EBlast August 6, 2019






This Thursday August 8, 2019
San Bernardino County Planning Commission to consider
Short Term Residential Rentals ordinance

The Planning Commission will consider a Development Code Amendment to revise the regulations relating to Short-Term Residential Rentals in Chapter 84.28. The agenda for the meeting was very recently published.

The Land Use Services Staff Report includes the proposed amendment that describes the mechanisms and conditions under consideration to regulate Short-Term Rentals (AirBnB to use the vernacular) in the desert and mountain areas. This is the only Public Hearing item on the agenda, and only 1 hour has been allocated for consideration of this item. We recommend that written comments be prepared in the event that oral testimony cannot be given.

WHEN: August 8, 2019, 9:00 am
     Attend in-person at:                                                                                                                                             

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


     Attend via video conferencing at:

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

Regretfully, this is short notice however we are pleased that the video conferencing center in Joshua Tree is being made available to broadcast the meeting and to accept public comments.

Once again, thanks to all our members and supporters whose voices do make a difference in the ongoing struggle to protect and nurture our precious desert environment!

Your 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             


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Governor Newsom Has Signed SB 307

Governor Newsom today signed SB 307, a bill that requires that any water mining projects such as the Cadiz water project undergo new additional review processes to prove it will avoid environmental harm. Many thanks are owed to the many MBCA supporters who wrote comments and called the Governor's office in support of the bill. The Governor's letter approving SB 307 outlines the reasons for his action. 
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Urgent News Related to Cadiz


Stop Cadiz: Call the Governor to sign SB-307!

SB-307 on Governor’s desk

The State Assembly overwhelmingly voted to pass SB-307 (Roth) and the bill is now on the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom for signing. It is vitally important that the Governor hear our voices and that we ask him to sign the legislation.

The office number is (916) 445-2841. You must first select a language (“1” for English, “2” for Spanish), then press “6” at the next menu to be transferred to a staffer. When a staffer answers, tell them: your name and where you live, and that you urge the Governor to sign SB 307.With Governor Newsom’s signature the controversial Cadiz water project will be subject to a thorough and desperately needed environmental review.

You can also email the governor's office using the web form provided on this website: https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/. A phone call carries more weight, so please consider calling before sending an email.

Following your call, please take the time to email Chris Clarke of the National Parks Conservation Association at cclarke@npca.org to let him know you've done so; it will help provide a sense of how many calls the governor's office is getting in support of the Bill.

I again offer my thanks to our many members and supporters for your activism in defense of our desert.


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             

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Another Step in Fighting Sahara Mustard

As noted in our July 22 EBlast, MBCA signed on to support an effort by the Tubbs Canyon Conservancy to urge the USDA Agricultural Research Service to develop a biologic control agent for the incredibly invasive Sahara Mustard that plagues the southwest United States. On July 26 an official request to designate Sahara mustard as a top priority target weed for developing biologic control was sent to the USDA/ARS with the support of 10 U.S. Representatives including our Congressman Paul Cook. 
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EBlast July 22, 2019


Control the spread of Sahara Mustard
Paradise Valley Development Threatens Joshua Tree National Park
Stop Eagle Crest Energy!
Stop Cadiz! SB-307 on Governors desk
Countywide Plan comments due August 15

Control the spread of Sahara Mustard

MBCA with conservation partners at The Tubb Canyon Conservancy (http://www.tubbcanyondesertconservancy.org/), have waged a fight since 2011 against Sahara Mustard, an invasive interloper. It has become apparent that the scale of the problem has exceeded any potential to eradicate this non-native plant either manually or using herbicides. We have come to understand the need for a biologic-control agent - a natural predator – to be developed and employed to fight this invasive. U.S. Representative Susan Davis (San Diego, CA-53) has prepared a letter (draft version here) to the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS) urging designation of this plant as a top-priority target weed for bio-control. Our local representative, Paul Cook (CA-8), has signed onto this letter. Please contact his office in Washington (202) 225-5861) before July 25thexpressing your support and thanks for his position.

Stop the Paradise Valley Development

MBCA is tracking Riverside County’s processing of the application for this huge and grossly inappropriate development. It would place a new town of 20,000 to 25,000 residents including 1,380,000 square feet of commercial development, directly on the southern boundary of Joshua Tree National Park. As of this writing, the Riverside County Planning Commission has yet to place this matter on the agenda of the August 21, 2019 meeting, however it is anticipated that it will be heard at that time. Another excellent editorial published in the Desert Sun on July 13, 2019 presents additional reasons to deny approval for this development. Watch this space for updates and action alerts!

Stop Eagle Crest Energy

Good News!Our voices have contributed to the defeat of SB-772 where it failed to pass the State Senate!

Surrounded by Joshua Tree National Park, the existing pits of the now abandoned Eagle Mountain Mine are proposed to be re-purposed into a pumped-hydro long term bulk energy storage facility. With precious water pumped from the underlying aquifer, the Eagle Crest Energy project would have been paid for by us: the ratepayers. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) found that long-term bulk energy storage, as defined by SB-772, would have increased costs for ratepayers “in the hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars”!

While the Eagle Crest Energy project has not been defeated, with the defeat of SB-772 the likelihood of completion ofthis ill-advised and damaging project has been dealt a severe blow.

Stop Cadiz! SB-307 on Governors desk

Good news!On July 1, 2019 the State Assembly voted to pass SB-307. The bill now goes to the desk of Governor Gavin Newsome for signing. 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 California 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. With this passage, the controversial Cadiz water project will now be subject to thorough and desperately needed environmental review.

