Supervisors Slam Newberry Springs

Active Towing's Site Approved

Report: Newberry Springs continues to deteriorate.

      Foreign tourists depart a tour bus at the Bagdad Café across from the eyesore Active Towing.  As part of the county's inept Land Use Services Department's requirement, slats are being placed into the chain link fence to hide the operation.  As shown, due to the height of the stored articles and partial fence see through, the county's mitigated screening measure is totally ineffective.

Posted: July 4, 2014

Promoters' greed has already discouraged the interest of
one commercial developer to invest in Newberry Springs.

Story Capsule
    San Bernardino County continues to trash Newberry Springs by making it the toilet community for undesirable businesses being dumped and placed in inappropriate locations contrary to the county's existing General Plan.
Oddity + Odd = Strange Bedfellows
The Bagdad Café

      The Bagdad Café in Newberry Springs is an oddity located within an odd rural community of Southern California's rural Mojave Desert.

      Earlier known as the Sidewinder Café, the Bagdad Café maintained the name after the Sidewinder was used as the movie site for a 1987 German motion picture titled Out of Rosenheim; more popularly renamed Bagdad Café.   The motion picture was directed by Percy Adlon.

      The name Bagdad Café was adopted for the movie from a café and a small Route 66 community that at one time existed 49-miles to the east of Newberry Springs.  The movie susposedly takes place at the original Bagdad Café in Bagdad.  The original café and the entire town no longer exists.

      Today, the Newberry Springs café is owned by Andrea Pruett, a movie wannabe screen writer.  She is proud that her café attracts tourists from all over the world, principally from Germany and France.  Most arrive by sightseeing buses.  They make a quickie stop.  Photograph the local landmark.  Perhaps purchase a tourist nicknack.  Then swiftly leave.

      Although a few will order food, most don't.  When a tourist was surveyed one time as to why her bus wasn't staying longer, she replied in broken English that their tour guide advised against ordering food there.

      The Bagdad Café proudly carries a county Health Department 'A' rating; yet the restaurant's culinary specialities, interior and appearance of staff, haven't gained widespread local acceptance.  Andrea Pruett believes that the trashy appearance of the café is rustic ambiance and she is proud of being one of the few in Newberry Springs that is willing to give her employees a chance by hiring them.

      Pruett boasts that 95% of her customers are visiting tourists and that only 5% are repeat locals.  The so called 5% consists in part of a few sales from the Active Towing crew across the road and a few locals who show up when the community's Drifting Sands Café is closed two days a week.

Active Towing.

      In response to a Community Alliance news blog on Active Towing moving into Newberry Springs directly across from the Bagdad Café, the seller of the land to Active Towing, Thomas Stickley, and his aroused clan attacked the news blog on its Facebook page.  Finding nothing in the story to factually discredit, many attackers to the story choose to distract the issues by attacking the Bagdad Café.  As shown in the Facebook postings that are copied and pasted immediately below (without spelling and grammar corrections), Stickley and his supporters displayed some very venomous feelings towards Pruett and her café.

Cory Rogers  Baghdad cafe is also an eyesore, with all the trash that hangs out there.  Nobody local will eat there (except some ole timers).  County doesn't care what goes on in newberry unless someone calls in a complaint.  Maybe your next story should be about how badly managed the cafe is.  You should just drive over there and watch for a couple hours you'll see what I mean.

Jonas Caldwell  I got to agree with cory on this one the bagdad is a eye sore I remember growing up when it was the sidewinder which was a good place to eat and like cory said the people around the bagdad is questionable as a former firefighter for newberry ive run a few calls to the bagdad for ill people.

Joy L Knott  Dear Newberry Springs Community Alliance, you don't seem to be getting the jest of this conversation.  Its not the Baghdad cafe we despise its the element that runs it and dwells there and that lives around it. . . . It deeply saddens me that your not looking where the true problems lye.  I myself got food poisoning from Baghdad and will never go there again, and I'm a local.  Cmon if you want to make Newberry better, start with the REAL TRASH. . . .

Rocky Willson  ... (Bagdad Cafe) It's ran by thieves and drug users/ dealers. . . . It's nothing but a photo stop.  There's no revenue generated or contributed to the community there.  It's no different than seeing a giant ball of twine.

