Mark Clemons: What went wrong in Twentynine Palms

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Mark is a local and state-wide businessman with privately held  companies situated in Twentynine Palms. He and his family are owner of Smiths Ranch and Smith Ranch Drive-In theater, et cetera. Mark and his family are part of the heart and soul fabric of Twentynine Palms. “Gone with the Wind ” opened in 1939 at the Smiths Ranch sitdown outdoor theater.  Because the city is using public funds to promote tourism for Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley — Mark’s thoughts came about as a result of a Cactus Thorns article entitled Funding Joshua Tree Gateway Communities.  Here are his thoughts on “What went wrong” in 29 Palms.


What went wrong in Twentynine Palms

By Mark Clemons

February 23, 2017

I see whats going on in the county area of Joshua Tree. They let freedom ring that freedom let Joshua Tree develop its own identity.  Commerce followed the freedom and the state and county followed the dollars.

Where 29 went wrong is the early councils had no clue and followed the lead of an out of town council that was indentured to those in the back room who pushed for childhood. Those who were behind the push to incorporate felt they had an entitlement to protection from competition. Codes were developed to serve, protect, and promote those in the backroom.

Then we get to Yucca, they embraced a wide range of commerce from swap meets to home depot while 29 was talking about limiting growth, and protecting the status quo.

There are ways for 29 to become a great place to work and live with a tourist as a side line. It’s not as so many in the past have advocated by wanting to follow some other town or city, Sedona we will never be.

A start — while not a first — to put 29 in the spotlight is to dump the boondoggle and think forward go tec with citywide free internet, promote the military and the great workforce they train. Keep those who are discharge here in 29, when you have a workforce as great as what comes from the marines labor intense business will follow.

At this late point its silly to compete for the tourist that come to Joshua Tree or the retail that sees Yucca Valley as the best value for their investment (emphasis added).

Here in 29, the best bet would be use that money for what we have the foundation for and that is being the greatest city to live in. That does not mean shiny boondoggles, it will take kicking those in the back all-controlling room to the curb, and lets let freedom ring.

Mark Clemons

Endnote: A few years ago, The Smiths Ranch opened a very popular Drive-In Theater Swap Meet. Marine families, locals and outsiders displayed their wares and the community loved this new attraction to the desert community. After a couple of weeks, the city banned the Swap Meet. Mark and his family were forced to shut-it-down because thej Drive-In Theater had no sidewalks throughout. This is the mentality of the city. Governor Brown consistently holds cities like 29 Palms responsible for over-restrictive city codes that stall local commerce and for creating the chronic shortage of affordable housing.  bh


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