Silicon Valley billionaire Sean Parker agrees to fine over forest wedding

SAN FRANCISCO Tue Jun 4, 2013 11:27pm EDT

Sean Parker attends the eG8 forum in Paris May 25, 2011. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Sean Parker attends the eG8 forum in Paris May 25, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Billionaire Sean Parker has agreed to pay a $2.5 million fine for failing to get permits to build a fairytale set in a redwood forest for his wedding last weekend, a California Coastal Commission staff report said.

Parker, the first president of Facebook Inc and co-founder of the music-sharing website Napster, wed singer-songwriter Alexandra Lenas on Saturday in a celebration in a closed public campground at the luxury Ventana Inn and Spa in Big Sur.

The preparations included building staircases, digging an artificial pond, erecting stone gateways, walls and a bridge, grading and contouring roads to create what looked like ruins, installing lights and planting more than 125 trees and plants, some adjacent to the creek, according to the report.

Staff for the commission, which regulates development along the Pacific Ocean, knew of the wedding in advance and feared that the wedding could imperil ancient redwoods and a creek deemed critical for a steelhead fishery, the report said.

"The unpermitted development has thus impacted the existing redwood forest habitat and has likely caused sedimentation of Post Creek," the report said.

The 12-member commission is scheduled to consider the proposed settlement agreement at a meeting in Long Beach on June 14. The fine would be used to improve coastal access and recreation in the area, according to the report.

It says that in addition to paying the penalty, the 33-year-old groom has said he would restore the wedding site to its condition prior to his developing it for his dream wedding.

Parker said in a statement that he and his bride were "proud to be working with the Coastal Commission to develop public-benefit programs that will provide greater coastal access and expand conservation areas for everyone while building greater awareness of the incredibly beautiful Big Sur area."

A 1972 ballot initiative established California's Coastal Act to ensure access to the scenic shoreline. The commission permitted the Ventana Inn to rent rooms starting at nearly $600 a night in exchange for operating the public campground. But the campground has been closed since 2007, and the inn allowed Parker to use it exclusively since January.

Sarah Christie, a commission spokeswoman, said her agency learned about the wedding plans in early May and decided to allow Parker and Lenas to proceed with their nuptials at the public campground because the damage already had been done.

"It didn't make any sense to cancel the wedding," she said. "That wasn't going to help anything."

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Lisa Shumaker)

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