Not only do residents on and around Mint Lane want to know how it happened, but they also want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
They also want to know what will happen to the lawyer who seemingly on the fly built a dirt road in the side of the hillside above their homes.
Those were the messages residents took to the Ventura City Council on Monday night. More than 30 of them filled council chambers, anxious to hear what comes next in the incident that has angered, upset and united the neighborhood.
“We would like some answers,” said Ryan Shields, who lives on Mariposa Drive. “Help us feel safe in our homes.”
Residents were to have another opportunity to discuss the situation tonight at City Hall, where city officials had scheduled a meeting to hear concerns.
The problem began Feb. 22, when Ventura lawyer Peter Goldenring began work on property he owns above Mint Lane. To residents and city officials, the work appears to exceed what Goldenring could do without permits.
Instead of creating an access of perhaps 4 feet, crews installed a road that was in places 12 feet wide, city officials said.
The city issued a stop-work order on the site, and City Attorney Ariel Calonne launched a criminal investigation into the matter last week.
Calonne said Tuesday the city was working to gain access to the property to investigate further.
Goldenring owns hillside property and intends to build three homes there, city officials said. He planned to test the soil in preparation for construction — or so city officials had understood his next course of action to be, according to conversations between the sides in June.
Officials say they were not told Goldenring planned to start the work Feb. 22. Residents have criticized the timing because City Hall was closed that day.
At Monday’s council meeting, residents angrily described what had happened. They delivered signatures of support to reinforce their concerns and asked for the hillside to be restored to its pre-work state.
With the dirt displacement, the hillside was liable to become La Conchita II, one resident said, referring to a deadly landslide that took place several years ago north of Ventura.
“What remains to be seen is what happens to” Goldenring, Sabrena Rodriguez said. “Will we make sure they put it right?”
Goldenring, via email, declined to comment directly on the situation.
“I have dealt with The Star previously and have found it continually wanting in terms of accurate reporting,” Goldenring wrote in part. “Calling and seeking a ‘comment’ after a story is written is not journalism; it is merely seeking ‘filler’ to create a false appearance of journalistic reporting, and worse, simply generates a gin up of a dispute to sell more papers.”
Tuesday’s meeting starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 501 Poli St. in Ventura.