Top Stories of 2018
Fire recovery continuesThis year was an unprecedented one for Sonoma Valley - and the rest of the county - dealing with the aftermath of the Sonoma Complex fires that incinerated more than 7,000 structures, including 5,143 homes countywide. According to Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue, 140 homes burned in Kenwood, 183 in Glen Ellen, 3 in Eldridge, 48 in the Mayacamas area, and 33 in Schell-Vista.
After the fires were out, the smoke cleared and people were allowed to return after almost two weeks of evacuation, many, many people needed housing and help replacing what they had lost to the flames. Thankfully, the spirit of community shone bright, as people stepped up in all sorts of ways, both tangible and intangible.
Emotional toll aside, fire debris removal, was the next stage of the recovery process. Northern Sonoma Valley was one of the last areas in the county to see government and private contractor clean up crews, who rolled into town in mid-January. Eleven months later, as of Dec. 10, the total number of parcels cleaned up from the Nuns fire, either by private or government contractors, was 588. Countywide, the number of properties cleaned up was 4,864, with 18 properties remaining. The Sonoma County Assessors office reported many of these properties were actively working to reach compliance prior to the Dec. 10 deadline.
According to a Press Democrat article, this monumental clean up process resulted in hauling 1.4 million tons of debris from Sonoma County to landfills.
Some homeowners who opted in to the government-sponsored Debris Removal Program found clearing efforts to be overzealous, resulting in a number of over-excavation issues, where too much dirt and debris were removed from lots. The California Office of Emergency Services is currently working with the county to address this. As of Nov. 27, 722 property owners requested site assessments, 380 have been ruled eligible for the program, 343 have been ruled ineligible, and backfilling for 360 of the sites had been completed. Fire-related debris had been found on 148 of the sites.
In June, Cal Fire released its official report identifying the impact between a tree branch and an energized PG&E power line as the cause of the Nuns Fire, which started near Nelligan Road in Nuns Canyon on Oct. 8. Cal Fire's report on the Nuns Fire was part of an announcement stating that 12 of the Northern California wildfires last October were caused by electric power and distribution lines, conductors, and the failure of power poles. The Tubbs Fire, which started in Calistoga and tore into Santa Rosa destroying 3,000 homes, is still under investigation by Cal Fire as to the cause.
Post-fire, county crews, PG&E, and their contractors have been aggressively removing trees that pose an “imminent threat” to road use along 90 miles of roads burned in the county. In September, PG&E announced a new “Public Safety Power Shutoff” policy during high fire risk weather, which they employed at least twice around the state over the next few months. This policy is expected to be the new normal going forward and customers are asked to keep their contact information updated at pge.com/mywildfirealerts.
On Oct. 16, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved a contract for removal of fire-damaged trees, stump grinding, pruning limbs, and disposing of previously felled trees located in the public right of way. Starting Dec. 10, the contractors and the Transportation and Public Works Department are sending notices via hand, mail and social media to the property owners adjacent to the “extreme” or “high” risk trees to be removed. The contract for the removal of trees within private property and affecting the road right-of-way will potentially be awarded in January 2019, with work starting in March.
As of Nov. 28, the county has issued 788 building permits for homes. 139 permits are in process, 24 homes have been finished. The City of Santa Rosa has issued 1,108 building permits for homes. 237 permits are in process, 74 homes have been finished. As of Dec. 8, 56 permits have been applied for in Kenwood, with 32 in construction. None completed. In Glen Ellen, 71 permits have been applied for, with 35 in construction. Data includes 11 permits applied for in the Mayacamas area on Trinity and Cavedale Roads.
In the year following the fire, fire safety has come into sharp focus. The Kenwood Fire Department now flies a red flag during Red Flag Warning Days and the Glen Ellen Fire District passed a parcel tax (Measure T) aimed at helping fund the district. A new fire safe council has been formed in the Mayacamas mountains area. A total of 48 homes were lost in the Cavedale and Trinity road area, about one in three homes. The five-person Board of Directors the Mayacamas Fire Safe Council hopes to minimize future wildfire damage in their area through community education and engagement, and mitigation projections like brush clearing and fire breaks. They will be seeking grants and other funding to perform various projects within the Mayacamas Fire Department's coverage area, 7,200 acres of steep, rocky terrain high in the Mayacamas Mountains near the Napa County line.
