Paradise Valley Voted Down by Riverside County Planning Commission

We received word from MBCA President Steve Bardwell shortly after the decision on the afternoon of August 21 that the proposed Paradise Valley housing development planned for the southern edge of Joshua Tree National Park was voted down by the Riverside County Planning Commission, in a 4-1 vote.  Read more details in this Desert Sun article. Enjoy the photos below taken at the venue. MBCA Directors and supporters, especially Steve Bardwell, Sarah Kennington, and our stalwart science guru Pat Flanagan were vigilant in keeping track of the project, attending meetings, and making comments against the ill-conceived project.

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Pat Flanagan presenting her science-based and impassioned plea to deny the Paradise Valley project.


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Sarah Kennington holding DENY Paradise Valley sign.



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The post-vote celebration of the denial of the Paradise Valley Project.

BACKGROUND SCIENCE: 

Here are Pat’s comments for MBCA on CO2 Emissions of the Paradise Valley Project.

The following links include research documents elaborating on the science behind Pat’s comments:

1.  The 2014 National Park Service Report on Carbon Sequestration in Parksincludes data on Joshua Tree National Park.

2.  A Desert Report article “The Desert Under Our Feet”by the Morongo Basin’s own Robin Kobaly discusses how the amazing biology under our soil is critical to a healthy desert and absorption of carbon dioxide.

3.  A very technical study called “Greater ecosystem carbon in the Mojave Desert after 10 years exposure to CO2”concludes that “arid ecosystems are significant, previously unrecognized, sinks for atmospheric CO2 that must be accounted for in efforts to constrain terrestrial and global C(arbon) cycles.”

4.  A brief summary of arid lands carbon sequestration research from Washington State University, “Research: Arid areas absorb unexpected amounts of carbon”points out the importance of arid ecosystems.

 

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Eblast August 20, 2019

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DENY PARADISE VALLEY!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Riverside County Planning Commission  

The Riverside County Planning Commission will meet this Wednesday in Palm Desert to at last vote on the certification of the EIR for this grossly inappropriate development on the southern boundary of Joshua Tree National Park. The County’s Planning staff has recommended a denial of the project, as indicated in MBCA’s August 15 posted News Update, “Roadblock for Paradise Valley Development.”

In the agenda for the meeting, you can read the Planning staff report and their 2 recommendations, that the Commission either recommend denial of the project to the Supervisors or take the project off the calendar and ask the project applicant to address the staff’s concerns.

MBCA will be represented at the meeting and will make a full report of the results via Eblast soon after. Please join us if you can, to make your public comment of concern about the Paradise Valley project.

WHEN:  WEDNESDAY August 21, 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

Plan to arrive by 9:00 to in front of the hearing venue.

Looking forward to seeing you there! This promises to be a big day!

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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Roadblock for Paradise Valley Development

The Riverside County Planning Department has thrown a roadblock in front of the huge "new town" of Paradise Valley proposed at the southern border of Joshua Tree National Park. The Desert Sun reports that Planning staff have said they cannot support the plan as submitted, in part due to questions not being satisfactorily answered by the project proponent, GLC Enterprises. The Planning Commission is due to vote on the project at its August 21 meeting. It may now either deny the project or direct staff to continue working to resolve issues. (Note in the second photo in the article that MBCA President and Immediate Past President Steve Bardwell and Sarah Kennington are sitting two rows behind the GLC representative Frank Bigelow at the May Planning Commission meeting. You can also read a lot more that MBCA has published on this issue by typing Paradise Valley into our Search button.)
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Joshua Trees in Peril, Updated

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EBlast August 6, 2019

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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
WHERE:
     Attend in-person at:                                                                                                                                             

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

or

     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

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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.

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             

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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

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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!

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             

 

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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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