- Save the date for MBCA’s 53rd Annual Meeting
- Light Trespass Ordinance Now in Effect
- Protect Rooftop Solar in California
- Stagecoach Solar Project Update
- County to Amend Short Term Rental Ordinance
Happy New Year MBCA members and supporters!
Save the date for MBCA’s 53rd Annual Meeting
Please plan to attend this virtual meeting on Saturday, January 29, from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM. Members of the Board will be introduced and an overview of the many issues MBCA has been working on will be presented. There have been some notable accomplishments!
The topic addressed by this year’s speakers will be:
‘The Last Joshua Tree? Climate change and the future of this iconic species.’
This provocative title reflects the urgency that climate change presents to us all! Our speakers will be:
Brendan Cummings, the Conservation Director of the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Chris Clarke, the Ruth Hammett Associate Director of the California Desert Program for the National Parks Conservation Association.
The status of the listing of the Western Joshua tree as a threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) will be discussed as well as current regulatory requirements pertaining to the species. A question and answer session will follow the presentations. We look forward to ‘seeing’ you there! Please RSVP for the meeting on our website in order to receive the Zoom link for the event.
Light Trespass Ordinance
With the passage of the Light Trespass Ordinance by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors at their meeting of December 7, all exterior lighting must now comply with the ordinance. The adoption of this ordinance culminates a multi-year effort to protect our dark night sky. We wish to express our thanks to supervisor Dawn Rowe and her predecessors, former 3rd District supervisors James Ramos and Neil Derry for their advocacy and the many members, past and present, of the 3rd District Dark Sky committee who worked so hard to bring this to fruition. This list names most if not all of the community members who participated over the decade of dark sky efforts that culminated in this ordinance.
All exterior lighting must now be fully shielded to prevent visibility of the light source. String lighting and seasonal lighting are permitted subject to the limitations within the ordinance. As of January 6, 2022 there is a 2-year grace period for residential compliance and an 18-month window for commercial uses. MBCA will continue our efforts to inform and educate about this important issue that promotes health for humans and wildlife, ensures safety while supporting the tourism industry of the Morongo Basin.
Protect Rooftop Solar in California
The California Public Utilities Commission will vote on January 27, 2022, on the proposal to adopt NEM 3.0 (Net Energy Metering 3). The current proposal, favored by SCE, SDG&E, and PG&E, would drastically curtail motivation to install residential rooftop solar. The current rate of 25 cents per kWh paid for surplus electricity sent to the grid would be reduced by 80%, to 5 cents per kWh! Further, customers of the independently owned utilities (IOUs) would be CHARGED(!) an average of $57 per month to have solar on their roofs.
MBCA advocates for a distributed electrical generation structure that employs rooftops and structures within the built environment, and utility-scale renewables that are appropriately sited. The alternative to rooftop preferred by the IOUs is utility-scale solar that is too often located on intact lands far from the ultimate point of use of the power generated.
Recent comments by Governor Gavin Newsom indicate that he is not satisfied with the NEM 3.0 currently being considered, although he has yet to specify what changes he does support. Let your voice be heard in support of rooftop solar and the preservation of the intact desert ecosystem. Call the Governor’s office at 916-445-2841 and express your support for a NEM 3 that ENCOURAGES the construction of more rooftop solar.
Stagecoach Solar Project Update
The segue from rooftop solar leads to MBCA submitting new comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for this inappropriately-sited utility-scale solar project. 3000 acres of intact desert adjoining Scenic Highway 247, and within a known wildlife corridor would be sacrificed to enable its construction. This engaging and informative 25-minute video, produced by ‘Budding Botanist' Matt Smith, documents the existing intact desert of the Stagecoach site while describing the role played by desert plants and soils in capturing and sequestering carbon. MBCA will continue to track the status of this DEIR and will keep you informed.
County to Amend Short Term Rental Ordinance
The County of San Bernardino is set to amend the current Short Term Rental (STR) program. The Planning Commission is tentatively set to consider the amendments on February 3, 2022. While the exact date has not been formally set in an agenda, now is the time to provide input on this ordinance that has so dramatically affected housing and life in general within the Morongo Basin and other County tourist destinations such as Big Bear and points west.
The problems associated with the unbridled expansion of STRs in the Basin include:
- the evisceration of communities by replacing full-time residents with short-term ever-changing neighbors;
- the lack of full-time affordable housing to satisfy the needs of full-time residents;
- the influx of corporate interests buying up housing for investment purposes for conversion to STRs;
- increased liability for damages inflicted on unmaintained roads and the owners of the properties the roads are located upon;
- as well as other problems due to trash, noise and congestion, etc.
MBCA has written a letter to state, county and local agencies, describing some of our concerns regarding STRs. We contend that STRs must be properly accounted for within the State-mandated Housing Element of the County-Wide Plan. At present, STRs are tabulated as ‘vacant’ housing thereby severely skewing the inventory of available housing and ultimately decreasing funding allocations intended to address the creation of affordable housing.
MBCA is not necessarily opposed to STRs, especially when they are locally owned, however, the current situation is clearly out-of-balance.
We understand the STR amendments may include a mechanism for legalizing so-called ‘soft-structures’ such as yurts, tents, and tee-pees. The impacts on communities of these types of developments must be fully studied and recognized before permitting these types of developments.
We encourage you to present your thoughts and recommendations to the County for their consideration. Email comments to: [email protected]
Wishing everyone a safe and healthy year ahead! I hope you will join us at the Annual Meeting on January 29.
Steve Bardwell, President
Brian Hammer, Director