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This just in:  (July 11, 2012)

Cole Epstein, a neighbor to the Ojai gravel mine , apparently won in his litigation against the mine owner: 

Injunction granted and $850,000 in damages. 

Apparently, Cole's attorney, Mr. Bamieh did a fine job for the retired doctor.


January, 2010:  The California State Office of Mine Reclamation (OMR) 
"Delists" the Ojai Quarry from the AB 3098 Acceptable Supplier List





To see the KEYT-TV  News report, CLICK HERE.  Then click on the picture of the Ojai Post Office.  
Hit the PLAY arrow when the item appears.  Story Updated: Oct 28, 2011 at 9:11 PM PDT

     "A controversial rock quarry could lose it's permit because of a dispute over clean up costs.  The Mosler Rock Ojai Quarry is just North of Ojai on Highway 33. It sells rocks to CalTrans, public works, builders and landscapers.

     But county planners claim the crew is working outside of its permitted boundaries.  They say a 2.8 million dollar bond is needed to insure that taxpayers don't pick up the tab for its future cleanup. The planning commission could revoke the quarry's permit next month."

According to a VC Star, October 28, 2011 article by Kathleen Wilson:

     "County planning officials said they would be asking the Ventura County Planning Commission on Nov. 17 to revoke Larry Mosler's permit (C.U.P.) to operate the rock mine off Highway 33 northwest of Ojai."

     "Ventura County officials are moving to shut down an Ojai quarry over what they say is the owner's refusal to follow an approved cleanup plan and provide a financial assurance payment..."

     "The agency also ordered Mosler to cease operations, but that would not take effect unless the commission upholds the action.... "

     "Brian Baca, the planning manager overseeing mines, said ..." "Planners had no recourse after Mosler's attorney said his client refused to put up the financial assurance — one of the legal requirements for operating a mine in California, he said."

     "You don't comply with the law, you are out of business," Baca said."

     Baca said Mosler's alternative reclamation proposals are unacceptable.  "They're not even readable.. "

     (Pat Richards, former head of the County's Industrial Sector oversaw Mosler's operation of the mine when he held Baca's position from 2006 to 2009.  He now works for Mosler and allegedly wrote the "unreadable" proposal.

     Baca said "(past County) planners had not been correctly applying the standards of a 1975 law known as Surface Mining and Reclamation Act... The level of scrutiny of these mines and the implementation of the law were not up to par."

     Since Baca arrived along with Ebony (McGee) , "we have been trying to upgrade and improve the implementation, and this is part of it."

     In November of last year, the county Planning Commission upheld 14 violations issued by county planners. The violations related to hours of operation, equipment approval, truck traffic and permitted mining areas.



The Ojai Stop the Trucks Coalition received this email from Supervisor Bennett's office October 26th.

From: Steve Offerman <>
Date: Wed, Oct 26, 2011 at 4:16 PM
FYI- the Caltrans report:

Hello Steve,

     Approximately two years ago, Mr. Mosler, the owner of the rock quarry dropped some large rocks into the creek. These rocks diverted the flowing water toward the creek bank on roadway side. 

     Mr. Mosler was instructed to remove these rocks, but apparently he could only pull them toward his side of the creek bank. 

     By the time he finally took action severe erosion had occurred on the slope supporting the roadway above. These rocks still continued to divert the water flow, although not as severely. 

     Unfortunately this diverted water flow had undermined the roadside slope. This slope has always been subject to water flow, sometimes extreme during the winter months. 

     CalTrans had armored the roadside slope with large rock in an effort to prevent erosion and protect the road above. These rocks were grouted with cement in the voids to help hold the rocks in place. 

     Since these grouted rocks are undermined, (actually camping equipment has been found under these rocks) we must break them down, reposition some of the existing rocks, add more rock, and regrout. 

     And of course this project had to have been reviewed and approved by various agencies; Dept. of Fish and Game, Army Corp of Engineers, Environmental, just to name a few. 

     Call me if you need more information or status updates. 


Patrick Porteus
CMAS West Region


     And as a "Save the Date" reminder, the Ventura County Planning Commission will meet on November 17th at the Government Center to hear a proposal by the Planning Division to revoke the Ojai (Mosler) Quarry's Conditional Use Permit (C.U.P.).

Details on that hearing and how you can participate will follow in the next few weeks. 



     The note from Steve Offerman below along with the attachment sent to the Ojai (Mosler ) Quarry confirms conversations we have had with Supervisor Bennett and the Planning Department staff over the past few days. 

     This has the potential to be very good news for our community if the Planning Commission votes on November 17th to follow the recommendations made therein. 

     These actions are the result of very intense work and follow through by the Ojai  Stop the Trucks Coalition over the past twelve months. 

     We thank all of you for your continued support and activism.





July 15, 2011

      Today, the lawyers representing the Ojai "Stop the Trucks" Coalition sent the following letter to Kim Prillhart, the Director of the Ventura County Planning Division in an attempt to limit the potential for danger on Maricopa Highway by oversized trucks making up to 240 trips per day through Ojai to the Gypsum Mines in the Cuyama Valley.

