How to send an effective letter of comment to the County re Dollar General in Joshua Tree

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Above: Bimbo brings their white bread to a the recently opened Dollar General store in Yucca Valley. If we don’t maintain our opposition to Dollar General, this scene will become routine in Joshua Tree.

(Note: The following text has been reviewed by Bonnie Kopp for accuracy. Thank you, Bonnie!)

We are now at a point in the long process of opposing Dollar General’s proposal to build a 9,100-square foot store in Joshua Tree where once again the public needs to speak up to the County government.

1.
The document currently under review by San Bernardino County government is called “The Recirculated Initial Study and Notice of Intent to Adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration for ‘Joshua Retail Store’.” It is a 23.8mb PDF that you can download by clicking here. We oppose this document’s findings. A Mitigated Negative Declaration should not be adopted for this project. Rather, a full Environmental Impact Report should be required.

2.
County planners are receiving written comments right now from the public on this document. The comment period ends December 12 at 5pm. Your letter or email should be sent by then. The addresses are listed below.

It would be helpful to our collective efforts if you make your letter available to us as well. One way to do that is to paste the contents of your letter into the “Comments” section at the end of this post. Another way to do that is to email it to us.

Even more effective in this process than relevant letters of comment is attendance (and relevant testimony) at the public hearing on this permit that the County’s Planning Board is required to hold. This hearing will be scheduled with as little as five days’ notice. It will take place in the city of San Bernardino. It is our understanding that the earliest possible hearing date is December 20, 2012. Once we are notified that a hearing will take place, we will be arranging carpools, as well as organizing speaking order, and and so on.

If you wish to be involved in attending the hearing with us, please be in touch and we will keep you in the loop via email. This website will also be updated with information on how you can be involved in the hearing.

3.
Recommendations on how to write a letter are below. If you would prefer to add your signature to a prepared document signed by other community members, come see us in person this Saturday, December 8, in downtown Joshua Tree Village. We’ll be at the Natural Sisters Cafe during the morning Farmers’ Market and then from 6-8pm during the Art Stroll. During the Art Stroll, we’ll have a second table at Hi-Desert Test Sites Headquarters.

4.
If you wish to write a letter on your own, here are some recommendations.

We strongly recommend that you state in your letter that you have reviewed the Recirculated Initial Study for the “Joshua Tree Retail Store,” and that you believe a Mitigated Negative Declaration should not be adopted for this project. Rather, you believe a full Environmental Impact Report should be required for the following reasons:

a) The document fails to recognize that the “Joshua Tree Retail Store” is inconsistent with the goals, policies, and standards of the General Plan and the Joshua Tree Community Plan, adopted in 2007.

The “Joshua Tree Retail Store” will negatively impact locally owned and operated businesses, which are given privilege in the Community Plan over large corporations. The project is not in keeping with the rural nature of our village—it is a non-local, “formula retail” chain entity, inconsistent with our Community Plan. The building’s architecture and site design are not suited to Joshua Tree’s unique aesthetic, again as outlined in the Community Plan. The store will materially harm Joshua Tree Village’s biggest economic asset—that it functions as a gateway to a beloved National Park destination—by turning a ‘destination’ into the same place as everywhere else, with the same stores, same products, same signage, same landscape, etc. In short, “Joshua Tree Retail Store”‘s presence will have serious negative economic consequences for Joshua Tree Village—a consideration that is essential to any new development that falls under the Community Plan.

b) The document fails to recognize that the “Joshua Tree Retail Store” will have a substantial adverse effect on abutting property—it will generate excessive noise, traffic, vibration and blight.

The “Joshua Tree Retail Store” will be routinely stocked, day and night, by goods delivered by big-rig freight trucks, causing substantial noise, traffic, vibration and blight to neighbors to the north of the store location. Further, traffic coming out of the “Joshua Tree Retail Store” parking lot to head east on the 62 will clog the light at Sunburst—a light used by schoolchildren and their parents headed to and from the elementary school on Sunburst. Formula retail store parking lots are known across the nation for allowing large amounts of garbage to float freely. This is blight, which depresses adjacent property values and dampens local economic activity. None of this is adequately addressed in this document.

c) The document fails to recognize that the “Joshua Tree Retail Store” does not have supporting infrastructure consistent with the intensity of development.

