Eblast: August 29, 2016

  • Altamira Gated Housing Project
  • Joshua Tree Solar Farm
  • Soda Mountain Solar Project
  • Dollar General Store vs. Joshua Tree
  • Homestead Valley & Pioneertown Community Plans
  • MBCA Desert Wise Living fall lecture
  • Alta Mira Gated Housing Appeal hearing preparation – Sept. 1
  • Alta Mira Gated Housing Appeal hearing - Sept. 13
  • Homestead Valley & Pioneertown Community Plans – see below
  • MBCA Desert Wise Living fall lecture – Sept. 24  

Recent decisions were made on a couple long standing issues of concern to MBCA and our conservation partners. Opposition wages on as several others continue to wind their way through decision makers. We can however finally celebrate one wonderful victory. 

After a particularly long and hard fought battle Soda Mountain is finally is resolved and will remain a pristine landscape for big horn sheep and all the critters and plants there. Job well done to the folks who travelled to San Bernardino and the Joshua Tree Government Center to speak directly to the Supervisors and the many, many others who wrote comment letters and signed petitions. The Board of Supervisors (BOS) showed great leadership in refusing to authorize the CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) Environmental Impact Report and they stopped the project in its tracks. Thank you BOS for listening to us and doing the right thing!  

Altamira Gated Housing Project appeal hearing

A community meeting this Thursday, September 1st is planned to coordinate opposition and support to attend the September 13th Board of Supervisors meeting for the Altamira Gated Housing project appeal hearing.

Planning meeting
When: Thursday, September 1, 2016 at 6:30-8:30pm
Location: Joshua Tree Community Center  

BOS appeal hearing (agenda and timing pending)

When: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 In person: Location: Board of Supervisors Hearing Chambers, 1st Floor County Government Center - 385 North Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino, CA Via videoconference: Location: Burke Government Center, Joshua Tree  

Link to detailed background on this project, including MBCA’s Comment letter. (http://www.mbconservation.org/alta_mira_housing_project)  

Joshua Tree Solar Farm appeal denied

The Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted August 16th 4-1 to deny the three appeals filed and gave their approval for development of the Joshua Tree Solar Farm – a 20 megawatt photovoltaic project to be located on 115 acres at the former Roy Williams Airport site. Many residents spoke in support of the appeals and more sent letters  – clearly and strongly expressing opposition to this project in the rural residential community. Apparently our arguments, including that this is not an area that can accurately be characterized as “disturbed land” (it is relatively intact acreage) and therefore not appropriate for industrial scale solar were not convincing to the majority of Supervisors. They also discounted the fact that the site is visible from a hiking trail in Joshua Tree National Park – which according to the County’s own Renewable Energy and Conservation Element Framework is a criteria worthy of consideration. Only our 3rd District Supervisor, James Ramos voted in favor of the appeal to stop the project.             Defend Joshua Tree (https://defendjt.wordpress.com) has reported that a lawsuit or three to stop the project from moving forward seems likely. MBCA E-Blasts will keep you informed of these efforts. This battle isn’t over yet.  

Soda Mountain Solar Project authorization denied: VICTORY!

Yes, finally some great news: acres of pristine desert in a critical wildlife corridor between Death Valley National Park and the Mojave Preserve are saved! The County Board of Supervisors stopped the project when the majority voted to not certify the CEQA environmental impact report. MBCA has formally thanked Supervisors Josie Gonzales, Janice Rutherford, and Robert Lovingood whose votes denied the project. We encourage you to send a personal letter thanking them for their leadership in defense of the desert. See MBCA’s home page (www.mbconservation.org) for details (including links to media reporting) and also a note below this E-Blast from Seth Shteir, MBCA Director and National Park Conservation Association’s California Desert Program Manager, about how to express your delight to the BOS for their actions in support of Soda Mountain.  

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement: 
 I am thankful that the San Bernardino County Supervisors voted to deny a key permit for the Soda Mountain Solar Power Plant—an industrial solar project located right next to the entrance to Mojave National Preserve.            

This plant would cover 1,900 acres and be about five miles long. There is no question it would have a negative impact on the preserve.   And thank you Senator Feinstein for your vigilance in protecting the desert!  

Dollar General vs. Joshua Tree goes to California Supreme Court

As we have reported, in mid-June an Appellate Court ruled in favor of plans to locate a Dollar General store in Joshua Tree. Opponents hold that the proposed Dollar General Store is inconsistent with and undermines the County-adopted Joshua Tree Community and Economic Plans. Last week, the Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance (JTDBA), a grass roots group of residents fighting the plan announced they have filed a Petition for Review with California’s State Supreme Court requesting the Court overturn the adverse ruling recently issued. Celeste Doyle, a member of JTDBA was quoted as saying, ”The County should evaluate the potential of the economic impact.” The County is required under CEQA as well as the County’s CUP (Conditional Use Permit) standards to address economic, traffic and other neighborhood impacts. This battle is also not over yet! Stay tuned.  