In Oakmont, where only a few structures burned, including the home of First District Supervisor Susan Gorin, there is still much work to address defensible space and clearing dead trees and limbs. To that end, the Oakmont Village Association has formed a fire safe committee and applied for and received official designation as a Firewise USA Site. With this designation, the OVA hopes to increase the community's awareness about fire prevention and submit grant applications for funding to help mitigate future fire risks to the community. OVA manager Kevin Hubred, who lives in Kenwood, said he hopes this will also lead to collaboration between Oakmont and its neighboring communities.
- Sarah C. Phelps
Sonoma Developmental Center shutting downAs of Sept. 26, there were 45 people living at the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC), down from 145 last February, 322 in December of 2016, and 1,164 residents in December of 1995, according to the SDC website's data pages. By year's end, there will be none.
“SDC is on schedule to close by the end of December 2018,” according to Nancy Lungren, assistant director of communications for the state's Department of Developmental Services (DDS), terminating years of effort by many people and groups to retain some part of the extensive services provided to developmentally disabled or challenged Californians by the center since it opened in 1891.
The closure process was interrupted, but not delayed, by the October 2017 wildfires, even though the entire campus was evacuated and relocated twice during the conflagration - California's worst up to that time.
Dunbar School's multipurpose gym was packed for an April 16 community meeting sponsored by the Glen Ellen Forum (GEF). Uncertainty and fear about Sonoma County and state efforts to work out an agreeable solution were loudly voiced at that meeting.
“The SDC/Eldridge Committee is convinced Glen Ellen must generate its own vision for redevelopment, not simply react to proposals - or rumors of proposals,” Forum member Tracy Salcedo wrote in an April 1 Kenwood Press article.
The April 16 meeting highlighted a growing disconnect between community expectations and political reality, with residents expecting quick action on forming a governing body and developing guidelines for settling future use issues. Both are hostage to the fluid state of California politics as a new governor will take office in January and former legislative budgetary alliances are reshuffled in light of the many new Assembly and Senate members joining the conversation about the SDC's future.
The DDS will continue to be the landlord until June 30, 2019, when the oversight and disposition of the property will switch to the state's Department of General Services (DGS).
In early May, First District Supervisor Susan Gorin sought and received $100,000 to pay for county staff time to prepare for and undertake negotiations with the state.
Senators Mike McGuire and Bill Dodd, along with Assembly member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, sponsored a public meeting at Altimira Middle School along with Gorin on May 16. They supported local input into the closure process, but also showed considerable reserve about predicting the future.
An independent analysis of the SDC property commissioned by the DGS was in draft form by September, 2017, but its scheduled presentation was delayed by the fire - until June this year. The consultants, Wallace Roberts & Todd of San Francisco and Philadelphia, recommended that the SDC's 795 acres of open space go to recreation and parks, and acknowledged that disposing of or remediating the 150-acres of aged infrastructure might be a very expensive undertaking - running to the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Glen Ellen transformed its short main street in late October into a portrait gallery of SDC clients and loved ones, memorializing the center's passing. On Halloween, the SDC invited current and past residents and staff to participate in its last Halloween Parade. Finally, on Nov. 3, a major thank you and farewell celebration was held at the Hanna Boys Center, an event that was sold out days after it was announced.
The state allocated nearly $9 million for a “warm shutdown” of the SDC's aging buildings through June 30 next year. The DGS is not anxious to shoulder that burden for very long; Sonoma County has been equally vocal that it expects the state to carry a large part of this future cost. Future funding will be up to the governor and legislature.
“Everything is clear as mud,” First District Supervisor Susan Gorin quipped in mid-September, reflecting on the complexities of the process. Recently, she said the county has had discussions with State Senator McGuire and his chief of staff regarding the SDC.
“But patience is required as we will have a new governor and various department directors,” Gorin added. “They will need to weigh in on any proposals moving forward.
“I remain cautiously optimistic.”