Dear Kim Prillhart:

     The Ojai "Stop the Trucks" Coalition is formally requesting that you use your discretionary powers to immediately impose an additional condition to the existing C.U.P. 0043-1, the Lima Gypsum mine. This new condition would require that all trucks traveling to and from the mine on State Route 33 (Maricopa Highway) through the mountainous section north of Ojai and south of Lockwood Valley Road be less than 38 feet KPRA, (King Pin to Rear Axle) which would match the safety standards identified by the California Department of Transportation, District 7 in their May/June 1997 Truck Study Report. 

     That report, which was produced by District 7 in response to a request by Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett, specifically concludes with this: "State Route 33 is currently designed to accommodate trucks with a KPRA less than 38 feet and a height of 13 ft 4 inches due to the existing geometrics."

     Typically the Gypsum trucks currently in use are around 48 - 50 feet KPRA. The Caltrans Study indicates that although legal, larger trucks are inherently unsafe on these sections of State Route 33 due to the tendency for their rear wheels to regularly and consistently cross over the yellow line on curves and thus posing a hazard to any oncoming vehicle. 

     The current permit for Lima Gypsum Mine, which does not expire until 2024 - another 13 years - .allows the mine upwards of 240 (two hundred and forty) one way trips per day. That equates to 30 one way trips per hour - one every two minutes - in the course of an eight hour work day up and over Maricopa Highway.

     The use of your discretionary powers as Planning Director to impose this condition is consistent with the existing C.U.P., which on page 6, item 5, gives the Planning Director the ability to impose additional conditions on the mining operation. Further, Item 17 on page 12 notes that if various guidelines or regulations are in conflict, the more restrictive ones should apply. 

     (Note that no EIR was ever undertaken in the original approval of this C.U.P., denying the public ever a chance to weigh in on the original conditions)

     The imposition of this condition would also align the C.U.P. with the intent of similar resolutions passed just last year by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors and the Ojai City Council that endeavored to make travel on State Route 33 safer for all.

     While the goal of this new condition is to increase safety on State Route 33, its imposition in no way hinders Lima from it current operation nor does interferes with the State's right to regulate truck length standards on any road. The mine can still either be accessed by trucks that meet this "38 foot or under" KPRA standard or by using alternate routes off of Route 166, such as from the west through the 101 freeway and from the east through the 5 freeway, highways much more befitting the size and nature of these large haulers.

     Copies of District 7's report and the Lima Gypsum Mine C.U.P. are attached. Also enclosed are two recent photos of gypsum trucks going off of Route 33 because they failed to navigate all turns safely.

     The Ojai "Stop the Trucks" Coalition sincerely hopes you will use your discretionary powers to immediately impose this condition to the existing C.U.P. 0043-1, thereby making our highways that much safer.


Dear Kim Prillhart and Brian Baca;

     The "Stop the Trucks" coalition and our legal representatives are troubled over allegations that the Ojai (Mosler) Rock Quarry may have violated their C.U.P. today by

 1) Allegedly using a non-permitted rock crusher to create gravel; 

 2) Allegedly exceeding the allowable daily limit of truck trips, even as their legal counsel is negotiating a settlement for their past (2010) violations with lawyers for the County of Ventura.

     On Friday morning, 6/3/2011 numerous gravel trucks were spotted traveling north on Route 33 through the Ojai Valley and the City of Ojai on their way to the Ojai (Mosler) Rock Quarry.

     At the quarry, large rocks were being loaded, crushed and processed by an allegedly non-permitted rock crusher. Afterward, the crushed gravel was loaded into an endless stream of gravel trucks, both single hoppers and doubles, which then drove south on 33 through the City of Ojai. Trucks began arriving as early as 7:00am and continued as late as at least 4:00 pm, if not later.

     See enclosed complaint (#122) and nine photos of the gravel processing operation taken this morning.

     In the wake of our complaints to the Ventura County Planning Division regarding alleged violations of the C.U.P. by the Ojai (Mosler) Rock Quarry, the Coalition takes the following allegation very seriously and believes it should be reported to the Planning Commission for immediate action...

     If these allegations are proved true, then full closure of the quarry may be the only remedy.

--Ojai Stop the Trucks Coalition.


To see a copy of the official compaint, in .PDF format,  CLICK HERE



It's another little victory for the citizens of the Ojai Valley 

and one the Coalition will monitor closely...

This announcement came from Daniel Klemann of the Ventura County Planning Division:

Date: Wed, Apr 6, 2011 at 9:37 AM
Subject: Update on the Mosler Rock-Ojai Quarry

Good Morning:

I just wanted to let you know that Mr. Mosler dropped his appeal of the violations the County has issued against him and, therefore, the Board of Supervisors hearing next week on that matter has been canceled.

Mr. Mosler has indicated that he is willing to enter into a Compliance Agreement with the County to abate the outstanding violations. Early next week, Ebony McGee, the SMARA Program Coordinator, will be drafting a Compliance Agreement that will specify all of the abatement actions that Mr. Mosler must take to abate the violations, a schedule by which he must complete each abatement action, and a payment plan to pay the outstanding fees that he owes to the County.

