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Regulations Stifle Trade, Cal-Co Chamber Told

Calaveras County has some serious regulatory issues, said Barden Stevenot, a fifth-generation Calaveras resident and prominent entrepreneur.

Affordable housing, water issues and government regulatory obstacles were a few of Stevenot´s talking points when he addressed a Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week in Angels Camp.

In 1973, Stevenot started Stevenot Winery in Murphys. He also developed and is general manager of Kirkwood Ski Resort and Greenhorn Creek Golf Resort.

California has made bad public policy decisions, Stevenot said. Something needs to be done at a local level. “You´re a great organization to change what is happening,” he told the chamber.

Legislative decisions are costing the whole society, he said. “We´re living in a culture of negativity. … And a media directed, politically sensitive society,” Stevenot said.

“Just to give you an idea of how crazy things are,” Stevenot offered some of his personal experiences.

When permitting a winery, the local water board made it a chore to rid of the 15,000 gallons of wastewater the winery produced.

The water board “prefers we give the water to a cow and then the cow would get rid of it,” he said.

Thirty years ago, when Kirkwood was in the making, the project was sued by the Sierra Club over an environmental impact. Turns out Kirkwood lost the suit. But Stevenot said Kirkwood really won, because if the Sierra Club lost the suit, it could have appealed and would have delayed the project.

Another damaging legislation decision was, “You can´t mine for metals unless you backfill the pit,” Stevenot said. “Mining is through in California. You can´t economically backfill a pit.”

By the time he developed Greenhorn Creek, Stevenot said, “I´d been through (a lot of) environmental hurdles.”

“We ran into the valley elderberry longhorn beetle,” he said. The beetle is an endangered species and has federal protection.

Elderberry bushes, which the beetle is completely dependent on, were scattered throughout the project site.

“There was no evidence (of the beetle) anywhere but the Central Valley. But someone speculated it could be here. So we spent two years and $250,000 to save every elderberry bush.”

Stevenot suggested getting together and forming a committee of sorts.

The group would “review new ordinances on their merits and make elected representatives aware that they´re reviewing them,” he said.

The building code used to require that a nail be used to join two by fours. Now you have to use Tyco clips because building code requirements changed. Tyco now makes a profit from that, Stevenot said.

“All of this costs the society,” Stevenot said.

“The Third World is taking off because they cut regulations or don´t have them at all,” he said.

At the end of his presentation, Stevenot handed out a series of articles that focused on rolling back government.

One article, by Maurice P. McTigue, said the old idea of government accountability was “government should spend money in accordance with appropriations.” The new idea “is based on asking, ‘What did we get in public benefits as a result of the expenditure of money.”´

Calaveras Enterprise story by Vanessa Turner. For more Calaveras news, click:calaverasenterprise.com