MBCA engaged professional planner and former Advisory Board member Stephanie Weigel, AICP, to work with Directors Pat Flanagan, Meg Foley, Ruth Rieman, and Marina West, and create a comprehensive analysis of the County's final draft of the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element. A theme that appears throughout this detailed comment letter is the need for “clear and unambiguous definitions” and “stronger language in policy statements” that will lead to an effective Development Code. We encourage you to read the letter before attending the August 8 Public Comment Meeting about the RECE, and to add your own comments at that meeting. The meeting will be videoconferenced at the Bob Burke Government Center in Joshua Tree, beginning at 1:00 pm.
MBCA has signed on to a letter initiated by the National Parks Conservation Association in support of California Legislation (AB 1000 - Friedman - "Desert Groundwater Protection") that seeks to increase California's involvement in the Cadiz project by requiring "a state review process for potential groundwater extraction projects in the California desert." Some alterations in the bill are expected during its consideration in order to prevent onerous state review requirements for local water district projects. We will update you as this bill progresses.
Joshua Tree Airport Solar Project History
(Please note that not all links may still be available.)
Excerpt from May 31, 2017 Eblast
Joshua Tree Airport Solar Project
NextEra /JT Solar project is also officially in a "legal stay" for six months as requested by NextEra. The Southern California Edison’s RAM PPA for the project has expired and NextEra has stated no work on the project has gone forward. The group Joshua Tree Community for Responsible Solar took the lead in opposing the project and initiated legal action.
Excerpt from August 29, 2016 Eblast
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 (https://defendjt.wordpress.com) 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.
Excerpt from Eblast August 1, 2016
NEXT TUESDAY - OPPOSE JOSHUA TREE AIRPORT SOLAR FARM
August 9th; 10:00 AM (open session begins) – 2:00 PM
Supervisors Appeal Hearing
Attend via videoconference: Bob Burke Government Center,
6427 Whitefeather Road, Joshua Tree – just East of the Courthouse.
Attend in person: BOS Hearing Chamber, San Bernardino,
Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
MBCA, the Morongo Basin MAC, and others have strongly stated opposition to the Joshua Tree Airport Solar Farm proposed by NextEra. This will likely be our last opportunity to stop the project that would have numerous harmful impacts to the local community, as well as visiting tourists (documented in links that follow).
San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors (BOS) will conduct a public hearing to consider three appeals of a Planning Commission action to approve the Conditional Use permit to establish this 20-megawatt photovoltaic solar energy generating facility on approximately 115 acres at the former Hi Desert (Roy Williams) Airport. The Appellants are: Coalition for Responsible Solar, Socal Environmental Justice Alliances, and Joshua Tree Community for Responsible Solar, as well as individuals.
The BOS have warned: Due to time constraints and the number of persons wishing to give oral testimony, time restrictions may be placed, on oral testimony at the public hearing regarding this proposal. You may wish to make your comments in writing to ensure that you are able to express yourself adequately. Any questions regarding the hearing should be addressed to the Planning Division of the Land Use Service Dept., 385 North Arrowhead Ave., first floor, San Bernardino, CA 92415-0187l (909) 387-8311
You may also call John Oquendo, Senior Planner, Land Use Services Department, with any questions: 760-995-8153
Re.: The appeals of the Joshua Tree Solar Farm Project (Main Project No. P201400482, Appeals No. P201600230, P201600234, and P201600230)
Read the official notice of the appeals hearing.
Read Joshua Tree resident Tom O’Key’s letter to the Hi Desert Star.
Read MBCA’s comment letter.
Hope to see many of you at the Burke Center to fill the audience with community in support of the Appeals to stop this ill-conceived, ill-sited project in its tracks!
We encourage you to read today's Los Angeles Times op-ed about the Cadiz water project, "The ludicrous plan to pump Mojave Water to L.A.". The author, Peter Brooks, has been a featured speaker at two of MBCA's Desert-Wise Lectures. His focus in September 2015 was "The Future of Water: Understanding the Worlds's Most Precious Resource," and in September 2016 he presented "The future of energy and the grid for Morongo Basin" for MBCA. His LA Times opinion piece will give you an overview and update about why MBCA and many conservation groups and desert residents oppose the Cadiz project.
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While we cannot say that there has been an end to plans for the Alta Mira housing project in the Friendly Hills area of Joshua Tree, the JT 105 Alliance citizens' group has informed MBCA that the developers have recently offered the project land for sale. Below is an update from the Alliance and also links to some of the documents involved in the ongoing legal efforts to stop or change the plan for the Alta Mira Housing Development in the Friendly Hills area of Joshua Tree.
1) A summary of the current situation is presented in this Press Release from the JT105 Alliance.
2) The Alliance provided a copy of the October 28, 2016 CEQA petition they filed that outlined all the points of concern about the development.
3) In January 2017, the Alliance proposed to the developers a settlement offer that included two very specific alternative revisions to their existing development plan that would be much more acceptable to the alliance and many Joshua Tree residents who have been concerned about the very “urban” plan proposed by the developers. As the Alliance wrote, “We are not anti-development; we respect smart and ecologically-sensitive development.”
Here's an explanatory paragraph about the stay from the Alliance update:
"A six-month stay was agreed upon, on March 17, so that the developers could explore these options, during which they are not to pursue any permits for construction. Shortly after the agreement, a community member notified the Alliance that the developers had listed the project for sale, with the tract map approval as a key marketing point. If they were to sell the land, the lawsuit, and the wrath of hundreds, would be inherited by the new owner."