If you have any questions about this, please let me know.


Dan Klemann, M.A., 

Manager, Residential Permits Section
County of Ventura, Resource Management Agency, Planning Division
800 S. Victoria Avenue, L#1740
Ventura, CA 93009
(805) 654-3588 phone
(805) 654-2509 fax



Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dear Ojai Valley Resident;

Here’s an update on some local mine and truck issues:

1. Mosler Ojai Quarry: 

     The operator of this mine has appealed the issuance of 15 Notices of Violation issued by the County Planning Division to the Board of Supervisors. The date for this hearing has been rescheduled from March 22nd to April 12th at 1:30 PM. If these violations are upheld by the Board, the mine operator will be required to cease and correct violations, as well as be subject to penalties. Continued violations could be cause for modification or revocation of the mine’s permit.

     Mosler’s attempt to gain relief from County requirements by appealing to the State Mining & Geology Board were rebuffed last week, when that board ordered Mosler to submit the required materials to the Planning Division within 30 days. 

2. Highway 33 Truck Length Restriction Bill: 

     As mentioned previously, responding to our request, Assemblymember Das Williams has introduced a bill to limit the length of trucks using the mountainous portions of Highway 33. This bill has been assigned bill number AB 538, and will need to be a two-year bill to work through the complex issues of truck regulations.

     Thank you for your continued interest in protecting your community. If you have any questions, please feel free to call my office at 654-2703.

Steve Bennett
County Supervisor




Dear Ojai Valley Resident-

     There is an upcoming public hearing regarding a mine that you may be interested in.

     The owner of the Mosler Ojai Quarry has appealed citations he received for operating in violation of his Conditional Use Permit to the Board of Supervisors. 

     These violations include excessive truck trips, mining outside the approved boundary, and not having an adequate reclamation plan. 

     The appeal will be heard by the Board on (Tuesday) February 22nd at 1:30 PM in the County Government Center, 800 S. Victoria Ave., Ventura. The Planning Commission staff report is  posted here:

     If the Planning Commission’s findings that violations have occurred are upheld by the Board of Supervisors, then the mine operator will be required to correct the violations and be subject to penalties. 

     Continued violations could be grounds for possible modification or revocation of the Conditional Use Permit for the mine.

     Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call my office at  654-2703.

--Steve Bennett, 
County Supervisor



Forwarded message ----------
From: Steve Offerman <>
Date: Wed, Jan 12, 2011 at 4:28 PM
Subject: Re: Caltrans & Assembly Bill

     The bill language that we've submitted to legislators and the County lobbyist is attached. It's basically an adaptation of AB 1360 of 2009.  We would expect some fine tuning of the text as it progresses through committees...




From the Desk of STEVE BENNETT

(805) 654-2703
FAX: (805) 654-2226

Add Section 35655.7 to the Vehicle Code as follows:

35655.7. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), a person shall not drive a commercial vehicle with a king pin to rear axle length in excess of 30 feet on the segment of State Route 33 (SR-33) that is located between the county boundary delineating the Counties of Santa Barbara and Ventura and the Camino Cielo Road near the City of Ojai. 

(b)  Subdivision (a) does not apply to any of the following vehicles:
(1)  An authorized emergency vehicle.
(2)  A vehicle operated by a publicly or privately owned public utility.
(3)  A vehicle operated by a government agency.
(4)  A tow truck providing assistance to a vehicle that is accessible only from that 
portion of State Route 33 specified in subdivision (a).

(7)  A commercial vehicle involved in a motion picture, commercial, or television production conducting motion picture, commercial, or television production activities in areas that are accessible only from that portion of State Route 33 specified in subdivision (a).

(c)  A person who violates this section shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 42030 or one thousand dollars ($1,000), whichever is greater.

(d)  The Department of Transportation shall erect suitable signs at each end of the portion of State Route 33 specified in subdivision (a) and any other points that the department deems necessary to give adequate notice of the prohibition pursuant to this section.




Stop The Trucks:  Ozena Surrenders -- Their “Conditional Use Permit” Has Expired

November 29, 2010

     After Four Years of Legal Battles, Ozena has been stopped.

     Although issues still remain with three other mines in Santa Barbara County, the Cuyama Valley and here in Ojai, the four-year long battle to stop the Ozena Valley Gravel Mine from flooding Ojai with upwards of 200 double- hopper gravel trucks a day, is over!

     Today the Ojai “Stop The Trucks” Coalition received the following letter from the Ventura County Planning Division:


Good Afternoon, All:

     We just received confirmation from the applicants for the Ozena Mine Conditional Use Permit Modification/Time Extension that they are withdrawing their application. As such, there will not be a Planning Director’s Hearing tomorrow and the existing Conditional Use Permit has expired. If you know of anyone who was planning on attending the hearing tomorrow, please notify them that the hearing will be canceled; we will also post this information on our website.

     At this point, the mining operator is required to begin reclamation of the site, pursuant to the approved reclamation plan. The mining operator must complete reclamation within one year.