Local law enforcement, already strapped, will spend valuable resources responding to the inevitable shoplifting and armed robbery incidents that have accompanied formula retail  stores across the country. This is not addressed in this document.

5.
Note: If you are a stakeholder (property owner or resident) within 300 feet of the Dollar General site’s outer boundary, it is highly recommended that you communicate your experience in being given notice on this project at various points in the process by both the County and the project’s developer. We know of at least two stakeholders who were not given proper notification in this process, a violation of both State law and County code. If you have had a similar experience, it is important that you say so in your letter.

6.
If you are mailing your letter, address it to:

San Bernardino County
Land Use Services Dept., Current Planning Division
Ernest Perea, Contract Planner
385 North Arrowhead Avenue, First Floor
San Bernardino, CA 92415-0182

7.
If you are emailing your letter, address it to:

eperea@romoplanninggroup.com

8.
Following is an example of a letter that you can sign and send. We recommend that you CC it to our new County Supervisor, James Ramos.

His address is
Supervisor James Ramos
San Bernardino County Government Center
385 N. Arrowhead Ave., Fifth Floor
San Bernardino, CA 92415-0110

His email is:
SupervisorRamos@sbcounty.gov

Here is the text of the letter:

December 8, 2012

San Bernardino County
Land Use Services Dept., Current Planning Division
Ernest Perea, Contract Planner
385 North Arrowhead Av., First Floor
San Bernardino, CA 92415-0182

Re: APN 0603-204-04 Dynamic Development, LLC (Project #P201100357/CIP)

Dear Mr. Perea,

I have reviewed the “The Recirculated Initial Study and Notice of Intent to Adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration for ‘Joshua Tree Retail Store’” (P201100357/CUP/APN 0603-204-04). A Mitigated Negative Declaration should not be adopted for this project. Rather, a full Environmental Impact Report should be required for the following reasons:

a) The document fails to recognize that the “Joshua Tree Retail Store” is inconsistent with the goals, policies, and standards of the General Plan and the Joshua Tree Community Plan, adopted in 2007.

The “Joshua Tree Retail Store” will negatively impact locally owned and operated businesses, which are given privilege in the Community Plan over large corporations. The project is not in keeping with the rural nature of our village—it is a non-local, “formula retail” chain entity, inconsistent with our Community Plan. The building’s architecture and site design are not suited to Joshua Tree’s unique aesthetic, again as outlined in the Community Plan. The store will materially harm Joshua Tree Village’s biggest economic asset—that it functions as a gateway to a beloved National Park destination—by turning a ‘destination’ into the same place as everywhere else, with the same stores, same products, same signage, same landscape, etc. In short, this “Joshua Tree Retail Store”’s presence will have serious negative economic consequences for Joshua Tree Village—a consideration that is essential to any new development that falls under the Community Plan.

b) The document fails to recognize that the “Joshua Tree Retail Store” will have a substantial adverse effect on abutting property—it will generate excessive noise, traffic, vibration and blight.

The “Joshua Tree Retail Store” will be routinely stocked, day and night, by goods delivered by big-rig freight trucks, causing substantial noise, traffic, vibration and blight to neighbors to the north of the store location. Further, traffic coming out of the “Joshua Tree Retail Store” parking lot to head east on the 62 will clog the light at Sunburst—a light used by schoolchildren and their parents headed to and from the elementary school on Sunburst. Formula retail store parking lots are known across the nation for allowing large amounts of garbage to float freely. This is blight, which depresses adjacent property values and dampens local economic activity. None of this is adequately addressed in this document.

c) The document fails to recognize that the “Joshua Tree Retail Store” does not have supporting infrastructure consistent with the intensity of development.

Local law enforcement, already strapped, will spend valuable resources responding to the inevitable shoplifting and armed robbery incidents that have accompanied formula retail  stores across the country. This is not addressed in this document.

