Eblast June 1, 2022

  • Fish and Game Commission to consider Joshua Tree Listing
  • Protect Rooftop Solar!
  • Comments due on San Bernardino County Housing Element
  • Short Term Rental ordinance amendments
  • Landscape Tour was a success
  • Stagecoach Solar project put on hold

Hello, MBCA members and supporters! It is a BUSY time here at the midpoint of 2022 and the topics below all require our attention to assure the Health of our Desert!

Fish and Game Commission to consider Joshua Tree Listing
The Fish and Game Commission will meet on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 to vote on the question of listing the Western Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) as a threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). This May 24 MBCA E-Blast provides an abundance of information on the listing and how one can participate.

While the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance on at their May 24, 2022 meeting that increases fines for the unlawful ‘taking’ of Joshua trees in San Bernardino County, additional protections at the state level are necessary for this iconic keystone species that is being threatened by climate change and development. The deadline for written comments to the Fish and Game Commission to be made available to the Commissioners prior to the meeting are due by 5:00 pm June 2, 2022. Utilize this link to submit comments via the Center for Biological Diversity. You can also submit comments directly to the Commission via email by sending them to [email protected]. You should put “Agenda Item 5, Western Joshua tree” in the subject line.

The Fish and Game Commission will meet on June 15 in-person in downtown Los Angeles in the conference room at the CalTrans building. The meeting commences at 8:30 am: 

California Department of Transportation Building
Conf. Rm. 1.040 A,B,C
100 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Supplemental written comments will be accepted until Friday, June 10, and provided to the Commissioners before the meeting. Oral comments will be accepted either in-person, or virtually by phone or computer. The agenda and Instructions on how to participate can be found here.

I am looking forward to ‘seeing’ you there and hearing your voice in support of the Joshua tree.

Protect Rooftop Solar!
On Thursday, June 2, the California Public Utilities Commission will again consider a proposal supported by California’s three large Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs) to adopt regulations that would drastically limit the construction of rooftop solar throughout the State. The latest proposal would impose fees on a sliding scale for the use of solar-generated electricity (more use = higher $), and would slash the credit for surplus solar power by 77%. While one must recognize the role of IOUs in providing electricity to power our world, the proposal before the CPUC does not address the issues of climate change, equity, and social justice that must be at the forefront in consideration of this issue. We encourage you to use the option of calling-in to the Commission with your comments. Plan to call in at 10:30 am to get into the queue. The Commission meeting begins at 11:00. Use these Instructions for Providing Public Comment at CPUC published by Save California Solar to speak in defense of a clean, distributed, resilient and equitable electrical infrastructure!

Comments due on San Bernardino County Housing Element
MBCA has been following the preparation of this component of the County-Wide Plan (aka General Plan). The Housing Element (HE) is required to be updated every 8 years to reflect the dynamic nature of housing availability. As a component of the Housing Element, an Annual Progress Report (APR) must be filed that accounts for the housing available within a jurisdiction. Our letter of October 19, 2021 to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) focused on the effects of Short Term Rentals on housing availability in the Morongo Basin and the fallacy of accounting for STRs as ‘vacant’ housing within the APR. Our letter was referenced within this letter from HCD to San Bernardino County describing revisions needed to comply with State Housing Element Law. Subsequently, the County has published an Amended Draft of the Housing Element accompanied by a Technical Report.Our comments will note the complexity and difficulty of addressing the housing needs of this huge and diverse county. With supervisorial districts varying in size between 3.8 square miles in the urban 4th District to 1,850 square miles of desert, urban, and mountain areas in the 3rd District, a one-size approach is inadequate for setting policies to be applied throughout the county. While the technical report is dense with information, it does document and tabulate many of the characteristics of the varying regions.

We are in the process of preparing our comments prior to the deadline of Monday, June 6, 2022Comments should be addressed to:
[email protected]

We encourage you to familiarize yourselves with the Housing Element and use it to inform comments to the County on the STR issue that follows.

Short Term Rental ordinance amendments
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors will consider amendments to the county Short Term Rental Ordinance at their Tuesday, June 14, 2022 meeting. At the February 2022 Planning Commission hearing, Commissioners rejected proposals for amendments and approved different measures that, we believe, will be presented to the Board for consideration.

Subsequent to the Planning Commission action, and in anticipation of the Supervisors’ meeting on June 14, MBCA produced this Position Statement and Video that describes the effects of too many STRs on the communities of the Morongo Basin.

MBCA is asking that a ‘pause’ be placed on the issuance of new, or renewal of STR permits for study and analysis of this complex issue. Following these sorely needed studies, appropriate regulations and amendments can then be crafted. MBCA has drafted a Petition calling on the Board of Supervisors to enact a ‘pause’. We encourage you to sign this petition, and attend the Supervisors hearing on Tuesday, June 14, beginning at 9am, and express your opinion and concerns.

The Supervisor’s meetings are held both in person and remotely. In San Bernardino, the location is:

County Government Center
Covington Chambers
385 N. Arrowhead Avenue, 1st Floor
San Bernardino, CA 92415

Video conferencing facilities will be available to view the meeting and make oral comments at the following locations:

Bob Burke Government Center
63665 Twentynine Palms Highway 1st floor
Joshua Tree, CA 92252

High Desert Government Center
15900 Smoke Tree St.
Hesperia, CA 92345

Landscape Tour was a success
Our 2022 Spring Desert-Wise Landscape tour was a great success! At our April 24 in-person Tour, 5 sites were open and garnered enthusiastic responses from almost 200 participants after several years of virtual-only tours. The Landscape Tour Essay Contest winners and their essays can be found on our website. MBCA chose to use a hybrid format this year, so in addition to the one-day in-person Tour, virtual tours of 4 additional Hi-Desert landscape sites will be published soon, with notification via email and social media.

Stagecoach Solar Project put on Hold
We received this news yesterday from the State Lands Commission about this nearly 3,700-acre utility-scale solar project north of Lucerne Valley that would destroy the intact desert:

 The project has been put on hold at the applicant’s request as they re-evaluate the market.

Currently we don’t have an estimate for when or if they might want to proceed.

If they do come back and want to proceed with the project, we will send out a mailing to inform all interested parties.“

 A victory (albeit temporary!) in support of our Healthy Desert!

As former MBCA director, Ruth Rieman reminds us: Speak up! Our voices do make a difference!

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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