DEFENDIN’

buddefends

We’re psyched to announce that our signature DEFEND JOSHUA TREE “three fierce coyotes” T-shirts in all Women’s and Men’s sizes are now on sale in downtown Joshua Tree at Joshua Tree Outfitters.

Joshua Tree Outfitters
760.366.1848
61707 29 Palms Hwy (the 62)
Joshua Tree, CA 92252

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NEWS REPORTS ON THIS WEEK’S COURT RULING REGARDING DOLLAR GENERAL IN FAVOR OF THE JOSHUA TREE DOWNTOWN BUSINESS ALLIANCE

Following are two news reports on this week’s stunning court ruling in favor of the Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance. The first is from the San Bernardino Sun, the second is from the Hi-Desert Star. You can download the ruling itself (34 pages, PDF, 3.8mb) here (courtesy JTDBA).

Continue reading

Posted in blight, Dollar General, Dynamic Development, Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance, news | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

WE ARE HEARING THERE’S A RULING AND IT’S A VICTORY FOR JOSHUA TREE AND LOSS FOR DOLLAR GENERAL

We are hearing from two sources that Judge Donald Alvarez has sided with Joshua Tree in the JTDBA’s lawsuit and has sent Dollar General’s building permit back to the County to be re-done, with an (costly) Environmental Impact Report now required.

According to David Fick from the JTDBA (all-caps his):

THE COURT GRANTS THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE TO OVERTURN THE APPROVAL OF THE SUBJECT REGARDING THE MITIGATED NEGATIVE DECLARATION AND THE CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT ON THE GROUNDS OF FAILURE TO PROPERLY ANALYZE THE PROJECTS IMPACTS ON THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE AREA OF ECONOMIC IMPACTS RESULTING IN URBAN DECAY. THE COUNTY IS REQUIRED TO UNDERTAKE AN EIR FOR THE PROPOSED PROJECT.

According to Gary Daigneault from local radio station 107.7:

According to court minutes released Tuesday morning, Judge David Alvarez granted the petition to overturn the County’s approval of a planned Dollar General retail store in Joshua Tree, with regard to the mitigated negative declaration and the conditional use permit, on the grounds of the failure to properly analyze the projects impacts on the environment in the area of economic impacts resulting in urban decay. The county is required to undertake an Environmental Impact Report for the proposed project. The Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance, which had filed the suit against Dynamic Development and San Bernardino County over the project approval, applauded the ruling. The court did reject other grounds that the JTDBA put forward in its suit — traffic impact, land use consistency, and the failure by the developer to identify the store as a Dollar General.

Posted in Dollar General, Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

JUDGE TO RULE WITHIN 90 DAYS ON JTDBA LAWSUIT RE DOLLAR GENERAL

From Eva Soltes, regarding yesterday’s hearing:

The judge announced his ruling would be a written one. He gave no indication of what he thought. Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance lawyer Babak Naficy told JTDBA members afterwards that the judge has up to 90 days to release his ruling.

Posted in Dollar General, Dynamic Development, Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance, news | Leave a comment

[URGENT] HOW TO FIGHT LATEST PERMIT APPLICATION FOR INDUSTRIAL-SIZED SOLAR FIELD INSIDE JOSHUA TREE

1. THE PROPOSAL FOR ALTA LOMA SOLAR FIELD IN THE FRIENDLY HILLS AREA OF JOSHUA TREE
From The Hi-Desert Star:


Solar application surfaces in south Joshua Tree

Posted: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 11:51 pm | Updated: 10:01 pm, Fri Jan 10, 2014.

By Courtney Vaughn, Hi-Desert Star

JOSHUA TREE — San Bernardino County recently received an application for a 24-acre commercial solar farm near Alta Loma Drive.

The proposed 4 1/2-megawatt project site encompasses 56 acres and two adjoining parcels immediately south of Alta Loma Drive and about 700 feet west of Olympic Road in an area zoned for rural living.

An initial study of the Alta Loma solar project is underway, Dave Prusch, a representative with the county’s Land Use Services Department, confirmed Tuesday. Property owners got notices about the project this week and have until Jan. 16 to submit comments.

Prusch said the project would require a conditional use permit, but it’s unclear whether an environmental impact report will be required. In most cases, he said, renewable energy projects of this size will be asked to provide a document called a negative declaration or a mitigated negative declaration, to state the project’s effects on the surrounding area and how the developer plans to compensate for those impacts.

Residents in the area say the site is rich with wildlife. Some reported seeing mountain lions and tortoise shells on the project site in recent months.

“The county will review a project’s location for any issues with habitat or something similar,” Prusch said.

