State officials: H.B. developer failed to rebury Indian
remains in a
California Coastal Commission staff said
Hearthside Homes may also
have violated the law when they failed to report a particular
human remain during construction grading.
By Cindy Carcamo, The
Orange County Register, NOVEMBER 14, 2008
HUNTINGTON BEACH - A Surf City developer scored a victory
the state's Coastal Commission allowed him to keep his
However, details revealed during the
hearing and earlier proceedings sparked suspicion among
commissioners and their staff that Brightwater Hearthside
Homes officials may have mishandled ancient American
Indian remains on the Bolsa Chica mesa site where they
plan to build a 300-home community.
The state's Coastal Commission staff
said the developer has failed to document their archeological
discoveries for about a year and failed to rebury them
and an unclear number of ancient American Indian remains
in a timely manner, said Teresa Henry, the commission's
Coast Area district manager.
""(The developer) claims he
has been actively documenting but as far as I know they
are not," Henry said. "The ancestors have
been out of the ground since 2006."
Ed Mountford, vice president of Hearthside
Homes, told commissioners the reason for the delay in
reburials is because he's negotiating with two tribes
on how the remains should be reburied.
"It takes time to work these things
out," Mountford said.
After he was pressed by Coastal Commissioners,
he told them he did not have an exact date on when the
reburials would happen.
More than 174 sets of ancient American
Indian remains were unearthed from the Bolsa Chica mesa
sight that is now believed to be an ancient American
Indian burial ground and village once shared by the
Gabrielino-Tongva and Juaneño band of Mission
The developer has reburied a good portion
of human remains, but there are still unclear amounts
that have to be reburied.
"Mr. Mountford is holding our ancestors
hostage. They have been out of the ground for two and
half years along with … pounds of soil that contain
their DNA," Gabrielino-Tongva leader Anthony Morales
told commissioners at Thursday's meeting.
The state's Native American Heritage
Commission appointed Morales as a most likely descendant
to the site, which means he keeps watch on construction
and consults with the developer on how to treat ancient
Heritage Commission officials have sparked
an investigation on the developer's handling of remains,
accusing them of failing to report 6,000 bags of artifacts
and 10 boxes holding fragments of ancient human remains.
This commission plans to reveal their investigative
findings Dec. 12.
In addition, Henry said the developer
may have violated state law by failing to report one
set of human bone fragments found on the site while
She said the developer doesn't have
to notify the Coastal Commission about remains found
during archeological grading but has to do so during
By law, the developer must stop what
it is doing and report findings to the Coastal Commission
because the panel granted the developer the building
permit, Henry said.
Contact the writer: 714-445-6688