     If you have any questions about this, please contact me using the information provided below.


--Dan Klemann, M.A.

Manager,Commercial and Industrial Permits Section
County of Ventura, Resource Management Agency, Planning Division
800 S. Victoria Avenue, L#1740
Ventura, CA 93009
(805) 654-3588 phone
(805) 654-2509 fax





Ventura County Planning Commission rules against Mosler Quarry

     A copyrighted story by Kathleen Wilson in the Ventura County Star's November 18 edition reports that Larry Mosler, owner of the Mosler Quarry since 2005, had 14 violations confirmed against his operation by the Planning Commission.  The mine is located on Route 33, north of Ojai. 

     Mosler was found guilty of mining outside of allowed boundaries and hours, putting more than 20 trucks on Rte. 33 per day, including during morning commutes, and failing to get approval for new equipment in use at his mine. 

     Planning Director Kim Prillhart said all mining operations in the county are currently being examined.  The planning department has hired new staff for the task.  Some issues remain;  a plan for reclaiming exhausted mines, permit changes, and $77,000 in planning fees.


     The Stop the Trucks Coalition  praises for the manner and detail with which everyone on the Ventura County Planning staff presented the department's case regarding the permit violations at the hearing. In addition to those Coalition members and concerned citizens who did attend, many other members of the Coalition were also able to monitor the hearing on the web. We were pleased by what we witnessed.

     Not only does the Coalition fully support the decision of the Ventura County Planning Commission to deny the appeal, we fully intend to continue to use our volunteer observers and photographers to monitor compliance of the existing C.U.P. by the mine and it's operators.

     If you would like to assist the Coalition in monitoring or photographing mining and gravel truck operations please contact "Stop the Trucks" by email at:

Above:  A Stop-the-Trucks volunteer photographer spotted a driver chatting on his cell phone while driving, October 28, 2010



     If you want to see the full text of the Mosler appeal and the County's case against Mosler which will be heard by the Planning Commission this Thursday, November 18th at 8:30am at the Government Center, please click on the link to the County Planning Division's site in Blue below.

     Once there, you can open either of two PDF files, the first being the agenda and the second, is the full case file.  Also note that at the bottom of that page on the County site is a link to a live TV broadcast of the hearing that you can watch on your computer...

     A new Planning Commission Hearing agenda has been posted on the County of Ventura Planning Division web page. Please click HERE to view the agenda and any related staff reports.

     Separately, please note that Kim Prillhart (Rodriguez) will hold a "Planning Director" hearing on Tuesday, November 16th for the Ozena Quarry where it is expected that the Director may approve an MND that includes a provision forbidding trucks coming south through the City of Ojai.

     You can also open those PDF files, including the pending agreement. 

     A new Planning Director Hearing agenda has been posted on the County of Ventura Planning Division web page. Please click HERE to view the agenda and any related staff reports.

     *Note: Please note that after an agenda is posted, revisions to staff reports and/or the posting of late received items may occur. This subscription will not send subsequent notifications for each revision after the initial agenda is posted. Please reference the Planning Division website link above to stay abreast of any subsequent revisions. 



From: Supervisor  Steve Bennett 

     Dear Ojai Valley Resident:

     Because of your expressed interest in the issue of trucks on Highway 33, I wanted to update you on a few pending issues.

     First, the Board of Supervisors approved my recommendation to take a position in favor of seeking State legislation to make the advisory truck length limit on Maricopa Highway mandatory (would reduce the size of some trucks). I have been in discussion with the County’s Sacramento lobbyist, and we will be moving forward on this issue.

      (Click HERE to see the letter.) 

     Second, the County Planning Commission will hold a hearing on November 18th regarding the Mosler Ojai Quarry. The Planning Division cited the mine operator for a number of violations, and the operator has appealed those citations to the Planning Commission. The meeting is at 8:30 AM at the County Government Center. 

      The agenda and staff reports will be posted online earlier that week.

      Lastly, Supervisor Kathy Long and I have requested that the CHP thoroughly investigate the recent two-truck crash on Highway 150 and make their report available to the public.

     That letter is posted on my webpage.

     Thank you for your interest in the safety of the Ojai Valley. If you have any questions, please feel free to call my office at 654-2703

--Steve Bennett
Supervisor, First District



From the Ojai Post: 

The Ojai Valley Defense Fund is already hard at work protecting our community!

     by Carolyn on October 29, 2010

     In light of the recent gravel big-rig disaster on the east end, it is important to note that the Ojai Valley Defense Fund has had a major impact on the fight against outside-interest, big-rig gravel hauling through the Ojai Valley from Cuyama than was previously thought. 

     Front-line leaders of the campaign to bring such trucking under control have told the Defense Fund that, practically from the time it was formed a year ago, the Defense Fund has come up continually in negotiations with the companies and with Ventura County staff, helping to shape a more favorable outcome. 

     The operators of the largest gravel mine, located in Santa Barbara County, have agreed not to ship through Ojai. The biggest Ventura County mine appears to have folded its tents as well. 

     As one Ventura County official has put it, the mines “saw Ojai forming up” through the Defense Fund. 