Countywide Plan comments due August 15

MBCA directors and supporters arecrafting comments on the Countywide Plan draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIR) in anticipation of the August 15, 2019 deadline for comments. Our June 21, 2019 news update provides links to the many documents that the County has released. The coalition comment letter linked within the update provides insights on how to substantially comment upon and tackle this daunting yet vitally important report.

Thank you to our many members and supporters for your vigilance, tenacity and activism in support of our precious desert environment. I am proud to be a part of this community!


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             


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Another Opinion against the Paradise Valley Project

Another strong case is made in a July 12 opinion letter in the Desert Sun against the proposed Paradise Valley housing development of more than 20,000 residents on the south side of Joshua Tree National Park.  The piece by Gail Wadsworth, executive director of the California Institute for Rural Studies, focuses on the unmet housing and support needs of rural communities near the proposed site and how the development would be detrimental rather than supportive for residents in those communities. 
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Another Setback for the Cadiz Water Project

A judge's decision on June 21 has reversed the BLM's 2017 ruling (which was itself a reversal of their prior decision) regarding the need for federal environmental review for the railroad right-of-way that relates to the Cadiz pipeline project. The next action is back in BLM's court. More details can be found in this Desert Sun article and with greater emphasis on the legal issues in this Courthouse News Service article. Prior news updates from MBCA on this and other water conservation-related news can be found on our "Water Issues" page.
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Countywide Plan Comments and Draft EIR

The latest version of the Draft Countywide Plan was published this spring, and on June 17, the County published the Draft Environmental Impact Report for it, with a comment deadline of Thursday, August 15, 2019.

In response to the latest draft of the Countywide Plan, MBCA as an organization and several Board members as individuals signed onto a May 10 Coalition letter specifying three major concerns. 1) The Plan is not in line with the recently-adopted RECE 4.10 Policy relating to renewable energy developments in rural living areas; 2) most of the land in the proposed new "Resource/Land Management" zone is also incompatible with RECE 4.10; and 3) Community Action Guides should not replace the current community plans in unincorporated desert communities.

Here are the sections of the latest draft of the San Bernardino Countywide Plan:

Draft Policy Plan
Draft Land Use Plan
Plan Goals and Policy Matrix (for unincorporated communities, you can click on your community from this page to see the “Community Action Guides”)

The Draft EIR can be accessed online, and we have also provided the main sections here on our website.

DRAFT EIR for the San Bernardino Countywide Plan, June 2019:

Notice of Preparation, Scoping meeting sign-ins and comments
Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Data
Community and Municipal Greenhouse Gas Inventory
Draft EIR Title Page
Table of Contents
Executive Summary
Introduction (includes scoping comments by site)
Project Description (lots of maps)
Environmental Setting
Environmental Analysis, Aesthetics
Environmental Analysis, Air Quality
Environmental Analysis, Biological Resources
Environmental Analysis, Cultural Resources
Environmental Analysis, Geology and Soils
Environmental Analysis, Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Environmental Analysis, Hazards and Hazardous Materials
Environmental Analysis, Hydrology and Water Quality
Environmental Analysis, Land Use and Planning
Environmental Analysis, Mineral Resources
Environmental Analysis, Noise
Environmental Analysis, Population and Housing
Environmental Analysis, Public Services
Responses from Native American Tribal Representatives

These additional sections are available on the County website:

Chapter 6) Significant Unavoidable Adverse Impacts

Chapter 7) Alternatives to the Proposed Project

Chapter 8) Impacts Found Not to Be Significant

Chapter 9) Other CEQA Considerations

Chapter 10) Organizations and Persons Consulted

Chapter 11) Qualifications of Persons Preparing EIR

Chapter 12) Bibliography


A) Notice of Preparation (NOP), NOP Comments, and Scoping Meeting Attendance Sheets

B) Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Data

C) Community and Municipal Greenhouse Gas Inventory

D1) Biological Resources Existing Conditions (Report)
D2) Biological Resources Existing Conditions (Appendices)

E) Cultural Resources Technical Report

F) Paleontological Resources Technical Report

G1) Safety Background (Report)
G2) Safety Background (Figures)

H) Water, Wastewater, and Hydrology Existing Conditions

I) Land Use Background Report

J) Noise Data

K) Responses Received from Service Providers

L1) Transportation Impact Analysis (Report)
L2) Transportation Impact Analysis (Appendices- Part 1)
L3) Transportation Impact Analysis (Appendices- Part 2)
L4) Transportation Impact Analysis (Appendices- Part 3)
L5) Transportation Impact Analysis (Appendices- Part 4)

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Here Are the Winning Landscape Tour Essays

The 9th Desert-Wise Living Landscape Tour provided a chance for several hundred people from the Morongo Basin and beyond to explore 21 landscapes from Flamingo Heights to Twentynine Palms during the last weekend in April. Viewing different sized properties and a multitude of creative ideas and consideration for water conservation, visitors were both delighted and educated.

The three winning essays available through the links below creatively express the enjoyment and inspiration gained on the Tour as well as practical insights gained from the experience. Congratulations to the writers!

1st place - Claudia Bucher won a $200 gift certificate to Unique Nursery in Yucca Valley.
2nd place - Jeff Jens won a $150 gift certificate to Cactus Mart in Morongo Valley.
3rd place - Cindy Von Halle won a $100 gift certificate to Cactus Mart in Morongo Valley.


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Pro-Eagle Mountain Project Fails in State Senate

California Senate Bill 772, which would have provided a supportive policy for hydroelectric energy storage projects like the Eagle Mountain project, failed to pass a full Senate vote. The bill could be reintroduced next year. Read details in this Desert Sun article and in the pre-vote Los Angeles Times opinion piece against the bill.
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