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Monthly Archives: December 2017
Development Industry’s Vice Grip On Chino Council Abating
By Mark Gutglueck
A sign that the development industry’s grip on the Chino City Council may have slackened was in evidence at the December 19 city council meeting.
Some saw the inability of Borstein Enterprises to persuade a majority of the council to overturn an earlier planning commission decision preventing Borstein from proceeding with a project at the city’s doorstep calling for greater density than is envisaged in the Chino General Plan as a sign that the tide of pro-development fervor on the council is subsiding.
Over the last year there has been increasing indication of the degree to which the ruling coalition on the Chino City Council is out of step with the most animated element of the politically active segment of the Chino populace with regard to a primary function of local government: land use and development.
When 2017 opened, the pro-development contingent on the city council held a 3-to-1 advantage over that panel’s slow-growth/controlled growth element. Councilmembers Tom Haughey, Glenn Duncan and Earl Elrod were widely perceived as being in the pocket of developers working within the City of Chino. The sole bulwark against unbridled development was Mayor Eunice Ulloa, a longtime member of the council who had previously been mayor. Ulloa, who had been reelected to the council in 2014, ran for mayor in 2016 when former Mayor Dennis Yates had decided not to seek reelection. She defeated Brandon Villalpando in the November 2016 contest. Her ascension to the mayor’s slot necessitated her resigning as a councilwoman, creating a vacancy that had to be filled. In January, the council considered 27 applicants for the position and chose former Chaffey College Board of Trustees member Gary George, a retired Verizon telecommunications director and the head of that company’s regional office of government and external affairs who had been a past president of both the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Pomona Chamber of Commerce, to serve out the remaining two years on Ulloa’s council term. George’s philosophy was more in line with that of the pro-development wing of the council than Ulloa’s more cautious approach to accommodating new residential subdivisions in the city.
A traditionally agricultural community, Chino proved to be among the last of San Bernardino County’s 24 incorporated municipalities and its more than 50 unincorporated ones to maintain any major vestiges of its agrarian roots. But the city has been subjected to accelerating urbanization since the late 1960s and with the break-up of the Chino Agricultural Preserve that was initiated in the 1980s and has been ongoing ever since, Chino is moving toward becoming indistinguishable in many respects from other local municipalities. At a population of 77,982, Chino is no longer the quaint farming community it was three, two or even a single generation ago. Nevertheless, it is still home to more than three dozen dairies in its now defunct agricultural preserve and several pockets of occasional chicken ranches, pig, goat and sheep farms, not to mention equestrian estates. There is a core of hangers-on who want to preserve that. There are some others who do not own agricultural operations themselves who nevertheless see keeping them in place as a hedge against encroaching urbanization, by which newer neighborhoods that feature upwards of eight, ten, twelve or fourteen single family homes are being shoehorned onto a single acre, or a like number or even more attached condominiums are sprouting up, or apartment units of two, three and even four stories into which well over 100 people might dwell on a single acre. There are still substantial patches of land within the city limits and at its periphery and within its sphere of influence upon which development has yet to intrude. That is where the rubber is now meeting the road between the pro-development and controlled growth advocates in Chino, as developmental interests have pushed to intensify the level of development permitted to occur on that land.
That the balance of the city council is clearly on the side of the developers and dismissive of the misgivings of the slow-growth crowd was given object demonstration in April when the council accommodated a development proposal in a pocket of unincorporated county land on both sides of Pipeline Avenue between Riverside Drive and Chino Avenue. Newport Beach-based MLC Holdings, an arm of Meritage Homes, first sought clearance to construct 44 homes on an even dozen acres there, adjacent to Heritage Park, which is in the city. The land upon which the development was to take place lies within Chino’s sphere of influence and the county has deferred to the city with regard to land use issues on property that will inevitably lie within the Chino City Limits. When MLC went before the planning commission with that original 44-unit proposal, the planning commission balked. MLC then reformulated its proposal, reducing the number of proposed units from 44 to 38 – a density downscaling from 3.666 units per acre to 3.1666 per acre.