     The Ojai Valley Defense Fund is a legal defense fund which has not taken part in any direct way in the battle over gravel-hauling. In an indirect way, though, it has had the effect its supporters most want: to deflect threats to the Valley simply by being in place, and without a fight. 

For more information, please visit us, or call us at 646.1200.




Ojai Mayor Pro Tem Carol Smith calls for Investigation of Gravel Truck Crash at Boccali's

     "Just last week a doublehopper gravel truck came careening down the Dennison Grade and crashed. 

     It is only a stroke of luck that no one was killed. A roomful of Boccali’s diners could easily have lost their lives if the truck had gone a bit further and it was dinnertime.

     I am going to request that the city let the CHP know that we demand a full and public investigation of the circumstances of this crash. 

     And also that the County Board of Supervisors, our State Assembly and Senate representatives also demand the same. 

     It is only a few weeks since acting in my role as liaison to Stop the Trucks the city issued a very strong advisory on how dangerous these trucks are. 

    Now we need to urge the absolute necessity of a thorough and public review of the advisory guidelines for both Routes 150 and 33 backed up by a non-biased traffic and safety study."

--Carol Smith, 

Ojai Mayor




     A copyrighted story by Kathleen Wilson in the Ventura County Star dated Tuesday, September 21 says that the Ventura County Board of Supervisors will ask for legislation to stop large trucks from using Highway 33 above Ojai. 

     The change was proposed by County Supervisor Steve Bennett.  His district includes Ojai, the source of the most vocal complaints about heavy truck traffic.  The town's economy is largely dependent on tourism.  Supervisors John Zaragoza, Kathy Long and Linda Parks agreed.  Supervisor Peter Foy voted no. 

     A quarry owner, Larry Mosler, argued against the measure. 

     The action follows an accident in Santa Barbara county in which an out-of-control heavy gravel truck smashed into a house, killing three. 

    Now, large trucks on that route encompassing Ventura and Santa Barbara counties are merely advised to take another route.  It does not have the force of law. 


Comment From Michael J. Shapiro, Chair of the Ojai "Stop the Trucks" Coalition

     The Stop the Trucks! Coalition applauds Supervisor Bennett’s initiative and motion to change the “advisory” to MANDATORY and doing so will only enhance and increase public safety on Highways 33 and 150. 

     At the present time – the only trucks that frequently utilize these highways are the super-stretched, large trucks coming to and from the Gypsum mine located up in the Los Padres. The Coalition will not be happy until these trucks are also banned from utilizing Highway 33 in their transport of the mine’s product when there are safer, alternative routes to travel. 

     These trucks are unwanted, polluting, and a danger to our valley.  Their presence is akin to “industrializing” the Ojai Valley — something that we truly object to and find abhorrent. 

     Though the issue that Supervisor Bennett has addressed will now take its time winding itself through the State’s political machinery, where there is sure to be opposition from Cal Trans and the lobbyist from the trucking and mine industries – at least it is the beginning of a new battle, and something that the Coalition will support in every way we can. 

     Thank you, Supervisor Bennett!

Michael Shapiro
Ojai, CA




From the Ojai Valley News:

Bennett Pushing Gravel Truck Restrictions
1st District supervisor wants change in state’s Highway 33 mining truck advisory

By Logan Hall

     The County of Ventura’s Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday at the Ventura County Government Center to recommend support of new state legislation that would put a mandatory restriction on the length of mining trucks using Maricopa Highway. Supervisor Steve Bennett is urging board members to recommend that the state adopt the legislation.

     According to Bennett, Highway 33 is designated as having an advisory kingpin to rear axle length (KPRA) of 30 feet. The key word seems to be “advisory” as the KPRA for the highway is not mandatory. Trucks that traverse Highway 33 are often longer than the current advised length. Bennett said in a press release that many of the trucks have a KPRA of 40 feet, which is 25 percent longer than the state’s advisory.

     “The Maricopa Highway is a narrow, high-mountain road built in 1933 to accommodate vehicles of that era,” he said. “Shoulders are often non-existent, bridges and tunnels are very narrow, curve radiuses are very short, and visibility is often limited around the many switchback turns. "Bennett cites the recent accident where a mining truck experienced brake failure and crashed on Highway 154 in Santa Barbara as one of the reasons why the trucks can be so dangerous. He says that aside from the fact that many of the trucks don’t fit on the narrow highway, they can also be carrying full loads weighing many tons. Often the trucks have to travel in severe weather and on icy road surfaces. Bennett says that, “In order to assure the safety of highway users and occupants of adjoining properties, the recommended action is to support new state legislation to make mandatory the existing advisory KPRA length of 30 feet.”

     Bennett and the county aren’t the only ones with grievances about the trucking operations in the mountains above Ojai. A lawsuit was filed in December in Ventura County Superior Court by Coleman and Donna Epstein, who own property where the mining operations are being undertaken. The lawsuit lists the defendants as Larry E. Mosler and Gralar, LLC, and cites several alleged violations of the rights of the property owners. 

