Johnson Valley News 11/15/2018

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• 75 or more desert residents made yet another long trip down below to a Board of Supervisors meeting.

Scheduled to begin last Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. and go on until 5:00 p.m., they hoped to arrive early enough to find seats in the main auditorium before the industry reps and union members, paid to attend, occupied them all.

We have a debt of gratitude to friends from Apple Valley to Twentynine Palms to Newberry Springs and points in between. We feel their pain. After all, if we loved traveling crowded freeways and city traffic, or crowding in and sitting through 78 agenda items, or worse yet, standing in line forever, well, we wouldn’t choose to live in the desert, would we?

Number 79 on the BOS agenda: A proposed amendment to the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element of the County General Plan.

Our friends went to ask the Supervisors to approve the original Policy 4.10, prohibiting utility-scale renewable energy projects in and around rural communities with existing County-approved Community Plans such as we have in the Homestead Valley.

Here’s what happened.

Linda Gommel, of the Lucerne Valley Market and Hardware, wrote that day,
“…According to Bill (Lembright, also of the Market), Ramos was the only one that didn’t make it, and Lovingood pulled our 4.10 agenda item off the agenda since it involved Ramos area so heavily.  Lovingood apologized, sort of, but those who attended didn’t think it was heartfelt or nearly appropriate for the amount of trouble they had gone to in order to attend.

 “That’s not to mention all the preparation people did for the meeting.”

Linda later wrote to the Victor Valley Daily Press:
“When we hear the phrase “Drain the Swamp!” we usually think of Washington D.C. and the job President Trump is supposed to do.

 “However, after Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting down in San Bernardino, yes, Election Day Tuesday, it is now confirmed that we have our very own San Bernardino County Swamp that needs to be drained.

 “For years, our rural desert communities that stretch around the backside of the San Bernardino Mountains have been struggling with various local-level government entities, including our own County, all of whom want to use the desert for their purposes, usually to capture green energy subsidies and play footsies with Big Energy, Big Unions, and all of their associates.

 “The current fight involves this county, who one may have assumed to be looking out for the interests of its citizens.  It turns out that one assumes incorrectly.  Our own County has pretended to listen to our many cogent arguments against carpeting residential desert areas with utility-scale solar energy projects for years.  We have offered alternative locations, some even within our communities.  We have shown how point-of-use solar is so much more efficient and highly effective and inexpensive.  We have pointed out areas that are already degraded with other projects, including those oh-so-lovely substations and transmission lines.  We are blue in the face.

 “In spite of the hundreds, even thousands, of collective hours spent by our knowledgeable and competent residents gathering information, attending meetings, writing letters, gathering signatures, the County slides and slithers and changes policy wordings, delays and delays some more, and holds us at bay as they quietly pursue their own renewable energy ends in the background.

 “The ultimate insult came on Tuesday, scheduled to our surprise on Election Day, with little notice, on which day they would FINALLY take up our issue, known as Policy 4.10 of the Renewable Energy Conservation Element (RECE to those in the know).  We “warriors” spent dozens of hours more, writing more letters, preparing more documents, and rallying the troops to show up at the Supervisors’ meeting.

 “I had predicted it a week ago:  James Ramos, our own Supervisor who hasn’t been to the area in months if not years, did not show up to the meeting because he is running for the 40th Assembly seat and wanted to be present at that election.  Chairman Lovingood said that since Ramos was absent, and the center of the renewable energy battle was in Ramos’ areas of Lucerne Valley and Johnson Valley, and there was a good chance of a 2 to 2 split vote, he must postpone the agenda item to some future meeting.

 “Really???  After 75 or so people took days off from work and traveled a minimum of 60 miles to attend??  I am appalled at the arrogance of such a thing, and highly disappointed that Washington and Sacramento politicians’ attitudes of disregard toward us “deplorables” has spread even down to our own County.

“But after the months and years of the County dancing around our desires to pursue their own agenda (follow the money, they say), why would I be surprised?  On this Election Day, where the divide between arrogant, big-government, self-appointed big shots and common sense American “Normals” is crystal clear, why would I be stupid enough to be surprised?

 “DRAIN THE San Bernardino County SWAMP!!”

