Eblasts

  • Eblast May 13, 2019

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    • Paradise Valley Development Threatens Joshua Tree National Park
    • Stop Cadiz! Support SB-307
    • West Mojave Route Network Project (WEMO) Land Use Plan Amendment published
    • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) workshop: Yucca Valley, May 18, 2019:  RSVP seth.shteir@gmail.com
    • Submit your Desert-Wise Living Essay!

    Paradise Valley Development Threatens Joshua Tree National Park

    The Riverside County Planning Commission will meet this Wednesday in Palm Desert to consider this grossly inappropriate development that would place a new town of 20,000 to 25,000 residents with 1,380,000 square feet of commercial development, directly on the southern boundary of Joshua Tree National Park. The agenda for the meeting indicates that staff is recommending that this item be continued to a future date; however under the provisions of the Brown Act, public comments must be accepted at the time of the hearing. Indications are that turnout for the hearing will be good. I plan to attend and can offer a ride for up to three additional people.

    WHEN:  WEDNESDAY MAY 15, 2019 9:30AM

    WHERE:  RIVERSIDE COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION STEVE ROBBINS ADMINISTRATION BUILDING, Coachella Valley Water District - Administration Board Room, 75515 Hovley Lane East, Palm Desert, CA 92211

    Stop Cadiz! Support SB-307

    SB-307 (Roth) would prohibit the use of a water conveyance facility to transfer water from a groundwater basin underlying desert lands unless the State Lands Commission, in consultation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Water Resources finds that the transfer will not adversely affect the natural or cultural resources of the land. This bill would subject the controversial Cadiz water project to the desperately needed environmental review it has so far evaded.

    California Senator Dianne Feinstein has indicated
    her support for this bill. The State Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to forward this bill to the full Senate. Contact Senator Anthony Portantino, (916) 651-4025, chair of the Appropriations Committee and primary co-author of the legislation, and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (916-651-4039) to urge them to approve and send SB-307 to the floor for a vote. It is scheduled for an Appropriations Committee hearing on May 16. Should the Senate approve the bill, it will then go to the State Assembly where a similar bill won by a 2/3 majority in 2018. Stay tuned as we track the progress of this vitally important legislation.

    West Mojave Route Network Project (WEMO) Land Use Plan Amendment published

    The West Mojave Route Network Project Land Use Plan Amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area Plan and Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) is now available for download. The deadline for protests is May 28, 2019.

    Our conservation partner, Community ORV Watch, has prepared a preliminary analysis of the recently released documents. The current mapping system uses an entirely web-based interface as opposed to the PDF maps that were utilized in the past. Our previous comments and efforts appear to have made a difference and many are reflected in Alternative 5, the BLM’s Proposed Action Alternative. Many of the short, discontinuous route segments within the checkerboarded communities in County Service Areas (CSAs) have now been designated as Street Legal Only. This is a good step towards controlling unwelcome and disruptive OHV use within CSAs communities although there continue to be routes in communities that are identified ‘Motorized, No Subdesignation’. This designation permits the use of any motorized vehicle (OHV, ATV, electric) within neighborhood communities that are accessible by traveling on County roads. OHVs driving on such routes are subject to the County’s OHV ordinance that the Sheriff's department and Code Enforcement will enforce.

    We encourage you to study and digest the MANY documents and extremely detailed maps that have been posted on the BLM website .

    National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) workshop: Saturday, May 18, 2019

    A free workshop designed to teach participants how to craft meaningful, substantive comments in opposition to inappropriate developments on public land. The workshop is being offered at this time because more desert advocates are needed to defend the desert we love. Organized by the California Desert Coalition (https://www.cadesertcoalition.org), the lawyers from Advocates of the West, (https://advocateswest.org/) will lead the day’s activities. MBCA and the Conservation Lands Foundation are also providing support for this event. For more information check MBCA’s Calendar page. Please RSVP to seth.shteir@gmail.com.

    Submit your Desert-Wise Living Essay!

    Again, many thanks to all of the sponsors, hosts and volunteers who made the ninth Desert Wise Landscape tour a success! I encourage everyone, hosts, docents and visitors to write a short essay describing your experience with the tour to be eligible for the generous gift certificates offered by Cactus Mart in Morongo Valley, and Unique Nursery in Yucca Valley. Please see the Landscape Tour Essay Contest page on our website for information on how to enter.

    With the defeat of the Alta Mira development and the inclusion of many of our thoughts and recommendations into this latest WEMO, it is clear that our voices do make a difference! Onward!

    Sincerely,

    Steve Bardwell President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

    Your 2019 MBCA Board 

    Steve Bardwell, President                          Pat Flanagan, Director       
    David Fick, Vice President                         Meg Foley, Director
    Laraine Turk, Recording Secretary            Mike Lipsitz, Director
    Marina West, Treasurer                              Ruth Rieman, Director
    Sarah Kennington, Past President             Seth Shteir, Director

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  • Eblast May 2, 2019

    • Submit your Desert-Wise Living Essay!
    • Stop Cadiz! Support SB-307
    • Alta Mira Development Defeated!
    • Paradise Valley Development Threatens Joshua Tree National Park
    • West Mojave Route Network Project (WEMO) Land Use Plan Amendment published
    • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) workshop: Yucca Valley, May 18, 2019: RSVP seth.shteir@gmail.com

      Submit your Desert-Wise Living Essay!
      Many thanks to all of the sponsors, hosts and volunteers who made the ninth Desert Wise Landscape tour a success! I encourage everyone, hosts, docents and visitors to write a short essay describing your experience with the tour to be eligible for gift certificates offered by Cactus Mart in Morongo Valley, and Unique Nursery in Yucca Valley. Please see the Essay Contest page on our web site for information on how to enter.