     The Epsteins claim that mining operations on and near their property are damaging the property and diminishing the quality of life in the area. According to the plaintiffs, grading of the hillside above the property is causing silt runoff into the North Fork of Matilija Creek. The Epsteins also allege that this activity affects the water quality for the property and makes the hillsides more susceptible to erosion and eventual landslides. The lawsuit further alleges the amount of mining trucks that use part of the property for hauling exceeds the legal limit for the mining companies. The Epsteins claim that the trucks make excessive noise, which again affects the quality of life on the property. An amount for the suit will be determined when the case goes to trial. A mandatory settlement conference is scheduled for Nov. 19. If no settlement is reached, a jury trial could begin Dec. 6.

     The county meeting on Tuesday will be open to the public and Bennett encourages members of the community to attend. Individuals will have the option to speak to the board. The agenda item is scheduled to be heard at 10:30 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors Hearing Room of the County Government Center, 800 S. Victoria Ave. in Ventura.






     We urge you all to read the note below and the attached letter from Supervisor Bennett. 

     Please forward your comments to the Board of Supervisors as requested and if at all possible, plan to attend the meeting of the Board of Supervisors at the Government Center on September 21st at 10:30 am.

     By working together we can all make Ojai a safer place to live and work.

     --Ojai "Stop The Trucks" Coalition

Date: Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 12:42 PM
Subject: Board Item Re: Hwy 33 Trucks

     Dear Ojai Valley Resident-

     You have previously contacted me regarding your opposition to truck traffic on Highway 33. I would like to bring to your attention a measure that I have introduced before the Board of Supervisors on this topic. 

     On next Tuesday’s agenda, I have a Board letter requesting that the Board of Supervisors adopt a position of supporting new state legislation to create a mandatory truck size limit on Highway 33, Maricopa Highway. Such new legislation would greatly increase safety on the highway, and would also prevent use of big-rig trucks on the highway.

     Because Highway 33 is a state highway, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors cannot restrict truck travel on Highway 33. Only the State of California can pass such legislation. Currently the State advises that truck size be limited to 30 feet on Highway 33 from Ojai up to Santa Barbara County. My proposal asks the State to convert this advisory to a mandatory restriction.

     The proposal will be heard next Tuesday, September 21st at 10:30 AM in the Board of Supervisors hearing room of the County Government Center. Should you wish to either speak in support, or attend the hearing and file a “support card” to indicate your support, you are most welcome to do so (if speaking, the Board always appreciates brevity).

     This Board letter is attached and can also be accessed on-line on the County website:  Then go to Board meetings, agendas. Please feel free to call my office if you have any questions. 

--Steve Bennett




Big Rigs Banned on 154 in SB County:   Why not the even more dangerous Route 33 as well? | Santa Barbara, CA News
Originally printed at

CHP Steps up Truck Enforcement On HWY 154

      In the Lompoc Valley, a new county ordinance has been approved banning big rigs on the Harris Grade. It takes effect next month. The truck drivers are advised to use the wider, safer route on Highway 1 to go to and from Orcutt.  A California Highway Patrol mobile enforcement vehicle has been part of a crack down on trucks this week on Highway 154.

     The CHP says they've issued eight commercial truck citations, and have taken one vehicle out of service, which means it can not be driven until it's fixed. One of the specially trained officers, Wayne Villard says he not only checks to see that the truck drivers he stops are licensed and covered with insurance, he will inspect their lights, brakes and tires to make sure they are safe for the road.

     "We have a number of specialized enforcement units dedicated to directly impact the 154," said Highway Patrol Officer Jeremy Wayland.  "Anybody who's speeding, following too close, crossing over the double yellow lines, they can expect to be pulled over and receive 
a citation from the CHP."

     The stepped up truck inspections come after a fully loaded gravel truck reportedly with failing brakes, came down San Marcos Pass on August 24, and crashed into a home, killing a family of three.  The driver has not been cited. But a detailed investigation is underway. 

     "Everything regarding the truck has been looked over from bumper to bumper," said Wayland. "The truck has been inspected for any kind of mechanical issue that will all be part of the investigation."

     A preliminary copy of the report is expected to be turned over to the District Attorney's office by the end of the month.

"Santa Barbara Independent" 
Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Farr and Wolf Talk 154 Safety

     Supervisors Doreen Farr and Janet Wolf met with representatives from CalTrans and the California Highway Patrol on 9/1 to talk about safety issues related to traveling on Highway 154. 

     The two supervisors—having each heard from many constituents both prior to and after a big rig, unable to stop after descending the pass, crushed a home with three people inside it—asked for the meeting. The highway is overseen by state law, so the supervisors can’t make changes to the rules governing the road. But the duo did want to get educated about the highway, and want a chance for more public outreach and education as well. 

     The two elected officials plan to place a discussion item on the October agenda of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments meeting.



September 5, 2010
From: Ojai "Stop the Trucks" Coalition
To: The Ojai City Council

     Last week, Michael Shapiro, Chairman of the Coalition and Howard Smith, Vice Chair, met with Dan Klemann of the Ventura County Planning Division to discuss our concerns regarding those trucks servicing the Lima Gypsum Mine which use Maricopa Highway, Route 33.

