Eblast: January 20, 2024

  • Plan to Attend MBCA’s 55th Annual Meeting February 3 !
  • County Misrepresents Reality in Program 4 STR Impact Study
  • County Misrepresents Reality in Program 4 STR Impact Study
  • Darker Skies Ahead with Light Trespass Ordinance Now in Effect
  • Support Lake Tamarisk in Addressing Air Quality Threats
  • Mark your Calendar for the 2024 Desert Wise Living Landscape Tour

Plan to Attend MBCA’s 55th Annual Meeting on February 3 !
The focus of this year’s annual meeting will be ‘Keeping it Local’.
With a multitude of issues continuing to advance into the Morongo Basin, this meeting will offer the opportunity to discuss and identify how to conserve and protect the things we cherish about this special place in the Hi-Desert.
We will discuss such topics as:

  • The new Light Trespass Ordinance to protect our dark night sky and the means of compliance.
  • Native plants, and the upcoming Desert-Wise Landscape Tour (In-person Tour on Sunday, April 21, details to be posted by early March).
  • The status of the Program 4 report on the effect of STRs.
  • Updates on efforts to identify housing solutions
  • Status of the many pending development proposals in the Basin
  • And More! (The 30x30 effort; water; clean air; and the rural-wildlands interface)

We hope you will be able to attend and share your thoughts on these and other issues MBCA is tracking. The meeting will be catered with a light breakfast and lunch served. There is no charge to attend, but we encourage you to take this opportunity to renew your MBCA membership! Please RSVP for the event on our website!

When:         Saturday, February 3, 2024, 9:30am - 1:00pm
Where:        In person at the Town of Yucca Valley Community Center
                   57090 Twentynine Palms Highway
                   Yucca Valley, CA 92284

County Misrepresents Reality in Program 4 STR Impact Study
MBCA provided this comprehensive letter in response to the Program 4 Report commissioned by the County to study the effect of STRs on available rental housing in the Mountain and East Desert Regions of the County. During the November 16, 2023 virtual presentation of the Report, it was announced the Report would be presented to the full Board of Supervisors (BOS) at their December 19, 2023 meeting. Contrary to assurances made after receipt of our letter, the item has not been included on the January 23, 2024 BOS agenda. MBCA will alert our supporters when the item next appears on the Supervisors’ agenda.

Our letter makes a compelling case to not accept the findings of the report where the opening sentence asserts:

‘The County could not find clear and empirical data that indicates that short-term rentals (STRs) have a substantial impact on the availability of long-term, rental housing options in the unincorporated Mountain and East Desert communities.’

This sentence prefaces the 65-page report. However, upon reading the full Report one reaches a conclusion quite to the contrary!

MBCA continues to encourage finding solutions to the housing crisis affecting our communities, and acknowledging and understanding the role played by STRs is key. The STR market is dynamic and continues to evolve and requires a careful study. MBCA has been advocating for this “Program 4”  study for the last several years and we remain hopeful this important evaluation will be completed with strategies and recommendations adopted to address the housing needs of our community.

Darker Skies Ahead with Light Trespass Ordinance Now in Effect
Effective as of January 7, 2024, all exterior light fixtures in unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County, and those installed thereafter, must comply with the Light Trespass Ordinance (LTO). The compliance deadline for existing outdoor lighting in commercial and industrial land use districts was June 7, 2023, and the date for compliance of exterior lighting in all other land use districts (including residential) was January 7, 2024.

The days of harmful unshielded lighting are coming to an end! Educating and informing property owners of the benefits and safety of using shielded lighting is the first step to correcting egregious and harmful lighting installations. Such corrections may be as simple as re-directing a light fixture, adding a motion detector, or changing a light bulb. Other simple solutions could be re-mounting string lighting under an eave or behind a beam for shielding, or the addition of a simple field-built shield over an existing light fixture to conceal the exposed bulb.

The updated and improved Ordinance references modern lighting principles such as the lumen output of lighting fixtures as opposed to wattage; the color temperature of a light source (warmer is better than cooler); and the measurement of footcandles. No longer will the metric for compliance be the presence of a shadow from a yardstick from a blue-tinged High-Intensity Discharge fixture at the property line!

The LTO does contain provisions allowing the use of string lighting of no more than 4000 lumens (total on a property!) with a maximum 3000-degree Kelvin light color and with no single bulb exceeding 40 lumens.

We have been informed that San Bernardino County Code Enforcement is poised to enforce exterior lighting compliance and will be commencing a media campaign to bring awareness of the effort to preserve and improve our Dark Sky. Property owners that are subject to a complaint on their lighting will initially receive a letter from the County with information on the need and method to comply with the ordinance. Should the violation not be brought into compliance the property owner will subsequently be cited.

Support Lake Tamarisk in Addressing Air Quality Threats
MBCA has written a comment letter expressing health and environmental justice concerns for the residents of this eastern Riverside County community. Lake Tamarisk is in the bullseye of the adverse effects of dust caused by scraping the desert of native plants by the proposed utility-scale Easley Solar Project. As proposed the 400MW project would observe only a 25-foot setback from the community and would effectively surround it with utility-scale solar! The community has created a GoFundMe effort to require the Project be set back farther away from the community. MBCA funded the installation of a PurpleAir monitor at the community to track their air quality.

Mark your Calendar for the 2024 Desert Wise Living Landscape Tour
April 21, 2024 is the date for the 14th year of in-person, self-guided tours of local landscapes! We will again produce videos of additional local sites that will be released in late summer or early fall. Our 2023 video tours can be found on our YouTube channel, and you can access videos from years 2020-2022 via our website or YouTube.

Bookmark your browser to our website to follow our calendar of events for happenings and events in the Morongo Basin. The Morongo Basin continues to draw interest from tourists and travelers from all over the country and the globe - and from developers! We look forward to supporting ‘smart’ development that supports the healthy desert environment, our rural character, and the economic health of the Morongo Basin!

Steve Bardwell
Your MBCA Board:

Steve Bardwell, President
David Fick, Vice President
Laraine Turk, Secretary
Cathy Zarakov, Treasurer  
Pat Flanagan, Director;
Stacy Doolittle, Director

Brian Hammer, Director
Janet Johnston, Director
Sarah Kennington, Director
Arch McCulloch, Director
Gary Stiler, Director

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