The planning commission again turned the proposal down, its rational being that the zoning on the surrounding or nearby property within the existing city limits calls for two homes per acre. The planning commission’s authority was not ultimate or unassailable, however, and MLC, led by Lester Tucker, took the matter up with the city council. Tucker, calculating correctly that the pro-development faction of the council would prove more accommodating than the planning commission, resubmitted his 38-home proposal.
When the matter came before the city council on April 18, Tucker and the council were met with intense opposition from the city’s residents as well as those living within the unincorporated pocket of property where the development was to take place. Among those inveighing against the proposal was former Chino Mayor Larry Walker. Walker, who went on to become San Bernardino County supervisor for the Fourth District and later the auditor-controller and tax collector for the county, is also an attorney. Walker asserted that under the law and under the provisions of Measure M, a controlled-growth initiative put into place by Chino’s voters three decades ago, Chino residents are entitled to “a dependable definition” of the land use standards to be applied to their properties and the properties surrounding them. He said the city’s zoning codes in the Pipeline District restrict density to no more than two units per acre.
Mayor Eunice Ulloa opposed the project at the 3.1666 unit per acre density. That opposition did not carry the day. Councilman Earl Elrod said the difference between three homes to an acre and two homes to an acre was minimal. Councilman Glenn Duncan, in one of his last acts as a councilman, said one-third of an acre lots qualified as “good-sized” and “reasonable” in his view. Haughey said the opposition to the project had to be more realistic. He said that no developer in Chino had undertaken to build homes on half acre lots for more than a decade.
Growth control advocates who were opposed to allowing a project of the intensity of the MLC proposal into the Pipeline District believed that restrictions in Measure M, which was ratified by a vote of Chino’s residents in 1988, could be invoked to prevent the council from allowing Lester Tucker to proceed. In the end, the council used a loophole in Measure M to approve the project. Measure M applies only to property that falls within what was the incorporated borders of the city when the measure was passed in 1988, the council held. The council approved the project in a series of actions. It initiated the annexation application for 40 acres and approved a general plan amendment from two units per acre to up to 4.5 units per acre. The council also approved a pre-zoning of the property to 4.5 units per acres and approved a tract map for a subdivision of a part of the property to be annexed to allow 38 units.
A small segment of the Chino population was already stirred up with regard to the prospect of further aggressive development in Chino resulting in what those residents considered to be an untoward change in the city’s character. The council’s action in favor of MLC, Meritage and Tucker was seen as below-the-belt maneuvering by many Chino residents. The April 18 council vote, among other issues, served as a wake-up call to many in the Chino community. That awareness galvanized that contingent to take up as a weapon in the struggle the institution – Measure M – that the council had bypassed in the Pipeline District decision.
A generation ago, Chino voters passed Measure M, which mandates that if a developer wants to proceed with a project of greater density than provided for in the city’s general plan or zoning codes, the city council does not have, on its own, the authority to accommodate the developer’s request. Rather, under Measure M a majority of voters throughout the city must give their consent for such a project to proceed. In this way, Chino, while experiencing growth, to be sure, has not seen the same concentration of density in its new neighborhoods that many of the communities in Southern California have experienced in the same time frame. Measure M has made developers looking to work in Chino reluctant to seek more density than has been predesignated. All the same, when developers were committed enough to roll the dice and spend money on a promotional campaign in such circumstances over the last 28 years, they have prevailed. On 14 separate occasions between 1989 and the first six months of 2017, when developers turned to the voters for approval of their uprated density requests, none was turned down.
Earlier this year, however, a significant segment of the community, concerned with how the city council has consistently kowtowed to the development industry in recent years, flexed a degree of political muscle in a way that created a backlash of enough momentum to change the political landscape in Chino.
