Posted: April 17, 2021|
Newberry Springs Community Alliance
by Ted Stimpfel
Each year in May, the County of San Bernardino
holds a tax sale of properties that are at least 5-years delinquent in taxes.
The parcels can be redeemed by the owner by the payment of the
late taxes and penalties before the sale date.
There are two parcels that the Newberry CSD
board is drooling over to acquire. This is land that the directors
have previously craved (parcels 0528-121-14 and 0528-121-25).
In the past, the directors didn't have sufficient funds
(thankfully), but under a tax sale, the CSD as a governmental
agency can take a priority position and can acquire the property
at a super-duper discount. For pennies on the dollar !
The property is immediately east of the CSD's offices and
the CSD's recreation park. It is where people sometimes park their vehicles
while attending the annual fireworks, the pistachio festival, or other
events at the park.
Reportedly, the water rights to the property were
sold before 2017.
The CSD management and directors appear to be
recklessly joyriding without care of the consequences.
The problem with the land is that the previous owner
was less than a good caretaker of his property. The County had
stepped in and had forced the owner, Ray Jackson, before his death,
to remove many tons of rusting vehicles from his eyesore property.
But little was done regarding the drums and other
concerns that couldn't be evaluated from the property line.
Access to the property was restricted by Jackson.
After Ray Jackson's death, his property has been under
the Ray Jackson Trust which has ceased a reported toxic clean-up of
the property due to a lack of funds. The trust has been
reportedly trying to sell the parcels for approximately $200,000.
If soil samples reveal that toxic chemicals (and some
are known to have existed in drums removed from the property) reached
the ground, the Jackson property could be declared a toxic chemical
waste site. This could require the property owner to spend many
millions of dollars for cleanup before the chemicals reached the water
table and local wells.
To date, no known public soil samples have been taken.
It is not known what sampling the trust might have done, if any.
If the trust allows the parcels to go to
a tax sale, this indicates to me (IMHO) that the parcels may be seriously
contaminated. It is also an indicator of the reasoning of why
Jackson sold-off the water rights, in anticipation of an eventual
Investigators have been kept from the property.
This could be a stall tactic to avoid official governmental discovery
and a cleanup order. It is a no-win situation for the trust.
The trust can not sell the property without fully disclosing the
material fact of a known hazard.
It might appear that the trust is attempting to
cut its liability by taking the strategy of forcing a transfer by
the County to an unsuspecting bidder during a tax sale.
A bidder who is too foolish to do prior research. But that could
be a wrong conclusion.
The property is only behind in its taxes from
December 2013 through April 2018. The taxes for the last few years
have been paid by the trust, in fulfilling its legal duty.
The tax defaults appear to have been
solely on Ray Jackson's watch and not the trust's. The trust is
fulfilling its obligation. So, a last minute redemption by the
trust may happen... or the trust may simply rid itself of a questionable
Meanwhile, the question of contamination remains
and there appears to be some anxious crazies ready to purchase !
As shown in the October 17, 2017, letter below that was cc'd
to the Newberry CSD and its directors Robert Springer and Victoria Paulsen, the
CSD is well aware of the potential bombshell liability associated with acquiring
the Ray Jackson property.
Special thanks are given to Fred Stearn of Fred
Stearn Realty on National Trails. Stearn specializes in
land sales within Newberry Springs and he has professionally
witnessed the decline in Newberry under the CSD leadership.
Fred Stearn has written hundreds of letters
supporting Newberry Springs, better government practices, and
fighting the negative elements that harm the community.
Should the Newberry CSD acquire the Jackson site,
and toxic soil samples be revealed, the CSD (and the community)
could be held responsible for many millions of dollars in cleanup
As stated in the 2017 letter above, the CSD
in exercising due diligence should perform a Phase 1 Environmental
Site Assessment before considering an acquisition. If a
contamination liability is identified, then a Phase 2 Environmental
The 2017 letter contains a common-sense
warning that was advised to the CSD management nearly four years
ago by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board.
So far, the CSD manager and directors have
done nothing but explore how they can take over the Jackson
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