Cory Rogers  I don't know how!  But I do know of the thievery and other illegal activity that goes on there.  I know because I live on nopal ln.  And the theft has happened to me on several occasions.  Point is historic or not Baghdad is not a place I would want to visit due to the people who run/ hang around it.

Thomas Stickley  I'll address a few or the morons questions.  First of all the Sidewinder Cafe would be an Historical Landmark.  The Baghdad was named after a movie and a lame movie at that.  The Baghdad attracts tourists who lay in the highway next to ;the Route 66 painted on the highway, stand in the highway and take pictures and cause motorist to slam on their brakes and swerve to avoid hitting them.

[Editor's note: For people so knowledgeable of the Bagdad Café, they don't know its correct spelling.  It is as if someone sent them a misspelled inciting e-mail instructing them to rant on the 'Baghdad' and most of the followers copied the misspelling.]

Joy L Knott  And Baghdad Cafe is a "proper business" ?  Have you been in there lately to see what they really sell!!!

Cory Rogers  Theft is harmful drugs are harmful!  More so then zoning.

The rezoning and CUP.

      The Stickley application for rezoning includes not only his parcels, but adjacent parcels, that were unfortunately approved by the county Supervisors on June 3, 2014.  The approval allows for doubling the junkyard-type appearance along Historic Route 66's frontage, and a 4-times enlargement of the square-footage of the operation; that is now allowed to increase from a small tow operation into a major Interstate-40 truck wrecker tow service, CHP impound, and storage facility.

      The Board of Supervisors have approved a rezoning of the Stickley parcel, actually consisting of two parcels, and also the area marked out in orange.  Having rezoned the orange three parcels will now allow Active Towing to greatly enlarge its current operational footprint on Historic Route 66.

      Once Route 66 acquires a National Scenic Byway designation late next year, having a Big rig truck wrecker service with a storage and impound yard directly across the highway from the Bagdad Café, will cause the café to easily lose out in its expected appreciation of tens of thousands of dollars.  Already, with the rezoning and Conditional Use Permit having been approved, the surrounding property values have likely declined.

      In a recent survey of tourists' reasons for traveling Route 66, a major reason was to see the vast, unspoiled openness of the land.  People want to experience Historic Route 66 as the earlier travelers saw it.  Unspoiled.  They don't want the view scape cluttered with junkyards.  They want to experience Route 66's legacy that has become a symbol of the American people's heritage of travel, and of seeking a better way of life that has been enshrined in our American popular culture.

      Historic Route 66 between Newberry Springs and Needles represents the best undeveloped sections of the entire 8-state Route 66 system to visually present much of what the earlier travelers actually saw and experienced.  This is a tremendous tourists draw for San Bernardino county's economy.

      Due to its involvement with the BLM's Corridor Management Plan, the Community Alliance has handled inquiries from an investor interested in the motel adjacent to the Bagdad Café for conversion into a major tourist center.  The proposal involved the restoration of the existing delapidated structure with a substantial new adjacent building to handle a small theater, museum and restrooms.  With the county's Supervisors approval of the Stickley's junkyard-type application, that interest appears to have evaporated as well the area's future attractiveness to act as an anchor for future commercial tourist development.

    The top two photographs were presented to the county's Board of Superviors during the rezoning/CUP application hearing as being true and accurate renditions of Stickley's small towing operation.  Obviously, all of the Active Towing's Big-rig wrecker service trucks are unscrupulously absent and a Silver Valley Auto Repair sign placed on the building to mislead and bamboozle the Supervisors.  The photographs were supplied by applicant Thomas Stickley and promoter Spike Lynch.
    Note the three car garage.  It appears to have been built on the property line of two parcels and never remedied (see second illustration from top).  County forced the Newberry CSD to remove its offices when the CSD settled its offices on a property line.  Why the difference in enforcement standards?

    This far more typical of the eyesore activity that was going on at the site during the time of the Stickley application for Active Towing.

      With Thomas Stickley, Active Towing, promoter Spike Lynch, the county's Land Use Services Department, and the existing county Board of Supervisors, Newberry Springs doesn't need enemies.

      Due to the corrupt processing of applications by the county's Land Use Services Department, and the rubber stamp approvals by the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors of almost anything that county staff places before their noses, the approval of Stickley's application was fully expected.  This has been the standard county practice for years;  However, due to the open and notorious violations of the California Environmental Qualty Act (CEQA) in the application, the application was fought by the Community Alliance to establish a foundation of later addressing the county's illegal practices to higher forums.

