MBCA Sends Comment on Palen Solar

MBCA sent a comprehensive comment letter to the Bureau of Land Management regarding the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Palen Solar Power Project.  We support the No Action Alternative "as the only alternative which will do no harm to the biological and cultural integrity of the landscape."  The detailed examination written by our scientist Board member Pat Flanagan describes conflicts involving hydrology, biological resources, cultural resources, visual resources, and air quality.  In the document you will find photos and maps that illustrate our position. 
 
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Comment Deadline on Palen Solar is Dec 11

The latest deadline for comments on the Palen Solar Project in Riverside County is December 11.  Here is the BLM webpage explaining the project alternatives.  This BLM press release gives details on how to comment.  We are also providing two already-submitted comment letters to inform you of important issues you should consider in your own comment.  Basin and Range Watch has provided a comprehensive overview of concerns and their letter includes maps and illustrations.  The second comment letter by Alfredo Acosta Figueroa and Patricia Robles is on behalf of La Cuna de Aztlán Sacred Sites Protection Circle, and includes a great deal of information about why this land is sacred to tribal members.  The attachments to the letter by La Cuna de Azlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle provide an extensive exploration and explanation of tribal sacred sites in desert areas that would be affected by the proposed Palen solar plant:  Sacred Sites Attachments Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

 

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Monuments Statement by CDC President

A recent Letter to the Editor by MBCA supporter and California Desert Coalition President April Sall in the Hi Desert Star offers a comprehensive review of the issues surrounding use of the Antiquities Act for designating National Monuments and why Obama's designations should not be altered or overturned. As a Pioneertown native and desert activist, Sall has been a passionate champion for National Monuments in the Mojave Desert for many years.
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Eblast December 2, 2017

-  Community Plans Comment period deadline: Dec.15, 2017
-  National Park fee increase Comment period extended: Dec. 22, 2017
-  Palen Solar Project Comment period deadline: Dec. 11, 2017

Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends. We have so much to be thankful for in the Morongo Basin.

The Basin is experiencing growth and more is certain. Along the way, we’ve learned much about working with the County to communicate the concerns of our communities about development that threatens to spoil the characteristics we value. We have the opportunity now to establish more effective measures to serve our communities and protect the natural resources in the Morongo Basin with the San Bernardino County 2018 Countywide Plan.

This MBCA Eblast is devoted to explaining the meaning and status of the Community Plans and why it is so important for you to express concern by submitting a comment by the deadline
.

Deadline to submit Comments on Community Plans: Dec 15, 2017

Countywide Planning
The 2018 Countywide Plan will be the basis for the Development Code and Ordinances that guide County land use decisions and other critical actions. The Countywide Plan carries the force of law and all unincorporated communities in the Morongo Basin are affected.

Given that the Policy Plan component of the 2018 Countywide Plan is not yet available, we are only being asked to comment on the draft Community Plans. The difficulty of this is that we do not have knowledge of the policy and development codes that will enforce the goals, vision, and characteristics defined in the Community Plans.

The frustrating and ill-conceived process for revising the 2007 General Plan and Community Plans must be acknowledged! Many Morongo Basin and Lucerne Valley residents have voiced concerns that the policies in the existing Community Plans are being completely eliminated or replaced by what the County admits are really only “Suggested Action Plans.”

Our Position
MBCA, together with MDLT/ Mojave Desert Land Trust, LVEDA / Lucerne
Valley Economic Development Association, and HVCC / Homestead Valley
Community Council contend (and this has been acknowledged by the
County) that the draft Community Plans are essentially Suggested Action
Plans. As such the Community Plans do not meet the requirements of the
State of California for them to be adopted directly into the County General Plan. The Community Plans – not Suggested Action Plans - must be incorporated into the Countywide Plan to ensure they have legal standing under CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act)!

It is important that County Planning staff hear our concerns that they are eliminating policy from our Community Plans. Suggested Action Plans are not Community Plans. Real Community Plans must be adopted into the Countywide Plan.