- Jay Gamel
Mountain lion killing sparks outcryPublic dismay was audible when a 16-month-old female mountain lion was shot and killed under a depredation permit in Kenwood in July. Known as “P6,” the mountain lion was one of seven lions collared and being tracked in the Living with Lions research project, headed up by conservation biologists at Audubon Canyon Ranch's (ACR) Bouverie Preserve in Glen Ellen. She was the second collared mountain lion in nine months to be killed under a depredation permit locally.
While P6's shooting was entirely legal under California state law, as she had been caught in the act of depredating livestock, many community members were dismayed to hear the news, expressing their concern in letters to local newspapers and to First District Supervisor Susan Gorin.
Dr. Quinton Martins, head of ACR's Living With Lions study, was also upset by the event, having watched all P6's siblings, from a litter of three, die or be killed in less than two years.
The event cracked open examination of the county's existing policy on depredation permits. California Department of Fish and Wildlife issues depredation permits, but is not responsible for the actual trapping and killing of a lion. In Sonoma County, that responsibility falls to the person who requested the permit, or they can contact the Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures, who will send out a wildlife specialist to do it for them.
As a right-to-farm county, the Sonoma County Agricultural Commission has a responsibility to assist commercial livestock owners with depredation issues. Bears, lions, and pigs all require a permit. A coyote does not.
However, a divide still exists between commercial livestock operators - those who make money raising livestock - and those who keep livestock as a hobby or as pets, which Martins contends still results in the killing of mountain lions under depredation permits.
In August, Gorin met with Martins and Sharon Ponsford, Gorin's recent appointee to Sonoma County's Fish and Wildlife Commission, to urge collaboration between the so-called preservation side and the agriculture community. “That collaboration appears to be a work in progress - and quite possibly a long one,” said Ponsford recently.
Martins reports that another litter of two kittens born into the study in August are still alive and healthy four months later. “This could really be the challenge to people in Kenwood and the Valley - to see these two grow up and successfully disperse,” said Martins.
- Sarah C. Phelps
Glen Ellen Forum grows upThe impending closure of the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) was one of the major events that led to the founding of the Glen Ellen Forum (GEF) two years ago. The association grew from informal talks about developing a community voice for concerns about what was going to happen to the gigantic state enterprise in adjacent Eldridge, comprising almost 800 acres of open space and a 150-acre sprawling campus of aging homes, offices, hospitals, dormitories, and more. What happens with the SDC property over the next decade will obviously have a huge impact on the small, unincorporated community.
Then the October 2017 firestorm gave added urgency to the young Forum. Glen Ellen lost 183 homes to the conflagration, a significant part of its housing, which placed a huge burden on the town's infrastructure.
The organizing concept caught on and soon the GEF was forming a number of committees to research creating an emergency plan, formulating traffic policies, helping needy residents and facilitating neighborhood gatherings, sprucing up the town, looking into SDC issues, and even exploring the idea of developing some type of governing body.
In 2017, before the fires, an Advisory Council Exploratory Committee began looking at different governing models, considering everything from writing letters to incorporation. Those considerations led to a recent recommendation that a Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) would be the best way to proceed. Such a council would be independent of the GEF and serve as an advisory body, not an advocacy group.
MACs are rapidly becoming preferred ways to organize unincorporated areas that are experiencing growing pains and have issues that need to be heard. These areas are too small to have the tax base to support incorporation, but large enough that they need a voice that county supervisors will hear.
While MACs have been around for half a century, they have recently enjoyed a resurgence, with six being created in three supervisor districts in the past few years. Sonoma Valley's Citizen Advisory Commission was the first in this district, although it is now a hybrid organization run by both the county and the City of Sonoma. The SVCAC mostly reviews development projects, but its advice is carefully considered by the county's planning agencies.
A MAC for the Springs area may be a reality by the end of the year and a third - encompassing Eldridge, Kenwood, and Glen Ellen - will likely be considered by the supervisors early next year, if the details can be worked out.
First District Supervisor Susan Gorin's office is currently reviewing the first draft of proposed MAC bylaws and boundary suggestions; meanwhile, committee members will be looking at possible revisions to the county's General Plan looming for 2020 and reaching out to educate the community on what a new advisory panel can do.
The GEF is now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and has its own website at glenellen.org.
- Jay Gamel
Oakmont golf: new year, old debateFor more than a year, Oakmont representatives have been working with the independently-owned Oakmont Golf Club on solutions to its flagging financial situation. As 2018 draws to a close, it's become clear that the process will extend well into next year.