Homestead Valley and the Pioneertown Community Plans

The County is updating Homestead Valley’s and Pioneertown’s Community
Plans and invites the public to attend a series of workshops to learn what’s going on, ask questions, take surveys, and voice opinions If you cannot attend a workshop, you can express your opinion and ask questions by visiting the County websites for Homestead Valley (http://countywideplan.com/homesteadvalley/) or Pioneertown (http://countywideplan.com/pioneertown/).  

Homestead Valley Workshops
Workshop 1: What We Value
When: Monday, September 12, 2016, 6:00-8:30pm
Location: Johnson Valley Improvement Association Community Center 50567 Quailbush Rd., Johnson Valley, CA 92285


Workshop 2: Our Roadmap to Making it Happen
When: Thursday, November 17, 2016, 6:00-8:30pm
Location: Yucca Mesa Community Center, 3133 Balsa Ave., Yucca Valley 


Pioneertown Workshops
Location: Pioneertown Motel, 5240 Curtis Rd., Pioneertown
Workshop 1: What We Value    When: Tues., Sept, 13, 2016, 6:00-8:30pm
Workshop 2: Our Roadmap to Making it Happen, Tues., Nov, 15, 6:00-8:30pm  

MBCA Desert Wise Living Lecture - September 24th, 1:00PM - 3:30PM Title: Moving Toward Community-Based Renewable Energy Speakers: Mr. Peter Brooks, NLine Energy Mr. Darrell Reynolds, PE, Dir. of Engineering for Mojave Water Agency, Prof. Alfredo Martinez-Morales, PhD, Director, Research Faculty Southern California-Research Initiative for Solar Energy, UC Riverside Plus, local examples of water and energy conservation within our community.    Stay cool! Stay strong! Keep your eye on the prize: a healthy desert environment!     


Dear Friends, Thank you all so much for all the great support and comments regarding the Soda Mountain Project! We at NPCA deeply appreciate the community support and your involvement! Please take just five minutes of your time today to thank Supervisor Lovingood, Gonzales and Rutherford for their leadership stopping the Soda Mountain Project in its tracks! 

Three simple things to do:

1) Go to Lovingood, Gonzales and Rutherford's Facebook page, like them and post a comment thanking them and stating you oppose the Soda Project!

2) Send the boiler plate e-mail below with your name, address and contact to each Supervisor's Chief of Staff thanking them. Feel free to edit the letter to make yours!

3) Let me know if you've taken action so I can track how many responses we get!


* Supervisor Gonzales – [email protected]; http://www.sbcounty.gov/bosd5/default.aspx
* Supervisor Rutherford – [email protected];
*Supervisor Lovingood – [email protected];
Dear Supervisors Lovingood, Gonzales and Rutherford:
Thank you for your outstanding leadership rejecting the CEQA Certification for the Soda Mountain Solar Project and protecting the Mojave National Preserve and the California desert’s iconic bighorn sheep population.
Your action builds on the County’s considerable work with SPARC to thoughtfully craft a responsible renewable energy policy that creates jobs and protects the environment. The Soda Mountain Solar Project is simply the worst and most environmentally harmful renewable energy project in the entire nation, a fact supported by the opposition of more than 70 independent, nationally recognized research scientists.
Additionally, I feel that Bay Area Regenerate Power CEO made false and misleading statements to the Board of Supervisors, disparaged local residents and the Supervisors themselves who opposed the project. Following the hearing, Regenerate’s CEO issued a press release stating "Clearly, the sound science and many years of careful study and evaluation by federal, state, and county agencies and the project sponsor, were swept aside by emotive arguments by the opponents based on fear and misunderstanding." 
Such disrespect towards my fellow county residents and elected Supervisors who are asking tough, smart questions, should categorically exclude this company from ever visiting our County Chambers and asking for our County’s help on other projects.
MBCA’s letter to Supervisors Lovingood, Gonzales; Rutherford
29 August 2016
Dear Supervisors Lovingood, Gonzales, and Rutherford,
            The Morongo Basin Conservation Association’s board of directors and our members thank you for your vote against the Soda Mountain Solar Project. The MBCA and our conservation partners in the Basin have spoken out against this badly sited project since 2014. The impacts to the ecosystem were significant and as the CEQA analysis findings document, many could not be mitigated.                      You clearly wrestled with your responsibility to weigh the pros and cons of Soda Mountain. However, we whole-heartedly applaud your conclusion that its disadvantages outweighed benefits. This was especially the case when the meager benefits for San Bernardino County were taken into consideration.
            We must strike a balance with human activity in the pristine landscapes of our county. The DRECP and the County have worked to identify places that are appropriate for industrial scale development. Soda Mountain with its proximity to the Mojave National Preserve was clearly out of place.
With sincere appreciation, Sarah Kennington, President

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