In June 2014, this corner property at National Trails Highway and Nopal
Lane looked spacious and clean like this. That was before Supervisor Robert Lovingood
went against Newberry Springs community activists and approved the rezoning and a Conditional
Use Permit to allow industrial-scale Big Rig towing and storage operations in the largely
residential neighborhood. Today, Newberry Springs' No. 1 tourist corner at National
Trails & Nopal has an unimaginable Lovingood eyesore. What
else has Robert Lovingood done to bring prosperity to Newberry Springs?
Newberry Springs Is Being Badly Represented
Commentary by TedIStimpfel
Posted: November 6, 2017
Vickie Paulsen contributes to the problem.
Non-publicly elected (appointed) Newberry Community Services District board member
Vickie Paulsen, on October 26, 2017, presented herself as representing Newberry Springs at the
Countywide Plan EIR Scoping Meeting. The meeting was held at the county's Board of
Supervisors' chamber in the city of San Bernardino with some speakers participating via video-feed
from Hesperia and Joshua Tree.
Despite Paulsen's short presentation having some good points, she held
no authority to voice into the official record what the community of Newberry Springs wants.
Paulsen's presentation centered on the Board of Supervisors' earlier public
meeting adopting the Renewable Energy & Conservation Element (REC Element) held on
August 8, 2017.
The REC Element is a new energy ordinance for the county's upcoming General
Plan update. The adoption of the REC Element will have a significant impact upon the
High Desert as it establishes the criteria for where future industrial-scale alternative
energy projects can be located on private county regulated land. This does not impact
federal, state, nor city incorporated lands but everywhere else, like Newberry Springs; and
Newberry Springs is already being actively targeted by industrial-scale solar developers.
(Yawn) Yes, this is boring stuff but this impacts you if you live or
invest in Newberry Springs. Read further to learn how Newberry and other rural
communities are being screwed by county government !
The helpful regulatory section for Newberry was deleted.
An extremely important part of that new REC Element (ordinance)
was a regulatory section that would have prohibited large alternative energy facilities
from communities with a community plan and would have prohibited siting upon rural
living (RL) zoning. Newberry Springs is largely comprised of RL zoning and it
has a community plan in development. Thus, this section of the proposed General
Plan update was expected to help Newberry Springs from being overrun by industrial
This very important section had been placed into the proposed
energy element after many countywide public meetings were held where residents had
strongly voiced their desire for the section to protect their lifestyle and
communities from being negatively impacted by outside energy developers.
At the end of nearly 60 public speakers at the August 8th public hearing,
Third District Supervisor James Ramos immediately motioned to remove the protective Policy 4.10
from the board's vote. Disappointedly, First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood quickly
supported the motion and the other supervisors followed their lead. After over 5-hours
of public testimony, the speed at which Ramos quickly asserted the removal of the protective
section appeared to be by prior arrangement. Lovingood's quick support echoed that
strong prearranged appearance. Lovingood's record has mostly supported big business
over the desires of the local communities.
The REC Element hearing rooms in San Bernardino on August 8, 2017, were filled
with standing room only. The rooms were so full that the fire code prevented
entrance to dozens of attendees.
By forcing alternative energy facilities upon rural communities, the Supervisors
have again slammed Newberry Springs while promoting their own political interests.
They are not allowing communities to define their own destiny.
Newberry's support for Lovingood should be questioned.
While Lovingood has considerable support from Newberry
Springs, Newberrians need to scrutinize the damage that Lovingood has caused the community.
Lovingood's support for big businesses that support his political ambition has directly
conflicted with Newberry's overall best interests.
Newberry's Community Plan
Newberry's latest Community Plan, being prepared as part of the Countywide
Plan, appears to be headed to the toilet. What was launched by the county to provide
communities with a greater participation in the policies of the upcoming General Plan update
is already falling apart.
The local Community Plans under the wing of the Countywide Plan are supposed
to give rural communities the opportunity to develop their long-term aspirations (10 to 20 years)
in the manner that the communities desire, and this was to be webbed into the policies of the
General Plan. However, the county's staff has apparently woken-up to the fact that the
county might be giving up more control than staff wants. (County staff wants total control
over the peasants.)
So, the county has now downgraded and "repositioned" Community
Plans from policy extensions of the General Plan to "re-envisioned" short-term
action plans for communities to perform by themselves. In short, no helpful
regulatory support on policy and only a few token B.S. template guidelines for the communities
to do it on their own.
The outcome of the extensive work of separate policies and goals
of approximately two dozen individual Community Plans are now going to be dumped
("consolidated") into one meaningless stew called the Central Policy Plan.
The county now claims that communities want short-term focus.
The communities have not been asking for short-term focus. The communities have been
crying out for long-term community planning for economic development with the county's contributing
support. Currently, the county's regulations, practices, and fees are smothering rural
progress. The county staff with deaf ears is now arrogantly dictating to the communities
what the communities are supposed to want. It is the culture that is embedded in the
Land Use Services Department.
The direction of the county's Community Plans is near worthless. They
offer communities little more than what the communities can do themselves. It was hoped
that the plans would have the county as a partner to address and remedy many of the
problems and obstacles that the communities have with county government.
