Needles Officials Refuse To Endorse Cadiz Water Project

NEEDLES—The Needles City Council has unanimously rejected making an endorsement of the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project.
Cadiz Inc., also known as the Cadiz Land Company, is proposing to pump an average of 50,000 acre feet of water out of the aquifer in the east Mojave Desert per year and sell it to five water purveyors serving  consumers in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties.
Cadiz Inc., which operates a 500 acre citrus, table grape, tomato and melon growing agricultural operation in the Cadiz Valley, pursued and abandoned a plan a decade ago to extract water from the water table underlying the Cadiz Valley and pipe it to the Los Angeles metropolitan area for use there. That original plan was forsaken after questions about the ecological impact of the strategy were raised by environmentalists and the entity Cadiz intended to partner with to carry out the undertaking, the Metropolitan Water Agency. That plan called for taking water from the desert aquifer in what were deemed “wet” years and pumping water from the Colorado River into the desert aquifer during “dry” years.

Ted Dutton

Four years ago, Cadiz Inc., revived the water plan, renaming it the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project. Cadiz is working with Orange County-based Santa Margarita Water District, which services an area that is more than 200 miles from the Cadiz Valley, to obtain approval for the project. The Santa Margarita Water District is currently serving as the lead agency for the project and is charged with overseeing the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review process for the undertaking.
Through an arrangement with the Cadiz Land Company, the Santa Margarita Water District will, if the project is approved, receive the lion’s share of the water. In addition, Cadiz, Inc. has entered into agreements with Three Valleys Water District, which provides water to the Pomona Valley, Walnut Valley, and Eastern San Gabriel Valley; the Golden State Water Company, which serves several communities in Southern California, including Claremont; Suburban Water Systems, which serves Covina, West Covina and La Mirada; and the Jurupa Community Services District, which serves Mira Loma in Riverside County.
Both Cadiz Inc. and the Santa Margarita Water District maintain the project is an environmentally responsible one that should not alarm environmentalists or local landowners. It will rely on a wellfield of 34 wells to “capture and conserve” the water resources in the East Mojave Desert using “safe, established groundwater management techniques  to ensure the project is operated without causing harm to the local environment,” according to the Santa Margarita Water District.
In recent months, however, numerous critics of the plan have come forward, asserting that  pumping from the aquifer 35,000 acre-feet to 65,000 acre-feet of water yearly as Cadiz Inc. proposes to do would cause a continuous drop in the desert water table that would dry up springs, deplete the local area of a water source crucial to life and future development of the area, create dust storms on nearby dry lake beds, adversely impact air quality, alter the flow of groundwater beneath the Mojave Desert by drawing water away from neighboring aquifers and have a devastating effect on bighorn sheep and other indigenous wildlife.
Cadiz Inc. and the Santa Margarita Water District have stepped up their lobbying efforts on behalf of the project, seeking to gain endorsements of the project from local governmental entities and other influential bodies in the desert to counter the efforts by local landowners and environmentalists to have the Santa Margarita Water District displaced as the lead agency overseeing the environmental certification and approval of the project. In seeking those endorsements, the project advocates maintain that the project is one that is aimed at “conservation” of water otherwise lost to evaporation. A major selling point is that the $536.25 million project will represent a $138 million boon to the East Mojave’s economy that will directly or indirectly create 2,090 jobs for four years, involving $53 million in wages or salaries to workers or proprietorships involved in building the pipeline and other elements of the project.
One such group that Cadiz Inc. made headway with was the Needles Chamber of Commerce, which last month went on record with a letter of support saying it was in favor of the project. Chamber board president Jeff Williams said the project will not only provide employment for many Needles residents but will also result in greater patronage of existing businesses in Needles.

