EBlast May 9, 2021

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  • Light Trespass Workshop by Planning Commission
  • Stop the Threat to Community Solar in California
  • Short Term Rentals
  • MBCA Takes a Stand on Glamping Projects
  • Virtual Landscape Tour
  • New MBCA Website Features
 
 

Light Trespass Workshop by Planning Commission

At the February 4, 2021 Planning Commission meeting on the proposed Light Trespass Ordinance, Commissioners requested that a ‘workshop’ be held for the benefit of Commissioners and the public, citing the need for additional information and education before voting on this long-awaited ordinance.

The staff report for the February meeting includes both the proposed ordinance and the existing Glare and Outdoor Lighting regulations that would be replaced. The new Light Trespass ordinance would require that all exterior light fixtures be fully shielded to minimize glare and light-spill onto adjoining properties; mandate the use of a warmer tone light source (no blue-tinged lights); and require that all lighting utilize energy-efficient LED technology.

The workshop will be held on Thursday, May 27, 2021 between 1:00 and 3:00. The Commission will meet in-person in San Bernardino at:

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

Video conferencing facilities will also be available to view the workshop 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

As of this writing, it is assumed public comments will not be accepted at the workshop. However by observing this workshop you will be updated on these long-term light trespass issues and ready for public comment at the next opportunity.

Stop the threat to community solar in California

MBCA has signed on to a coalition letter expressing opposition unless amended, to Assembly Bill 1139. Currently in the Appropriations Committee and undergoing amendments, AB1139 as written would deal a crippling blow to rooftop and distributed solar electrical generation within the State of California. Some of the provisions within the bill include:

  • Eliminating the current requirement that SCE, SDG&E, and PG&E ensure that rooftop solar grows sustainably.
  • Curtailing the grandfathering of Net Energy Metering (NEM) credits for existing residential solar from the existing 20 years.
  • Imposing a monthly fee to be charged to owners of solar energy systems.
  • Reducing NEM credits to the wholesale cost of electricity (roughly .03/kwh) instead of the average retail rate.
  • Mandating that construction of residential solar be defined as a public works project and thereby subject to prevailing wages.

An effect of this bill would appear to incentivize the construction of utility scale solar far from the point of use. Community based rooftop solar coupled with energy storage is a critical component of a distributed electrical generation system that offers resilience and safety by lessening the need to rely upon remotely generated and transmitted electricity. Addressing the effects of climate change mandates elimination of the use of fossil fuels, and AB 1139 dis-incentivizes the installation of community based solar. We need more renewably generated electrons in the electrical grid, not less!

This bill is supported by investor owned utilities (SCE, SDG&E, and PG&E), who are anticipating the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) passing a revised Net Energy Metering (NEM 3.0) regulation. Passage of AB 1139 would greatly reduce prospects for a NEM 3.0 that promotes and encourages a distributed electrical generating system. MBCA encourages our members to contact your elected State representative and express opposition to AB1139. To find your assembly member and their contact information utilize this easy-to-use website.

Short Term Rentals

The effects of the proliferation of short-term rentals, aka STRs or AirBnB’s, within the Morongo Basin are becoming ever more apparent and alarming. As with many tourist destinations throughout the State, there is a severe shortage of full time housing rentals due in part to the conversion of existing housing from full time to Short Term Rentals. MBCA’s mission statement advocates for the healthy desert and the region’s economic well-being. The shortage of available housing is having an adverse effect on the local economy within the Basin. MBCA is tracking this issue and is working to quantify the scope and scale of the housing shortage as it relates to STRs. California State law requires the Housing Element of the General Plan (San Bernardino’s County Wide Plan) to be reviewed and updated every 8 years. It has come to our attention that this update is not required to include any information on the number of STRs. We hope to gather support to rectify this obvious deficiency.

Social media pages are replete with complaints of excessive noise, intrusive lighting, trash, and a general disrespect for neighborhood residents and the desert environment by STR guests. A recently created website provides a valuable tool for knowing the requirements and rules for the operation of STRs. This site includes regulations of the County of San Bernardino, AirBnB, and HipCamp. Within the site are direct links to file complaints of infractions of the regulations:

www.serenitysentry.com

MBCA takes a stand on Glamping projects

MBCA has recently reported on two local projects focused on providing high-end camping experiences for desert visitors. The AutoCamp project is already under construction in Joshua Tree. While the developer plans a number of environmentally-sound features, some concerns remain. While Joshua trees and some desert shrubs were saved in preparing the land, many native plants were scraped away. Read about MBCA’s observations during early construction of the project in this Desert Sun article. The other glamping project in Flamingo Heights is still in the planning stage, and MBCA sent a letter of concern to the County’s contract planner about issues ranging from traffic safety to wildlife corridors and water usage.

Virtual Landscape Tour

Production of the 2021 Virtual Landscape Tour is underway. All six properties are filmed and the editing process will be completed soon for a late May or early June debut. Project coordinator Stacy Doolittle says, “We covered the Morongo Basin in these videos, from Morongo Valley to 29 Palms. Each landscape featured represents the best values of what it means to be desert-wise, such as recycling water through greywater systems, or the use of local native plants to support wildlife and water conservation." While you’re waiting for the new videos, enjoy the 2020 Virtual Landscape Tour.

New MBCA Website Features

MBCA’s Web Team has created new website features and content that we hope draws your interest. We now showcase MBCA’s effective and data-rich public comment letters with a new MBCA Takes a Stand page. Among the new Desert-Wise Living pages are Top Ten Tips for Desert-Wise Living, and three expansive new sections about desert plants and landscaping in addition to 2020’s Virtual Landscape Tour video. (The 2021 Virtual Tour is coming soon!) Our recent News Update will give you all the details on our new features. Contributors include webmaster Nora Lousignant, social media providers Stacy Doolittle and Aimee Buyea, web manager Laraine Turk, and Team members Cathy Zarakov, Mike Lipsitz, Steve Bardwell and Sarah Kennington.

Your continued support and membership enables MBCA to advocate for the healthy desert environment!  Thank you!

Sincerely,
Steve Bardwell

Your MBCA Board:

Steve Bardwell, President
David Fick, Vice President
Laraine Turk, Secretary
Cathy Zarakov, Treasurer  
Pat Flanagan, Director
Meg Foley, Director

Brian Hammer, Director
Janet Johnston, Director
Sarah Kennington, Director
Mike Lipsitz, Director
Arch McCulloch, Director
Ruth Rieman, Director

 

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