      Stop Cadiz! Support SB-307
      SB-307 (Roth) would prohibit the use of a water conveyance facility to transfer water from a groundwater basin underlying desert lands unless the State Lands Commission, in consultation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Water Resources finds that the transfer will not adversely affect the natural or cultural resources of the land. This bill would subject the controversial Cadiz water project to the desperately needed environmental review it has so far evaded. The State Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider this bill on May 6, 2019. Contact Senator Anthony Portantino, (916) 651-4025, chair of the Appropriations Committee and primary co-author of the legislation, and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (916-651-4039) to urge them to approve and send SB-307 to the floor for a vote. Should the Senate approve the bill, it will then go to the State Assembly where a similar bill won by a 2/3 majority in 2018. Stay tuned as we track the progress of this vitally important legislation.

      Alta Mira Development Defeated!
      To settle the CEQA lawsuit filed by the JT105 Alliance, the Board of Supervisors voted on April 16 to rescind the entitlements for the inappropriate and ill-conceived 105 acre, 248 lot gated subdivision, known as the Alta Mira housing development proposed for Joshua Tree, effectively ending the decade-long opposition to this project. This victory has been achieved through the exceptional efforts of the local community in mounting legal challenges to the development. The legal challenges were funded through generous contributions and the unflagging efforts of members of the community. Well done and congratulations to all who helped to secure this victory!

      Paradise Valley Development Threatens Joshua Tree National Park
      So, just as we announce the defeat of Alta Mira, another inappropriate and damaging development is under review in Riverside County. An 1,848-acre community within a 5,000-acre specific plan boundary would, if approved by the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, be constructed directly on the southern border of Joshua Tree National Park. This development with 8,490 new dwelling units, approximately 20,000 residents, and up to 1,380,000 square feet of non-residential development would have a tremendous affect on the Park.

      Paradise Valley is within the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP). This plan was crafted over many years with input from the many stakeholders including developers, the building trades, and the conservation community. A condition of any development within the plan boundary is that a joint project review (JPR) be undertaken to enable thorough evaluation of a project. Riverside County has not required a JPR for Paradise Valley and the continued viability of the MSHCP is now in danger.

      Chris Clarke, of the National Park Conservation Association has stated: This new city would place 20-25,000 new human residents directly along the southern border of the park, furthering the urban walling-off of the park, with serious consequences for the ecological integrity of the park.

      We encourage you to learn about this ill-conceived development by reviewing the information from the Riverside County planning department (click here) and to write, email or call the Project Planner: Russell Brady (rbrady@arivco.org) at Riverside County Planning Department PO Box 1409 Riverside, CA 92502-1409. (951) 955-3025. Should the project be approved by the Planning Commission, it will then go to the Board of Supervisors for final approval. This project is located within the 4th district now represented by V. Manuel Perez who may be contacted via email at: district4@rivco.org.

      As of this writing, it is unclear if the Planning Commission will choose to ‘continue’ this item to another date due to several outstanding issues; notably a traffic study, a hydrological study and a spring biological study. Currently the Riverside County Planning Commission is set to consider this application at 9:30 am on May 15, 2019 at 75-515 E. Hovley Lane, Palm Desert, CA 92211. Please stay tuned and we will provide more information as it becomes available.

      West Mojave Route Network Project (WEMO)  Land Use Plan Amendment published
      The West Mojave Route Network Project Land Use Plan Amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area Plan and Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) is now available for download. The deadline for protests in the latest chapter of this excruciating WEMO process is May 28, 2019. Our conservation partners, Community ORV Watch, have prepared a preliminary analysis of the recently released documents. The current mapping system uses an entirely web-based interface as opposed to the PDF maps that were utilized in the past. Our previous comments and efforts appear to have made a difference and this is reflected in Alternative 5, the BLM’s Proposed Action Alternative. Many of the short, discontinuous route segments within checkerboarded communities have now been designated as Street Legal Only. This is a good step towards controlling unwelcome and disruptive OHV use within our residential communities.

      We encourage you to study and digest the MANY documents and extremely detailed maps that have been posted on the BLM website.

      National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) workshop: Saturday, May 18, 2019
      A free workshop designed to teach participants how to craft meaningful, substantive comments in opposition to inappropriate developments on public land. The workshop is being offered at this time because more desert advocates are needed to defend the desert we love.  We are faced with increasingly complex public policy issues, such as the reopening of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) that will affect every aspect of the quality of life in the desert, and the soon-to-be-published WEMO LUPA (Land Use Plan Amendment) and SEIS (Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement) (see above). This workshop is being organized by the environmental lawyers from Advocates of the West (https://advocateswest.org/), and the California Desert Coalition (https://www.cadesertcoalition.org). MBCA and the Conservation Lands Foundation are also providing support for this event. For more information see the NEPA Workshop event listing on MBCA’s Calendar page. Please RSVP to seth.shteir@gmail.com by May 12, 2019.