Affecting a decision is that four OVA Board seats are at stake in elections this spring. Golf's future in Oakmont is likely to be a critical issue in the election, and has been a subject of debate on social media.
Some have objected to helping pay to maintain golf, while others have said failure of the club could leave a weedy scar on Oakmont.
Negotiations with the Oakmont Golf Club (OGC) are proceeding on several fronts, including land purchases, possible help with paying for drainage, and establishing special memberships, both for occasional golfers and non-golfers who would like to contribute to survival of Oakmont's foundation sport.
“While opponents of any financial relationship between the Association and the club have been steadfast in their resistance, there is a sense that many Oakmonters want the golf club to flourish as a central component of the community and are willing to support it,” said OGC President Barbara Robinson.
She said that a new, low-cost class of membership called the “Valley Resident Program,” will be rolled out in January. “It is designed to allow non-golfing residents to get involved and make greater use of the club - both for themselves and for their families or guests,” she said.
OVA Vice President Tom Kendrick, who had been the chief negotiator for the board, said that OGC has “provided some recent responses that OVA now will have a chance to consider. Between these proposals and OGC's planned modest-cost non-golfing memberships I think we are making positive, though gradual progress.”
Kendrick and Robinson said that the OVA is not considering any direct subsidy to the OGC.
Kendrick had stressed that any golf aid will be contingent on receiving comparable value in return,
Other areas still under discussion include possible purchase of a lot that could provide a new access to Trione-Annadel State Park and a small storage lot on Oak Leaf Drive across from the north PG&E tower.
Any purchase of OGC land behind the Central Activities Center, as has been suggested by some, is not under consideration.
In its 2019 budget, the OVA has set aside a $100,000 contingency for possible help with drainage at the golf club. While that is still on the table, it's not clear that such assistance is necessary to protect Oakmont homes from flooding. In addition, that contribution is far short of the $250,000 to $300,000 in help the OGC has said it needs.
Since last spring the OGC has been making a pitch for financial assistance, saying that while it's doing OK financially now, it may need help if there is another bad revenue year like 2017 when the wildfires shut down the golf courses. It also has said that some maintenance has been deferred in recent years.
Kendrick and other OVA Board members who have seen the OGC's financials under a confidentiality agreement have painted a far less rosy picture, describing the situation variously as “not promising,” “challenging,” and “grim.”
When the OGC first approached the OVA for assistance it had suggested a direct subsidy from all residents. While numbers including $5 and $10 a month were suggested, the idea found no traction.
“Winter months are always a financial challenge at OGC,” Robinson said. “At best, conditions are tight if not extremely tight as the smoke of this November effectively brought an early start to winter.”
But, she added: “The club is optimistic about its marketing and business development plans when spring weather returns, but first it has to get there. For those interested in supporting the Golf Club now may be a good time to step up.”
- Jim Brewer
Growing pains for cannabis ordinanceTwo years ago, after California voters approved the recreational use of cannabis in the state, Sonoma County eagerly sought to reap the potential economic benefits of an industry that once operated in the shadows, but was now legal. The board of supervisors adopted a series of ordinances to permit and regulate the complete supply chain, including cultivators, nurseries, manufacturing, transport, distributing, testing, laboratories, and dispensaries.
It's been a rocky road ever since, as county officials have struggled to develop specific rules, managing to disappoint both players in the different sectors of the cannabis industry, and neighborhood groups who have raised objections over a variety of things, including the location of proposed dispensaries as well as where cannabis should be allowed to grow.
Where is it, and where is it not, appropriate to grow commercial cannabis?
Over 2018, the board of supervisors tried to wrestle with this question, basically, building the airplane while it is in the air.
One of the goals of the cannabis ordinance was to bring many of the growers already cultivating (estimated at up to 3,000 two years ago) into an official regulatory process by applying for permits and agreeing to follow certain rules.
But the response has been disappointing so far. Growers have complained about rules being changed, the cost and length of the permit process, and the banning of cultivation on close to 40,000 parcels with particular zoning and size designations.
Small cannabis farmers have complained that the regulations in place are forcing them to move out of the county, leaving only large commercial cannabis entities able to operate here.