Three-and-a-half years earlier, in 2013, D.R. Horton, which represents itself as America’s largest homebuilder, in conjunction with several property owners including Chino residents Matt Evans and his father-in-law Ron Brewer, sought permission to erect 232 dwelling units on 33.5 acres south of Francis Avenue between Vernon and Benson avenues in north Chino, not too far from the Ontario city limits. That land is described as rural, and upon it there were already eight existing homes. The proponents were informed that the city’s general plan and zoning code listed that property as bearing RD1 zoning, which permits no more than one dwelling unit per acre. D.R. Horton, Evans and Brewer then undertook an effort to get enough signatures on a petition to qualify a vote on the matter under the Measure M requirement. Petition circulators, however, proved unable to achieve the threshold of signatures needed to get the city to fund placing a question on the matter before the city’s voters in time for the November 2014 election. In December 2014, the city council told D.R. Horton that if the company was serious, an environmental impact report would be needed. D.R. Horton in 2016 moved forward, reducing the footprint of the project from 33 acres to 30 acres and from 232 units to a total of 172 units, consisting of 12 single-family homes on 7,000-square-foot lots, 87 detached single-family units on 4,500-square-feet lots, and 73 detached condominiums in addition to the eight existing homes. With the existing homes there, the construction of the 164 new homes was still some 146.5 more homes on the property than was permissible under the general plan.
The city council agreed to waive the requirement that D.R. Horton, Evans and Brewer collect the required signatures to put the matter before the city’s residents, instead using its authority as the city’s legislative body to do so. That, however, entailed D.R. Horton having to defray the roughly $200,000 cost of the special election for what was designated by the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters as Measure H. When the balloting was held more than five months ago, on July 11, 2017, the development proposal was overwhelmingly turned down. With 7,750 Chino residents casting votes, 1,245 or 16.06 percent supported the measure and 6,505 or 83.94 percent voted no.
Thus, Measure H on behalf of D.R. Horton, Evans and Brewer proved to be the first time under the Measure M process that a development proposal had been rejected. Moreover, the absolutely lopsided margin by which Measure H failed represented a profound change in the complexion and attitude in Chino vis-à-vis development. The vote in July came while the Chino City Council’s membership had again been depleted to four members. In May, Glenn Duncan, a member of the unabashedly pro-development council coalition which include Haughey, Elrod and George, tendered his resignation brought about by his having been diagnosed as suffering from Parkinson’s disease. In late July, the council appointed Dr. Paul Rodriguez to replace Duncan on the council. With the ascendancy of Rodriguez, the council remained, or so it seemed, safely pro-development in its orientation.
Last week, the council’s consideration of a development project just outside the city limits which again provided it with the option of circumventing Measure M showed that at least one of the council members considered to be solidly in the pro-development camp has come to recognize the political liability of the trajectory he had been on and that another pro-development council member will go to considerable lengths to avoid voting on development issues, leaving his development industry patrons in the lurch at a crucial moment.
On December 4, the Chino Planning Commission had taken up a proposal by Borstein Enterprises to build 43 single-story, ranch-style homes and a neighborhood park on 13.46 acres lying within a pocket of unincorporated San Bernardino County adjacent to the City of Chino at the corner of Francis and Yorba avenues. The property is within Chino sphere of influence, and again the county had deferred land use authority to the city with regard to it. In this case, the proposal itself made a commitment that the 13.46-acre parcel would be annexed into the city in conjunction with the development proposal, which in any case would have been necessary so the homes to be developed could connect with the city’s sewer system. Under the city’s general plan, the land is zoned R2, meaning that a maximum of two units per acre were allowed to be built there. Borstein’s request was that the city consent to a zone change that would allow 3.6 units per acre, what under the city’s zoning code is referred to as R4.5, which allows as many as 4.5 units per acre to be constructed on a single acre. Known as Chino Francis Estates, the proposed project is surrounded north, east, south and west by property developed to no more than two units per acre.