I look forward to making these arguments in person at the Planning Division’s public hearing on this Project. We hereby request that you notify me with all details regarding the hearing as soon as they are available.

Sincerely yours,

[SIGNATURE / NAME / ADDRESS]

cc: James Ramos, 3rd District Supervisor

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7 Responses to How to send an effective letter of comment to the County re Dollar General in Joshua Tree

  1. Pingback: This line in the sand is real | Defend Joshua Tree

  2. Pingback: This line in the sand is real | Learning to Live Here

  3. Pingback: Information on opposing Dollar General’s plan to locate a 9,100-sq ft store in Joshua Tree | Learning to Live Here

  4. Pingback: Soon: pivotal public hearing in San Bernardino on Dollar General in Joshua Tree | Defend Joshua Tree

  5. Ron "Indy" Amos says:

    Ronald D. Amos
    Joshua Treets Ice Cream Company
    872 Border Avenue
    Joshua Tree, CA 92252

    December 7, 2012

    San Bernardino County
    Land Use Services Dept., Current Planning Division
    Ernest Perea, Contract Planner
    385 North Arrowhead Avenue, First Floor
    San Bernardino, CA 92415-0182
    eperea@romoplanninggroup.com

    This is about the proposed Dollar General Store in Joshua Tree. I am a small business owner in Joshua Tree and I disagree with the The Recirculated Initial Study and Notice of Intent to Adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration for ‘Joshua Retail Store’. There would be significant negative impact on our economy and our community.

    I manufacture ice cream – artisan, local, all natural fresh ice creams (it’s the best!), and I sell that ice cream through local markets. I got a license from the State to do so. I employ my neighbors.
    Sam’s Market, The Joshua Tree Health Food Store, Indian Cove Market, The Hero Market, Sue’s Health Food Store. These are the markets most likely to be affected by Dollar General Store. Dollar General Store will not carry my locally made product. If they don’t put me out of business, the other national chain big box stores who follow will.

    Business is only one consideration here in Joshua Tree. We are a small community of hearty, independent and ‘alternative culture’ people who are preserving a national cultural and historic area here as the gateway to the Joshua Tree National Park. Our unique area seeks to conserve an environment we find harsh and wonderful. Hearty souls are we who find in the Mojave Desert a beauty and peacefulness that is disappearing from our ‘developed’ lands. This proposal violates our land use plan and vision as a community.
    Please allow this pocket of peace to be preserved.

    Thank you for your consideration,
    Sincerely,

    Ronald D. Amos, Ph.D.
    Joshua Treets Ice Cream

  6. tujie7 says:

    THANK YOU for making it easy for me to comply. I have copied and pasted the “sample” letter with the email address for E. Perea into my Word program and will work on it at once. Without the sample letter and email info all that would’ve happened is I would’ve said I should’ve but it would’ve slipped away from me in a sea of 1,000 distractions. Again, thanks for the sample letter. Thanks also to the person who reminded me to click on this link.

  7. JB Wells says:

    Dear Mr. Perea,

    I am a resident, homeowner and landholder in the town of Joshua Tree. I made a conscious decision to move here in order to live in this amazing desert landscape and among an enlightened community acutely concerned with protecting it.

    This is why after reviewing the “The Recirculated Initial Study and Notice of Intent to Adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration for ‘Joshua Tree Retail Store’” (P201100357/CUP/APN 0603-204-04) I must insist there be, at the very least, a full Environmental Impact Report required for the proposed Dollar General building project.