Actions identified in plans have suggested Community advocates lead the various Actions. Many of these suggestions are simply off-base. Hypothetical organizations are imagined to form to meet anticipated needs and in other cases, existing organizations are nominated inappropriately. Other organizations with long-standing roles in serving the community have been overlooked.

For example, in the case of Joshua Tree, the Chamber of Commerce is named in numerous Actions – however, the Chamber was never contacted to explore the feasibility of their championing these responsibilities. With a paid staff of one at the JT Chamber, the County should have known that was a “pie in the sky” solution. The Joshua Tree National Park Association was a second organization mentioned – however, taking on community service of this nature is not within their mission. In the Pioneertown Plan a couple of the organizations are listed that haven’t functioned for years. The County cannot assume the community will  - or even can - undertake the Actions in the Plans. It is beyond unreasonable. These communities are “severely economically distressed” and lack the infrastructure and resources to assume responsibility for the Actions listed.

The County cannot shirk the need to provide the leadership and governance – planning and implementation - required. We understand that community residents have vital roles in the fabric of their neighborhoods and community organizations. The rural desert communities are vibrant and resilient. But, they cannot be expected to take on the roles outlined in these Plans as presented. LVEDA’s comments document Action by Action how the community has worked in substantive ways to address egregious developments with County staff – particularly renewable energy in rural residential areas –and efforts have not been successful. What guarantee is there that these Action Plans will provide them with the protections they have clearly proactively called for over recent years?

Residents in Joshua Tree have also protested the Action Plan approach.
The community largely advocates building on the 2007 Joshua Tree Community Plan to revise it with the knowledge of developments that have surfaced since it was first written and to give it additional specificity.

The Community Plans are intended “to guide local expectations for County services and set a clear direction for the future of each unincorporated community.”  They are to “provide planning and implementation guidance for communities as they pursue their own unique lifestyle choices and goals.” The Suggested Action Plans fall short of these stated goals and threaten to leave desert communities without adequate tools for support and enforcement from the County.

Specific Communities
The current Community Plan Continuum is described by Land Use Services as a new system of community planning. It is to include a hierarchy of plan-types that reflect levels of housing, commercial and industrial businesses, schools, library, recreational facilities, and the religious and civic organizations available in the particular community. Plan-types run from the more developed communities’ Detailed Plans and scale down to Framework Plans, Foundation Plans, and Fundamental Plans.

MBCA holds that every community must have the protections of a Detailed Plan, regardless of the services, extent of the built environment, and organizations present. Don’t sell Pioneertown and Homestead Valley Communities, the Morongo Valley, and Wonder Valley short!

We suggest that your comments address environmental and economic concerns affecting your community specifically, as well as the wider Basin.
Including:
  • climate change
  • ecological concerns – wildlife corridors, species protections
  • renewable energy
  • natural resources – water, soils, air, open space & scenic qualities
  • population growth
  • growth of tourism
  • dark skies
  • traffic and transportation
  • county services – health and welfare
Pick the issue or two issues that you are particularly passionate about or concern you most. Use the links in the Resources listed below to view Planning Documents on the County’s website. These will be helpful to review and identify the scope of issues facing desert communities.

Read and Comment on your Community Plan by clicking links below:

Joshua Tree
 – Draft Detailed Community Plan (aka Suggested Action Plan) and the 2007 Joshua Tree Community Plan

Pioneertown Communities
 (Gamma Gulch, Pioneertown, Pipes Canyon, Rimrock) – Foundation Plan.

Homestead Valley Communities
 (Flamingo Heights, Johnson Valley, Landers, Yucca Mesa) - Framework Plan.

Morongo Valley
 - Framework Plan.

Wonder Valley
 – “The County is preparing your webpage.”

Resources
Use these links to view Planning Documents on the County’s website. These will be helpful to review and identify the scope of issues facing desert communities.
   (or just the Development Code PDF)

Also, here are two support documents created by MBCA Director Pat Flanagan:
A compilation of the Actions suggested in the Joshua Tree Detailed Community Plan (aka Suggested Action Plan) that illustrates the unrealistic list of the draft Plan’s suggested projects and actions.

A sample result from utilizing keyword searches of County documents
 to find references to your specific issues and concerns (for example “scenic”).