    Thanks again to all the members and supporters of MBCA for your continued interest and activism!

    Sincerely,

    Steve Bardwell President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

    Your 2019 MBCA Board 

    Steve Bardwell, President                          Pat Flanagan, Director       
    David Fick, Vice President                         Meg Foley, Director
    Laraine Turk, Recording Secretary            Mike Lipsitz, Director
    Marina West, Treasurer                             Ruth Rieman, Director
    Sarah Kennington, Past President             Seth Shteir, Director



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  • Eblast April 24, 2019

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    • Desert-Wise Living Landscape Tour: April 27 & 28, 2019
    • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) workshop: Yucca Valley, May 18, 2019 -- RSVP seth.shteir@gmail.com
    • West Mojave Route Network  Project (WEMO) Land Use Amendment to be published
    • Paradise Valley Development Threatens Joshua Tree National Park


    This weekend!  9th Annual DWL Landscape Tour: April 27 & 28
    The Super Bloom is peaking just as our Landscape Tour is happening! Register now for the Desert-Wise Living Landscape Tour featuring Morongo Basin properties showcasing drought-tolerant landscapes.  Saturday, April 27 will feature 11 south-east-end sites and Sunday, April 28 will feature 10 north-west-end sites. This is informative and fun event showcases imaginative and creative landscapes throughout the Morongo Basin.

    For information and to register for the event, go to the registration page at MBCA’s web site.

    National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) workshop: Saturday, May 18, 2019
    A free workshop designed to teach participants how to craft meaningful, substantive comments in opposition to inappropriate developments on public land. The workshop is being offered at this time because more desert advocates are needed to defend the desert we love.  We are faced with increasingly complex public policy issues, such as the reopening of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) that will affect every aspect of the quality of life in the desert, and the soon-to-be-published WEMO LUPA (Land Use Plan Amendment) and SEIS (Supplemental Environmental Impact Statemement) (see below).

    This workshop is being organized by expert and experienced environmental lawyers from Advocates of the West (https://advocateswest.org/) and the California Desert Coalition (https://www.cadesertcoalition.org). MBCA and the Conservation Lands Foundation are also providing support for this event. For more information see the mbconservation.org web page. Please RSVP to seth.shteir@gmail.com by May 12, 2019.

    West Mojave Route Network Project (WEMO)  Land Use Plan Amendment to be published
    The West Mojave Route Network Project Land Use Plan Amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area Plan and Final SEIS is now available for download. The anticipated date of the publication of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register is April 26, 2019. The publication will open a 30-day protest period.

    MBCA has been tracking the WEMO process and has provided comments to the BLM regarding this lengthy and complicated document. Our comments have emphasized the importance of making ‘street legal only vehicle’ designations for many of the fractured discontinuous routes that have encouraged off-highway vehicle (OHV) use within our existing rural communities. MBCA will keep you informed of the status of this latest report by BLM as we study and digest the MANY documents that have been posted on the BLM website.

    Paradise Valley Development Threatens Joshua Tree National Park
    A 1,848-acre community within a 5,000-acre specific plan boundary is proposed in Riverside County on the southern border of Joshua Tree National Park. This development with 8,490 new dwelling units and up to 1,380,000 square feet of non-residential development would have a tremendous affect on the Park.

    Chris Clarke, of the National Park Conservation Association has stated: This new city would place 20-25,000 new human residents directly along the southern border of the park, furthering the urban walling-off of the park, with serious consequences for the ecological integrity of the park.

    MBCA will continue to track this project to provide information for substantive comments in opposition and any updates on scheduled hearings.

    We encourage you to learn about this ill-conceived development by reviewing the information from the Riverside County planning department (click here) and to write, email or call the Project Planner: Russell Brady (rbrady@arivco.org) at Riverside County Planning Department PO Box 1409 Riverside, CA 92502-1409. (951) 955-3025.

    As of this writing, the Riverside County Planning Commission is scheduled to consider this development on May 15, 2019 at 4080 Lemon St., 1st floor, Riverside CA.


    Thanks again to all the members and supporters of MBCA for your continued interest and activism that is demanded by the many threats that face us here in the desert.

    Here comes the Landscape Tour! I have to get back out now and address the proliferation of unwanted plants that have come along with Super Bloom! I hope to see many of you on the Tour this weekend!

    Sincerely,

    Steve Bardwell President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

    Your 2019 MBCA Board 

    Steve Bardwell, President                          Pat Flanagan, Director       
    David Fick, Vice President                         Meg Foley, Director
    Laraine Turk, Recording Secretary            Mike Lipsitz, Director
    Marina West, Treasurer                              Ruth Rieman, Director
    Sarah Kennington, Past President             Seth Shteir, Director

     

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  • Eblast April 11, 2019

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    Desert Wise Living Landscape Tour: 
    April 27 & 28, 2019

    San Bernardino County RECE Policy 4.10: Update

    Paradise Valley Development: Threatens Joshua Tree National Park

    San Bernardino Countywide Plan: Update

    9th Annual Landscape Tour: April 27 & 28.

