From a recent edition of the Hi-Desert Star…
From a recent edition of the Hi-Desert Star…
More on this later. For now, here’s the straight news from 107.7 KCDZ…
A controversial housing development in Joshua Tree, the 248 units on 105 gated acres known as Alta mira, got a green light at yesterday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors in San Bernardino. The 3-2 vote in favor of the project, and against the appeal concluded almost a decade of back and forth over development of the pristine desert between Highway 62 and Friendly Hills Elementary School. As expected, Board Chair James Ramos and Supervisor Robert Lovingood voted in favor of the appeal. With no discussion or comment, Supervisor Josie Gonzales voted for the development along with Janice Rutherford and Curt Hagman. Plans call for the gated community to be built in phases with final build out ten years away. Opponents of the project have objected to its high density and other elements which do not conform to the Joshua Tree Community Plan.
Janet Johnston writes:
[Defend Joshua Tree] has offered to hand out Defend Joshua Tree shirts tomorrow for anyone heading to San Bernardino for the Altamira Hearing. Meet at Myrtle the Turtle (where the Farmer’s Market area is) for our carpool/caravan meeting spot at 7:45am. Drive off at 8:00. Meeting starts at 10:00. You will have to pass thru a metal detector, so leave all guns and knives at home (or at least in the car). It takes about 1 1/2 hours with good traffic. Directions: Take 62 to 10, head west towards San Bernardino. Stay to the right when the highway splits, go past Redlands, and past Loma Linda and take the Waterman exit on the right side. Go to the middle lane, turn left at the light onto Hospitality for just a few seconds, then turn right onto Waterman and drive for maybe 10 (?) minutes. Pass Rialto, and then turn left onto 4th street. Go about two blocks and you turn left into the big parking lot (FREE). The Government center is the big rose building (5 stories) with a central vault. Walk towards it, and around construction fence, to normal path into it. Bathroom is just to the left when you enter. Conference room is just up and to the left. Thanks!!!
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!!!
The State Supreme Court will decide sometime in the next 60 days whether it will accept the case.
From the Hi-Desert Star…
DOLLAR GENERAL FIGHT NOT OVER IN JOSHUA TREE
Friday, August 26, 2016 6:47 pm
By Leah Sanson, Hi-Desert Star
JOSHUA TREE — The Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance announced Monday it will try to take its battle against Dollar General to the California state Supreme Court.
The Fourth Appellate District ruled in June that the Alliance did not provide enough information for a fair argument to consider the negative economic impact of the store, proposed at Twentynine Palms Highway and Sunburst Street.
Local business owners have decided to petition the state Supreme Court to hear their case.
“The county should evaluate the potential of the economic impact,” said Celeste Doyle, a member of the Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance.
Members of the Joshua Tree community have been fighting against the construction of this Dollar General for over four years now. They say the store would cause blight and damage the downtown area’s unique character. A corporate spokesman contacted this week argued the store would be good for Joshua Tree.
“We are very committed to providing things the community members need at low prices,” Dan MacDonald, senior director of corporate communications, said.
In its lawsuit against San Bernardino County and store developer Dynamic Development, the Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance received a favorable ruling from the Superior Court of San Bernardino County, but Dynamic Development filed the appeal to the Fourth Appellate District, which ruled against the alliance.
“We just wanted the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to acknowledge and consider the effects of the project,” said Doyle.
Now, the Alliance has filed to the state Supreme Court. The California Supreme Court’s process is discretionary, so it could choose not to handle the case.
If the California Supreme Court accepts the petition, the downtown alliance will file a more in-depth legal brief to the court.
“We are asking the California Supreme Court to resolve the decision based on all of the previous information,” Doyle said.
“The county approval is still in limbo,” she added.
MacDonald said the location of the proposed Dollar General meets all of the company’s criteria for a successful store. The demographic is favorable, there is no real competitor and there is heavy traffic flow on Twentynine Palms Highway, where the store is proposed.