Ed Paget

The Needles City Council, however, expressed opposition to the project with a greater intensity than which the chamber supported it.
Based on statements by city manager David Brownlee and municipal water department director Jerry Porter, both of whom evaluated the project, the city council on February 28 unanimously refused a request by Cadiz, Inc. to support the project. Cadiz Inc. founder and vice president Ted Dutton was in attendance at the February 28 meeting.
In a letter dated March 1, 2012 to Environmental Science Associates, the Los Angeles-based consulting company hired by Cadiz Inc. and the Santa Margarita Water District to do the environmental evaluation of the project, Needles Mayor Ed Paget wrote, “The city of Needles cannot endorse a project that will take 50,000 acre-feet of ground water annually from an extremely fragile ecosystem with no concrete plan for the replenishment of the aquifer. Natural recharge is estimated to be 14,000 acre-feet per annum. Taking the other 36,000 acre-feet from the Colorado River, the most over-subscribed waterway in America is unacceptable.”
Brownlee told the council that he was highly skeptical of the claim the aquifer could be recharged in the aftermath of the extraction of 50,000 acre-feet of water per year over a 20-year period.
Brownlee said the water the project will capture is a critical part of the desert ecosystem. “What is the definition of lost?” Brownlee asked. “Evaporation comes back as precipitation. It is a critical part of the natural cycle. It also sustains the desert vegetation and critters. I find it hard to believe that as much as 50,000 acre-feet (1.6 billion gallons) are ‘lost.’”
An acre-foot is equal to the amount of water that would cover an acre to the depth of one foot, i.e., 43,560 cubic feet, or 325,851.43 gallons, approximately the amount of water used by a typical household comprised of four people in a metropolitan area over the course of a year.

David Brownlee

Brownlee said he did not think it proper to be drawing water from the desert for use near the coast. “There isn’t even a pretense of a water conservation ethos,” Brownlee said.
Brownlee said he thought it “highly unlikely” that the second phase of the project, involving drawing water from the Colorado River to recharge the desert aquifer near Cadiz, will actually come to fruition, “given that the Colorado River is the most over drafted and litigated upon river in the world. It serves 17 million people in Southern California. There isn’t a drop to spare and the Bureau of Reclamation endeavors to measure every one of those drops.”
Brownlee said he felt it to be highly inappropriate for the Santa Margarita Water District, given its distance from the Cadiz Valley and its direct interest in the project, to be serving as the lead agency in the environmental certification process for the undertaking.
“The jurisdiction in which the potential environmental impacts are anticipated to occur should be and usually is the lead agency,” Brownlee said. “How can an entity that stands to benefit from a favorable environmental impact report finding be the responsible jurisdiction? Is that not a prima facie conflict?”

13 Vying In Three Board Elections

A total of 13 candidates are vying for three positions on the county board of supervisors which are up for election this year.
In two of those three positions, incumbents are seeking to return to the board.
In the First District, where Brad Mitzelfelt is supervisor, seven candidates are looking to replace him. Mitzelfelt, who has been supervisor since being appointed to replace Bill Postmus in 2007 and was elected in his own right in 2008, will vacate the supervisor’s post at the end of this current term. He has chosen to run for Congress in the recently redrawn 8th Congressional District.
The First District counts the cities of Adelanto, Hesperia, Victorville, Needles, the township of  Apple Valley and much of the Mojave Desert, including the communities of Trona, Newberry Springs, Daggett, Landers, Essex, Danby, Amboy, Bolo Station, Cadiz, Hinkley and Ft. Irwin as within its jurisdiction.
First District hopefuls this year include Hesperia Mayor Russ Blewett, Apple Valley Town Councilman Rick Roelle,  one time First District field representative Michael Orme, San Bernardino County fire captain Brett Henry, businessman Robert Lovingood, Jermaine Wright and Bob Smith.
Two individuals who earlier expressed interest in running for First District supervisor, deputy public defender and former Apple Valley mayor Mark Shoup and Phelan Pinon Hills Community Services District Board Member Ken Anderson, pulled papers to run for supervisor in the First District but have decided not to run.
In the Third District, Neil Derry, who was first elected to the board in 2008, is being challenged by James Ramos, the chief of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, and Jim Bagley, the former mayor of Twentynine Palms.
The Third District covers the cities of Big Bear, Redlands, Loma Linda, Grand Terrace, Highland, Yucaipa, Twentynine Palms, a portion of San Bernardino and the township of Yucca Valley, and the communities of Mentone, Bryn Mawr, Forrest Falls and Angeles Oaks. Two others, Ken Hunter and Robert Wilson, contemplated running in the Third District but did not file candidate papers by the deadline.
Fifth District county supervisor Josie Gonzales, who has been on the board since 2004, will face two opponents in this year’s race.
James Taack and Silvia Marroquin filed candidate papers on March 9 to run in the Fifth District, which includes the cities of Rialto and Colton, portions of the cities of Fontana and San Bernardino, and the communities of Bloomington and Muscoy.
All three of the races will be held in June. In each race, if no single candidate captures a majority of the June vote, a runoff will be held between the two top vote-getters.