Just last month, San Bernardino County supervisors approved a renewable energy ordinance that seeks to limit commercial solar development in residential areas. Prusch said county staff will review the initial study before making a recommendation to the Planning Commission. Property owners will be notified once the initial study is released and will be able to comment on the project before and during the Planning Commission’s consideration of the application.

The applicant, Clean Focus SBC Owner One LLC, applied for a conditional use permit through the county within the last three weeks, according to Prusch. The same company has an application on file for a 12-acre solar farm in Twentynine Palms on the corner of Raymond Drive and Mesquite Springs Road.

An agreement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission indicates the project site may have been formerly owned by Canadian-based Coronus Solar Inc. or Coronus Energy Corporation. According to the financial document, which was executed in August, Coronus owned several parcels of land in Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms. Each parcel was intended for solar development. Coronus sold off nearly all of its assets, including those parcels, to Redwood Solar Development LLC.

A notice to property owners asks that all comments on the project application be directed to Chris Conner at cconner@lusd.sbcounty.gov.

2. HOW TO GET INVOLVED – SEND LETTER OF COMMENT BY JAN. 16, 2014
From Bonnie Kopp:

Here is my opposition letter to the Friendly Hills solar project. I sent this last week to Chris Conner, the planner, as well as Supervisor Ramos’ staffers, Chris Carillo and Phil Paule. If you haven’t written yours, please feel free to borrow from this.

cconner@lusd.sbcounty.gov
Chris.Carrillo@bos.sbcounty.gov
philip.paule@bos.sbcounty.gov

Bonnie Kopp
PO Box 824
Joshua Tree, CA 92252
bonnie@trueworldgallery.com

January 6, 2014

RE: APN 0588-131-02
CF SBC Owner One LLC

Dear Mr. Connor:

I am writing to state my opposition to this application for a conditional use permit to establish a commercial photovoltaic solar power generating facility on a 56-acre site in Joshua Tree. The county has adopted an ordinance which would revise criteria for siting such projects, and the proposed facility violates many of these criteria.

The subject parcels are located adjacent to a wildlife linkage which is a major acquisition focus for the Mojave Desert Land Trust. The Trust has already acquired several parcels in the immediate vicinity which preserve the movement of wildlife between Joshua Tree National Park and the Bartlett Mountains in Joshua Tree. The largest of these is Section 33, 624 pristine acres containing 12,000 Joshua Trees, and habitat for the threatened desert tortoise, bobcat, golden eagles, fox and prairie falcons.

In addition to facilitating the movement of wildlife, Section 33 protects the important viewshed from Highway 62 south into Joshua Tree National Park. For the many tourists who are the lifeblood of our economy, this is the Gateway to Joshua Tree, a welcome respite after the strip mall and chain store developments of neighboring Yucca Valley. The proposed project will be clearly visible from the highway, destroying the vista of mountains, Joshua Trees and the National Park. It will also be visible from hiking trails inside the National Park, a violation of the ordinance.

The ordinance also requires that the proposed project not have an adverse effect on the desirability and future development of communities, neighborhoods and rural residential use. This project is situated between the densely developed Friendly Hills neighborhood and the National Park and other protected lands. It would constitute an unsightly, unwelcome commercial/industrial intrusion into a highly desirable residential, rural neighborhood.

For these reasons, staff and the Planning Commission must rule against this project.

Sincerely,

Bonnie Kopp

Posted in blight, Mojave Desert Land Trust, news, solar | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THIS FRIDAY (Jan. 17): Joshua Tree v. Dollar General Court Hearing

Via Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance:

Joshua Tree v. Dollar General Court Hearing

Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Bernardino Honorable Donald Alvarez

Time & Date: 10 a.m., Friday, January 17, 2014

Location: Courtroom 32 303 West 3rd Street, San Bernardino (SW corner of West 3rd St. and N. Arrowhead)

Seating in the courtroom is limited to only 30 people. If more than 30 people go, some of us may have to sit in the hallway, but it won’t be pointless. The Judge will be aware of our attendance, and that will impress on him that we are not just a handful of people complaining about an ugly building, but a community standing up for what it has created for itself and planned for its future.

Our Attorney advises that there is no set time limit for this hearing . . . it could take an hour or three.

Please email jtdba@earthlink.net if you want to attend but did not sign-up at the January 6 public meeting and want to carpool.

If you attend, please be mindful of the venue and respectful of the judge: only observe the proceedings. Signs, applause, comment or any noise is inappropriate, as is casual dress. You will not be allowed in wearing shorts, a tank top, or a sleeveless dress. Be prepared to pass through a security check, including a metal scan and x-ray of anything carried in. Leave pocket knives and cell phones behind, or at least be sure to turn the cell phones off.

The Hearing begins at 10:00 a.m. To allow time for parking, walking to the courthouse from parking, and then getting through the security check, we suggest that you leave Joshua Tree by 7:15 a.m. at the latest.

