Bolsa Chica Mesa Landowner Fined $430,000 for Damaging Ancient Native American Village
A near-unanimous California Coastal Commission and the Goodell Family Trust have agreed on a settlement that will have the property owner paying a $430,000 fine for unearthing artifacts at the Cogged Stone Site, the 9,000-year-old Native American village on the mesa overlooking the Bolsa Chica wetlands in Huntington Beach. The trust must also rebury the artifacts and restore the areas that were disturbed when archaeologists dug a series of deep pits on the six-acre site without state permission.
A Native American monitor must also be present for the reburials, as would have been required by law for the original excavation.
Hearthside Homes stooge Ed Mountford appeared before the commission meeting in Santa Monica Wednesday on behalf of the Goodell Family Trust to do what he does best: apologize, grovel and plea for mercy after desecrating yet more sacred land, bones and artifacts at Bolsa Chica. Hearthside, of course, is just the latest incarnation of the builder that has done despicable things on the culturally and environmentally sensitive coastal property for three decades, usually in defiance of state law. In 2005, the Coastal Commission controversially greenlit Hearthside's 350-home Brightwater project next to the Goodell site.
The most recent excavation was done after the property owner received permission to do surface studies that would not involve digging. Instead, three large pits were dug, damaging prehistoric shells, scorched rocks, animal bones and other cultural artifacts.
Despite Mountford suggesting a $130,000 penalty would be in order, the commission held an emotional hearing that was followed by a 10-1 vote to triple that offer. Funds from the settlement will be used to create an archaeological conservation project along the coast.
Speaking of digging, a Goodell rep abruptly withdrew an application to do even more of it when it became clear the commission was in no mood.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss OC Weekly's biggest stories. Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts