Jeff Gaastra, president of the Newberry Springs Recreational
Lakeowners Association, is still busy, not having given-up his desire of a new water
restricting ordinance. This time, Gasstra is promoting a slightly altered version
of his previously proposed county ordinance to restrict the water rights of
The vision of his proposed restrictions is definitely
needed; and it has a noble foundation based upon the devastating Wild West
overdrafting of the Mojave Valley; but the naiveness of the proposal's first
paragraphs is astounding.
In order to ignore and sidestep California Law, the proposed
ordinance calls upon the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors to lie and vote upon the
proposal as an Urgency Ordinance. Nothing appears to be further from the truth.
As we all know; the immoral overdrafting of the
Mojave Valley by principally alfalfa farmers has been going on for 100-years.
This matter is not anything that has reared its devastating head in the
last few days as a sudden and unplanned catastrophe event. For years
the California Superior Court has been taking corrective measures that the
court is pursuing under adjudication. If under law there was a true urgency,
the Superior Court would have already addressed it.
The county would greatly insult the court of Judge
Gloria Connor Trask if the county insinuated that the court was inept by implying
the court's previous rulings were incompetent and required an Urgent Ordinance
to correct the court's handling of the matter.
Adding interest to the collaborating parties behind the
proposal is a Mojave Water Agency's attorney who is reported to have assisted in the
drafting of the proposed ordinance.
Furthermore, the proposal is attempting to pull-the-wool over
the county's Board of Supervisors' eyes by claiming that the matter is exempt from the Environmental
Quality Act (CEQA) "because it can be seen with certainty that there is no possibility
that it will have a significant effect on the environment as it includes regulations to
protect groundwater resources within certain groundwater basins..."
The legalese also goes on to claim exemption from CEQA
based upon the proposed ordinance preventing or mitigating possible futuristic "impacts
from the sudden, unexpected failures of existing wells within groundwater basins..."
This is baloney as wells usually give signs of going dry over a period of time; and often
with deteriorating water.
The proposal intentionally misleads the facts and hides the mandatory
requirement of performing a costly and time consuming Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
CEQA, like many California laws, has expanded in
scope with governmental expansion of powers. The environment under CEQA is no longer
limited to only that considered natural; but has grown to include the economic
and character of a community.
This was first recognized in California by no other than the local Superior
Court of San Bernardino County where the Dollar General store chain wants to
build in the rural desert community of Joshua Tree.
Under CEQA, County of San Bernardino Presiding
Superior Court Judge Donald Alvarez
quashed a county building permit upon the
grounds that the large Superstore would have the strong potential of doing
environmental harm by forcing a number of smaller stores to close and thereby
changing the quaint environmental character and rustic rural design of the community;
and probably causing 'urban decay.'
The court ruled that the developer was negligent
in not first performing an Environmental Impact Report.
Although the court order is
the court's decision is expected to stand as a reasonable interpretation of CEQA.
In short, the law has been evolving to recognize the importance of balancing community
conservation and preservation of historical customs and culture as a legitimate
issue in CEQA decisions.
While Jeff Gaastra's proposal aims to protect the community's
water, the methodology needs to cut mustard with CEQA. The proposal would have an
impact upon the dynamics of landowners' historical rights of development and be a de facto
restructuring of permitable building options currently held under existing zoning.
The proposal may inadvertently cause adverse economic impacts that could effect the
community as a whole. Without an indepth EIR study, far too much isn't known.
The proposal could inadvertently cause decay to the valley.
Obviously, the purpose of claiming the phony
exemptions is to circumvent State Law; and to ram through the special interests contained
within the proposed ordinance without a thorough understanding of the proposal,
that the state required EIR would provide. Team Gaastra is apparently of the ideology
that, "We have to pass the bill to find out what's in it," which could direct
the community into a quagmire.
No matter how much spin the Gaastra cadre writes into
the proposal, attempting to convince themselves and the county Board of Supervisors
that the proposal is exempt from CEQA oversight, it isn't.
As Gaastra's hostile sacrificing of landowners' water rights
may have a far greater impact than the lone Dollar General store in Joshua Tree,
the lack of an EIR would likely rocket the County of San Bernardino into further CEQA
Jeff Gaastra is expected to publicly present his proposed
ordinance as part of the
Baja Areawide Plan meeting
to be held in Newberry Springs on September 28th at the Newberry Springs Assembly
of God Church at 5 P.M. Hopefully, plans to fulfill CEQA requirements with
an EIR will be announced.