    Make plans to attend this year’s Desert Wise Living Landscape Tour featuring Morongo Basin properties showcasing drought-tolerant landscapes.

    Saturday, April 27 will feature 11 east-end sites and
    Sunday, April 28 will feature 10 west-end sites.

    This popular, self-guided tour features beautiful home landscapes, a native plant nursery at the Joshua Tree National Park visitor center, two exclusively native plant re-vegetation sites at Sky’s the Limit in Twentynine Palms and Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in Morongo Valley.

    Tour participants will have the unique opportunity to talk with the experts - the homeowners whose inspiring personal sanctuaries blend low water consumption with artful desert living. They’ll see an abundance of native, drought-tolerant and water-efficient plants as well as creative uses of other landscaping elements—from architectural shading and outdoor “rooms,” pathways, sitting areas to rocks-capes, found objects, yard art and potted plants. Many sites incorporate energy and water efficient features.

    For information and to register for the event, go to the registration page at MBCA’s web site.

    Renewal Energy Conservation Element 4.10: Board of Supervisors adopt original language.

    The Board of Supervisors voted on February 28 by a 4 to 1 margin to adopt the original language of RECE 4.10. This language prohibits industrial scale Renewable Energy developments within RL zoned land and areas included within existing community plans. MBCA Board members along with many other community members presented compelling reasons for the Board to adopt the original 4.10. While we applaud the decision by the Board, some of the national media coverage misinterpreted the vote as a rejection of solar renewable energy rather than a victory for the health and welfare of the County residents. MBCA continues to support the use of renewables through roof-top distributed generation within the built environment.

    While the adoption of 4.10 will serve to protect desert residents from future inappropriate development, there remain applications for many thousands of acres of industrial scale renewable energy developments that were accepted by the County during the course of deliberations over 4.10. MBCA is continuing to follow, track and provide substantive comments on projects within the Lucerne Valley area including: Ord Mountain (483 acres), the adjacent Calcite sub-station, Sienna Solar North, South, East and West (1630 acres) and Calcite Solar Project generation project (664 acres). Cumulatively these projects would have a devastating affect on the quality of life, property values, and the scenic vistas of this community. In addition to the Lucerne Valley projects MBCA is following proposals in the Newberry Springs and Daggett areas where thousands of acres of inappropriately placed industrial scale developments are planned for areas within the Mojave River water-course, an area that is prone to creating dust should the existing surface be scraped.

    Paradise Valley Development: threatens Joshua Tree National Park

    A 1,848 acre community within a 5,000 acre specific plan boundary is proposed in Riverside County on the southern border of Joshua Tree National Park. This development with 8,490 new dwelling units and up to 1,380,000 square feet of non-residential development would have a tremendous affect on the Park.

    Chris Clarke, of the National Park Conservation Association has stated: This new city would place 20-25,000 new human residents directly along the southern border of the park, furthering the urban walling-off of the park, with serious consequences for the ecological integrity of the park.

    MBCA will continue to track this project and will provide information on how to provide substantive comments in opposition and will provide updates on any of the scheduled hearings.

    We encourage you to learn about this ill-conceived development by reviewing the information from the Riverside County planning department (here) and to write, email, or call the Project Planner: Russell Brady (rbrady@arivco.org) at Riverside County Planning Department PO Box 1409 Riverside, CA 92502-1409. (951) 955-3025.

    As of this writing, the Riverside County Planning Commission is scheduled to consider this development on May 15, 2019 at 4080 Lemon St., 1st floor, Riverside CA.

    San Bernardino Countywide Plan

    MBCA continues to provide comments and recommendations to the County as they develop the new Countywide Plan. This plan will be an entirely web based plan with the goal of providing a user-friendly and transparent means for addressing physical, social and economic issues facing the unincorporated portions of the County. Visit the Countywide Plan website for more detailed information. MBCA has urged the County to strengthen goals and policies within the Countywide Plan and subsequent Implementation Plan to insure protection of the County’s natural resources. A Draft EIR of the proposed Countywide Plan is to be released within the next several months and we will provide links to the document when it is released.

    Thanks to all the members and supporters of MBCA for your continued interest and attention to the many issues affecting us here in the Morongo Basin! I hope to see many of you on the Landscape Tour later this month!

