State drops Meghdadi investigation

The state Contractors Licensing Board announced last week that it was closing its investigation into the actions of local developer Andrew Meghdadi in relation to his removal of more than 100 oak trees on his property in southeast Chico last March.

As part of its effort to punish Meghdadi for taking down so many trees, last April the Chico City Council called for the investigation to see if the developer’s contractor’s license might be revoked. Instead, the board said the city had not given it enough evidence to establish that it had jurisdiction in the case.

“It’s really a strange situation,” said the board’s chief of enforcement, Dave Fogt. “We were not able to locate any kind of a statute to allow us to establish jurisdiction in the case.”

He said the investigators conducted a number of interviews but that they could not “find an angle” to warrant further study.

“We took it to the [state] Attorney General’s Office, and they came to the same conclusion,” Fogt said.

“Every city has an ordinance that adopts a building code,” he explained. “And if there is a violation, we can come in and investigate. Without jurisdiction there is nothing we can do about it. There has to be something in the building or planning departments [of the local government], or else we’re just left holding a bag of air.”

Meghdadi attorney Jan Fleener said the board told her office that because the city has no ordinance to protect trees on private property, it was more difficult to make a case against her client. Ironically, at about the same time the licensing board was making its decision to drop the investigation, a Chico City Council subcommittee was hearing about a tree ordinance proposed by a citizens’ group.

For his part, Meghdadi has said he is in favor of a tree ordinance.