1. First, some background on where we are now, from the Morongo Basin Conservation Association:

This is a summary of what happened during the Altamira Housing Project agenda Item at the San Bernardino County Supervisors Meeting of September 13, 2016. Agenda item #102 included a public hearing to consider the appeal by JT105 Alliance, and the staff had recommended that the Supervisors deny the appeal and go forward with the project.

Acting as representative for the JT105 Alliance appeal, Pat Flanagan made a very detailed, specific, and comprehensive statement of all the myriad problems with the project. Then the Project Applicant made their case. Public Comment was then opened, where about 30 people (most at the videoconference room in Joshua Tree, and several in San Bernardino) made statements opposing the project.

Among the topics addressed were traffic safety, fire safety, native plant removal and other environmental issues, the presence of tortoises, water issues, historical (and questionable) up-zoning of the project property, and the incongruence of such a high density project in Joshua Tree. Repeated many times was the concern that the project plan never mentioned the Joshua Tree Community Plan, and that state law requires that it be considered for such a project. In fact, according to both state and county law the Community Plan became part of the General Plan when adopted in 2007. At that time, according to the General Plan, the zoning should have been returned to its original density and it was not.

Both the project applicant and JT 105 Alliance’s representative were given one more 5-minute comment opportunity.

Supervisor Ramos made a motion to accept the appeal and deny the project, and Supervisor Lovingood seconded the motion. But then, the County’s attorney indicated there would be legal difficulties if the vote on this motion were 2-2. It was a complicated matter related to the County’s need to have “findings” supporting the denial. The Supervisors present also appeared to prefer the full attendance of all five Supervisors to conduct this vote. So Supervisor Rutherford, although stating that she was “for” the project, moved to Continue the decision to the next meeting. The other three Supervisors present agreed. We are uncertain under what protocol Supervisor Ramos’s motion to accept the appeal and deny the project was “dropped.”

So the issue will be taken up again at the next Supervisors’ meeting on September 27.

2. Now, the latest, from concerned Joshua Tree resident Janet Johnston:

Altamira Update – Sept. 23, 2016

It has been a very frustrating week and a half trying to sort out what actually happened on Sept 13th, and what we can do. They definitely achieved their goal of scuppering the vote, and are clearly laying every obstacle they can in our path. THIS IS IT, if we stop them here, we most likely avoid years more of effort, and a lot of money in court.

There [will be] no public testimony, it was just posted on the BOS site, with the agenda. BUT, we DO need to show them we mean business, and the main way to do that is to physically be in San Bernardino and to flood their inboxes with emails.

The hearing was continued to this coming Tuesday, Sept 27, at 10am. It is unclear if they need all 5 Supervisors there, or not, to proceed. It sounds like they decided not to bother preparing the negative findings. That was their excuse for scuppering the vote, that there had to be negative findings, and there was dialogue telling Planner Terri Rahahl to write them. Apparently, once we were out of earshot, they stopped that.

What IS clear is that we need a PRESENCE at the meeting, WAY preferably at San Bernardino, itself. They “acknowledge” that there are people at the Joshua Tree site, but ‘out of sight, out of mind’, unfortunately. If we are all together, at San Bernardino, they WILL SEE US. If you can only go to JT, then please do.

I had conversations with another community with similar battle history, and they WON against two developments, based on their community plan, purely because people showed up all wearing the same color. That is just the reality of the situation. SO PLEASE COME OUT on Tuesday. I can’t emphasize it enough.

LETTERS: WE NEED TO FLOOD THEIR INBOXES! This time please send them to the Supervisors, and to the Clerk.

PLEASE make sure that your letter is in their inbox by first thing MONDAY morning. If you already wrote one for last time, please resend (with any additions you like) to the Supervisors. Make it VERY clear that you are against the proposed Altamira project in Joshua Tree at the top. It is a bit confusing: For the appeal/Against the project. Thanks!!!


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 JTHomesteader.com with Stephanie Smith.
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