    Sincerely,

    Steve Bardwell President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

    Your 2019 MBCA Board 

    Steve Bardwell, President                          Pat Flanagan, Director       
    David Fick, Vice President                         Meg Foley, Director
    Laraine Turk, Recording Secretary            Mike Lipsitz, Director
    Marina West, Treasurer                              Ruth Rieman, Director
    Sarah Kennington, Past President             Seth Shteir, Director

     

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  • EBlast February 26, 2019

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    • San Bernardino County RECE Policy 4.10: Supervisors to vote on 2.28.19
    • MBCA 50th and Energy Summit information now on-line
    • Applications now being accepted for the 2019-2020 Ruth Denison scholarship

    Supervisors Schedule Special Meeting on RECE 4.10

    We strongly encourage your attendance in San Bernardino this Thursday February 28, when the Board of Supervisors, after much delay and with much anticipation, will consider and vote on this vitally important issue. The adoption of the original 4.10 language by the Board of Supervisors would offer some protection to rural living zoned properties (RL) and desert communities located within existing community plan areas. However, there is new language that would weaken the original 4.10 intention, from our perspective. Read the added language of Exceptions and Amendments. This seems to offer a potential road map for developers to circumvent the intention of the original 4.10. As a point of information, while 4.10 has been under deliberation, the County has accepted 5 applications for industrial scale solar projects! It is important to let your voice be heard in defense of our Communities!

    The meeting will be held in the Temporary Covington Chambers, 1st floor, of the County Government Center in San Bernardino. In the official notice of the meeting, note that video conferencing of the meeting will be available in Joshua Tree at the Bob Burke Government Center at 63665 Twentynine Palms Highway Joshua Tree, CA 92252, and at the Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center 15900 Smoke Tree Street, Hesperia 92345.

    WHEN
    February 28, 2019 at 10am

    WHERE
    San Bernardino County Government Center
    Temporary Covington Chambers, 1st floor
    385 N Arrowhead Ave
    San Bernardino, CA 92415

    Google map and directions

    MBCA 50th and Energy Summit information now on-line

    Thanks to all who attended our 50th anniversary meeting and Energy Summit. Our keynote speakers, S. David Freeman and Angelina Galiteva, and afternoon session panelists, Frazier Haney, Vanessa Moreno, Jack Thompson and Marinna Wagner provided inspiring visions for the future. See some of the presentations now published on our website here. We will post a link to a video recording of the entire meeting in the near future

    Applications now being accepted for the 2019-2020 Ruth Denison scholarship

    Please spread the word about this scholarship that will be presented in May to a Morongo Basin graduating high school student. This will be the third year we have granted this award to a student planning to pursue a career in environmental or conservation work. Through this award, MBCA hopes to foster the next generation conservation leaders. The requirements, and application can be found on our website here.

    Sincerely,

    Steve Bardwell President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

    Your 2019 MBCA Board 

    Steve Bardwell, President                          Pat Flanagan, Director       
    David Fick, Vice President                         Meg Foley, Director
    Laraine Turk, Recording Secretary            Mike Lipsitz, Director
    Marina West, Treasurer                             Ruth Rieman, Director
    Sarah Kennington, Past President             Seth Shteir, Director

     

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  • EBlast January 15, 2019

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    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    As a MBCA supporter, you know we have been working diligently with San Bernardino County to steer renewable energy policy. After numerous delays, the County Board of Supervisors appear to have finally set the date to cast their votes on Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) section 4.10 to ban utility-scale renewable projects in areas zoned RL and in areas covered by existing community plans. Once again, it is critical that the Supervisors hear from residents in protection of our rural life style and the environment. The message is simple and clear: Follow the Planning Commission’s recommendation that Policy 4.10 be made part of the county’s Renewable Energy and Conservation Element.  

    NOTE: A video of the County's May 24 Planning Commission meeting focused on RECE 4.10 is available courtesy of the Newberry Springs Community Alliance. The video on their RECE 4.10 page is augmented by a detailed chronology of actions, speakers, and commentary. The video itself may not be playable on all platforms, but the speakers list and commentary about the proceedings make it quite informative.

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  • Eblast January 3, 2019

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    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    Happy New Year! 

    A very good way to break into 2019 is to renew our commitment to the stewardship of the desert environment and our rural communities. Please join us on Saturday, January 26, 2019 for the MBCA Annual Meeting and Energy Summit. This will be a stellar program with keynote addresses from two nationally-recognized experts in renewable energy and public policy, followed by a panel discussion with local environmental leaders: “Vision for the next 50 years.” If you haven’t already, mark your calendars!

    The Energy Summit will launch a year of activism and events as MBCA celebrates its 50th! MBCA is the Basin’s oldest conservation-based organization and is still going strong! We will reflect on MBCA’s storied past and landmark victories and will look forward to the next 50 years.

    WHERE: Yucca Valley Community Center
                 57090 Twentynine Palms Highway Yucca Valley, CA 92284
    WHEN: 10AM – 2PM

    Detailed information on MBCA’s 50th Anniversary Energy Summit, including speaker bios, can be found at the Event page on our website.

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  • EBlast November 1, 2018

    San Bernardino County RECE Policy 4.10: Supervisors vote 11.6.18 
    San Bernardino Co. Fire Protection District Service Zone FP-5 expansion
    MBCA’s 50th Anniversary kick-off event: 1.26.2019

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    At long last the San Bernardino County Supervisors will consider the adoption of the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) section 4.10 at their November 6th meeting. They will choose between two disparate visions to determine the fate of our desert regions for generations. Their decision will define Renewable Energy development in rural residential (RL) communities.