Vickie Paulsen's Testimony
Rather irksome at the October 26th meeting on the Countywide Plan's EIR Scoping
was Vickie Paulsen's testimony inviting solar energy development:
"Now in Newberry we are not opposed to solar energy, we've
got plenty of sun and land to spare, but we want each proposed project to be subjected to a
strict EIR that will address the tender desert environment that is so easily disrupted by any
change in the understory, and we want the ERA (sic) to respect the desire of residents to preserve
their quality of life and viewscape from fields of solar panels the height of 4 to 6-story
Paulsen's presentation on October 26, 2017:|
Now, perhaps Paulsen doesn't want to be viewed like an obstructionist by
stating that "in Newberry, we are not opposed to solar energy, we've got plenty of sun
and land to spare," but she is opening the door to destructive foreign developers like
French-based Soitec. Like a crack in a dam, weak appeasement only invites disaster.
Perhaps, Paulsen also doesn't understand the full ramifications
of the Supervisors' August 8, 2017, vote. Paulsen asks that all projects have
a strict EIR review, but that is now a thing of the past. The Land Use Services
Department is going to be able to place almost everything, whether it qualifies or not
for fast-tracking, into the EIR preapproved category.
Proper EIR studies now appear to be history as the broad perimeters of
the predisposed EIR factors under the REC Element will reign. By Supervisors
Lovingood and Ramos eliminating the protection portion for rural communities, Newberry
Springs, and other desert communities are screwed unless they can raise hundreds of
thousands of dollars for legal challenges, and the state courts strongly lean to favor
More practical would be to raise public awareness and vote the political
scoundrels out-of-office and acquire representation that corrects the damages being done
by Lovingood and Ramos.
Paulsen's presentation also took to task many of Soitec's
failures to uphold its Conditional Use Permit (CUP) conditions at the Mountain
View Road solar site. Unfortunately, Paulsen failed to address the bigger
problem of the county's Land Use Services Department's failure to enforce the CUP
conditions that it places upon developments such as the Newberry Soitec site and
the Big Rig tow and storage yards on National Trails Highway that would help
mitigate the blight and other damages.
Newberry Springs' community representatives and the
Board of Supervisors should all be on the obstructionist's platform.
Teamwork is needed. According to the guidelines for the EIR, an alternative
plan to industrial-scale alternative energy development can be a No Plan
Alternative. To qualify, an alternative needs to reduce or eliminate
a significant environmental damage and it must present a potential
alternative to reasonably meet a majority of the original project's
Alternatives for Renewable Energy in the Countywide Plan:|
Alas, there is a legitimate No Plan Alternative to industrial-size
energy siting, however, it appears unpopular with certain politicians who have been benefiting
from industrial funding sources.
The Alternative Plan.
The No Plan Alternative is to totally abandon industrial-scale alternative energy
development in the desert in favor of localized Distribution Solar (Rooftop Solar).
The benefits of Rooftop Solar at the point-of-use is an environmentally
superior alternative to industrial-scale solar destroying the desert. The short-term
industrial-scale jobs that would be lost are also outweighed by the creation of Rooftop Solar
jobs and the jobs maintained through tourism.
has substantiated that there is enough Rooftop Solar potential in Los Angeles County alone to
meet the state's progressive alternative energy mandates for the region without the need of
desecrating the desert. This UCLA rooftop study doesn't even include the potential for solar
carports nor the already existing projects on disturbed lands. This independent study
clearly shows that the proposed huge solar facilities in the desert are not even needed.
Unfortunately, federal politicians have corruptly favored directing billions
of dollars to industrial-scale alternative energy developers who support the politicians'
campaign chests. The losers are the taxpayers who are not being given improved incentive
support to install their own Rooftop Solar that increases their own property value.
The County of San Bernardino is a big enough, and an important enough player, to push back.
The Board of Supervisors, especially Supervisors Lovingood and Ramos who
represent the targeted desert areas for alternative energy development, and self-appointed
representatives like Vickie Paulsen, should be advocating the desires of the public
against industrial-scale solar anywhere that damages the desert and the viewsheds that
attract tourists. Tourism being one of the most important economic drivers in
San Bernardino County.
A No Plan Alternative of Rooftop Solar, instead of industrial-scale
facilities, is a sensible alternative that county government should be advocating.
It would protect the desert's environment and rural communities.
There is no reason why Lovingood and Ramos couldn't have protected Newberry Springs from
runaway solar development, or have voiced a Distribution Solar (Rooftop Solar) only platform.
Fast-Tracking the desert's destruction.
The Renewable Energy & Conservation Element (with the omitted protective
section) will be attached to the General Plan without further EIR review:|
Similar to the focus of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP),
the emphasis of the county's energy element being attached to the General Plan is to facilitate
the streamlining of the application, siting, and approval process of large alternative
energy development; and to avoid full CEQA and associated EIR studies. None of which
protects the desert and rural communities.
Streamlining Applications To Avoid Detailed Scrutiny:|
The emphasis by the county has been to protect the interests of the
solar developers over those of the residents, their communities, and the desert. This is
so out-of-whack! We can no longer tolerate the abuse. Nor trust those in
office to do the right thing.
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