“Alta Mira” is a proposal to build a 105-acre, 248-home gated community in Joshua Tree south of the 62 next to the Friendly Hills Elementary School, with individual units retailing in the $250k range. Developers say the project would be constructed in phases, over a period of ten or more years.

Alta Mira has generated tremendous and unanimous opposition from the Joshua Tree community from its introduction over eight years ago. As local radio station 107.7 put it, “[C]ommunity opposition [has] centered around the project’s high density, environmental degradation, and the low-desert aesthetic a gated community would foster.”

Despite this continued opposition from the Joshua Tree community, Alta Mira’s developers have moved their proposal forward. The San Bernardino County Planning Commission will be addressing the project at 9am tomorrow, Thursday, March 17.

Opponents to Alta Mira should attend the Planning Commission meeting in person in San Bernardino and make a public comment. Alternatively, you can go to the San Bernardino County video-conferencing center located on the first floor of the Joshua Tree County Government Center at 63665 Twentynine Palms Highway at Whitefeather Road, and make a public comment there.

The Joshua Tree community’s concerns about Alta Mira, and the County staff’s woefully inadequate report on the subject, are deep and well-founded. Many of these objections were outlined in the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council’s resolution on the issue. Here is the text of that resolution, which was adopted this past Tuesday by a unanimous vote:


Whereas, the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council (“MAC”), is mindful of its role to report on the views of the residents of the Morongo Basin on matters of importance to them and as otherwise permitted by law, and

Whereas, an Initial Study dated July 15, 2014 of the County’s Land Use Services Department has tendered a Mitigated Negative Declaration with respect to an application to construct a 248-unit residential housing development in the community of Joshua Tree, referred to as the Altamira project, and

Whereas, residents of Joshua Tree have represented to this MAC that, among other deficiencies the Initial Study does not consider any of the explicit provisions of the Joshua Tree Community Plan of 2007 the incorporation of which into an Initial Study is a requirement of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), including, without limitation, the limitation of vegetation removal (e.g. Joshua trees), only to “building pads and driveways”, a standard which should have been incorporated into the Initial Study, and

Whereas, the proposed project site is within the frequently flooded southwestern portion of the Joshua Tree region as most dramatically experienced recently in the nationally reported flash flood of September 16th, 2014, in which one adult male was killed and during which an infant was forcibly swept from an affected formerly intact house which flash flood occurred two months subsequent to the date of the Initial Study, and

Whereas, it has been represented to this MAC by local Joshua Tree community members adjacent to the proposed Altamira gated community site that they and the neighbors are uniformly against this project in view, among other things, of the sponsor–admitted decades of construction disruption to them and the Friendly Hills Elementary School, which will have the long-term community effects of unnecessarily depressing nearby property values, increasing already existing traffic problems, destroying thousands of native plants, and greatly impairing unreasonably their quality of life, and

Whereas, the local residents have informed us that they have witnessed desert tortoises within the project site which directly contradicts the representations of the proponent to the Land Use Services Department to the effect that there is no evidence of the presence of desert tortoises, and

Whereas, neighboring residents have expressed anxiety regarding the proponent’s description without specific elaboration of a planned 10-year or greater period of completion of construction through “project phases” because of the deleterious environmental effects to be expected upwind of the Friendly Hills Elementary School, including without limitation, wind borne dust and the creation of dangerous attractive nuisance construction sites for a decade or more , and

Whereas the residents of Joshua Tree, based on their view of the proponent’s delayed and inappropriate responses to valid community concerns over the last decade, are concerned that the proponent will not be able to marshal the monetary resources to complete the project under reasonable forecasting of construction costs and the foreseeable market in Joshua Tree, leaving the community to deal with an unfinished housing development with all its likely consequences, and

Whereas community member views have been provided to the Land Use Services Department by over sixty letters of comment which raise concerns about various aspects of the project,

Now Therefore, be it resolved that in view of the concerns of the Joshua Tree Community regarding apparently unaddressed and unanswered environmental and other relevant issues regarding the proposed Altamira residential housing project that serious consideration be given by the Planning Commission to requiring the proponent to prepare an Environmental Impact Report in accordance with CEQA requirements

More opposition information on Alta Mira is available from the great folks at the Morongo Basin Conservation Association.


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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