Nicholas Liguori, Chino’s director of community development, in a staff report relayed to the city council through city manager Matthew Ballantyne, recommended that the council “overrule the recommendation of the planning commission” and adopt a resolution stating that any environmental impacts from the project were either insubstantial or could and would be mitigated. Liguori further recommended that the council grant the appeal by Borstein Enterprises, doing business as Chino Francis Estates, LLC, such that the San Bernardino County Local Agency Formation Commission be requested to initiate the annexation process, that the tentative tract map be approved along with the site plan and the special conditional permit needed for the project to proceed, and that staff be directed “to negotiate with the County of San Bernardino to increase the amount of property tax retained by the city in non-island annexations.”
The size of the lots in the proposed project on 42 of the lots ranged from 8,090 square feet to 10,679 square feet, with a single lot at 16,227 square feet. The size of the homes, which were variously designed in hacienda ranch, California ranch and Spanish colonial styles, ranged from 2,820 square feet in a three-bedroom/2.5 bathroom model to 3,590 square feet in a 5 bedroom/4.5 bathroom model.
Sixty-one letters supporting the project, a large number of which appeared to have been generated from a template and coordinated by someone by the name of Rita Pro, were submitted to the city, including ones signed by Bill and Jean Ackerman, Krissy Alejo, Craig Andridge, Marion Barned, Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jason Zara, Janee Child, Melissa Daley, Linda DeBerry, Gel Delos Santos, Brian Cocili, Julia Dousette, Brenda Elrick, Terry Fitch, Joanne Ford, Robert Grimes, Yolanda Hines, Joan Jones, Barbara Loomis, Cynthia Martinez, Esther Martinez, Grace Oatis, Thomas Quirk, Kellie Robertson, Lea Roman, John Struiksma, Stella Yazell, Liz Jaime, Maria Luna, Lily Valdivia-Rodriguez, Rodolfo Soria, Kevin Vu, Monica Paramo, Barbara Thompson, Angelina Anguilo, Christie Andridge, Wayne Lampkin, William Robertson, Jim Maloney, Lawrence Renteria, Judith Conacher, Carlos Garcia, Veronica Zallelli, Jean Luce, Patricia Emperal, Angelica Jasso, Barbara Nettles, Amy Haug, Joann Pierce, Gustavo Miranda, Joan King, Olivia Young, Richard Villa, Janet Lewis, Margaret Lee, Donald Garibay, Rick Brogdon and Patricia Aguiera-Ontiveros as well as four others on which the signatures were illegible. The template read: “I am writing to share my strong support of the Chino Francis Estates proposal. We are in desperate need of housing in Southern California! With the limited housing options due to the housing crisis, I can see why families are frustrated when searching for new homes. Everyone should be looking forward to moving into one of these gorgeous, spacious homes. If you are in search of the perfect home, Chino Francis Estates offers only the best for families. Please support this plan!”
There were 28 letters to the council in opposition to the project, including ones from Janice and Larry Douma, George Gonzales, Jerry Rowe, Marshall and Cindy Sielen, Larry Walker, Richard Greenburg, Daniel Broguiere, Antoinette Dovali, Stuart Desbrisay, William Bartholomew, Liam Collins, Tom Baxter, Keith Hanaoka, Patricia Forschler, Stephanie Spyr, Donna Marchesi, Bob Marchesi, Cynthia Ingram, Bill Ingram, Kevin Aldag, Kathryn Lee, Jacob Kirkpatrick, Meredith Kirkpatric Matthew Simpson and Eulalio Ballesteros Jr., along with three others on which the signatures were not legible. Some of the letters in opposition likewise appeared to have been generated from a template. Several of the letters made the point that the writer was not in opposition to the project if the density would remain at two units per acre.
“We keep feeling the planning department and the city council are selling us out,” the Doumas stated in their letter.
