide you with a tiny clue as to WHY land use regulations and tree cutting ordinances are neccessary?

Corporations don’t give a rats ass about their neighbors, their neighbor’s water wells, quality of life, etc. All they care about is MONEY. If there aren’t regulations and ENFORCEMENT of the regulations, rapacious corporations will go ahead and rape the land for profit, screwing over the neighbors and the general public.

If you keep voting people like Debbie and Peschong into office, this is EXACTLY what you can expect to happen.

Hey Debbie, how come you never introduced anything to shut down “Jim’s Bag Ban”? You know, the bullshit that got you eleceted over Jim Patterson? Do you still get your daily briefings on what you are supposed to further COLAB’s agenda? Does the title of “lying sack of uselessness” feel good?

This issue has just launched and allot of people are saying allot to keep the faith in our process, which takes time. This realm is no place for a quick answer because wrong can be, unfortunately, legal. This balance between ethical and legal is a place where pleasing everyone won’t happen. One thing for certain some use this awkward place as a foot hole and start stabbing. All of the Supvs know what they need to do and you can bet that legal council will be a big part in finding the answer. I would find it hard to believe that the claimed deep pockets have not done their home work. How about more than one smart dude to speak on Tuesday?

Mr. Dude, do you understand the what word “representative” means? Did we just have an election? Did Ms. Arnold get a majority of the votes? I absolutely do not want the oaks removed, but doesn’t it take more than one Supervisor to force legislation to being put into a law? Where is Gibson on this? Where is Hill on this? Please educate yourself on this issue, attend meetings, participate, be a part on the solution, and quit the belly aching. When was the last time you participated? Have a nice day…

Cut down as many oak trees and buy as many guns as you can NOW, before further government regulation.

The Resnicks make agriculturalists and capitalists look bad. I’m not sure either are pleased to have them in their camp today.

Are these Resnicks any relation to the Resnicks associated with the OJ Simpson murder trial?