“We are very confident it will do quite well,” said MacDonald.“We plan on operating this store for a very long time in the community.”
He said the community may have some misconceptions about the store and its values but, assures the community that the company aims at providing affordable prices for common products.
Doyle said the store will not benefit the community of Joshua Tree at all. She said it will just take profit from the community with no net benefit.
MacDonald said. But, he estimated the new store will be up and running three to four months after the project has been approved.
Press release from the JTDBA…
Joshua Tree vs. Dollar General
On Monday, August 22, 2016, the Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance (JTDBA) filed a Petition for Review with the California State Supreme Court, requesting that the Court overturn the adverse ruling recently issued by the 4th Appellate District in JTDBA vs. San Bernardino County/Dynamic Development, (a.k.a., Joshua Tree vs. Dollar General) (Case No. E062479).
The Joshua Tree Community has steadfastly opposed the proposed Dollar General Store in our small, commercial, central district as inconsistent with, and undermining the County-adopted Joshua Tree Community and Economic Plans. The project would cause negative economic, traffic and neighborhood impacts the County has refused to address, as required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the County’s own Conditional Use Permit standards.
The JTDBA successfully challenged the County’s approval of this project, winning an order from the Superior Court of San Bernardino County that required the County to evaluate the likely, negative impacts it would have on the economic stability and future of Joshua Tree.
In essence, Joshua Tree is a small, rural community and the primary, most-used entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. The central, commercial district straddles the State Highway that runs through the center of town (Highway 62), is mostly only one block deep on either side of that road and not even two miles end to end. The restaurants, grocery and retail stores, art galleries, hotels and other shops are virtually all small, independent and locally owned and operated businesses. These businesses re-invest in their shops and the community, building the local economy as they draw more and more tourists and locals to experience our unique, friendly, small-town atmosphere. The presence of a corporate predator like Dollar General, with its misfit, cookie-cutter building crammed onto a lot too small to accommodate it at an intersection already overburdened and in the midst of the most densely-populated neighborhood in Joshua Tree would not only mar this district, but also undermine, even sabotage, what the Community has made of itself: A space and a place that is different from everyplace else, that embraces and reveres its natural environment, and welcomes and introduces visitors from all over the world to the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree National Park.
Just before the County Board of Supervisors voted to approve this thing, Staff told the Board that this project would be the tipping point for Joshua Tree . . . it would be the “camel’s nose under the tent” that leads to more corporate chains moving in, displacing and replacing locally-owned businesses, taking their profits out of the community instead of re-investing, and making Joshua Tree just another corporate, commercial strip: Generica.
The Appellate Court reversed the lower court’s order, ruling that members of the Community had not provided adequate evidence to require that the County address the negative economic impacts the project would have. The Appellate Court ruling is contrary to CEQA standards, which require only that the Community make a “fair argument” that the project will lead to the identified harmful impacts, thus requiring the County to study and evaluate that likelihood. JTDBA has filed its Petition with the State Supreme Court requesting that it instruct the Appellate Court to follow the law and re-instate the lower court’s ruling.
ALTAMIRA (development around Friendly Hills) UPDATE:
Meeting on September 1, 2016
6:30 TO 8:30pm at the Joshua Tree Community Center.
The Appeal to the Board of Supervisors is on September 13.
The agenda and timing is TBD.
We’ve created a group forum for petition signers and/or anyone interested in opposing Altamira to try to gather support/attendance for the Sept 13th BOS hearing. The URL is http://jt105-alliance.freeforums.net/
More on Alta Mira
In mid-June, the pro-Dollar General side won an Appellate Court ruling against the Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance [JTDBA], a grassroots group of Joshua Tree residents, friends and neighbors who have been fighting Dollar General’s plan to locate a store here for over four years.
This morning, the JTDBA’s Celeste Doyle reported that this Monday, Aug. 22, JTDBA is going to appeal that decision to California’s State Supreme Court:
Our attorney advises that a Petition for [California State] Supreme Court Review will be filed Monday.
We will post the Petition when we get a copy.