      Local representative Supervisor Robert Lovingood has stated that opponents can not just claim CEQA violations, but that they must substantiate what specific violations are involved.  During both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors hearings on the Stickley application, specific CEQA violations were clearly stated; but the Planning Commissioners, Robert Lovingood and the other Supervisors, do not appear to be listening to the public.

      The Supervisors are elected by the people to intercede on their behalf to control the atrocities of county government overreach.  Instead, they are part of the problem.

Newberry Springs residents also have themselves to blame.

      Common complaints by residents in Newberry Springs are often over the lack of commercial investments in the community.  The complaints are over no grocery stores, no laundromats, and no general stores for basic needs.  The simple reason that Newberry Springs lacks these basics is because Newberry Springs is backwards and it isn't deserving of investment.  The only major investments in the community are those taking from the community, like mining; or alfalfa farming that is drying up the community's water wells.

      If anyone should have been highly opposed to the Stickley application, it was Andrea Pruett who is by far the biggest loser of the Supervisors' approval of the greatly enlarged towing project.  Apparently Pruett completely lacks a basic understanding of the magnitude of the direct negative impact that the Big rig truck wrecker service will have upon her business's value.  Shockingly, she not only supported the Stickley application; but she foolishly appeared before the Board of Supervisors endorsing it, apparently having been naively prompted and driven to the Board meeting by Thomas Stickley and Spike Lynch.

      Although Pruett's support appears totally daffy and irrational, other nearby property owners will also suffer a loss in property appreciation with the coming National Scenic Byway.  By the omission of their opposition, the other property owners have contributed to the community's continuing downward spiral.

      There appears no Christianity in the hearts of Stickley's supporters for Pruett and her café.  Pro-Stickley bloggers stated: "we despise its the element that runs it and dwells there..."   "(Bagdad Cafe) It's ran by thieves and drug users/ dealers..."   "And yes I must agree the"bagdad" is one of the worse blights this town could ever have."   Yet, as hard as it is to understand, and despite these comments being made well before the Board hearing, Pruett allowed herself to be manipulated by Stickley into supporting an unnecessary site selection that will gravely cost her.

County Board of Supervisors.

      The county's Board of Supervisors have long held the courtesy that if a Supervisor supports or opposes a project within his/her district, the other Supervisors will abide by that Supervisor's desire and vote with that supervisor because what goes around, comes around, and a likewise courtesy support is later expected when another Supervisor wants support.  So by letting his desire be known, First District Lovingood controls what happens in Newberry Springs.  Unfortunately, Robert Lovingood sided to damage the long term economic growth of Newberry.

      Supervisor Lovingood held the key to support Newberry Springs long-term economic good by requesting that Active Towing's site be further studied to be placed somewhere else.  There are already other site's properly zoned for Active Towing that it could operate from, that would be a win for Active Towing and the community.

      A part of CEQA and the process of mitigation is the consideration of alternative sites.  This was yet another ignored failure of county's Land Use Services.

      Supervisor Robert Lovingood has expressed his own interesting conceptual twist when it comes to rezoning properties.  He believes that a landowner should have the right to do whatever he wants to do with his property.  In the case of Thomas Stickley's application for Active Towing, the application even had one nearby property owner, Andrea Pruett, supporting the application.  The idea that this application is therefore proper is however terribly backwards in thinking as it ignores the dozens of other adjacent and nearby property owners, many absentee landowners, who purchased their properties based upon the existing zoning that is supposed to protect their land investment.

      Rezoning is not something that is susposed to be done automatically upon a landowner's request as has been the practice for years in San Bernardino county.  Such makes a Master Zoning Plan meaningless as everyone gets to do whatever they want with their property.

      In a rural area, no one is going to purchase or build adjacent or nearby a junkyard-like business like Active Towing that has a 24/7 operation.  The Supervisors have once again poisoned Newberry Springs economic development.

      In trying to make the applicant happy, Lovingood feels that it is OK to diminish the value of all of the adjacent and nearby parcels by allowing a junkyard-type operation that will deter any future new home or business construction.  Lovingood has stated that if someone doesn't like what an owner wants to do through rezoning, that the unhappy person has the opportunity to purchase the property himself from the applicant.  This line of wild thinking to justify bad and highly inexcusable rezoning simply illustrates the county's continuing out-of-touch bizarre abuses.