    On the Agenda of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Meeting will be "a public hearing to consider an amendment to the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) of the County General Plan. The proposed amendment would add the original Policy 4.10, a policy that would limit the areas where utility-oriented renewable energy projects will be permitted."

    In late May, the San Bernardino County Planning Commission recommended to the Board of Supervisors that the original language of section 4.10 of the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element of the County Plan be retained rather than a variation that had been proposed by Land Use Services in 2017. Read our May 25, 2018 News Update for details on that vote. The original version of RECE 4.10 that the Planning Commission recommended (after extensive discussion) gives much greater protection to desert communities against inappropriate and/or excessive renewable energy projects compared to the LUS-recommended version that favors development.

    Do the Supervisors stand behind the residents or the developers of industrial RE? This is our final opportunity to speak out in defense of rural communities!

    The original version of RECE 4.10 embodies the perspective and wishes of many organizations and individuals across the high desert and reduces the chance that desert communities will be disadvantaged by a proliferation of large-scale renewable energy projects. There is however no certainty that the Supervisors will follow the Planning Commission’s recommendations in their final vote on RECE Policy 4.10.

    WHAT: San Bernardino County Supervisors meeting
    WHEN: Tuesday, November 6th, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    WHERE:
    In person:
    San Bernardino County Government Center
    385 N Arrowhead Avenue
    San Bernardino, CA 92415

    Via remote video-conference:
    Bob Burke Joshua Tree Government Center
    63665 Twentynine Palms Highway
    Joshua Tree, CA 92252

    The presence and voices of residents definitely made a difference in the decision Planning Commissioners reached in May. A strong showing for our position is once again critical to a good outcome! The developers’ interest will undoubtedly be present – community interests must be present to tip the balance. Each public speaker will have 3 minutes to present comments. Residents in the unincorporated rural communities – once again – must urge Supervisors to select the original language to protect our rural lifestyle and natural environment. This vote would, as per the rest of the RECE, still permit utility-scale projects in the rest of the unincorporated County.The alternative opens a very dangerous door to utility-scale RE development in our unincorporated communities.  

    To differentiate between the Community Values option being considered for 4.10 vs. the “Developer Wants” option for 4.10 – your comments to Supervisors on Nov. 6th could focus on:

    • Small-Scale over the Large-Scale
    • Local Use over the Remote Use
    • Minimal Impact over the Maximum Impact
    • Water is Life over the Water is for Wasting
    • Clean Air over the Dust Storms
    • Scenic Vistas over the Industrialized View
    • Local Benefits over the Remote Benefits
    • Reality version over the Fantasy Community Compatibility Report version

    When the Supervisors vote, this strategy for comments will leave no doubt what side each Commissioner voted for! Utility scale RE is not compatible with rural residential communities!

    MBCA Director Pat Flanagan has submitted an opinion letter to the Hi Desert Star in support of the original RECE 4.10. A similar piece has been published in the Victor Valley Daily Press by Lucerne Valley resident Neil Nadler. UPDATE 11/2/18: A comment letter from LVEDA, the Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association, has been sent to the Supervisors.

    San Bernardino Co. Fire Protection District Service Zone FP-5

    The recent vote approved the expansion of the boundaries of Service Zone FP-5 and increased assessment fees. This was proposed as the best way to generate needed revenues to maintain existing fire protection and emergency services. Each legal parcel within Service Zone FP-5 is assessed an annual parcel fee. The current assessment is set at $157.26/year, and can increase up to 3% each year.

    In closing

    How could November 6th be a more important day for the future of both our local communities and our Country? We care, we VOTE and we will make our opinions known to our County Supervisors!

    A special note: MBCA will celebrate its 50th Anniversary working to protect our rural desert communities and environment in 2019. Please mark your calendars for Saturday, January 26, 2019 for what will be a stellar program with speakers of national stature at our Annual Meeting and Program. We will reflect on MBCA’s storied past and look forward to the next 50 years!

    Sincerely,
    Sarah Kennington, President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association 

    Your 2018 MBCA Board
    David Fick, Vice President                Steve Bardwell, Treasurer
    Marina West, Recording Secretary     Pat Flanagan, Director      
    Meg Foley, Director                          Mike Lipsitz, Director
    Ruth Rieman, Director                      Claudia Sall, Director
    Seth Shteir, Director                         Laraine Turk, Director

     

    www.mbconservation.org

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment 
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
    and economic well-being.

     

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  • EBlast October 8, 2018

    MBCA Candidates Virtual Forum
    San Bernardino Countywide Plan draft
    San Bernardino County Fire District Service Zone FP-5: parcel fee
    Cadiz Inc. groundwater harvesting project: AB 1000 update

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    After a bit of a summer hiatus, fall is here and things seem to be “heating up” again for the conservation community. Here’s what MBCA is tracking for you:

    MBCA Candidates Virtual Forum

    To provide additional perspective on local election contests for conservation minded voters of the Morongo Basin, MBCA contacted 21 candidates for town/city council and water district board positions (contested positions).

    Candidates were offered the opportunity to reply to a single question that was both relevant to the office they seek and that touched on our interest in Morongo Basin’s rural character, economic well-being, and available resources.

