Newberry Springs Billboards
In California's Appellate Court
Billboard proponents won in Superior Court
but don't appear to have the law to prevail on appeal.

County corruption blasted in Appellants Opening Brief.

October 19, 2014

    As last reported by the Blotter on June 21, 2013, the billboard proponents received a big victory by Superior Court Judge Brian McCarville who ruled that the defendants, General Outdoor Advertising and the County of San Bernardino, had properly rezoned and exercised permits for billboards along Interstates 15 and 40.

    According to the Blotter's earlier blogs, the verdict wasn't all that surprising considering the way that the superior court judge was leaning.  Judge McCarville made a number of improper pre-verdict rulings siding with the defendants, General Outdoor Advertising and the county.

    In part, these included not permitting the plaintiffs to place into the county supplied Administrative Record (that upon which a verdict is based) documents that the county had negligently or intentionally ommitted; and Judge McCarville denied the plaintiffs the right to have their entitled discovery.  The judge arbitrarily and erroneously ruled,

"The court finds that the request of discovery in depositions are not reasonably related or calculated to lead to admissible evidence, therefore the request for a deposition is denied."
This clearly appears to be prejudicial abuse of discretion; and a violation of the plaintiffs' basic legal rights.

    As we presented last year in a blog, the judge ruled that the

Despite the court err in not allowing the plaintiffs to submit documents that the county ommitted, the evidence before Judge McCarville was still overwhelmingly weighed in favor of the plaintiffs.

    The strongest argument that General Outdoor and the county presented for their defense was that General Outdoor had acquired some Newberry Springs and Daggett support for the billboards.  General Outdoor found some local organizations who whored themselves for a share of the projected billboard revenue.  These included,

×   Newberry Community Services District
×   Newberry Springs Fire Department & Fire Fighters
×   Newberry Senior Service Center
×   Newberry Springs Chamber of Commerce
×   Newberry Springs/Harvard Real Property Owners Association
×   Newberry Gun Club
×   Daggett Community Services District
×   Southern California Fish Farmers Association   (Try and find this invisible one on Google!)

This support fact doesn't even bear on the law relative to the case; but during a May 24, 2013 hearing before Judge McCarville, General Outdoor Advertising's attorney "Mr. Mobley argued that the purpose of the zoning actions was to develop rural areas, and that the billboard company's revenue sharing plan would provide new money to various community organizations. RT 71-73. Judge McCarville responded:
Here, yes, I would like to see San Bernardino grow and flourish and everything else, but if you can't get there I will say legally, that might not be the thing that we can do. [RT 73:19-21.]"   (RT - Reporter's Transcript) (Italicized from Appellants Opening Brief)

    So even during the hearing process, Judge McCarville wasn't accepting the county's wrongful reasoning for the illegal spot zoning; yet, he flipped-flopped in later accepting the illegal spot zoning in his verdict!

    Since the earlier stated Blotter report, the plaintiffs in the case, three Newberry Springs property owners and the Coalition To Ban Billboard Blight, filed a Notice of Appeal on January 17, 2014 and their Appellants Opening Brief was lodged on September 2, 2014, before the 4th Appellate District, Division 2, based in Riverside, California.

    The Appellants Opening Brief, taking up the full 35-pages allowed, is loaded with evidence substantiating grounds for a reversal.  In part, it further requests the removal of the three billboards with six faces that were illegally installed on Interstate-15.

    The Opening Brief is a stinging recognition of the corruption within the County of San Bernardino by Land Use Services, the Planning Commission, and the Board of Supervisors.

    For several years the County staff did not support the earlier applications for billboards, finding them illegal.  It was not until General Outdoor Advertising and its owners gave campaign donations to Bill Postmus and his political associates that the county openly and notoriously violated the law by illegally spot zoning parcels by "sham or phony zoning"  solely for billboard placement; and then issuing illegal billboard permits in direct violation of the Highway Beautification Act and the Outdoor Advertising Act (B&P § 5200, et seq.).

    It is known that Bill Postmus and his assoicates received over $39,000 in money and benefits from General Outdoor Advertising and its associates.

    For those interested in reading the entirety of the Appellants Opening Brief, click the Community Alliance's copy of it here.

Unrelated to the litigation.

    The federal government, under the Highway Beautification Act, gave many millions of dollars to the State of California to ban visual polluting billboards along Interstate-40 and some other California Interstates.  Not only do billboards degrade scenic viewscapes, in doing so they damage tourism, damage aesthetics, cost jobs, and they are a visual nuisance.

    Yet, billboards represent big money, so it is interesting the spin that the industry places on their ugly structures.  One of our favorite crapola spins is Tim Lynch's asinine response to a draft Environmental Impact Report in 1985 regarding an earlier Newberry Springs/Harvard Community Plan.  Mr. Lynch was commenting that the environmental concern regarding billboards is unwarranted.

    Billboards do not actually harm the physical environment.  In fact, they tend to provide shade for desert reptiles and perches for raptors.  However, billboards and their placement tend to reflect a certain land use ethic and convey a message beyond the advertising copy they display.  The eventual placement of billboards will characterize the County's sensitivity to rural and desert environments.  The Community Plan as proposed does not provide for billboards in any district.

    This line of bizarre thinking is continuing today and it helps to keep the California courts busy.  Tim Lynch is the operator of General Outdoor Advertising.

    This blog article was drafted in early September 2014, after the September 2, 2014 filing of the appeal.  Before the intended publication date, it was learned that Spike Lynch, a member of the General Outdoor Advertising family, and principle promoter of billboard placement within the Mojave Valley, suffered a stroke that has seriously debilitated him.  Spike Lynch has never been a party to the litigation; but we temporarily delayed the release of this blog.  We wish him well and we pray for his full recovery.

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