Bill Lembright wrote,
“The last time this decision was avoided and postponed in Aug. 2017, it took until May of 2018 for the Supervisors to get the Planning Commission to make a recommendation on 4.10.  During that time Terri Rahhal of the Land Use Services Department screwed us by accepting permit applications of 10 square miles MORE of these destructive projects, intending to get them grandfathered in…

“For four months Pat Flanagan would speak at the Joshua Tree and I at the Hesperia remote conference centers pressuring the Supervisors to direct the Planning Commission to meet and make a recommendation on RECE 4.10, until that hearing was set. We can’t afford that kind of time investment…The Supervisors have insulated themselves well from us citizens. We’re not allowed to speak up in unison, plus, the Supervisors don’t feel compelled to answer us if it doesn’t suit their fancy.”

He added,
“On a related note, the Board should still have heard us and voted. They also KNEW this hearing was called on very short notice, on a very inconvenient day for Ramos and us citizens to meet. They HAD to have known Ramos didn’t intend to be there. Three different sources told me days before and on Tues. morning that Ramos wouldn’t be there and the vote would be postponed. Unless the Supervisors can convince me otherwise, to ME they are corrupt liars! It’s up to THEM to prove us wrong!

“One more nag before I shut up. Remembering how the number of permit applications doubled during the last postponement, let’s hurry up and decide what to do, next.”

By the time the November 6th agenda was posted:
a) The Board of Supervisors must have known that James Ramos would take off on Election Day to follow the results of his campaign for election to the State Assembly from the 40th District.
b) They must have known, given the citizen turnout last May for the Planning Commission hearing on Policy 4.10, that as many or more would travel down to the BOS meeting last Tuesday.

Many of us subscribe to the County notices of the Supervisors” agendas. Deleting the Policy 4.10 item – or never planning it for Election Day in the first place – would have been common courtesy to constituents they knew were passionate about this issue. We could easily have spread the word and forestalled a wasted trip for all our friends.

Nobody likes to be stood up. Nobody.



• You have plenty not to like in this:

We have until November 16 to comment. Apologies for not sending out the notice sooner.

See the attached map of the viewshed of the solar project applications that arrived in the hands of County Land Use Services after the first delayed vote on Policy 4.10.

You will notice it matches almost precisely the viewshed in the Scenic 247 corridor. The developer claims in the EIR that significant environmental impacts can be mitigated (except for the cumulative effects!) Let’s see what the site of Ord Mountain Solar offers where the impact to the viewshed can be mitigated:

-Alongside S.R.247 right of way? Nope
-Calcite substation across the road “surrounded by a prefabricated concrete wall with a visible loop of razor wire along the top?” Nope
-Transmission lines overhead? Nope. Really hard to hide.
-Visibility from homes nearby, and from residential Lucerne Valley neighborhoods miles away? Nope
-Domination of the view for miles? Maybe they have developed an Invisibility Ray to hide this 484-acre monstrosity?
Maybe they have developed a Stupid Ray to aim at us?

At least they admit that the cumulative effects can’t be mitigated. That’s because designers of the Calcite substation have built them in.

By the way, Brian Hammer created the map. Ord Mountain Solar will butt right up to the Hammers’ fenceline on three sides. How about 75% of your view filled with security fencing, solar panels, battery boxes, transformers and transmission cables? Not good.

• What do we hear when people see it? “Oh, wow, look at that!” 

It’s on display in the Community Center, donated by Johnson Valley Quilter Carole Bickel for a JVIA fundraiser raffle. You have to see it for yourself. She has arranged dramatic blocks of fabric printed in 20 different colorways of a subtle design of large roses, all over this unusual queen-sized beauty.

Tickets are 1.00 each, six for 5.00. Get yours at the next Saturday Breakfasts, 7:00-10:00 a.m. and at the December 1st Holiday Dinner. The drawing is after the dinner.

Write your name and phone number on the back of your tickets if you might not be able to attend the dinner!

All proceeds go toward the upkeep of the Center.

• The name of a longtime Journal advertiser, and a very longtime Lucerne Valley eatery, popped up in the list of YouTube videos as we looked for the video of the last Lucerne Valley-Johnson Valley MAC meeting.

Although posted in 2016, this was the first time it showed up when we put  Lucerne Valley in the Search bar.