SBIAA Board Transfers More of Spencer’s Authority To Wilson

The San Bernardino International Airport Authority Board onWednesday took action that signals in no uncertain terms that Scot Spencer is being removed from his position of authority at San Bernardino International Airport.
Since 2007, Spencer has served as the contract developer of the airport. In hiring Spencer, the airport board, consisting of representatives from the county of San Bernardino and the cities of San Bernardino, Highland, Loma Linda and Colton, overlooked the consideration that Spencer had spent four years in federal prison following his conviction for bankruptcy fraud in connection with his failed effort to revive Braniff Airways in the early 1990s. The board, gambling that Spencer’s extensive connections throughout the aviation industry would translate to success in transforming the former Norton Air Force Base into an international airport, provided him with autonomy in directing operations at the airport.

Scot Spencer

Over the last several years, however, airport officials have been driven to the conclusion that their trust in Spencer was misplaced. Spencer’s management of what was supposed to be a $38 million renovation of the airport’s passenger terminal and a $7 million development of its concourse was dogged by cost overruns, boosting the combined cost of the passenger terminal and the concourse to $142 million. No commercial airlines agreed to fly out of the airport upon the completion of those improvements, as Spencer had confidently predicted and the major beneficiary of the project was the corporate jet-servicing company, Million Air, for which Spencer was the franchisee. Million Air terminated its relationship with Spencer earlier this year after the company claimed Spencer had failed to pay it hundreds of thousands of dollars he was in arrears on. In controlling airport operations, Spencer showed favoritism toward companies he owned or controlled, including SBD Aircraft Services, Norton Aviation Maintenance Services, Unique Aviation, San Bernardino Airport Management, SBD Properties LLC, KCP Leasing and Services, SBAMTechnics, and SBD Aircraft Services, to the detriment of other aviation-related companies located at the airport, such as Aeros Aeronautical Systems Corp and BaySys West. Aeros and Baysis were making substantial lease payments for hangar space at the airport before they were essentially forced to leave.
Questions mounted when Spencer formed at least two business partnerships with T. Milford Harrison, who had formerly served as the executive director of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority (SBIAA) and its sister agency, the Inland Valley Development Authority (IVDA), which is dedicated to the development of the property surrounding the airport. While Spencer allowed vendors to go unpaid and the aviation fuel stores at the airport to deplete to levels that threatened the continuing operation of the airport as a host to corporate jets, Harrison ran up non-aviation related charges of $63,043.45 on an American Express Business Platinum card issued to him through the authority and another $4,642.86 on a second Starwood Preferred Guest Business credit card he secured through the airport authority. Meanwhile, by the summer of 2011, Spencer owed the county more than $604,000 in unpaid taxes on property and equipment at the airport since 2005 and was in arrears on interest and principal payments on $1.2 million in loans to him through the airport authority.
The coup de grace came on September 21, 2011 when federal authorities, in the person of FBI and IRS agents, together with state law enforcement officers descended upon San Bernardino International Airport, serving search warrants at five offices, businesses or facilities there as part of a comprehensive investigation into allegations that millions of taxpayer dollars were illegally diverted, mismanaged, laundered, misappropriated or siphoned off by officials or individuals affiliated with the airport’s development. Targeted in the raid were SBIAA and IVDA headquarters, the San Bernardino Million Air franchise; three hangars, including Hangar 763, where two Spencer-affiliated companies were located; a storage facility at the airport, and Spencer’s Riverside residence. According to the search warrants, the authorities were seeking information regarding suspected misuse of federal funds, bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy.

A.J. Wilson

On September 28, 2011 Don Rogers, who had served as the executive director of SBIAA and IVDA during Spencer’s tenure as contract developer, resigned. On November 9, the SBIAA board hired A.J. Wilson, a municipal manager with an extensive list of top administrative assignments inside and outside of California, to the position of interim executive director of San Bernardino International Airport.
On December 23, 2011, the airport board terminated the airport management and development agreement it had with Spencer’s San Bernardino Airport Management, LLC.
This week, on March 14, the board acted to grant Wilson even more control of the airport and entities Wilson created to take over management of the aerodrome from the companies Spencer held.
“A non-profit corporation, San Bernardino International Airport, Inc., has been formed for the purposes of facilitating and supporting the operations and maintenance functions of the airport,” according to a report dated March 14 prepared by assistant airport director Mike Burrows that was forwarded to the SBIAA and IVDA boards by Wilson. That report continues, “On January 25, 2012, the SBIAA Commission approved an agreement with Oasis Outsourcing III, Inc., to provide certain staffing services. Affected employees have now been enrolled in the new payroll systems. Subsequently, the fuel services management agreement between SBIAA and SBD Airport Services, LLC was also terminated due to specific defaults by SBD Airport Services, LLC. As such, the executive director took appropriate actions to regain control of the airport’s fuel farms, purchase adequate fuel inventories, and entered into an agreement with REW Inc, and Million Air Interlink, Inc. to provide professional services to assist in fueling operations and services performed by San Bernardino International Airport, Inc. personnel.”
Spencer could not be reached for comment.

Upland Proving Generous Toward Selected Businesses

While cash-strapped Upland is becoming increasingly stingy with the dwindling money it has available to sustain and promote itself as well as bolster local economic development, a subset of the city’s businesses are still tugging at City Hall’s apron strings, seeking shelter from the financial brutality of the real business world.
Currently, the city is landlord to 22 businesses in town. Whether those entities are standing on their own or are being propped up by taxpayer subsidizations in the way of discounted rent payments is a matter of debate, conjecture, perspective and relative consideration.
What is undeniable is that at least some of those businesses are struggling. City officials are divided as to whether the city should raise their rents, continue leasing the properties out to those entrepreneurs on the same terms as before, or actually lower some of the businesses’ lease payments in an effort to keep them from closing their doors.
Last week the Upland Finance and Economic Development Committee previewed a proposal to grant struggling businesses leasing space from the city a break on their rents if they can demonstrate they are enduring financial hardship. This week the city council took a look at its options.
Many if not most Upland residents are unaware that the city has any sort of a business relationship with Upland shops, stores and operations. But over the years, the city has acquired several properties, many within commercially zoned districts, and that space has been leased out, theoretically giving the city a return on its investments while promoting and boosting local economic development and employment.
Though some maintain the city’s lease rates on the properties are below that reflected in the current real estate market, some of the business owners leasing from the city have said they are paying too much in rent. They have asked the city to reduce their lease rates.
In response, the finance and economic development committee, consisting of councilman Brendan Brandt and councilwoman Debbie Stone, has considered a new rent modification policy for the city’s tenants, the particulars of which may at some point be submitted to the full council for approval.
The city is entertaining the notion of modifying rents in conjunction with the requests, according to Jeff Zwack, the city’s economic development director, because “based on real world information provided to us by four local commercial management companies, it is better to keep tenants than find new ones.”
Zwack said two of the city’s tenants – Boomers and RG Performance – are having difficulties and have actually requested assistance in the form of lease reductions. A third city tenant – Hubcap Annie – is likely to make such a request soon, he said.
As a consequence, Zwack said, he is proposing to formalize the rent reduction process, establishing criteria that if met would provide a tenant such a reduction. The prime criterion, Zwack said, would be “if the tenant is paying rent that exceeds eight percent of monthly gross sales.”
To qualify for the reduction, a tenant would have to subject his business operation, Zwack said, “to a third party review and show two years of gross sales, sales tax receipts and profit and loss statements to get a favorable report for reducing rent. That report we would then bring to the [city] council to approve lowering the lease.”
There would be the expense of employing the third party to do the review and that expense would ultimately have to be borne by the tenant, Zwack said, although perhaps not up front. “That fee we would add to end of the lease,” Zwack said.
Zwack said the rent reductions would be relatively limited in duration. “The leases would be reduced six months to a maximum twelve months,” he said. “And they would have to go for a two year period to request assistance again. To obtain a rent modification they would have to go to the small business center for free financial consulting, where analysts would look at cash flow and the products they are selling to make them more productive.”
City treasurer Dan Morgan said he was not necessarily opposed to the concept of granting lease payment reductions to struggling businesses, but that the businesses rather than the city would need to cover the cost of processing the reduction applications. “I would hate for us to be subsidizing this analysis,” he said. The cost of such an evaluaion could run as high as $1,500 to $2,000, Zwack said, which might offset much of the rent reduction.
Zwack said that by the city covering the cost of the analysis and placing it on the business’s tab to be paid at the end of the lease, the city would risk losing that money if the business failed.
The city of Upland is smarting from having suffered a significant loss on another ultimately unsuccessful attempt to kick start the local economy with the subsidization of Christophe’s Restaurant and Lounge at 296 N. 2nd Avenue in the city’s downtown core. Christophe’s closed January 7.
Christophe’s Restaurant was intended as an upscale eatery that would draw top paying customers to the downtown area as a complement to the Upland Playhouse, i.e., the former Grove Theater. That never panned out, however. In the case of Christophe’s, the city was not the landlord.
Barbara Polk actually owned the property at 296 North Second. Christophe’s Restaurant opened in October 2009, having participated as the maiden recipient in the city’s loan program, by which entrepreneurs were provided with loans from the city’s redevelopment agency if certain expectations with regard to the businesses in question were satisfied. In the case of Christophe’s, owner Christophe Jardillier was provided with a $350,000 loan, which has yet to be paid back. At present, he owes the city more than $405,000 in principal and interest on that loan. The city has little prospect of collecting on that debt. Jardillier likewise owes Polk upwards of $70,000 in back rent.
The city’s redevelopment agency was closed out by the state last year.

14 Bald Eagles Spotted Nesting Near San Bernardino Mountain Lakes

On Saturday March 11th, the fourth bald eagle count of the winter was conducted by local federal and state biologists and volunteers around lakes in the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains.
Volunteers enjoyed clear skies and warm temperatures while looking for America’s national bird. The count was successful in tallying the bald eagles spending their winter vacations at local lakes.
A grand total of 15 eagles (9 adults and 5 juveniles, 1 eaglet) were observed at the lake areas during the one hour count. Six eagles (3 adults, 2 juveniles, and 1 eaglet) were observed in the Big Bear/Baldwin Lake area; five eagles (2 adults and 3 juveniles) at Lake Arrowhead/Lake Gregory; 1 adult eagle at Silverwood Lake; and 1 adult eagle was observed at Lake Hemet in Riverside County. While no eagles were observed during the count at Lake Perris, state park ecologist Ken Keitzer stated “the volunteers had a really good time and saw lots of other cool birds.” Volunteers at Diamond Valley Lake, a new census location, observed two adult bald eagles. Juvenile eagles are distinguished by a brown head and tail; adults are recognized by the famous white head and tail – it takes 4-5 years to acquire full adult coloration. Juvenile eagles are the same size as the adults.
Approximately 222 volunteers participated in the 1-hour eagle census (54 in the Big Bear area, 21 at Lake Arrowhead/Lake Gregory, 32 at Lake Hemet, 45 at Silverwood Lake, 60 at Lake Perris, and 10 volunteers at Diamond Valley Lake). The Forest Service and state recreation area biologists expressed their gratitude to the volunteers for their dedication in getting up early and participating in the eagle census.
While this was the last census for this season, the Forest Service and California Department of Fish and Game need more volunteers to monitor the nest site at Big Bear Lake and provide the public with opportunities to view the eaglet from a safe distance. The volunteers will be stationed with spotting scopes at Dana Point Park in Fawnskin. “We are working on getting volunteers scheduled to be there at least on the weekends and hopefully on a lot of weekdays,” said volunteer coordinator Meredith Brandon. People interested in helping monitor the bald eagle nest may contact Brandon at (909) 382-2842 or
District biologist Robin Eliason will be presenting a talk on bald eagles at 11 a.m. on March 17th and March 24th at the San Bernardino National Forest Big Bear Discovery Center. For additional information about the bald eagle nest viewing opportunities, contact the Big Bear Discovery Center (909) 382-2789.

Miller Wangles State GOP Endorsement In 31st District Race

Though the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee steered clear of showing any preference, the California Republican Party has endorsed incumbent Congressman Gary Miller (R-Diamond Bar) over State Senator Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) in their respective efforts to capture the GOP nomination in the race for Congress in the newly redrawn California 31st Congressional District.
The California Republican Party at a convention in Burbank on March 11 made a host of endorsements of GOP members seeking state and congressional offices. Prior to that meeting, state Republican party officials asked local party officials for their recommendations but the San Bernardino County GOP Central Committee declined to endorse either Miller or Dutton.
The race should prove an interesting one. Dutton is the scion of the Dutton Family. His father, Ted, is a wealthy speculator, landowner and developer. Ted Dutton has bankrolled much of his son’s political career, which consisted of two terms on the Rancho Cucamonga City Council, two years in the California Assembly and seven years to date in the California Senate, the last two as Republican leader,
Miller has served as congressman in California’s 42nd Congressional District for nine years and was congressman in the 41st Congressional District for four years previous to that. Miller has relied less upon personal or family wealth but has a political war chest approaching a million dollars in addition to having ready access to the check writing capability of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
In the 31st Congressional District, Miller finds himself somewhat afield from his established constituency. The current 42nd Congressional District which Miller represents is a Republican bastion which encompasses all or portions of Chino, Chino Hills, Rowland Heights, La Habra, Brea, Yorba Linda, and Diamond Bar. The 31st District covers all or portions of Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, Rialto, Loma Linda, Grand Terrace, Colton, Muscoy, Ontario and San Bernardino, major portions of which Dutton has represented.
It now appears to be a footrace between the better financed Miller and Dutton, who has greater familiarity with the 31st District’s communities, for the nomination.
Miller declared his candidacy in the 31st following an official announcement from Representative Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, that he will retire after 17 terms in Congress. Mr. Lewis, is the congressman from the current 41st District, a portion of which has been folded into the new 31st District.
Miller does not live in the new 31st District as does Dutton. Miller will not need to relocate into the new 31st Congressional District to run there. Many voters will be surprised to learn that unlike city, county, and state requirements for elected officials as well as federal requirements for senators and the presidency, there is no requirement that members of Congress reside in the district each represents.
According to the U.S. Constitution, a member of Congress must be at least 25 years old, a citizen of the United States for at least seven years, and an inhabitant of the state from which he or she is elected.
In Article I, section 2 the Constitution states: “No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.”
Congressional as well as state legislative districts are redrawn every 10 years following the U.S. census. California requires residency in legislative districts, but, like all states, cannot mandate the same of congressional candidates since the federal constitution trumps any state efforts.
Miller throughout his Congressional career has enjoyed the comfort and advantage of running in districts where the Republicans held a decided voter registration advantage over Democrats. That is not the case in the 31st, which leans slightly in favor of Democrats.
While the GOP predominates in Rancho Cucamonga and Grand Terrace and holds a marginal lead in Redlands and Loma Linda, the cities of Rialto, Colton, Muscoy, Ontario and San Bernardino are Democratic strongholds
Both Miller and Dutton believe they can win in November because of the Republican tendency for greater voter turnout and their relatively superior fundraising capability compared to the Democrats. Nevertheless, a no-holds-barred campaign against each other in the primary campaign could deplete the reservoir of funding the winner will have to run against the prevailing Democrat in November. Among Democrats, Redlands mayor Pete Aguilar and Renea Wickman are declared candidates for their party’s nomination in the 31st Congressional District.

Brauer To Depart Loma Linda City Council

LOMA LINDA—After 20 years on the city council, Stan Brauer will be leaving office later this year. Brauer was first elected in 1992, reelected four times since and was appointed by his colleagues to serve as mayor for four years, He has decided against serving a sixth term.
Three of the positions on the city council in Loma Linda are up for election this year. Two of the incumbents whose terms expire this year, Rhodes Rigsby and Ovie Popescu, are seeking reelection.
Rigsby is currently serving in the appointed mayor’s slot.
John Lenart, a medical doctor at Loma Linda University Medical Center who is currently serving on the planning commission, has filed for candidacy on the council.
With only three in the race, the city is likely to cancel the June election, declare the three winners, and save the city $12,000 in election costs.

DEA Raid On Upland Marijuana Clinic Overshadows City’s $440 K Legal Effort

The Drug Enforcement Administration this week accomplished what the city of Upland’s expenditure of over $440,000 in legal fees over the last two-and-a-half years could not when officials raided the G3 Holistics medical marijuana clinic at 1710 W. Foothill Boulevard in this city of 73,732.
The DEA agents, accompanied by San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies, carted off roughly 25 pounds of marijuana and 89 pounds of cannabis-laced foodstuffs, effectively drawing operations at the facility to a close.
No arrests were made during the raid, though at least four customers were briefly detained, including being handcuffed while they were being questioned. At least two employees were also questioned.
The DEA agents seized customer records, the contents of an office safe, security videotaping equipment, along with the recording software from an on-premises automatic teller machine.
Aaron Sandusky, the owner of G3 Holistics, said the raid was a “terrorist tactic” aimed at warding off his customers and destroying his business.
After G3 Holistics began operating in Upland in 2009, the city acted to directly prevent it from operating, employing zoning restrictions and seeking to obtain court orders to force its closure. Meanwhile, Sandusky, through his attorney Roger Diamond, posited legal arguments that such clinics are legal under state law. The city succeeded in temporarily closing down the G3 Collective in August 2010 after the city filed an injunction in West Valley Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga, but that injunction was stayed by Sandusky’s appeal of the city’s blanket prohibition of medical marijuana dispensaries. On November 9, 2011 the Fourth District Court of Appeals in Riverside ruled that Upland’s banning of clinics did not contradict Proposition 215, the 1996 law that approved medical marijuana in the state, but Sandusky appealed that ruling to the state Supreme Court. The G3 Holistics operation in Upland closed down after the Drug Enforcement Agency raided the club on November 1, 2011. Sandusky, on Diamond’s advice, reopened the collective on December 30 on the theory that a stay was in effect while the case is pending before the State Supreme Court.
State law is far more permissive than federal law with regard to marijuana and it is widely perceived that the city’s legal efforts against the clinic, which had previously failed to shutter the operation, has been superfluous as the federal government, in the form of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, is now taking steps against such operations throughout the state, including this week’s operation and the November raid of the G3 clinic in Upland. Drug Enforcement Agency officers told Sandusky in January that he is in violation of federal law. Given the evidence collected against the operation by the agents in November and this week, federal charges may or may not be filed against Sandusky and his employees.
Upland councilman Gino Filippi told the Sentinel, “The California Supreme Court deems the issue of the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries in the City of Upland, as well as other neighboring cities, to be a significant issue to resolve. I have and currently support our city’s direction and the laws as it applies to medical marijuana dispensaries. While I also understand the arguments and facts presented by those who support the need for medicinal marijuana, the city has made it clear that medical marijuana dispensaries are not a permitted or allowed use.
“I remain concerned with the amount of financial resources and attorney’s fees the city of Upland continues to incur in dealing with medical marijuana dispensaries operating in the city, when our general funds are needed for the operation of general services that the city provides to our citizens,” Filippi continued. “The city has paid approximately $500,000 in legal costs on the medical marijuana issue alone. As I have been saying for months, it does not make sense to me to keep spending. As to any issue regarding the stay of enforcement with the city’s prior injunction prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries, I look forward to the California Supreme Court’s ultimate decision in this matter.”

County Tweaks Oak Glen Community Plan To Ensure Rural Character

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors this week revised a portion of the county’s general plan relating to any future development in Oak Glen.
Oak Glen is an unincorporated district of the county in the foothills above Yucaipa famous for its apple orchards.
According to Christine Kelly, the county’s director of land use services, in March 2007 the board of supervisors updated the county’s general plan with regard to development standards in 13 communities including Oak Glen, and by that update had aimed to preserve the rural character of the community by maintaining agricultural activities, low-density residential development, and limited commercial development in accordance with the wishes of local residents and landowners. Kelly this week told the board of supervisors, “It was intended that this would be accomplished by balancing the desire for the preservation of the rural character of the area with the desire to provide local jobs and promote local businesses through agritourism opportunities. However, since that time, it has become apparent that certain clarifications to the code are warranted. Many of the residents in the community expected all businesses within the rural living land use zoning district would be subject to the agritourism development standards outlined in the development code, but that is not the case as the code is currently adopted.”
The ordinance passed on Tuesday which amends the Oak Glen Community Plan specifies regulations on non-agritourism business, including hours of operation limited to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on outdoor activities. The ordinance further requires that all amplified music be indoors unless a special event permit is obtained, or when the music is played a minimum of 330 feet from the nearest residence.

RWQB Imposes $3.6 Million Settlement On PG&E Over Hinkley Contamination

The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board on March 14 approved Pacific Gas & Electric’s payment of $3.6 million as a regulatory settlement for failing to adequately address chromium contamination in the High Desert community of Hinkley.
Of the total $3.6 million in fines and administrative charges assessed against the company, $1.8 million will be used to develop a water supply replacement system at Hinkley Elementary School. The fines and charges were imposed because PG&E failed to adhere to Lahontan’s order to sequester a plume of chromium 6 spreading through the water table below Hinkley to its known limits as of 2008.
Four years ago, Lahontan ordered PG&E to dam the aquifer at Thompson Road, install extraction wells north of Thompson Road and collect any chromium 6 before it migrated south of Thompson Road. PG&E claims it was unable to move ahead with that plan partially because of the concerns of environmentalists that the work could harm the habitat of desert tortoises and Mojave ground squirrels in the area.
Between 1952 and 1966, PG&E used chromium 6, also known as hexavalent chromium, to reduce corrosion in its cooling towers for the compression stations the company maintained to transport natural gas in pipelines that stretched from fields in New Mexico and Texas to San Francisco. The chromium 6-laden water was disposed of in unlined trenches near Hinkley, and the highly toxic substance leached into the water table.
Chromium 6 is a man-made compound, does not occur in nature and represents a far greater health hazard than naturally occurring Chromium 3. Testing of wells around Hinkley Elementary School pegged the chromium 6 content at 2 parts per billion. The federal Environmental Protection Agency standard for chromium in drinking water is 100 parts per billion, but the State of California calculates that .02 parts per billion of chromium 6 is a more realistic standard. Chromium 6 has been linked to gastrointestinal tumors, liver and kidney damage, and stomach cancer.
PG&E admitted no wrongdoing in making the settlement. While some local residents had initially indicated they would accept the $3.6 million settlement, since that time a vocal group among them called for it to be rejected. They said the entirety of the $3.6 million should be applied to redressing the plume. Half of the money will go to Lahontan for administrative costs. Residents said Lahontan should reject the settlement because PG&E is acknowledging no responsibility for the contamination. They called upon Lahontan to impose a heftier fine. The Lahontan board ultimately rejected that request, finding that in addition to paying the $3.6 million settlement, the company would continue with the chromium 6 abatement effort.