Eblast September 6, 2021

  • Planning Commission to consider Light Trespass Ordinance
  • Planning Commission Workshop on Housing Element
  • California Rooftop Solar Threatened
  • AB 1183 California Desert Conservation passes Senate
  • Comment period on Joshua Tree National Park Improvements

Planning Commission to consider Light Trespass Ordinance

The San Bernardino County Planning Commission will consider a new Light Trespass Ordinance this Thursday, September 9. This ordinance has been in development for over 12 years with support by our current supervisor Dawn Rowe and her predecessors, James Ramos and Neil Derry, as well as the commitment of Code Enforcement. As explained in the May 27 video presentation to the Planning Commission by Third District Dark Committee members Steve Bardwell and Luke Sabala, the new ordinance will serve to protect our precious Dark Night Skies from the damaging effects of light pollution while saving energy, providing for safety and security, and protecting the health of the environment for humans and wildlife.

The new ordinance (included in the Land Use Services Staff Report for the meeting), would replace the current Glare and Outdoor Lighting Ordinance, and mandate that exterior lighting be fully shielded to prevent damaging and unwanted glare and light pollution. Existing non-conforming lighting on commercial properties will have an 18-month window for compliance while residential properties will have 24 months.

With the passage of the ordinance, a program of education will be essential to inform County residents of the need to comply and the method of compliance. Should the Commission pass the ordinance it will then be considered by the Board of Supervisors for final adoption. Plan to attend the Commission hearing and make your voice heard either in San Bernardino or at the video conferencing facilities in Joshua Tree or Hesperia; the meeting Agenda includes all relevant information including the link for online viewing of the meeting.

Planning Commission to receive Workshop on Housing Element

Also at the upcoming Planning Commission meeting, staff will present an informational workshop about the Housing Element of the County Wide Plan (AKA General Plan). The purpose of the Housing Element is to ensure that current and future housing needs for all residents are addressed. This element is one of 7 elements that must be included within a General Plan. The Housing Element must be reviewed every 8 years, and 2021 is the year of review for the County of San Bernardino.

With the severe lack of housing within our communities, a case could be made that this element is not serving the intended purpose. In conjunction with the Housing Element, each year an Annual Progress Report (APR) of housing types and affordability must be prepared and submitted to the State for review. MBCA has been raising the issue of the negative effects that the burgeoning Short Term Rental (STR) market is having on the local housing stock. We believe this type of housing should be tabulated as a separate category just as single family dwellings and mutifamily dwellings are tabulated. In order to solve the local housing problem, one must first define and quantify the problem and a detailed tabulation is part of the process. At present, the State of California does not mandate this accounting. We believe the County should proactvely take the lead in providing this information. MBCA urges our members and supporters to speak at the Commission Workshop and let their concerns be heard. The meeting Agenda includes all relevant information including the link for online viewing of the meeting.

California Rooftop Solar Threatened

MBCA along with a broad coalition of 347 diverse organizations has signed onto a letter calling for Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to prioritize rooftop solar coupled with storage to provide a more equitable electrical grid. The letter is in response to California’s large utilities’ position that more large-scale solar is required to meet California’s energy goals and they seek to reduce net metering benefits to home owners, small businesses, and communities.

An in-depth and technical rebuttal to the large utilities’ position by electrical engineer Bill Powers (who was involved with the defeat of Greenpath North) was filed with the CPUC. The filing convincingly refutes the claim that increased residential electricity rates are the result of cost shifts from Net Energy Metering credits for rooftop solar. A study by Vibrant Clean Energy with a Power Point provides a detailed analysis that shows the incorporation of rooftop solar with battery storage would save California ratepayers $120 billion over the next 30 years! This equates to nearly $300 per year per customer. According to the study, this savings would be accompanied by the creation of over 290,000 jobs in the County of San Bernardino alone.

With the effects of climate change becoming ever more apparent, it is essential that renewable energy generation be encouraged and promoted, not ‘not encouraged’. A resolution adopted by the CPUC supports the use of an Avoided Cost Calculator (ACC) that would reduce the credits for Distributed Electrical Generation (DER) and effectively discourages the construction of rooftop solar. A distributed electrical generation system that utilizes micro-grids with storage will provide the resilience needed to adapt to the effects of climate change. I encourage MBCA members and supporters to contact the Governor and urge him to reject efforts to curtail rooftop solar and battery storage. The organization Solar Rights Alliance has a wealth of information on this vitally important issue and provides opportunities to send a message to the Governor.

AB 1183 California Desert Conservation bill passes Senate

AB 1183 was passed by the California State Senate on September 2, 2021. The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature. This legislation will create a California Desert Conservation program to fund the protection of California desert ecosystems.

Comment period on Joshua Tree National Park Improvements

Comments are being accepted for proposed improvements designed to address the increased visitation to Joshua Tree National Park. Make your voice heard to address concerns about the West entrance to the Park, and to the proposed paving of the Barker Dam parking lot expansion. Deadline for comments is September 17, 2021.

At our recent annual Board retreat, MBCA committed to pursuing our mission through the lens of climate change. With the devastating effects of Hurricane Ida to be felt for months to come, the wildfires continuing to burn out of control and the ever dwindling Colorado River it is important to remember that we all have an opportunity to play a part in solving this existential crisis.

Regretfully, we have accepted the resignations of two long time directors and environmental activists from our Board: Mike Lipsitz and Meg Foley. We are grateful for the energy and commitment they provided to MBCA over the years. We will miss them; however, we are grateful to know that they will continue to let their voices be heard in support of the desert environment!

Steve Bardwell

Your MBCA Board:

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

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

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