Where to send Comments:
Either:
  • online: through the link associated with your draft Community Plan (link above) or;
  • e-mail or snail mail to:
         Jerry L. Blum, Countywide Plan Coordinator
         County of San Bernardino
         Land Use Services Department
         385 North Arrowhead Avenue, 1st floor San Bernardino, CA. 92415-0110

         CountywidePlan@lus.sbcounty.gov

         (include your signature, printed, name, street address)

Two more issues briefly….

EXTENDED Comment period: fee increase to JTNP
Deadline is December 22, 2017 to submit comments to: NPCA.org/fees 

Also call our elected official in D.C., Representative Paul Cook
(760/247-1815) and County Supervisor, James Ramos (909/387-4855) – urge them to oppose the entrance fee increase and support the National Park Service Legacy Act!

Palen PV Solar Project Comment period
Deadline to submit comments: December 11, 2017

Read MBCA’s response to Palen Supplemental DEIS, Sept. 13, 2016 that addresses air quality impacts from location sited on Sand Transport Corridor and lack of AQMD regional monitoring for fugitive dust / PM10-2.5:

In closing
Wow – there’s always something isn’t there! It is more important than ever for us to maintain our resolve! If not now: maybe never. If not us: who? The residents in the Basin have shown remarkable sensitivity, intelligence, and willingness to defend the values of our communities. Don’t let up! Let local and national representatives know who we are and what we’re prepared to defend! 

Cheers,

Sincerely,
Sarah Kennington, MBCA President

Your 2017 MBCA Board
David Fick, Vice President                         Steve Bardwell, Treasurer
Marina West, Recording Secretary              Pat Flanagan, Director
Meg Foley, Director                                   Ruth Rieman, Director
Claudia Sall, Director for Events                 Seth Shteir, Director
Laraine Turk, Director
MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth and economic well-being.
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Deadline Extended for Park Fee Increase Comments

The Department of the Interior has extended the deadline for comments on National Park entrance fee increases to Friday, December 22, 2017.  You can go directly to the comment page or review the issues provided by the information and links in MBCA's prior News Update on this topic.
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Zero Net Energy Event Content

Sarah_and_panel2.jpg
Those who attended MBCA's November 4th program "Pathways to Zero Net Energy"  heard SCE presenters Will Vicent and Ron Kliewer share their extensive knowledge and experience with California's Zero Net Energy program.  These new regulations and goals pertain to new construction but also to home retrofitting to reduce energy use and save money.

 

Will_and_Ron.jpg Ron_with_slide.jpg
Will Vicent presented an explanation of the state
energy system and the development of ZNE.
You can view this in the PDF slide show
available below.
Ron Kliewer's presentation (second half
of the PDF slide show, available below) described
 and illustrated many energy-saving
home retrofit projects.

 

Will and Ron shared information and photos of experimental and real-world projects to improve energy-conscious single and multi-family residential housing. They provided technical information and practical suggestions for both professional contractors and do-it-yourself homeowners.  Also present at information tables were commercial providers Environmental Assessment Services & Education of California (contractors) and Renovate America, a company that assists with home improvement financing including the HERO program.  Southern California Edison and Town of Yucca Valley representatives also attended.  Three of the local solar providers from our online list attended:  Aero Sun Electric, SunWorks, and Solar Now.  

 

vendor_table_signs.jpg  
Table displays and representatives from Edison and several organizations that
provide energy retrofit assistance were present, as well as several local
solar installers.
 
A main "take-away" from the presentation was that even with Zero Net Energy buildings, "it takes Zero Net Energy PEOPLE to really make a difference." We must consider our daily habits of energy usage in addition to making home improvements.

You can view this PDF version of their slide show to see ZNE data and view many photos and illustrations.  The first half outlines the history and political development of ZNE - California's Title 24 Residential Energy Code - and the latter half emphasizes retrofitting for energy savings.  

audience_(1).jpg

Here is a clickable list of the additional resources that are listed on the last page of the Slide Show, with a few additional notes:

Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE)

DSIRE is the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Find local electricity rates and statistics at this site.