Directions to San Bernardino County Courthouse at 303 West 3rd Street, San Bernardino:

I-10 West to San Bernardino Exit at Waterman Avenue (one exit after Tippecanoe) and go North on Waterman Avenue. Go left on either East 2nd or East 3rd. After one block these become West 2nd and West 3rd. Continue two blocks more to North Arrowhead. The Courthouse is at the Southwest corner of the intersection of West 3rd and North Arrowhead.

Find Parking: Take a right on North Arrowhead, go past the county offices and find a large parking lot on the right. Or go back one block on 2nd or 3rd and then north on Mountain View one block to more public parking.

Posted in Dollar General, Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance, news | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

JTDBA’S ANTI-DOLLAR GENERAL LAWSUIT FUNDRAISING HEATS UP / OTHER LAWSUIT DROPPED / COURT HEARING JAN. 17, 2014

From the Hi-Desert Star (Dec. 6)…

Stunt man Carl Rice lights himself on fire for a crowd during a fundraiser Nov. 30 in Joshua Tree. The event raised money for a legal battle with the county over Dollar General.

Dollar General’s Joshua Tree foes stay fired up
By Courtney Vaughn, Hi-Desert Star
Posted: Friday, December 6, 2013 11:10 pm | Updated: 11:24 pm, Fri Dec 6, 2013.

JOSHUA TREE — Opponents of Dollar General raised about $4,000 last weekend and watched a man set himself on fire in protest during a fundraiser for their legal battle.

Proceeds from the event went to a legal fund for petitioners in a lawsuit against San Bernardino County. The lawsuit was filed in court in July by the Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance and alleges the county improperly permitted a 9,100-square-foot Dollar General retail store to be built on the corner of Sunburst Avenue and Twentynine Palms Highway.

That suit was one of two filed against the county after it issued a permit to Dynamic Development, LLC, which represents Dollar General. The other suit, filed by Kerri Tuttle, Peggy Lee Kennedy and David Fick, was dismissed Oct. 29, according to court records.

The Downtown Business Alliance alleges the county’s Land Use Services staff and the Board of Supervisors didn’t follow California Environmental Quality Act procedure. Petitioners claim county officials should have considered Dollar General’s inconsistency with the Joshua Tree Community Plan and should have conducted an environmental impact report before making any permit decisions. In their opening brief, they accuse the county of trying to conceal the identity of the occupant by characterizing the project as a “general retail store.”

Babak Naficy, attorney for the Joshua Tree alliance, said by phone Friday that the project is inconsistent with the community plan’s goals and policies for Joshua Tree, which means it could have greater effects than what the county acknowledged.

“Ultimately, the objective of the lawsuit is to force the county to comply with the law,” Naficy said.

In a staff report, the county said it lacked evidence to show that a Dollar General would have major impacts like urban decay or blight.

“The county never actually engaged in that kind of analysis,” Naficy said.

Joshua Tree isn’t the first small community to oppose Dollar General. Similar community efforts have taken place in New Hampshire, Vermont, Mississippi, Massachusetts and Florida, in small or historic communities fighting to preserve a specific character.

In Sheffield, Mass., the Berkshire Eagle newspaper reported the local planning authority rescinded Dollar General’s permit to develop there. The town is now engaged in a lawsuit with Dollar General developers, according to the Eagle.

Last weekend’s fundraising efforts involved a rummage sale at the corner of Park Boulevard and Twentynine Palms Highway in Joshua Tree.

The event was completed with stunt man Carl Rice setting himself on fire in protest Saturday afternoon, as a small crowd gathered around with cellphone cameras and video recorders in hand.

Dan O’Dowd, one of the organizers of the rummage sale, said the proceeds and donated items exceeded his and other opponents’ expectations.

“Several people brought in some high-dollar items, others told us, ‘Go get ’em,’ and one lady quietly showed her support by dropping off a Sony PlayStation without saying anything,” O’Dowd said by phone this week.

The sale is one of three avenues the plaintiffs have taken to raise money for attorney’s fees.

They also took donations through a Go Fund Me page and solicitations on Facebook. David Fick, who is handling the finances for the group, confirmed Friday that Naficy agreed to a $15,000 cap on his fees for the group.

The suit is the latest effort by residents to keep large scale development out of Joshua Tree. It might not prevent the chain retailer from developing in Joshua Tree, but it sends a message to the county and future developers, O’Dowd said.

“Our mission has always been that we don’t settle and we’re fighting it all the way to the end no matter what the cost is,” O’Dowd said.

“We have sent a message that’s loud and clear to any box house … that they are going to be up to their neck in activists that are going to push them as hard as they’ve ever been pushed.”

A court hearing is set for Jan. 17 in San Bernardino.

Posted in blight, Dollar General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment