Miscellaneous Notes

by Ted Stimpfel

Posted: November 9, 2019
Newberry Springs Community Alliance

More Crazy CSD Shenanigans

    The next Newberry CSD meeting has an agenda item that appears to raid the CSD's treasury.   Item 4(c) of the November 12, 2019, meeting reveals a proposed 'action item' by the Paula Deel cartel to purchase land for a new Civic Center.

    This would support Director Jack Unger's Strategic Planning Committee's desire for a new civic hub blessed as another Deel economic development scheme.  The proposal appears so poorly thought out that it will likely be yet another CSD failed endeavor.

    Included on the Strategic Planning Committee are CSD Directors Unger and Paulsen.  Also on the committee is Paula Deel's proxy husband as Paula can't be a third board member under the Brown Act.  Note, Paul Deel, Paula Deel and Victoria Paulsen are also all webbed as board members of the Newberry Springs Economic Development Association.

    A major oversight of Item 4(c) is, there is no money.  Except for a small amount left in the Kiewit Pacific fund which should be kept in reserve should it be needed to fight the solar invasion.

    Director Jack Unger's craving for a new civic center is reasonable, it is needed.  However, common sense demands that other priorities must be addressed first.

    Most small community civic structures that include a multifaceted complex, such as offices, an attached fire department, meeting rooms, a community assembly hall with a kitchen, etc., start at about $3-million and zoom upwards.

    The cost for Newberry isn't known because it hasn't been researched.  This land purchase proposal is the proverbial cart being placed before the horse.  (Again, what are these people thinking?)

    Construction costs for public buildings have all kinds of hidden costs, such as high seismic standards.  So, the low-end base starting point of indebtedness is approximately $1,400 for every adult and child in Newberry.

    The Newberry CSD would have to float a bond that with interest and associated costs, would substantially increase the base indebtedness.  Shouldn't these CSD directors, before spending our precious funds for land, first find out if the people want the financial burden?

    If solar isn't fought off, and utility-scale solar becomes established, families will start fleeing Newberry Springs over health issues.  Then who will be served by a new civic facility?  Who will be left to enjoy paying the continuing debt?

    If the lofty ideals of a grandiose civic center are going to be paid by grants, then we need to see them before the CSD's public money is recklessly spent on depreciating land.  When it comes to fiscal management at the CSD, there appears to be a screw loose.

Important CEQA Workshop
Went Unattended by Most CSD Directors

    A powerful and very educational one-day workshop on CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, was held Saturday, November 2, 2019, in Yucca Valley.

    The workshop was hosted by the California Desert Coalition with supportive co-sponsorships by the National Parks Conservation Association and the Mojave Desert Land Trust.

    The workshop dealt with CEQA Law and several case studies of the successful application of CEQA addressing environmentally sensitive projects.

    As Newberry Springs is currently battling the Clearway Energy's Daggett solar project, the workshop was well-timed and contained important information that each Newberry CSD director should have knowledge of to understand and use CEQA.

    The only Newberry CSD director that did attend was Jack Unger, who had to make a difficult job shift change to attend.  Also attending was Pat Flanagan of Desert Heights who has been instrumental in Newberry's solar defense.

    This writer also attended the event as a follow-up to attending a NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) workshop held at the same location in January 2019.  NEPA is the "Magna Carta" of Federal environmental laws from which California's CEQA is based.

    For the most part, CEQA holds stronger environmental protection than the Federal NEPA.  CEQA applies to California controlled lands while NEPA relates to Federal lands and projects.

    A brief overview of CEQA can be visited here.

    The CEQA workshop was held on the same day as Newberry's Pistachio Festival so most of the directors apparently opted to party at the festival rather than attend the workshop.

Newberry's Community Action Guide

    It is interesting to note that the county prepared Community Action Guide for Newberry Springs recognizes, from the county's data, that "Newberry Springs has a higher rate of emergency room visits due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than San Bernardino County."

    Yet, the county states that the air quality in Newberry Springs, as measured in Barstow, has healthier air "...than that of the overall Mojave Air Basin, in which Newberry Springs is located."

    So, why the conflicting data?  How can better air quality equate to the fact that Newberry has higher levels of COPD?  The county's air data and methodology are very skewed for Newberry.

Click on the frame for enlargement.

    Could it be because Newberry's air quality is being measured at the Barstow Courthouse?  That is over twenty-miles east, before the westerly winds blow into a Sand Transport Path picking-up silica dust particles to then engulf Newberry.

    Even in mild breezes the harmful invisible silica dust is picked-up and transported airborne over Newberry.

    Newberry Springs, due to being in a Sand Transport Path, already suffers from a higher damaging degree of toxic air pollutants.  The toxic silica dust, a Proposition 65 carcinogenic, will multiply many times the exposure should the 5.5-square mile Daggett Solar Power project be built.

CEQA Victory Outside Joshua Tree

    For 15-years a new town has been proposed just outside of the southern boundary of Joshua Tree National Park in Riverside County.  This has been a proposal to build up to 8,490 new houses and about 1.3 million square feet of civic and commercial space.

    The project would cover 1,900 acres which would be divided into 6 separate villages.

    The project has been highly opposed by local residents and conservationists.  The Riverside County Planning Commission had denied the proposal and the issue came before the Riverside County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, November 5, 2019.

    GLC Enterprises LLC has been working on the Paradise Valley community plan with Riverside County for roughly 15-years trying to acquire approval.  On November 5th, the Supervisors followed their Planning Commissioners and rejected the project citing many environmental concerns raised by the opponents under CEQA.

    CEQA is an effective tool if applied effectively by experts.  Newberry's CEQA expertise on the Daggett solar project is now coming in the door late when the party is almost over.

    If the Daggett Solar Power project is built, the County will be holding substantial culpability for the damages to the People of Newberry Springs.  The direct damages plus potential punitive damages could potentially run into the billions as previously alluded to in a previous news blog.  Fortunately, the county has deep pockets.

    Should you wish to participate in the defense of Newberry Springs against the Daggett solar project, please e-mail us and provide your contact information.

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