     These Gypsum trucks are around 50 feet in length. The CalTrans Advisory for Route 33 is only "30 feet from kingpin to rear axle." This would indicate that although legal, gypsum trucks are inherently unsafe on 33.  Drivers of these trucks are usually paid by the load, not the hour and many drivers attempt to make up to three runs a day from the mine all the way back to either farms in the Oxnard plain or concrete manufacturing facilities in Saticoy. With each run taking anywhere from 3 - 4 hours, drivers are inherently pushed to go as fast as they can on Route 33 over the mountains, a circumstance that only adds to the grave dangers. 

     The existing permit allows the mine upwards of 240 (two hundred and forty) one way trips per day, that equates to 30 one way trips per hour - one every two minutes - in the course of an eight hour work day through the City of Ojai and up and over Maricopa Highway.

     These trips are in addition to the 30 to 50 one way trips per day currently made six days a week by gravel trucks contracted primarily by TriCounty Trucking of Saticoy to haul supplies between the GPS Mine in Santa Barbara County and cement and other processing facilities in Oxnard, Saticoy and Camarillo, such as the Angelus Cement Block Factory in Saticoy. (Note: GPS's new C.U.P. expansion application in Santa Barbara County calls for the ultimate elimination of these trucks south.)

     Attached are also two recent photos of gypsum trucks going off of Route 33 because they are too big and move too fast to stay in lanes and navigate all turns safely.

     Given the recent crash in off Route 154 in Santa Barbara of a gravel truck that destroyed a home and killed three people living therein, it would seem to be highly appropriate time for the County to re-examine the conditions of C.U.P. 0043-1 under which Lima (aka Quantel Canyon Gypsum Mine) operates. The topography of Route 154 is similar in many regards to Maricopa Highway as it comes over the mountains and back into the city proper.

      The current permit for Lima Gypsum Mine, does not expire for another 14 years, not until 2024.

     In the meeting with Mr. Klemann, the Coalition requested that the Planning Director, Kim Prillhart, use her powers of discretion to impose one additional Condition on the C.U.P. This request is consistent with the existing C.U.P., which on page 6, item 5, it gives the Planning Director the ability to impose additional conditions on the mining operation. Further, Item 17 on page 12 notes that if various guidelines or regulations are in conflict, the more restrictive ones should apply.

     More specifically, the Coalition is requesting that in the cause of public safety, the Planning Director impose a new condition on the existing permit that forbids the mine to contract with any truck or trucking firm that uses vehicles to haul gypsum on Route 33 that are in excess of the existing 30 foot advisory. 

     This condition in no way hinders Lima from it current operation as access to the mine can easily be made from the west through the 101 freeway and from the east through the 5 freeway, highways much more befitting the size and nature of these large haulers.

     That act alone would move these trucks off of Route 33 and back onto the freeways where they belong.

     Therefore, the Coalition is formally asking the Ojai City Council to come out with a unanimous resolution to the Ventura County Resource Management Agency and the Planning Division in support of this additional condition.

Thank you,

The Ojai "Stop the Trucks" Coalition


Gravel Truck Demolishes Home, Kills Three

     In a copyrighted story Thursday morning, the L.A. Times reported that an out-of-control gravel truck rammed and crushed a home in Santa Barbara.  The residents, a man, woman, and child, were all killed.

     The double-trailer truck was fully loaded when it hit four other vehicles before slamming into a house on State Street.  The driver suffered minor injuries to his face.

     The cause is undetermined, but the CHP web site says that brake failure may have been the cause.




Stop the Trucks Pleads with County Government to Regulate Trucking

     Now that CHP monitoring has come and gone, the gypsum trucks are back in force. 

     We are again seeing a constant stream of gypsum trucks that are dangerously over the the "30 foot" advisory length on Route 33, Maricopa Highway. The danger of this situation is now even worse as the truckers know that they can easily evade compliance.

     We are again asking all of our elected representatives to take some strong, positive and permanent action before there is another accident or fatality caused by this inappropriate use of a scenic highway. 

Thank you,

The Ojai, "Stop the Trucks" Coalition

Saturday, July 10, 2010

     Thank you all for your actions on behalf of Ojai. Please note that the trucks are loaded with Gypsum, probably from the Lima mine destined for the Oxnard plain. 

     They all exceed (significantly) the 30 foot advisory - which means they are all constantly crossing the double yellow line. They are running on Saturday, today, at the same time dozens of motorcycles will climb the mountain. 

     This is a deadly mix on our backcountry highway, all because CalTrans holds itself above its own advisory guidelines.

     This is a bigger issue of safety than the Ojai Stop the Trucks Coalition alone can take on. We need you as our regional representatives to take on this issue immediately before someone is killed on 33.




Shell Game?

Have the mines agreed to stop shipping through Ojai after arranging for out-of-county mines to do it for them?