    I would also like to present to you the following reasons why allowing this project is not beneficial to the community or environment of Joshua Tree nor to Dollar General company:

    1. This is wrong for the community of Joshua Tree:

    The town of Joshua Tree is not like any other town. It is named after an internationally recognized plant that only grows natively in just a few spots in the world and only in certain parts of San Bernardino County. Joshua Tree, the town, has become a very attractive gateway to the National Park bearing the same name rightly because it is concerned with this fragile desert plant and its environs. The plant and the Park environment seem to be so highly regarded that over one million visitors come from all over the world to see this unique place. And you can probably guess this would make the economy of the town of Joshua Tree highly dependent upon these visitors. People come here precisely to escape the chain stores and strip-mall developments they are surrounded by at home. They want to see open landscapes and dark starry nights and all the wild animals this environment nurtures and are willing to spend money in promoting that, not a cheap toilet bowl brush. As the town that welcomes these visitors to this amazing National Park, a cheap house-hold goods store is just geared to the wrong customer and allowing strip-mall type chain stores here will only degrade the appeal and charm to those looking to support the local economy of Joshua Tree. This can have a real financial impact on this town (and thus revenues for the county itself such as in the Transient Occupancy Tax).
    This town is also unique in the fact that there are many residents, like myself, who have intentionally moved here to live in this rural desert environment that shuns uncontrolled development. So much so, these residents actually came together a few years ago to write out a detailed Community Plan. That plan specifies preference for small local businesses that have concern for the local environment and give something to the local economy over national chains that have little regard for these things. Just in the fact that the Dollar General store is a nation-wide company with headquarters in another state and stores all over the country, you can see how this is in direct conflict with what the Community Plan states. There is and will continue to be overwhelming opposition to this national chain store coming into this small community.

    2. This is wrong for the Dollar General Company:

    Unlike other towns and cities in this county who want and encourage a low-price household item retail store, the citizens of Joshua Tree have overwhelmingly voiced their opposition to this store being built in Joshua Tree (mind you, it is not opposition to the store itself but to where it is planned to be built). Representatives for the company saw this first hand during their presentation to the community when they were surprised by how many public statements there were against it. With the petitions bearing hundreds of signatures and town meetings with many many recorded statements against the project, it is clear that the Dollar General will see little retail support from this community or the visitors to the National Park. There is just no demand here for cheap household products like there is in other places. Their business model just does not work here. The local residents are not in need of, nor looking for, a convenient nearby store that sells these items. If there ever might be such a need, one could go to a whole number of similar stores in the area including a brand new Dollar General that has just recently opened in the town of Yucca Valley which borders Joshua Tree. There are also plans to build another Dollar General in the Town of Twenty-nine Palms, the town that borders the other side of Joshua Tree. These two stores are more than enough to serve this area but in addition to this, a new Super-Walmart is already breaking ground right on the edge of Joshua Tree. Adding an unwanted extra store in an area that is already saturated with low-price stores makes its profitability seem unlikely and will not benefit the Dollar General company. How profitable can it be for a company to build a store in a community that will not support it in an area that already has plenty of similar stores to choose from?

    3. This is wrong for the environment of Joshua Tree

    The town of Joshua Tree is unique in another way; it is set within a fragile desert of limited resources and many environmental concerns. Any development in this area must take into account this fact. There is already a strained water supply, there are endangered species in the area such as the desert tortoise, and the fragile Joshua Tree itself has a very low success rate in being transplanted. A Dollar General store cannot guarantee that it will not have an adverse impact on the environment. There will be more delivery trucks. There will be more garbage from dumpsters and parking lots. There will be more traffic. There will be more crime. How can any of this benefit the environment of Joshua Tree? It will not.

    After giving you the three general problems I have with this project, now I will be specific: The “Recirculated Initial Study and Notice of Intent to Adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration for ‘Joshua Retail Store” does not recognize that “Joshua Tree Retail Store” (Dollar General) is in conflict with the goals, policies, and standards of the General Plan and the Joshua Tree Community Plan, will have a substantial adverse effect on abutting property —it will generate excessive noise, traffic, vibration and blight- and does not have supporting infrastructure consistent with the intensity of development. A full Environmental Impact Report must be required for this project.

    I hope that I have provided enough evidence for you to understand that Joshua Tree cannot be seen as just another place where any kind of development can happen. To do so would ignore not just the wishes of those who have chosen to make this place their home but also the millions of people who have visited and will continue to visit this area to appreciate its unique charm. I really hope you keep this in mind when considering any development in this amazing place.

    Thank you very much for your time,
    Sincerely,
    JB Wells
    Joshua Tree, CA

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