Meanwhile, some neighborhoods have joined together to protest what they say is a rush to develop cannabis policy without really knowing the impacts on communities. Detractors have argued that the enforcement of the current rules is inadequate, and that there are important environmental impacts that have been ignored, such as water issues, energy use, and odor control. Safety issues have not been addressed either, neighbors argue.
Save Our Sonoma Neighborhoods, made up of community members across the county, has argued that all commercial cannabis cultivation should be restricted to industrial zones, and not allowed in neighborhoods.
Supervisors have pledged that discussion about land use sections of the ordinance will continue, focusing in part on overconcentration and neighborhood compatibility issues.
In northern Sonoma Valley, the location of dispensaries has also been an issue. There is a proposal to place a medical cannabis dispensary at the corner of Arnold Drive and Madrone Road, in a building that was once a firehouse.
The application is still pending, but some neighbors have objected, raising concerns centered on traffic and the dispensary's proximity to residential areas on Glenwood and Brookview drives, and The Groves apartment complex.
At a lively May meeting of the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission (SVCAC), neighbors and the dispensary operator, Petaluma-based Apothovert, made their respective cases. The SVCAC, a body that advises county planning officials on development projects, voted 5-4 to not recommend county approval of the project.
In Oakmont, which is governed by the city of Santa Rosa's own cannabis rules, a medical cannabis dispensary was applied for on Oakmont Drive, between Stone Bridge Road and White Oak Drive
The applicant, Herbal Holistics, faced wide opposition among Oakmonters. About 1,000 residents signed a petition in opposition, hundreds of emails were sent to city planners, and the Oakmont Village Association's board of directors took an official unanimous “no” position.
Opponents pointed out potential traffic issues, specifically worries that out-of-the-area vehicles coming from the direction of Sonoma Highway onto Oakmont Drive would have to make a U-turn at White Oak and Oakmont Drive in order to access the medical building's parking lot. Crime potential was another concern brought up by Oakmonters, as well as compatibility issues with surrounding neighborhoods and businesses.
Herbal Holistics decided to withdraw their use permit application in September.
- Alec Peters
Glen Ellen passes fire taxVoters within the boundaries of the Glen Ellen Fire Protection District (GEFPD) approved a parcel tax for the local fire department, easily surpassing the two-thirds approval required, 75.7 percent to 24.3 percent.
Known as Measure T, the measure allows the GEFPD's board of directors, after a public hearing, to impose a tax of up to $200 per parcel for residential and lodging properties, up to $100 for agricultural and vacant parcels, and up to $.10 per square foot for commercial, industrial, and warehouse properties.
If the maximum tax were to be imposed, it is estimated that Measure T monies would raise $387,000 a year.
Directors can set lower parcel tax rates, but cannot go above the maximum. It depends on the financial outlook for the district from year to year.
Measure T supporters said any tax monies would go to the Glen Ellen community for fire prevention, defensible space programs, improved emergency management, and public education services to Glen Ellen residents.
The measure was necessary, said supporters, to protect against future possible financial uncertainties.
Because the October 2017 fires destroyed 10 percent of the district's residences, GEFPD will be looking at a revenue drop of property tax for an undetermined amount of time.
Monies from the tax could also help assure, if needed, that the district will be able to fulfill its financial obligations in the contract it has with the Sonoma Valley Fire & Rescue Authority (SVFRA).
In July of 2017 the GEFPD entered into a five-year contract with the SVFRA to provide improvements in service and fire response times. There is now uninterrupted service in Glen Ellen because a captain and engineer/paramedic are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
There also might be future financial obligations by Glen Ellen connected with the closure of the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) and its fire department, which is currently funded by the State of California. The SDC's 945-acre campus lies within GEFPD's boundaries and would likely become the district's responsibility for fire coverage.
Similar parcel tax measures were on the ballot for voters in the Valley of the Moon Fire Protection District (Measure Y), and the Schell-Vista Fire Protection District (Measure X). Measure X passed with 73.6 percent of the vote, but Measure Y fell excruciatingly short of the two-thirds required, with 66.5 percent of the vote.
