Carpinteria controversy after mudslide cleanup efforts

CARPINTERIA, Calif. - As work begins to dig out from the mud all over the South Coast, a conflict has come up between the City of Carpinteria and a local contractor trying to remove debris at Rincon Point.

Peter Lapidus owns PLC Construction in Carpinteria. When the flood rocked Montecito Tuesday morning he was there volunteering his time and equipment removing bolder and debris near the 192 and Arroyo Pardon.

“Edison showed up and wanted to get through to Montecito and the water company also showed up and I wasn’t going to clear the road but they said they needed to get through so we started clearing the road,” said Lapidus.

That same day Doug White, a friend and client of Peter's, called and told him his property along with a majority of Rincon Point was trapped in the muddy debris.

“It’s been invaluable to us because we needed to act fast because we were trapped here,” said White.

CalTrans gave Lapidus clearance to dump their waste in the same location as they were.

“CalTrans was dumping off where the 150 comes in near Carpinteria Avenue and my dump driver asked if they could dump there too and they said yeah no problem,” said Lapidus.

According to Lapidus it was a big problem for the City of Carpinteria. The city said his company was illegally dumping and had to stop or he would be prosecuted.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Lapidus. “We had natural disaster and a 90-year-old was stuck in their house and we are trying to get them out. Everyone should be cooperating.”

The city wanted Lapidus to get a permit, but he says he didn’t have time to go through the process. After days of going back and forth with the city, Lapidus had to find a different place to dump the waste.

“The City is contracted through Mack Brown and they were the only ones that were able to dump on that site,” said Lapidus.“The city basically said to find your own spot.”

A nearby neighbor in Rincon volunteered his land to dump the debris.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Debi Clark, who’s lived at Rincon Point all her life. “It’s an emergency. It’s not like Peter just dropped some dirt somewhere. He’s saving peoples lives and making it so they can get safe.”

“It just breaks my heart,” said Lapidus. “Carpinteria is such a great community, but there is something going on at City Hall. I don’t know what it is, but it is not in the best interest of the residence. Granted Rincon point isn’t in city limits, but are we going to leave those people stranded there?”

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