    For the candidates who responded to our questions, you can click on their name to read their response. We thank them for sharing their views on the issues that are important to Morongo Basin’s conservation-minded voters.

    Click here to access the Candidate Virtual Forum page.

    NOTE: The Voter Registration deadline is October 22 to vote in the November 6 General Election. For information, including links to online registration and the California General election, click here.

    San Bernardino Countywide Plan & Community Plans (aka Action Plans) A full house of residents attended the County Land Use Service (LUS) regional meeting on September 10th at the Joshua Tree Community Center. LUS staff and a consultant working with the County presented up-dated information on the revised draft Countywide Plan and Community specific plans (now known as Action Plans.) After the LUS staff presentation, the audience was invited to ask questions and provide “feedback.”

    Residents in the Morongo Basin expressed great concern in the first round of Open Houses that Community Plans were not to be included within the revised Countywide Plan. The concern is that eliminating Community Plans from the Countywide Plan denies the Community Plans the legal strength of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA.) In response to a question asked about this, Colin Drucker, the consultant for the County, presented a table showing a “Policy Matrix” listing each goal and policy from the 2007 Joshua Tree Community Plan and where it will be found or addressed in the future County Policy Plan. A “Policy Matrix” was created for each of the existing Community Plan. Click here for the Joshua Tree Community Policy Matrix.

    LUS staff spoke to a primary goal and accomplishment of the draft Countywide Plan as to simplify, eliminate duplication, and make the plan accessible to the LUS staff, as well as the public. This will also be an “interactive” Plan– all pertinent policy, zoning and maps will be accessible and searchable online.

    The County staff accepted every question presented by the audience and responded to each. While concerns and skepticism remain with several local groups in Joshua Tree, Homestead Valley and Lucerne Valley about the Community “Action Plans,” it was my impression that the response overall was that the audience convened in Joshua Tree felt the County made a good effort. Their response to questions was respectful, informed, and clear.

    Per the County’s announcement of the meeting, it was stated that earlier public input lead directly to substantial changes to the Draft Countywide Plan documents and maps. For example, areas of Joshua Tree have been downzoned for lower-density. Also, the commercial district around Turtle Island is to be rezoned as “franchise free” in response to residents’ suggestions.

    The current Countywide Plan is incorporating two laws passed since the last general plan update: SB 379 and SB 1000. SB 379 requires that a general plan include a safety element for the protection of the community from unreasonable risks associated with the effects of various geologic hazards, flooding, and wildland and urban fires. SB 1000 further requires that the safety element plan address climate adaptation and resilience. The Countywide Plan will encourage growth within areas that have existing infrastructure. This encouragement is reflected within the very low growth rate anticipated for the desert areas.

    We’re still waiting to know when section 4.10 of the RECE (the County Renewable Conservation Element), long delayed in implementation, is expected to be on the Supervisors’ agenda in October. Section 4.10 concerns utility scale development in existing Community Plan boundaries and in RL zoned land. We will want to be present in the Supervisors’ chambers to continue our pressure for implementation of the original language vs. the developer friendly version. If you’ve been following this saga, you know that after a vigilant community effort the Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the original language be implemented – residents must continue to weigh in as the Supervisors decide the future renewable energy in RL (Rural Living) zoned areas. Read about the Planning Commission action in MBCA’s May 25 News Update.

    San Bernardino Co. Fire Protection District Service Zone FP-5 A special meeting on August 27th at the Joshua Tree Community Center and other locations was sponsored by County Fire to provide information about the expansion of the boundaries Service Zone FP-5 boundaries and increased assessment fees.

    The San Bernardino County Fire Protection District Board of Directors, as well as the County Fire Protection Districts Fire Chief, announced plans to expand Service Zone FP-5 as the best way to generate needed revenues to maintain existing fire protection and emergency services. They also stated that current property tax revenues are insufficient to cover the costs of providing fire and emergency medical services. Each legal parcel within Service Zone FP-5 is assessed an annual parcel fee. The current assessment is set at $157.26/year, and can increase up to 3% each year. Public Notices have been mailed to all parcel owners.

    For detailed information, including San Bernardino County Fire Chief’s PowerPoint presentation on FP-5, including a PDF of the protest form – click here.

    Opposition has been expressed by organizations that include the Homestead Valley Communities (HVCC) and LVEDA (Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association.)  Here’s the link to the Fire Tax Q&A posed by Chuck Bell, President of LVEDA to Supervisor Ramos. For an edited list of Molly Wilshire’s, Supervisor Ramos chief of staff, responses to some questions posed by LVEDA, see below:

      ‘All FP-5 proceeds must be spent in the service zone in which they were generated.

    Any contiguous parcels, improved or unimproved may be combined through the Assessor’s Office process, for a one-time fee of $108.00.  This is for the purpose of the assessment only.  There is a link on our website that will take you to the Assessor’s Office form and procedure(s). (Here is the link for the County's contiguous parcels combination and recession form AOS-047 which also contains directions for this process.)

    The assessment will provide parity across the district for all parcel owners to pay the same amount for fire, rescue and EMS services.  Whether developed or undeveloped, the need for service on vacant or improved land cannot be anticipated whether the need for service be due to man-made or natural disaster. 

