News Updates

  • 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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  • LA Times Editorial on RECE 4.10 and MBCA Director Response

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    On March 11 the Los Angeles Times published an editorial titled "Green power runs up against desert conservation in California," a response to the San Bernardino County Supervisors' vote in favor of RECE 4.10. As MBCA supporters know, RECE 4.10 offers protection to rural desert communities from large-scale renewable energy developments. While the Times editorial in part acknowledges the needs of rural desert communities, it concludes by saying that California needs both rooftop and large-scale energy developments. A response by MBCA Director Pat Flanagan provides detailed reasons for why inappropriately-placed large-scale projects in the desert can harm rural communities.  The photo illustrates a dust storm in Joshua Tree near a solar field just west of Copper Mountain College.  
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  • Renewable Energy Policy 4.10 Adopted by Supervisors

    Justifying the long-term resolve and perseverance of desert residents communicating with their elected representatives, San Bernardino's Supervisors voted 4-1 to adopt the Renewable Energy Conservation Element policy 4.10 on February 28. The policy prohibits utility-scale renewable energy developments in the County's desert areas with Community Plans in place and in Rural Living zones. Quoted in the Los Angeles Times article about the RECE 4.10 vote, Supervisor Robert Lovingood said residents "spoke clearly about what they want to see."

    MBCA is grateful to the dozens of residents who have taken time to make public comments in writing and in person over the course of almost two years to work toward this positive outcome. Here is the local news coverage at the Hi Desert Star and KCDZ radio. More information can also be found in this San Bernardino Sun article. For more background you can use the Search feature at the top of this webpage to find prior MBCA News and EBlasts about RECE 4.10 by using RECE as the keyword.

    If you wish to watch the video of the February 28 Supervisors meeting you can see some of the key testimony for RECE Policy 4.10 as follows:

    Robin Kobaly at 1:32
    Pat Flanagan at 2:13
    Sarah Kennington at 2:59
    David Fick at 3:01
    Claudia Sall at 3:24
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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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  • MBCA Comments on Calcite Solar Project in Lucerne Valley

    Among the numerous proposed solar projects in the Lucerne Valley and Newberry Springs area northwest of the Morongo Basin is the Calcite Solar Project. On February 22 MBCA sent scoping comments to San Bernardino County Land Use Services expressing concerns about likely negative impacts of this project. The comment letter emphasizes the cumulative effects of this project with three other nearby proposed projects: Ord Mountain Solar, Calcite Transmission unit, and the Siena Solar Project. Areas of concern include air quality and soils, aesthetics, and biological resources. The letter contains excellent data-rich maps once again provided by Brian Hammer and a paper by Robin Kobaly explaining the importance of underground biological entities that are critical to the survival of desert plants. 
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  • 50th Anniversary Energy Summit Report

    Nearly 100 Morongo Basin residents attended MBCA's 50th Anniversary Energy Summit on January 26 in Yucca Valley.

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    Keynote speakers Angelina Galiteva and S. David Freeman were described as "impressive" and "challenging" speakers.
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    Dr. Galiteva described the growing number of renewable energy achievements in California, noted in the Event Summary and illustrated in her PowerPoint slides. Mr. Freeman strongly emphasized that citizens must advocate for legislation demanding changes to move quickly toward 100% renewable energy.

    The afternoon panel of four regional conservation leaders each described their organization's goals that are - in different ways - focused on desert preservation, environmental education, and climate change awareness. Links to their PowerPoint slides can also be found within the event summary below.

    Here is the You-Tube video of all the speakers and a timecode list to point to each speaker. Thanks to Bob Stephenson for the video and to Steve Bardwell for producing the time-stamp table.

    Here are some evaluation responses from those attending:
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  • State Assembly District 42 Survey

    The Morongo Basin's State Assemblyman Chad Mayes (District 42) is requesting that residents complete an online survey about their interest in state issues. There is no indication of how long the survey will be available, but here is the survey link.
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  • Riverside Planning Commission Postpones Paradise Valley Discussion

    The Mojave Watch news site reports that the Riverside County Planning Commission has postponed discussion of Paradise Valley, a brand-new community proposed for development on the southern edge of Joshua Tree National Park. The development will next appear on their agenda May 15, 2019. Read the January 30 Mojave Watch news post for more details on the danger to Park ecology posed by such a development, along with information from National Parks Conservation Association representative Chris Clarke. Additional background can be found in this earlier post about the project at Mojave Watch.
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  • Supervisors to Vote on RECE 4.10 on February 28

    In an interview on local radio station KCDZ FM on Friday, January 18, Third District Supervisor Dawn Rowe announced that the County Supervisors will hold a special meeting to vote on the RECE 4.10 with full Board attendance on Thursday, February 28, 2019. She also stated she will vote for the version recommended by the Planning Commission, which is the version MBCA supports. For the most recent recap of the issue, please read our January 15 EBlast.

    Read the official notice of the February 28 meeting for more details. Video conferencing of the meeting will be available at the usual sites including Joshua Tree's Bob Burke Government Center in Joshua Tree. 
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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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