SPAWN to pay for illegal development


The Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN), which has long advocated for strict development regulations along San Geronimo Creek, came under scrutiny last week for violating county building permits at a creekside home it is transforming into a training facility.

Niz Brown, a Woodacre realtor with a listing near the home, notified county code enforcement agents of the violations after hearing loud machinery and seeing water run-off near the two-bedroom, two-bath dwelling.

After a site inspection, officials red-tagged the property for having exceeded its approved permit to remodel 485 square feet. SPAWN representatives explained that the additional work was undertaken to repair dry rot that had been discovered after receiving the original permit. “What they should have done was stop, come in and revise that permit to comply with the added space,” Cristy Stanley, the code enforcement agent in charge of the case, said. Instead, the organization was fined $624 in enforcement costs and $3,440 in additional permit fees.

SPAWN’s director, Todd Steiner, has previously come under fire from the county for lacking construction permits for two retaining walls at his home in Forest Knolls. Partly in an attempt to skirt legal action from SPAWN, the county in 2008 issued a two-year building moratorium affecting creekside properties in the San Geronimo Valley to assess various local impacts on salmon. “[SPAWN] keeps other people from doing what is appropriate to protect their property and then they just go and do their own stuff willy nilly—that’s not okay,” Brown said.