    The protest forms can be obtained by those not having computer access by calling the fire district to request a form to be mailed to any address provided.  The absence of the protest form in the mailer was not contrived, but was simply following the accepted protest process procedures.’

    • October 15, 2018: Last day to receive mail in protest letters. Must be received by close of business.
    • October 16, 2018: Last day to receive walk in protest letters. Must be received by the closing of the public hearing.
    • October 16, 2018: Public Hearing 10am, San Bernardino County Government Center, 1st Floor Covington Chamber.

    Desert Groundwater Protection – State Assembly bill AB 1000

    As you probably know by now, after strong public lobbying to state legislators in support of AB 1000 – “Desert Groundwater Protection” - that sought to increase California’s involvement in the Cadiz project by requiring “a state review process for potential groundwater extraction projects in the California desert,” the bill died after being shelved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in the final day of the legislative session. This outcome struck a huge blow to all advocates of California desert conservation.

    The bill would have required a new state environmental review before the company could move forward with its plan to pump groundwater out of the Mojave Desert to sell for their profit to Southern California cities.

    As reported in the Desert Sun: “It is a failure of the legislative leadership to follow through on its stated commitment to preserve California from the onslaughts of the Trump administration” said Chris Clarke, California desert program manager for the NPCA. “We had the votes in the Senate. The legislature as a whole was ready to act on this. They were prevented by leadership”.

    A major hurdle to be cleared before up to 16.3 billion gallons of groundwater per year is pumped from land surrounded by the Mojave Trails National Monument is the conveyance of the water from the desert via the Colorado aqueduct.  As of today the Metropolitan Water District has not granted permission to utilize the aqueduct, citing potential concerns of mixing chromium 6 tainted water with Colorado River water.

    MBCA will continue to track this threat to desert springs and wildlife. We will join conservation partners in lobbying that the project must undergo a state environmental review. Here’s a link to our August 30 News Update about Cadiz.

    MBCA’s Community Calendar

    Don’t forget to check the Calendar for the MBCA curated community events that we think are of interest to Members and Supporters! Several events have been added since our previous E-Blast, including several on desert-wise plants and landscaping, both locally and in the Coachella Valley.

    Permaculture lecture and 2-day course at the Harrison House (October 12-14)

    Climate Change Assessment Symposium at UCR. (October 12)

    Giant Rock Round Table (October 18)

    Desert Garden Community Day at UCR (October 27)

    Bats of the Coachella Valley Lecture and Film Premiere (October 30)

    Healing, Helpful, and Edible Native Plants workshop (November 3)

    Thanks again for your attention and support in these challenging times. We need to be vigilant and keep informed! MBCA remains strong in commitment to our mission to protect our rural lifestyle. We so appreciate everything our community does to protect the healthy desert environment that sustains our well-being.

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Kennington, President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

    Your 2018 MBCA Board
    David Fick, Vice President                          Steve Bardwell, Treasurer
    Marina West, Recording Secretary             Pat Flanagan, Director
    Meg Foley, Director                                     Mike Lipsitz, Director
    Ruth Rieman, Director                                 Claudia Sall, Director
    Seth Shteir, Director                                    Laraine Turk, Director

    www.mbconservation.org

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character,
    cultural wealth and economic well-being.

     

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  • Eblast2 August 27, 2018

    UPDATE: Extended deadline to make calls to stop Cadiz - Friday, Aug. 31st

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    I have additional details on the Cadiz water-harvesting bill before the State Senate. If you haven’t already made calls to both Senator Fuller and Assemblyman Mayes there is still time: the Senate deadline to vote on the bill is midnight Friday, August 31st.  

    Continue to make calls to both Senator Fuller & Assemblyman Mayes through Friday!

    Please also note a corrected phone number for Senator Fuller’s Morongo Basin office, listed below. As I mentioned in the E-Blast earlier today, even if you made calls on behalf of the previous version (AB-1000), we need you to call again now in support of SB-120!

    Takes less than a minute each to make phone calls to:

    Assemblyman Chad Mayes 
    Capitol office 916-319-2042
    District office 760-346-6342

    Senator Jean Fuller
    Capitol office 916-651-4016

    Morongo Basin office 760-228-3136 (apologies, there was a typo in the phone number listed in previous E-Blast – this is the correct number.)

    Provide the staffer who answers the phone or the answering machine:

    1) your name,
    2) the city you live in,
    3) that you (or your business/organization) support SB-120, and
    4) that you urge the Senator/Assemblyman to support SB-120 to protect California from the disastrous Cadiz project.

    Thanks again for taking a few minutes out of your day – to stop the horrendous Cadiz water-harvesting scheme!

     

    Sincerely,
    Sarah Kennington, President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

    Your 2018 MBCA Board

    David Fick, Vice President                         Steve Bardwell, Treasurer 
    Marina West, Recording Secretary            Pat Flanagan, Director       
    Meg Foley, Director                                   Mike Lipsitz, Director
    Ruth Rieman, Director                               Claudia Sall, Director
    Seth Shteir, Director                                  Laraine Turk, Director

     

    www.mbconservation.org

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environmen
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
    and economic well-being.

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