Zero Net Energy Case Study Buildings

   Volume 1:  http://bit.ly/2a6J6v4    Note:This is a 13+MB downloadable PDF file.
   Volume 2:  http://bi.ly/29VOVwx   Note: This is a 15+MB downloadable PDF file.

Power of Zero, Brad Liljequist.  This site provides a description of this book on the publisher's site, where it can be purchased.  It is also available through other online sources.  It does not appear to be currently available in the San Bernardino County Library system. 

Net Zero Energy Design, Tom Footman  This is the Amazon listing of this book.  

Zero Net Energy, New Buildings Institute  This site has very comprehensive and current information on ZNE.

Zero Energy Certification, International Living Futures Institute

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Latest Update on Cadiz Water Project

This October 31 article about Cadiz in the LA Weekly provides a history, an overview, and the current status of the Cadiz Water Project.  You'll also find quotations within it from many familiar local desert conservation stalwarts including Frazier Haney, Chris Clarke, Peter Brooks, and David Lamfrom.  You can read a number of past news posts about Cadiz on MBCA's Water Issues page.
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Eblast October 29, 2017

- Emergency Meeting on Joshua Tree National Park Fee Hikes:
 Thursday, November 2nd
- San Bernardino County Community Plan Town Hall Meeting:
 Monday, November 6th
 
Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
 
Emergency Meeting on Park Fee Increases
The National Parks Conservation Association is convening a public meeting on the evening of Thursday, November 2 at the Mojave Desert Land Trust headquarters in Joshua Tree. This is an opportunity to discuss the fee increase and suggest avenues for public activism. Here is the National Park Press  Release about the seasonal fee increases. Joshua Tree National Park Superintendent David Smith will be attending in an informational role.
WHEN:  Thursday, November 2, 6:30 PM
WHERE:  Mojave Desert Land Trust HQ, 60124 Twentynine Palms Highway, JT.
 
MOST IMPORTANT: public comment period is Oct. 24 to November 23, 2017. This NPS webpage contains a summary of the fee changes and the link to public comment, or send your comments by mail to NPS, Recreation Fee Program, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240
 
REMINDER: Countywide & Community Plans Town Hall Meeting
In preparation for making public comments on the San Bernardino County Countywide Plan EIR, MBCA encourages you to attend an informational Town Hall Meeting:
WHENMonday November 6; 5:00 PM
WHERE: Joshua Tree Community Center - 6171 Sunburst St.
 
MBCA Director Pat Flanagan will lead a discussion with the goal of lessening confusion and frustration around the revision of the Countywide Plan and specific Community Plans. She will take questions from the audience and provide guidance on how to best achieve communities’ interests by ensuring the 2007 Community Plans are updated and that essential areas will be studied in the EIR for the Community Wide Plan.  (Read the 2007 Countywide EIR .)
 
Make a difference in future conservation, land use and economic development policies! Send written comments BY NOV. 20th:
Re: San Bernardino Countywide Plan comment
Mail: Karen Watkins, San Bernardino County Planning Dept., 385 N. Arrowhead Ave., first floor, San Bernardino, CA. 92415-0110
(sign and print your name if using U.S. Mail, and include your street address)
 
And don’t forget to attend our Zero Net Energy Desert-Wise Living program THIS SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 4.
 
Sincerely,
Sarah Kennington, MBCA President
 

Your 2017 MBCA Board 
David Fick, Vice President                            Steve Bardwell, Treasurer    
Marina West, Recording Secretary               Pat Flanagan, Director          
Meg Foley, Director                                       Ruth Rieman, Director
Claudia Sall, Director for Events                   Seth Shteir, Director
Laraine Turk, Director
 
MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth 
and economic well-being.
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Proposed Fee Hikes at Joshua Tree National Park

The National Park Service has announced in this Press Release that it plans to increase entrance fees at a number of National Parks, including our own Joshua Tree National Park.  Fees would be increased during the "peak season" of January to May.  Here is the local KCDZ radio story and the Desert Sun's report.  MOST IMPORTANT to note is that there is an opportunity for public comment from October 24 to November 23, 2017. UPDATE:  DEADLINE extended to Friday, December 22, 2017This NPS webpage contains a summary of the fee changes and the link to public comment, or send your comments by mail to National Park Service, Recreation Fee Program, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240.

