It's Baaack!
Proposed Severe Water Ordinance

Property rights are still being assailed
in proposed county regulation.


Posted: September 21, 2015

      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 landowners.

      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 under appeal, 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 litigation.

      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.


Know where your tax dollars are going.

Related water blogs:

U.S. farmers making hay with alfalfa exports to China -  Times  6/8/14
Readers React -  L.A. Times  6/14/14
Is Newberry Springs being slowly poisoned like Hinkley? -  7/14/14
Is Newberry Springs killing horses? -  8/3/14
Dirty secret of some Newberry Springs farmers. -  8/17/14
Evidence grows for possibility of tainted horse feed. -  8/20/14
Farmers continuing import of toxic sewer sludge. -  9/11/14
Planning Sustainable Water - Community Turning On Farmers -  9/19/14
Angry Residents Call For Rampdowns And Pumping Tax -  9/26/14
Farmers are horrified at proposed draconic rampdowns -  10/4/14
Emergency action necessary to save water supply. -  10/11/14
Water activist meets with citizens on water law. -  10/16/14
Pivot farming is seriously depleting local water. -  11/11/14
Baja Areawide Sustainability Plan supports status-quo. -  12/9/14
Newberry Springs lakes are being choked. -  12/29/14
Special Report: Silver Valley's water plan. -  1/1/15
Newberry Springs residents flood water meeting. -  1/7/15
Robert Kasner's views on farmers' water rights. -  1/16/15
Newberry Springs has large Watermaster turnout. -  1/29/15
Baja water plan offers delusions for everyone. -  3/20/15
Thirsty crops should require state regulations. -  L.A. Times  3/22/15
Major water moratorium ordinance planned. -  4/11/15
Proposed water moratorium ordinance postponed. -  4/18/15

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