George Gonzales wrote that he was concerned “that once people move into the planned community, they will begin to complain about what they see as a nuisance: specifically, people riding horses on the street, livestock noises, and perceived odors and flies, properties that have multiple work vehicles (trucks), yards that don’t have ‘modern’ and city oriented landscaping. We are very concerned that we will be harassed and forced to change our lifestyles to fit what is then a city atmosphere.”
The council was also presented with a petition signed by 68 Chino residents which stated that “as residents of Chino’s general plan area” they “do hereby protest and oppose the Chino Francis Estates, LLC development because it requires an increase of Chino’s general plan residential density for the proposed site from existing RD2 to proposed RD4.5. We are opposed to any increase of general plan residential densities without a vote of the citizens of Chino.”
Conspicuous by his absence from the December 19 meeting was councilman Earl Elrod, who by that stage had come to recognize the hazard his pro-development orientation bears toward his political future. In 2018, he is on schedule to stand for reelection under the ward electoral system that was initiated in Chino in 2016. Both he and his council colleague Gary George reside within the city’s Third Electoral District. Thus, only one of them can remain in office beyond 2018. If both yet covet a position on the council, then they will need to vie against one another in November. Thus, Elrod’s absence from the council dais on December 19 was a calculated one. His hope was that George would hang steady with the pro-development contingent on the council, would support Borstein Enterprises in its project proposal, and that he would then have the best of both worlds in next year’s election in that he would be able to reassure Borstein that he was behind the project despite an unavoidable circumstance which prevented him from attending the council meeting on the night it was to be voted upon and thus receive Borstein’s monetary support for his reelection campaign, while the Third District voters irate with the approval of the project would take their anger out on George for his vote supporting the Borstein project, thus assuring Elrod’s reelection.
During the public comment portion of the meeting prior to the initiation of the public hearing for the Chino Francis Estates denial appeal, Walker, the former mayor, addressed the council. Though he did not refer to him directly by name, Walker seemed to be remarking upon councilman Paul Rodriguez.
“Since the Measure H election, a number of electronic communications have occurred between a member of the city council and various members of the public,” Walker began. “One member of the public filed a public records act request asking for copies of certain communications that are public record under the Brown Act. I will summarize those communications for you. On August 30 of this year the following text exchange took place between a city council member and a member of the community. The councilmember leads off: ‘Just to let you know, [Mayor] Eunice [Ulloa] is completely against the planned development. She wants one-to-two-acre lots, well over one million [dollars] for a lot. Eunice will cause a lot of problems. The council members like the plan. Eunice is outnumbered four-to-one.’” Walker explained, “That’s a reference to the item that’s on the agenda tonight,” and he continued with his exposition of the text message exchanges. “12:15 p.m. the community member responds: ‘Are you saying the council want the zoning change from R2 to 4.5 and totally ignoring the general plan of R2?’ Councilmember: ‘I’m saying the council believes the plan is very good. Eunice wants larger lots for horses.’ Community member: ‘Okay. This is the Francis Estates we talked about on Francis and Yorba?’ Councilmember: ‘Yes. I support the plan.’ Community member: ‘Okay. So all four council members agree to it? Thanks.’ Councilmember: ‘They all like it.’”
Walker continued, “The next day, the following text exchange took place between the same two people. The councilmember started it off at 6:55 in the morning: ‘The plan will move forward.’ Community member: ‘Okay. Anything on the one on Francis and Telephone?’ Councilmember: ‘Right. When we develop it, it will be a model.’ Community member: ‘So the Kramer Property has the same 4-to-1, with Eunice wanting only her horse property again?’ Councilmember: ‘Right. People don’t want horses and the cost would be extremely high.’ Community member: ‘Wow! Both in your district. Good luck.’”
