Cal Poly Provides Hope
To A Fading Community

Cal Poly students have initial discussions with residents.

Posted: November 4, 2016

Newberry Springs Moves Forward

    A group of Cal Poly fourth-year graduate students from the school's Department of Regional and Urban Planning met with Newberry Springs residents Saturday, October 29, 2016, at the Newberry Community Services District (CSD) building.

    The students are attempting to assist the economically depressed community which over the last several decades has experienced a population drop of 40%, an abandonment by businesses, and a pension retiree base that has been replaced by households struggling to survive on government assistance.

    Approximately 30 Newberry Springs residents attended the initial meeting where nearly half of the two dozen graduate class students were visiting the community.  Reportedly, six students from the Cal Poly's class are expected to work on the Newberry Springs project, with the remaining class being divided between similar projects with Apple Valley, Lucerne Valley, and the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe.

    Courtney Knapp, the students' instructor, describes the class as an undergraduate Capstone Community Planning Studio that runs over two quarters.  Knapp states, "The first quarter is dedicated to site analysis, research, and some preliminary community outreach.  The second quarter is dedicated to visioning, goal setting, scenario building, and implementation planning."

    The Cal Poly meeting in Newberry Springs was a community "kickoff event" for the Studio, culminating the matchmaking efforts initiated by Holly Shiralipour of the USDA.

    The students may possibly decide to work on a plan for economic development along National Trails Highway, better known as Route 66.

    The Community Alliance erroneously reported earlier that local Realtor Fred Stearn, who has been strongly backing the idea of inviting Cal Poly, as the originator of the idea of the Cal Poly participation.  However, Stearn acquired the idea from Shiralipour.  After the demise this year of the Newberry Springs sponsored Desert Trails Promise Zone application, Shiralipour turned the matter of further reaching out to Cal Poly Pomona to Lorrie Steely and Annie Cwieka.

    Holly Shiralipour, who coordinated the recent Baja Subarea water report for the Mojave Water Agency, was also the originator of the attempted Promise Zone application, and she has been a strong advocate for Newberry's economic development.

    So, the presence of the Cal Poly studio course in Newberry Springs has metaphorically developed from the ashes of the Newberry Springs' Promise Zone application.  Cal Poly Pomona has graciously offered to step in and provide Newberry Springs with the professional planning that the community needs to advance its stalemated economic development.

    While the planning will be limited in scope due to time restraints, the results are expected to have a very meaningful impact on the community.  Newberry Springs is now acquiring the outside professional assistance that the community needs to advance itself.

    Following standard procedures of trained planners, the students at the community meeting attempted to engage and rally the local citizens by uniting them behind a central common focus, Shared History.

    Courtney Knapp states, "There is a meeting scheduled for early December but it will involve all four of the partner communities."  The date and site of the meeting have not been set.

    Knapp encourages the residents who attended the meeting to "look for an email from the team with a link to their blog, which will include the typed up notes from the "Where do we go from here?""

    Knapp said that during the students' workshop table session, the students collected "more than fifty concrete ideas..."  Knapp added that the students' website will contain "information about how to provide additional ideas and feedback."

    When the students' website is ready, the URL address for it will be e-mailed to the registered participants.

Community Plan & Innovation

    The County of San Bernardino is currently developing community plans for its unincorporated communities.  The first wave of 13 community plans, in which Newberry Springs is not included, was presented to the county's Planning Commission on November 3, 2016, and approved with modifications to be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors.  Newberry Springs will be included in the second set of plans.

    The work by the Cal Poly students is expected to be presented as an element to the Newberry Springs Community Plan when the plan goes before the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors for approval about this time next year.

    The Newberry Springs Community Alliance is supporting the introduction of a new Rural Mixed Use (MUR) zoning category for the county code.  This would be an easing of the urban requirements and permit an attractive and progressive new flexibility to assist Newberry's rural business development.  Currently, the county's serve-all zoning regulations make no sense for the county's remote rural areas as they are highly burdensome obstacles that stagnate rural growth.

    The county's zoning code prevents the licensing of community needed cottage businesses because of the many restrictions, such as parking and signage restrictions upon residential parcels, while nearby the county lets slide parcels with 50 junked vehicles.

    The first county meeting for the Newberry Springs Community Plan will be held Wednesday, November 30, 2016, from 6 P.M. to 8:30 P.M. at the Newberry CSD building.


Students line the wall as residents listen to Shelly Jordan and take notes.

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