Cadiz Valley Water Project

Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project

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New National Monuments!

WE'RE CELEBRATING THREE NATIONAL MONUMENTS IN THE CALIFORNIA DESERT!

On February 11, 2016, President Obama designated three new national monuments, including Sand to Snow in our own backyard, plus National Trails and Castle Mountains.  A BIG THANK YOU to the many MBCA members and supporters who wrote letters and appeared at events to support this.

Mojave_Trails_sign.jpg
Photo courtesy Mojave Desert Land Trust.

Read about the new Monuments in this LA Times article.

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Supervisors Deny Altamira Project Appeal

Tuesday, September 27 - San Bernardino County Supervisors voted 3-2 to deny the appeal, thereby approving the Altamira Housing project to go forward.

The 2 votes for the appeal, therefore against the project, were District 3 Supervisor James Ramos and District 1 Supervisor Robert Lovingood.

Read MBCA's September 12, 2016 submission to the Hi Desert Star "Guest Soapbox"about the Altamira appeal.

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REPORT on Desert-Wise Lecture Fall 2016

Moving Toward Community-Based Renewable Energy
On September 24, MBCA hosted a Desert-Wise Living Program focused on intersecting issues of water and energy and the need for community-level renewable energy solutions.
 
PDF viewable versions of the presenters' Powerpoint slides are available:
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San Bernardino County Dark Sky Committee

In April 2016, San Bernardino County District 3 Supervisor James Ramos appointed the San Bernardino County Dark Sky Committee (SBCDSC) to interact with the County about its lighting regulations and code, in consideration of the need of dark skies to maintain both lifestyle and the tourism economy in the Desert and Mountain regions of the County.

Three MBCA Board members are part of this Committee:  Pat Flanagan, Seth Shteir, and Laraine Turk.

As of October 2016, the Committee has worked with Joshua Tree National Park and the International Dark Sky Association as the Park pursues a Dark Sky Park designation from IDA.  The Committee will also be involved in the Park's Night Sky Festival on October 28-30, 2016.

Discussion with the Supervisor and County Code Enforcement is planned for November. 
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Supervisors Altamira Hearing Report

REPORT ON THE SUPERVISORS' HEARING ON YV105 LLP, AKA THE ALTAMIRA HOUSING PROJECT

Supervisors Meeting September 13, 1016

Action Recorded on the Altamira Issue

This is a summary of what happened during the Altamira Housing Project agenda Item at the San Bernardino County Supervisors Meeting of September 13, 2016.  Agenda item #102 included a public hearing to consider the appeal by JT105 Alliance, and the staff had recommended that the Supervisors deny the appeal and go forward with the project.

Acting as representative for the JT105 Alliance appeal, Pat Flanagan made a very detailed, specific, and comprehensive statement of all the myriad problems with the project.

Here are the PowerPoint slides Pat presented.  Here are the notes that she presented with each slide.

Then the Project Applicant YV105, LLP made their case.  Public Comment was then opened, where about 30 people (most at the videoconference room at the Burke Government Center in Joshua Tree and several in San Bernardino) made eloquent, impassioned, and well-researched statements opposing the project.

Among the topics addressed were traffic safety, fire safety, native plant removal and other environmental issues, the presence of tortoises, water issues, historical (and questionable) up-zoning of the project property, and the incongruence of such a high density project in Joshua Tree.  Repeated many times was the concern that the project plan never even mentioned the Joshua Tree Community Plan, and that state law requires that it be considered for such a project.  In fact, according to both state and county law the Community Plan became part of the General Plan when adopted in 2007. At that time, according to the General Plan, the zoning should have been returned to its original density and it was not.

Both the project applicant and JT 105 Alliance’s representative were given one more 5-minute comment opportunity.

Supervisor Ramos made a motion to accept the appeal and deny the project, and Supervisor Lovingood seconded the motion.  But then, the County’s attorney indicated there would be legal difficulties if the vote on this motion were 2-2.  It was a complicated matter related to the County’s need to have “findings” supporting the denial.  The Supervisors present also appeared to prefer the full attendance of all 5 Supervisors to conduct this vote.  So Supervisor Rutherford, although stating that she was “for” the project, moved to Continue the decision to the next meeting.  The other 3 Supervisors present agreed.  We are uncertain under what protocol Supervisor Ramos’s motion to accept the appeal and deny the project was “dropped.”

So the issue will be taken up again at the next Supervisors’ meeting on September 27.

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Eblast: September 12, 2016

  • Altamira Gated Housing Appeal hearing - Sept. 13 
  • DRECP Record of Decision (ROD) Event – Sept. 14 

We are all welcome to attend an event this Wednesday to mark the Record of Decision (ROD) that initiates the long anticipated DRECP (Desert Renewable Conservation Plan). Apologies for the late notice – MBCA just learned of it. Find the Department of Interior’s invitation below with details. 

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Palen Photovoltaic Solar Project

Federal and State Level - Palen Photovoltaic Solar Project  

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced in June 2016 that it is proposing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the rejuvenated 500 MW Paln Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Project on 4200 acres of undisturbed desert ecosystem land east of Desert Center adjacent to the I-10 freeway. 

MBCA sent a comment letter on September 3, 2016, focusing on dust pollution as a major problem for this project.   You can read MBCA's detailed 3-page letter about the Palen project or a shorter one-page summary of the issues that concern us about this project. 

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Eblast: August 29, 2016

  • Altamira Gated Housing Project
  • Joshua Tree Solar Farm
  • Soda Mountain Solar Project 
  • Dollar General Store vs. Joshua Tree
  • Homestead Valley & Pioneertown Community Plans
  • MBCA Desert Wise Living fall lecture 


SAVE THE DATES:
  • Alta Mira Gated Housing Appeal hearing preparation – Sept. 1
  • Alta Mira Gated Housing Appeal hearing - Sept. 13
  • Homestead Valley & Pioneertown Community Plans – see below
  • MBCA Desert Wise Living fall lecture – Sept. 24  

Recent decisions were made on a couple long standing issues of concern to MBCA and our conservation partners. Opposition wages on as several others continue to wind their way through decision makers. We can however finally celebrate one wonderful victory. 

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Joshua Tree Solar Farm Appeal Denied

The Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted August 16th 4-1 to deny the three appeals filed and gave their approval for development of the Joshua Tree Solar Farm – a 20 megawatt photovoltaic project to be located on 115 acres at the former Roy Williams Airport site. Many residents spoke in support of the appeals and more sent letters  – clearly and strongly expressing opposition to this project in the rural residential community. Apparently our arguments, including that this is not an area that can accurately be characterized as “disturbed land” (it is relatively intact acreage) and therefore not appropriate for industrial scale solar were not convincing to the majority of Supervisors. They also discounted the fact that the site is visible from a hiking trail in Joshua Tree National Park – which according to the County’s own Renewable Energy and Conservation Element Framework is a criteria worthy of consideration. Only our 3rd District Supervisor, James Ramos voted in favor of the appeal to stop the project. Defend Joshua Tree has reported that a lawsuit or three to stop the project from moving forward seems likely. MBCA E-Blasts will keep you informed of these efforts. This battle isn’t over yet. 

 

 

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