Santa Rosa, CA – February 19, 2020 – Salvatore Latora, who owns property located at 670 Willowside Road in Santa Rosa, was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $50,000 ($25,000 for streambed alteration and $25,000 for water pollution) for unpermitted grading activity in a tributary to Santa Rosa Creek after a court ordered a default judgment against Latora on December 20, 2019. A portion of the fine will go into the Sonoma County Fish & Wildlife Propagation Fund. Other funds will go to the California Fish & Wildlife Fish and Game Preservation Fund.
Latora, who currently resides out of state, hired a worker sometime between July and October of 2017 to clear the area of trees and grade the tributary to make the land more useable, but did not obtain a 1602 Agreement from the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to protect the creek during construction. Whenever substantial alteration is done in an area with riparian habitat, the property owner is required to obtain a 1602 Agreement from DFW to ensure that natural resources are protected. Tree and brush removal in the riparian area resulted in a loss of habitat for wildlife and caused sediment to enter the tributary of Santa Rosa Creek, resulting in water pollution.
District Attorney Ravitch stated, “We take the pollution of our creeks extremely seriously. Therefore, we will continue to vigorously prosecute the laws relating to the protection of these natural resources.”
The Environmental and Consumer Law Division of the District Attorney’s Office filed the civil enforcement action after receipt of a report on July 9, 2018 from DFW evidencing the water pollution and streambed alteration. The final judgment prohibits Latora from selling the property unless he abides by the Honorable Jennifer Dollard’s orders to perform remedial work to restore lost habitat and obtain a 1602 Agreement.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Ann Gallagher White, assisted by District Attorney Investigator Mark Azzouni and Paralegal Joanne Miller. Warden Demitri Esquivel of DFW headed the investigation with the assistance of Melanie Day, a DFW Senior Environmental Scientist.