- Alec Peters
Voters approve funding source for Regional ParksSupporters of county parks breathed a sigh of relief after the votes were counted for Measure M in the Nov. 6 election. The required two-thirds threshold was surpassed, meaning there will be an increase in sales tax in Sonoma County by one-eighth of one percent over the 10-year life of the measure.
“We now have a stable, long-term source of funding for parks, putting us on par with other Bay Area counties that support their parks,” said Bert Whitaker, director of Sonoma County Regional Parks. Until now, Regional Parks has never had its own, exclusive source of funding from the county.
Over the 10 years, county and city parks should receive an estimated $12.3 million, with Sonoma County Regional Parks, which is responsible for parks in the unincorporated areas of the county, receiving the lion's share, $8.2 million.
The county's nine incorporated cities (Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Petaluma, Healdsburg, etc.) will split almost $4.1 million annually based on their pro rata share of the population. Under this method, for example, the city of Santa Rosa would receive a little over $2 million a year for its parks.
Whitaker said Regional Parks is hastily putting together a first-year work plan, which they hope to get to the Board of Supervisors early next year.
Priority projects in Sonoma Valley include new construction at Maxwell Farms Regional Park and Larson Park in Boyes Hot Springs, trail construction at Hood Mountain Regional Park's new Lawson Addition, and hosting a second public meeting for development of the North Sonoma Mountain access trail to the top of Sonoma Mountain. Calabazas Creek Preserve in Glen Ellen is also awaiting transfer from the Open Space District to Regional Parks, and is still not open to the public.
Regional Parks is in the acquisition phase for Sonoma Valley Trail, a 13-mile pedestrian, bicycle and (in places) equestrian path to run between Melita and Agua Caliente roads, along the Highway 12 corridor. Whitaker said the acquisitions are starting in Santa Rosa and moving south toward Kenwood.
The Sonoma County Regional Parks system is made up of more than 50 parks and beaches. In the Sonoma Valley area, that includes Hood Mountain Regional Park, Shaw Park and Plaza Park in Kenwood, Sonoma Valley Regional Park in Glen Ellen, and North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park off of Sonoma Mountain Road.
Now at 11,071 acres, the park system saw 5.4 million visits last year, with a camping occupancy mirroring that of the county's hotel occupancy at 80 percent. There is an estimated $20 million in deferred maintenance.
- Sarah C. Phelps
Final approval for resort; construction awaitsA final design OK was given by the Board of Supervisors on March 27 to a large portion of the Resort at Sonoma Country Inn project - a 50-room inn made up of a main building and separate cottages, spa, restaurant, and 102 parking spaces, all located on a plateau area of a 52-acre parcel off of Sonoma Highway across from Lawndale Road.
According to resort spokesman Rob Muelrath, there is no specific timeline at the moment as to when the developer, Tohigh Investments, part of Chinese conglomerate Oceanwide Holdings, will begin construction. The company first bought the property (a total of 186 acres) at the end of 2014 for over $40 million, land that was once part of the sprawling Graywood Ranch.
Entitlements for the resort, which also include home sites and a 10,000-case winery on the valley floor, were first approved by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors back in 2004. An Environmental Impact Report was also approved at the time.
Except for installing some of the infrastructure, like roads, little has been done on the property since the permits were first approved. The original group of owners changed, the economic downturn hit in 2008, and later the main partner in the project passed away. That's when Tohigh Investments entered the picture, moving forward with the last piece required to put a shovel in the ground - county approval of the inn and spa's design.
Plans to turn the property into some kind of resort date back to the early 1980s, with brothers Harold and Morton Gray hoping to build an inn, homes, and winery.
The permits approved in 2004 were loudly opposed at the time by many in the Kenwood community, including the fledgling Valley of the Moon Alliance (VOTMA). VOTMA ended up on the losing end of litigation over the approval.
This last year's debate over the design of the inn and spa also involved VOTMA. At public hearings, VOTMA argued that changes by Tohigh to plans that were originally approved years ago warranted taking another look at some of the environmental impacts of the project, notably traffic, water, visual issues, and greenhouse gases.
The county's Design Review Committee disagreed, and approved the design changes in 2016. VOTMA appealed to the Planning Commission, which also came down on the side of the developer. VOTMA appealed to the Board of Supervisors. By a 4-0 vote, the board denied the appeal.
- Alec Peters