Not looking good anytime soon for any form of Joshua Tree self-governance

Accurate write-up from KCDZ on last night’s meeting:

About 50 Joshua Tree residents heard expert opinion on how the unincorporated village might get some hold on influencing its own destiny. What they heard was stunning—in the sense of a slap upside the head. Dan Stork reports…

In the wake of controversies surrounding a prospective Dollar General store, a casino, and commercial renewable energy projects, the Joshua Tree Community Association invited Kathleen Rollings-McDonald, the Executive Director of the San Bernardino County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), to comment upon different forms of organization that might give locals control over land use decisions. She addressed three possibilities: incorporation, a Community Services District, and a National Conservation Historic Preserve.

Incorporation would move land use decisions from the county (where they are now) to a newly-formed city. But the sustainability of a city depends upon revenues that are increasingly being usurped by the state of California. Rollings-McDonald said, “In San Bernardino County, incorporation is pretty much off the table, because we can’t make the finding that it would be sustainable, unless people agree to new taxes.”

Community Service Districts are formed for either of two purposes – as a transitional step to incorporation (which now seems unlikely), or to take local control for specific services, such as water, roads, lighting, or parks and recreation. But with regard to land use, “The CSD can provide the funding for the county to install a local area planning commission. You can fund it–you will not be it, and the county will retain control of land use planning.”

A National Historic Reserve would be a Federal creation. Although at least one of these has had some success in Washington State, there are none in California, and Rollings-McDonald cautioned that there is no way to know how the concept would meld with states-rights issues in general, and California law in particular. In summary: three swings at the ball of local control… three strikes, or maybe one strike and two foul tips.

About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in the rural wilderness of Joshua Tree, California, where I am a partner in with Stephanie Smith.
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