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Eblast October 20, 2017

- Countywide Plan Scoping Meeting: Thursday, Oct. 26
- Community Plan Update: Monday, Nov. 6
- Public Comment period for Countywide Plan EIR: Oct. 17- Nov. 20
 
 
Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
 
Between now and November 20th MBCA encourages Morongo Basin residents to take time to respond to the Countywide Plan EIR, as well as to weigh in on 2007 specific Community Plan updates.  This email gives you information about two specific opportunities to do so and provides links to helpful documents. The County calendar allows precious little time to get this work done.
 
Important dates:
Thursday, Oct. 26 - Countywide Plan EIR Scoping Meeting in San Bernardino or Joshua Tree
Monday, Nov. 6 - Community Plan(s) update meeting in Joshua Tree
Monday, Nov. 20 - Public Comment Period ENDS
 
Saving grace is a guiltless time to play over the long Thanksgiving weekend!
 
If you are unable to attend one of these meetings, know that MBCA is preparing comments to submit on the Countywide Plan. We will share MBCA’s comments with you in an upcoming E-Blast – to support your personal comments (see below on where to submit comments.)
 
Key comments include:
  • The Countywide Plan must incorporate the existing Morongo Basin Conservation Priorities Report, 2012;
  • The Countywide Land Use Map (see the County’s current Land Use and Overlay maps) must incorporate the wildlife linkage designs, including South Coast Wildlands Linkage Designs and the Apple Valley Linkage Design;
  • The goals and policies of the 2007 Community Plan(s) as updated must be adopted into the Countywide Policy Plan (for unincorporated areas) to ensure protection under CEQA of our land use.
 
Public Scoping Meeting: Countywide Plan Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
WHEN:          Thursday, October 26, 2017; 9:30 to 11:30 AM 
WHERE:        Joshua Tree Government Bldg. 63665 Hwy. 62, JT 92252
                      OR Government Center, Chamber of the Board of Supervisors, 
                      first floor, 385 No. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino
 
Read this overview and explanation of the Plan and the EIR process to prepare for the meeting. Beginning on the 5th page of the document (the pages aren't numbered), you'll find charts and maps regarding land use and growth in newly designated county regions. It appears that the Morongo Basin will now be in a segment labeled the East Desert, differentiated from the North Desert areas north of the San Bernardino Mountains.  
 
Local Meeting on Community Plans: Joshua Tree, Pioneertown, Morongo Valley, Homestead Valley
WHENMonday November 6; 5:00 PM
WHERE: Joshua Tree Community Center - 6171 Sunburst St.
 
Bring all your questions to this meeting. The intent is to clear any confusion and focus on how to best achieve communities’ interests by ensuring the 2007 Community Plans are updated and that essential areas will be studied in the EIR for the Community Wide Plan.  (Read the 2007 Countywide EIR .)
 
Make a difference in future conservation, land use and economic development policies! Send written comments to:
Karen Watkins, San Bernardino County Planning Department,
re: San Bernardino Countywide Plan –
Mail: Karen Watkins, San Bernardino County Planning Dept., 385 N. Arrowhead Ave., first floor, San Bernardino, CA. 92415-0110 (sign and print your name if using US Mail, and include street address)
 
REMINDER:  
Fall Desert-Wise Living program - Zero Net Energy Living
Saturday, November 4
Experts on ZNE from Southern California Edison will make a presentation and after short Q&A period, a number of local service-providers who can help you with ZNE projects will be available.
 
Sincerely,
Sarah Kennington, MBCA President
 
Your 2017 MBCA Board 
David Fick, Vice President                             Steve Bardwell, Treasurer    
Marina West, Recording Secretary                 Pat Flanagan, Director          
Meg Foley, Director                                        Ruth Rieman, Director
Claudia Sall, Director for Events                    Seth Shteir, Director
Laraine Turk, Director
 
MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth 
and economic well-being.


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