      Why should an existing elderly resident, living on a fixed income adjacent to a new proposed project, be forced to buyout the adjacent owner who wants to Supersize a new business and change the character of the neighborhood from what it is zoned for?

      Existing zoning regulations are meant for planned, long-term development; to prevent incompatible land use in the first place.  It is not about allowing every land owner to do whatever he wants with his property by simply rezoning at will.

      What has happened with Thomas Stickley's rezoning application is illustrative of everything that is bad with San Bernardino County government and wrong with Newberry Springs.  It represents the backsliding on the purpose for zoning.  For far too long, whatever an outside company wants to do in Newberry Springs, be it placing an industrial solar plant into a residential area, mining, dairy, or whatever, the county has welcomed and never questioned the negative impact to the surrounding property investments.  The county has always seemed to have taken the attitude that rural Newberry Springs is the toilet to dump such, for Newberry Springs shows little resistance.

      Despite being informed of specific CEQA violations during the hearing and other problems with the application, all of the Supervisors failed to support Newberry Springs.  All of the Supervisors conspired in a repeated pattern to violate CEQA law by ignoring factors of CEQA, failing to properly notice all stakeholders, and by going along with a Negative Declaration based upon an inadequate investigation and study of key factors that included in part a total lack of any investigation of the negative impact upon the Cultural Itinerary, economics, wear, and impact to Historic Route 66; much less the potential contamination to soil and water supply that a wrecked Big rig impound and storage yard may cause without proper mitigation measures.  (Apparently, Andrea Pruett doesn't care what is pumped from the Bagdad Café's water well.)

      So when driving by the "eyesore" Bagdad Café in the future and seeing the junkyard-appearance of Active Towing, remember Thomas Stickley, Spike Lynch, Andrea Pruett, and our county government who have established and maintained the dilapidation and downward spiraling economics of Newberry Springs.

Supervisor Robert Lovingood offers help.

      Subsequent to the Board of Superviors unanimous approval of the Stickley application, Supervisor Lovingood has met with representatives of the California Historic Route 66 Association.  Lovingood extended an outreach offer to make the county more transparent by timely informing Route 66 stakeholders of relevant planning applications coming before the county.

      Lovingood committed his staff to work with the county's Land Use Services Department to have that department immediately notify Route 66 impacted parcel owners and groups of new projects when they first come before the Planning Department.  Currently, impacted stakeholders are not usually notified until after the Planning Department has completed their reports that excludes public input.  The only time that the public then has input is during the hearing process.  By then, the staff presentations are completed and the lame Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors are ready to expedite whatever Land Use Services prompts them to accept.

      Lovingood's outreach is an excellent first step in the right direction but it should be the universal norm within Land Use Services for everyone.  The practice may become mandatory anyway.  The California Office of Planning & Research is attempting to make a major revision in the state's General Plan Guidelines to vastly extend the way that the California Environmental Quality Act is processed.

      The revisions to the General Plan Guidelines and CEQA Guidelines may significantly effect the practice of planning in California.  The goal is to integrate much earlier the environmental review process in the development of plans; and not as a tack-on measure at the end.  This may likely require an earlier participation by the public in the development of plans.

      When it comes to CEQA, the County of San Bernardino has a statewide reputation as being highly negligent and at the bottom of counties following CEQA regulations.  The county needs as much help and strong-arm prompting as possible from Sacramento to get its act together.

      Lovingood's outreach is a good step that is highly appreciated.  We give him a high mark for it.  However, it must be accompanied by county government listening to its constituents.  When citizens take their time to come to a podium before the Supervisors and state specific violations of CEQA, the Supervisors themselves should ask questions and reverse the matter back to Land Use Services for further analysis.  The corrupt conspiracy within county government needs to stop.

National Scenic Byway eyesore!   An impressible stain of carnage upon the scenic view scape.

Earlier photographs of Active Towing's site.

Planning Commission's intoduction staff report.

Earlier blog: Stickley's scam.


Click here to read, "Like,"
comment, or share on:
Newberry Springs

Follow us on Twitter and
be notified of new stories:
Newberry Springs Community Alliance
Home page: