From local newspaper the Hi-Desert Star:

Solar project at Joshua Tree airport put on hold

Posted: Friday, March 17, 2017 4:23 pm

By Leah Sanson, Hi-Desert Star

JOSHUA TREE — The NextEra corporation is stopping, at least for now, construction of the solar farm planned in the old Roy Williams airport, a company official confirmed this week.

“We are not proceeding with immediate construction of the project,” Steven Stengel, a representative of NextEra, said.

Joshua Basin Water District General Manager Curt Sauer first announced the company’s turnaround at a board meeting on Wednesday.

Sauer said the project manager mentioned the hold on the project about three weeks ago.

“They decided that they will not pursue this project anymore at this time,” Sauer said in a phone interview. “They may decide to pursue it later, though,” he added.

The project, a utility-scale solar farm 2.3 miles from Joshua Tree National Park, has been under fire from some Joshua Tree residents for more than a year.

After the San Bernardino County Planning Commission approved a permit application from NextEra, a group of residents appealed the decision to the county board of supervisors.

The supervisors upheld the permit on Aug. 16, 2016.

Afterward, a group of locals and environmental groups sued the county and the corporation, saying standards for environmental protections had not been followed. David Fick, a Joshua Tree resident involved in the lawsuit, said litigation is ongoing with NextEra and its subsidiary, Joshua Tree Solar Farm LLC.

A lawsuit was also filed against the county by the SoCal Environmental Justice Alliance over the project, Fick said in August.

County court records show the group petitioned for a judicial order against Joshua Tree Solar Farm and San Bernardino County in May. They alleged the county and the company failed to prepare an environmental impact report or analyze all potentially significant effects of the project.

NextEra also wrangled with Joshua Basin Water District over water service. The water board at first voted against providing water for the project. Sauer made an agreement with the company, requiring it pay for a delivery of State Water Project water to replace the local water the project will use.

Sauer said the water that the company purchased from the state is still expected to replenish the aquifer in the spring.

The company bought 84 acre-feet from the state, which would last 40 years.

A construction crew hasn’t been on the property for some time. “There hasn’t been activity on-site since the middle of November,” Fick said.

Posted in blight, Joshau Tree Community for Responsible Solar, NextEra Energy Resources, Roy Williams Airport, solar, water | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment



JT 105 Alliance is seeking to raise $20,000 to fund its lawsuit against the proposed 105-acre, 248-unit Alta Mira gated housing project. Over $2,000 has been raised already.

You can donate here: STOP ALTA MIRA! gofundme

You can also send a check to: “Janet Johnston” or “Gayle Austin” PO BOX 2022, Joshua Tree, CA 92252, if you would like the full amount to go to the cause. (Gofundme takes 8%.) Include your email so they can contact you. Email jt105alliance@gmail.com if you have any questions.

From Joshua Tree resident and JT 105 Alliance activist Janet Johnston:

The Altamira gated development, proposed in the heart of Joshua Tree community of Friendly Hills, will blade 105 acres of native Joshua tree woodland, shoehorn 248 speculative (and relatively expensive) homes onto 10,000 sq.ft. lots, and then encircle and enclose its maze of cul-de-sacs with wall and fence. This design is completely out of character with the area. The existing rural neighborhood is currently built on 18,000 to 2.5 acre lots, all built as needed by locals, on open, natural desert streets, through which all neighbors and animals are welcome to travel.

The San Bernardino County Planning Staff said this project would have no potential impact on the environment, and pushed through a Mitigated Negative Declaration, rather than requiring an Environmental Impact Report which would have revealed the obvious issues, and would have required an alternate design. The County did not review the project for consistency with either the County General Plan, or the Joshua Tree Community Plan, which is a required “finding” by both State and County Law.

The Planning Commission passed the project (4 to 1) in April, the JT 105 Alliance (an association of concerned community members) appealed, and then after a very questionable hearing, the Board of Supervisors passed the project 3 to 2, on September 27, 2016. The JT 105 Alliance filed a CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) lawsuit, and we now need our extended community, and desert-loving guests to help pay for the lawyer, filing fees, and costs associated with this action. The core JT 105 Alliance members have spent, and will spend, hundreds of hours of volunteer time, as they see the importance of stopping this project for future of our Morongo Basin, and for the benefit of all our National Park Visitors.

Help spread the word!

Posted in Alta Mira, blight, JT 105 Alliance | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments


David Fick of the Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance posted on Facebook:

Late today, Friday October 14th, the JT BA has been notified by our legal representation that the State Supreme Court has Denied our Petition for Review of the JTDBA vs Dynamic Development/San Bernardino County Dollar General State Appeals Court Ruling. We haven’t seen the documents for denial yet, but we need to inform our supporting Friends and Family of the current status of this lawsuit as soon as we learned of it. This legal avenue of resisting Dollar General appears to have ended. We’re studying our future options and great thanks to everybody who’s supported our efforts. We have and still are fighting the good fight to keep Joshua Tree the kind of place we have all come to know and love.

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From a recent edition of the Hi-Desert Star…


Posted in blight, Joshau Tree Community for Responsible Solar, NextEra Energy Resources, Roy Williams Airport | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment


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.

Posted in Alta Mira, blight | Tagged , , | 2 Comments


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!!!

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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!!!


Posted in Alta Mira, blight, Morongo Basin Conservation Association, water | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment