Lawsuit Filed Against City of Santa Paula and Developer -Williams Homes Over Approval of Development of Historic Property

Case Number: 56-2016-00487940-CU-WM-VTA

The San Buenaventura Conservancy and the Santa Paula Conservancy have filed suit against the City of Santa Paula and Williams Homes, Inc., because the city’s approval of demolition of part of a historical landmark and development of tract homes on the property is in violation of the law.  The Project No. 14-CDP-02/VTTM No. 5928 violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the Santa Paula Municipal Ordinance 816. The project, as approved, allows for the construction of 40 residences by Williams Homes on the site of a historical landmark— the 20 acre W.L. Hardison Farm Complex— located at 1226 Ojai Road in Santa Paula.

The property involved is identified in the city’s General Plan as a “historic resource” and was designated by the County of Ventura as Ventura County Landmark #35. In evaluating the project, the City determined that the Hardison Farm Complex was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the California Register of Historic Places, and as a City of Santa Paula Historic Landmark. As a result, the Hardison Farm Complex is a historical resource under both State and local laws. Notwithstanding, at the request of Williams Homes, the City approved the demolition of 2 historic buildings on the property, the demolition of the south wing of the historic barn, and the relocation of the 130 year old barn to be situated next to the Historic Hardison home onto a lot measuring approximately .65 acre, to be used as a garage.

The lawsuit alleges that the City of Santa Paula violated the State law, CEQA, by failing to require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report, failing to mitigate the adverse impacts of the project and failing to meet the requirements of the law in its approval of the project. The lawsuit also alleges that the City violated its own historical preservation ordinance (No. 816), which required the City to convene a design review committee to study the impacts of the project and make recommendations regarding appropriate mitigations, which the City failed to do. In addition, the action alleges that Williams Homes has illegally allowed the historic buildings to fall into a state of significant disrepair, further jeopardizing the historic resources on the property.

The lawsuit asks the Court for an order requiring the preparation of an adequate EIR, and for the City to comply with its own Ordinance No. 816. It also seeks an injunction prohibiting the demolition of any of the historic buildings on the Hardison Farm Complex unless and until the City has complied with state and local law by evaluating feasible alternatives to the proposed project and adopted mitigation measures to preserve this valuable historic resource.

The San Buenaventura Conservancy is a nonprofit advocacy organization that works to recognize, preserve and revitalize the historic, architectural, and cultural resources of San Buenaventura and surrounding areas.

The Santa Paula Conservancy is a community association that advocates in the public interest for the preservation of Santa Paula’s local and regional historic architectural, cultural, landscape and open space resources, recognizing the richness of the unique and and irreplaceable treasures from our past. The Conservancy works to increase public awareness and involvement by the citizens regarding areas of concern during all stages of development, planning and review. 


W.L. Hardison Farm Complex— located at 1226 Ojai Road in Santa Paula

Contact:  Pamela Murphy, Santa Paula Conservancy

Phone Number: (805) 570-8536

Email: [email protected]


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