Eblast June 23, 2023

  • Light Trespass Ordinance Now in Effect
  • Talking Trash (and Recycling!)
  • Desert-Wise Living Landscape Tour
  • Pioneertown and Land Use in The Morongo Basin

Light Trespass Ordinance Now in Effect
Effective as of January 7, 2021, all exterior light fixtures in San Bernardino County 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 deadline for existing lighting in all other land use districts (including residential) is January 7, 2024. With the grace period for commercial districts having now passed, it is important to inform businesses of the provisions of the ordinance and urge them to address non-compliant lighting.

Until the January 7, 2024 deadline for compliance, all other non-commercial land use districts including residential will continue to be measured against the existing Glare and Outdoor Lighting (GLO) Section of the Development Code (refer to this Staff Report that contains both the LTO and GLO). Having heard anecdotes of code compliance officers not citing existing unshielded fixtures, it must be noted that the provisions within the soon-to-be-replaced GLO allow the use of some unshielded incandescent, compact fluorescent, and neon fixtures. However, the days of such unshielded lighting are coming to an end! Educating and informing property owners of the benefit and safety of using shielded lighting is the first step in addressing an egregious and harmful lighting installation.

The updated and improved Light Trespass 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 compact fluorescent 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. When selecting an outdoor fixture, be certain it is fully shielded, with a light source of no more than 3000 degrees kelvin.

Talking Trash (and Recycling!)
Many within our rural communities do not have curbside trash and recyclable pickup services and rely instead on a yearly Disposal Use Permit for access to county landfills and transfer stations. Understanding the important need to Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle, MBCA encourages thoughtful and careful separation of household waste.

However, currently, the Landers landfill does not accept any recyclables! All cardboard, glass, plastic, and aluminum are being placed directly into the landfill! The County Disposal Use Permit states that ‘you may be able to recycle...at specific sites only’ -emphasis added.  (The Trails End Transfer Station in Morongo Valley does have a recycling trailer.) Recycling and Reuse conserve resources and the energy used for manufacturing. The value of these resources was highlighted within the recent repair of a major Pennsylvania highway utilizing recycled glass.

We urge the county to expand their recycling capabilities and facilities!

Desert Wise Living Landscape Tour
The 13th annual Desert Wise Living Landscape Tour was a success with over 200 persons visiting landscapes within the Morongo Basin! While waiting for the posting of this year’s new virtual tour videos, please enjoy this playlist of all previous landscape tour videos.

Pioneertown and Land Use in The Morongo Basin
The applications for the developments of the Flamingo 640 Glamping project and the Wonder Inn have evinced strong and clear opposition by residents of the Morongo Basin to these inappropriate developments. The Planning Commission, in rare dissent with the recommendations of Land Use Services, declined to either approve, or to vote on these projects and the developers have now filed appeals to the Board of Supervisors.

The Morongo Basin is home to many unincorporated communities with important land use decisions being decided by a county Planning Commission whose 5 members too often have little knowledge of the on-the-ground conditions within the Basin. This, coupled with planning staff turnover, the use of contract planners, the dissolving of the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council, the repeal of all community plans by the Board of Supervisors and their replacement with ineffectual and often ignored ‘Community Action Guides’ have erased much of the institutional memory of the unincorporated communities and has greatly reduced the ability of communities to advocate for their special conditions and needs.

After an extended time without professional, experienced leadership, a new head of Land Use Services has been hired by the county. We are looking forward to the new Director pro-actively addressing the many vital issues affecting our communities. The Instagram popularity of the high desert and Joshua Tree National Park along with technology allowing remote work has fueled pressures for growth that must be balanced with the well-being of the natural environment. Policies that support 30x30 initiatives must be employed to recognize the ecological and economic value of our fragile, still largely intact ecosystem with its widely-dispersed communities lacking infrastructure. An oversaturation of Short Term Rentals continues to contribute to the housing crisis and lack of workers needed for our healthy economy and environment. The employment of planning principles that serve to build and support the community is critical to addressing and adapting to the pressures of climate change.

The recently adopted County Wide Plan employs the use of a web-based planning interface with a two-map system. The Land Use map has been adopted, and we understand a Zoning Map is now in the process of being refined to assure consistency with the Land Use Map as required by State law. MBCA looks forward to the inclusion of public input in the finalization of this important document.

Toward that end, we encourage our members and supporters to sign this petition asking the county to adopt the Pioneertown Mane Street Historic Overlay.

Thank you for your support in our advocacy for the healthy desert environment!

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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