This short review by Chris Paul, who does a series called “In Your Town,” covers the Burger Depot pretty thoroughly and leaves with the central theme being Real Food. Yum.

If you have not yet stopped by this homegrown roadside attraction, you’ll find it on the far west side of LV as you head toward Apple Valley on Hwy 18.

• The Johnson Valley community news column in the Hi-Desert Star in Yucca Valley usually becomes the basis for the JV NEWS e-mails.

If you own property but do not live here, chances are good you have no other way to stay current with all the meetings, litigations, comments, tax plans and do-or-die battles against industrial solar.

JVIA members receive the Johnson Valley Journal 6 times a year – this JV NEWS e-mail in between Journals keeps you up-to-date. You also get info specific to JVIA members that space restrictions in the newspaper do not allow.

If you do not want to receive these e-mails, just reply and say Cancel.


• The weather these days invites all kinds of recreation in the desert. More off-roaders arrive for Saturday Breakfast.

Don’t leave home or camp without the Sidekick Offroad Map of the Johnson Valley OHV Area, available at the Center.

It features a detailed topographical map, a Guide to the original Hammers trails, general information, and off-road tips.

The folding paper map is 3:00. The silkscreened Bandanna Map is 8.00.

Off-roaders navigating by GPS – according to Google Maps, the coordinates for the Community Center are
34.3424938     -116.56066880000003.

When going to and from the OHV Area, do not travel on the Hwy 247 right-of-way. A dirt trail parallels it on the north side. Cross the highway legally and very carefully to get onto any of the JV community roads.

If you come up Larrea Road while in or on a green-sticker vehicle, travel on the dirt alongside the pavement.

Remember to slow down on the community roads. Any speed, any vehicle, street-legal or not, going over 25 mph does major damage. Aggressive tires, so valuable in desert conditions, can mess up the roads even at lower speeds.

Be aware, we no longer have large crews of volunteers out mending donuts or picking rocks.

And be extra cautious: a junior offroader or heedless speeders could be right around the next blind corner, where you have never met any traffic before!.

Remember, people do live here; noise and dust travel a long way. Let’s not irritate the neighbors!

SIGN UP OR RENEW YOUR JVIA MEMBERSHIP. Don’t miss an issue of the Journal! See the attached 2019 application form to print, due by January 31, 2019. Mail it to Helene, whether you are mailing a check, or making a secure credit card payment via PayPal on

Or pick up an application form during Saturday Breakfast at the Center, between 7:00 and 10:00 a.m. and hand it in with your dues to the cashier.

If you know friends or neighbors who are not members, let them know about the Association and urge them to join, too.

BE A MEMBER SPONSOR! Add a donation to your dues. Help rebuild JVIA reserves depleted by the recent replacement of our old septic tank. Or earmark a donation toward an almost certain need to replace our antiquated AC system in the hall soon. It has already cost a bundle just to keep it going a little longer!

BE A VOLUNTEER! Help once a month on a Breakfast crew, help keep the doors open!

Johnson Valley Community Center
50567 Quailbush Rd.
From Hwy 247, turn onto Larrea Rd,
go 1-3/4 miles to Quailbush Rd. The building is on your left at the corner.

You do not have to be a member of the Johnson Valley Improvement Association to join in on scheduled activities and special events, although we would love to have you join.

Reminder, you can book the Center for birthday celebrations, family gatherings, weddings. No rent, we ask for a donation to cover overheads, and that you leave it as you found it.

Visitors now enjoy the fall days in the Paul Van Hook Desert Dreams Garden next to the parking lot. Recent drenching rain followed by warm weather has sprouted some green on the bare sand. The drought-resistant plants and trees look good, though some leaves, of course, have turned color and started to fall.

Additions have been made to the artifacts from homesteader days donated by community members, and some have been put to use by the Garden Committee. Maybe not the use originally intended…

Make sure kids do not enter the train layout; the track and model buildings are fragile, and repairs can be difficult. All was in good working condition at Oktoberfest, even after that rain; trains on all three tracks.

When the weather allows, and the crew is here, you can usually watch the trains on Saturdays, and maybe at other times, too. Ask the breakfast cashier if they are in action.

Betty Munson

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