     The "Stop the Trucks" coalition and our legal representatives continue to be deeply troubled over what we suspect are continuing and ongoing violations of the current and "expired" CUP's regarding trucks traveling through the Ojai restricted zone during restricted times and on Route 33 through the City of Ojai and most especially in front of Nordhoff High School. A number of these potential violations appear to involve Ozena Mine, and/or the Ojai (Mosler) Rock Quarry. 

   These possible violations may be, but are not limited to, violations of time, weight, record keeping and total number of trucks per day.

     Given that the County has a complaint-based review and monitoring system, we are once more compelled to call your attention to several ongoing and potentially serious permit violations of the existing EIRs that need to be addressed and reviewed by County staff. 





     - On Saturday July 24, 2010, at 3:10 am a white double hopper was noted heading northbound through the City of Ojai.

     - Between 4:14 am and 4:30 am five double hopper were noted heading northbound through the City of Ojai on their FIRST run of the day. They include: 1) the Neilsen Double Hopper (Turquoise cab with White box & trailer - Plate # 1XB3361); 2) the Neilsen Double Hopper (White cab with Turquoise box & trailer - Plate # 1XB3361; 3) the Green, Pajaro Double Hopper - Plate # 8H55637; 4) the Grey Swader Double Hopper - Partial Plate #693; and 5) Blue Cab, White Trailer Double Hopper from Swader.

     - Between 6:55 am and 7:30 am the same five Double Hoppers were noted as being fully loaded and traveling south through the City of Ojai on their FIRST run of the day.

     - Between 8:30 am and 9:00 am the same five Doubles were noted heading northbound through the City of Ojai on their SECOND run of the day.

     - Between 11:15 am and 11:45 am the same five Double Hoppers were noted as being fully loaded and traveling south through the City of Ojai on their SECOND run of the day.

     - Between 12:45 pm and 1:15 pm the same five Doubles were noted heading northbound through the City of Ojai on their THIRD run of the day.

     - Between 3:30 pm and 4:30 pm the same five Double Hoppers were noted as being fully loaded and traveling south through the City of Ojai on their THIRD run of the day.

     - It also demonstrates that for the drivers to get in three full runs a day, as they have been doing since Ozena opened in 2001, it takes a minimum of twelve hours a day, not counting time for meals, breaks or refueling. 

    - Given that the drivers are doing this six days a week, that's a minimum, including break times, of an 84 hour work week - more than twice the normal work week. And they are doing it on a dangerous mountain road in trucks that weigh 80,000 pounds. 

     Is there anyone that doesn't believe this is a recipe for disaster sooner or later?

CLICK HERE to view or download the official complaint (a .pdf document)



New, Larger Trucks Appear on Route 33

     In response to multiple complaints, the Stop the Trucks Coalition has asked our local political leaders to call the CHP to report that upwards of fifty one way trips per day (over 100 two way trips per day) by tractor trailer trucks are occurring up and down Highway 33 from the Lockwood Valley all the way to the 101 in Oxnard. 

     The trucks would appear to be in violation for the "30 foot King Pin to Rear Axle" length set by CalTrans as the road Advisory Length for Maricopa Highway (Route 33) north of Ojai into the Los Padres National Forest.  These Advisory signs are posted directly opposite Nordhoff High School and at Lockwood Valley Road.

     These trucks are creating a potentially highly dangerous situation on Route 33 as these vehicles are - because of their size - constantly crossing over the double yellow line into on-coming traffic on this narrow and winding mountain route.

     We do not as yet know for sure but we suspect that the trucks may in fact be coming from the only fully operational mine up there in the Lockwood Valley - a mine whose permit extension purportedly expired last month.

     Further, the Coalition's lawyers sent out the following Public Records Request today.  See below.


Chatten-Brown & Carstens

July 8, 2010

Mr. Thomas Knox
Public Information Office
Caltrans District 7
100 South Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Re: Coalition to Stop the Trucks Public Records Act Request 

Dear Mr. Knox,

Pursuant to the Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250 et seq), and on behalf of the Stop the Trucks! Coalition (Coalition), I am requesting access to any disclosable documents and records concerning the following: 

Any and all documents related to Caltrans’ construction contracts for work along the 101 Freeway in Ventura County, or any other road, which involves transport of rock, gravel, or aggregate via Route 33 in Ventura County. The Coalition is also requesting access to any documents that could establish Caltrans’ projects as driving demand for rock- and gravel-laden trucks using Highway 33 in Ventura County. 

To the extent that your agency claims the right to withhold any record, or a portion of any record, please describe with specificity each record or portion thereof that is being withheld and the claimed reason for exemption, with appropriate statutory citations. If you believe that a portion of the requested information is exempt from disclosure, please delete or black out those portions of the records and provide us with the remainder of the records as required by Gov. Code § 6253(a). If you make any such deletions, please identify the general nature of the material deleted and the legal basis for such an exemption as required by Gov. Code § 6255.

Please notify me within the appropriate statutory deadlines of any payment required prior to incurring any costs. If I can clarify anything in our request, please do not hesitate to call. Either printed copies or PDF files sent by email to are acceptable.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this request.


Arthur Pugsley

Ms. Linda Harold, Deputy District Counsel