SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) — A longtime battle between Santa Cruz County and an eccentric inventor who was featured on the show “Hoarders” has finally reached a peaceful ending.
Roy Kaylor and a 153-acre redwood forest in Boulder Creek were at the heart of a controversy that dragged out over two decades.
The Sempervirens Fund said Tuesday that it’s nearly raised enough money to purchase the land and preserve the forest as a gateway for Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The nonprofit said the property will become a “gem” of wilderness.
Kaylor owned the land since 1984. The county took its first legal action against him in 2006 for violating several county codes. One Santa Cruz County supervisor called Kaylor the “King Tut of Hoarders.”
Kaylor was featured on an episode of “Hoarders” that documented his labyrinth of machines. Rusted engines, broken down school buses, dozens of junk cars, surfboards, old boats, and huge piles of debris were scattered between redwood tree groves.
He allowed many squatters to live on his land over the years, county officials said.
While some scorned Kaylor as a hoarder, others appreciated him as a Stanford University-educated electrical engineer. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, after all.
Kaylor calls himself “Redwood Roy.”
Kaylor wrote on Facebook about his inventions, including, “the preprototype of the Toyota Prius. And a SF Muni bus converted to a lab where the power supply for your computer, the insides of the battery for your car, the main power supply for Voyager (V-GER), and satellite power supplies were designed.”
Following a trial in 2012, the court sided with county officials and ordered Kaylor to cleanup the forest by hauling out hundreds of hoarded items.
A Santa Cruz County judge ruled in 2019 that Kaylor had failed meet the county’s orders, and his property still posed a “public nuisance.”
“Kaylor stated that he had hauled 72 pickup truck loads of trash and 10 large dump trucks of trash to the dump and filled over 300 large trash bags. He also asserted that he had evicted approximately 250 people, mostly methamphetamine addicts, from the property over a 26-year period,” the judge wrote.
The judge said Kaylor had not done nearly enough.
Kaylor and the show “Hoarders” said he faced $20 million in fines.
County environmental coordinator Matt Johnston said the county’s fines were far lower, totaling $12,500.
“Roy faced $12,500 in fines, which were eventually paid out of the proceeds from the sale of the property. The county code allows for us to seek penalties not to exceed $2,500 per penalty per day. Roy took that and did the math on what that might amount to, and has told everyone from Hoarders to anyone who would listen that we were fining him 20 million dollars,” Johnston told KRON4 Wednesday.
“After years of Roy fighting the cleanup and ignoring court orders, the county asked the court to appoint a receiver to take responsibility for the property,” Johnston said.
A colossal cleanup effort of the forest was undertaken by multiple receivers.
The saga finally found a resolution when Colby Barr, co-founder of Verve Coffee Roasters, bought the property from Kaylor and the county in 2020.
Funding from Barr’s purchase went into cleaning up the property, removing cars and other junk, and improving soil conditions. Working closely with Barr, the Sempervirens Fund launched a campaign, Preserve the Gateway to Big Basin.
Sara Barth, the executive director of Sempervirens Fund, said, “Mr. Barr has put a lot of love and care into the gateway property, and we are grateful for his stewardship and his commitment to restoring the natural conditions of this magnificent forest.”
The 153-acre property is forested from three ridges down into creeks, waterfalls, and canyons, forming a miniature basin of its own next to Big Basin. It is home to mountain lions, gray foxes, and many other forest animals.
“Working with Mr. Barr, Sempervirens Fund will ensure the property is free and clear of remnant debris. Resetting the property to a natural state will set the stage for Sempervirens Fund to implement forest, watershed, and habitat restoration programs… and improve forest resilience in the aftermath of the CZU fire,” the Sempervirens Fund wrote.
Sempervirens Fund is currently asking for donations from the public to purchase the land from Barr and permanently protect the forest. The nonprofit has already raised $2.18 million through donations, but it still needs an additional $68,000.
Barth said, “We really need the public’s support to make the difference. If you love redwoods, Big Basin, or both, this is a big moment for their future.”