Walker went on, “Now on a slightly different subject, on September 13 the following text exchange took place. Community member, a different community member: ‘Was just curious how you know it will be a 4-to-1 vote against the mayor’s plan for a building moratorium.’ Councilmember: ‘I have spoken to all councilmen.’”
Walker continued, “On November 17, one of these two community members filed a public records act request, asking for copies of the councilmember’s text messages to and from anyone regarding the Chino Francis Estates and Chino Francis Crossings developments for the last 12 months. On November 27 the councilmember who was the subject of that public records act [request] signed a document that included the following statements: ‘I have reviewed my personal devices, including but not limited to text messages. Upon conclusion of my search, no responsive records described in the request exist.’ Well, I just read you two documents issued by that councilmember that meet the definition in that request. And that document concluded by saying, ‘Under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.’”
Walker intoned, “Lady and gentlemen, we have a problem tonight. The above documents suggest, perhaps prove, the following: Number one, at least one councilmember has violated the Brown Act by discussing and deciding council business in private discussions with more than one council member. Number two, at least one councilmember had made up his mind about the Chino Francis Estates project long before the quasi-judicial hearing on the matter, which is scheduled for later this evening. Three, a councilmember may have committed perjury in that he sent and received numerous texts regarding a matter of city business, but in responding to a request for records of those texts he denied under penalty of perjury that such records exist. You now know to the contrary. These matters have been referred to the San Bernardino County District Attorney for potential review and investigation. The developer is now on notice on the record of the material issues in the processing of this application and of this appeal. Should the developer convince the council to proceed tonight in spite of what I’ve just told you, it would be at its own risk, since the developer is now informed regarding the possible illegal activity involved in the processing of this application. So, the resulting questions that I’ve come up with – your city attorney will come up with many more, no doubt: Should the city council go forward tonight with consideration of this appeal when such significant legal questions surround it? Number two, has the ability of at least one councilmember to participate in this discussion and appeal tonight been compromised? Number three, how can the city be sure how many council members have been compromised, based on the documents I have presented to you tonight? Number four, should the city suspend development activities and do its own internal investigation into the communications that have occurred regarding this and other developments and the legal significance of those communications on the status of those developments? Number five, if the councilmember is prosecuted for perjury based on the documents discussed earlier, will this city council pay attorney fees for that councilmember based on the facts you have seen tonight? I suggest you continue this matter to your next regular meeting so that you’ll have an opportunity to meet in closed session about the significant issues that have been raised by these communications and the failure to disclose them at the appropriate time.”
When the council took up the appeal, director of community development Nicholas Liquori gave an abbreviated overview of the project and referenced the staff recommendation to the council to overturn the planning commission denial.
After Liguori’s presentation, Ulloa invited the applicant, whom she did not identify by name, to give an overview of the project and make his pitch for overturning the planning commission’s decision. Without identifying himself, the applicant, as a preface to his presentation, said, “Borstein and its representatives have only had arm’s length and professional relations with staff and elected officials. There’s no special relationship at all with anybody. We’re a very up-front organization. All the members of staff and elected officials that we’ve discussed this project with have always taken the Chino Community as a whole first in mind and always offered constructive criticism and comments to our project. We wish to move forward with this project despite continued bullying, misinformation and threats from certain members of your community.”
After the applicant’s preview of the project and request that the planning commission be overturned was heard, the hearing was opened up for public input. There was a fair smattering of city residents and those living in the Chino sphere of influence near the proposed project expressing both support and opposition to the project. The most dynamic and effective speaker of the evening proved to be Alana Carson.
“I think most of us would support any development and any project within the City of Chino incorporated or un[incorporated],” Carson began, “as long as it conformed with the general plan and was consistent in size and style to the immediate neighborhood. I will oppose down to my last breath any developers, project or city council member that refuses to consider the majority opinion of Chino residents in supporting the general plan and who fails to conform to that city’s plan. Let me urge you to take a long and serious look at the statistics from the Measure H vote in July. This overwhelming defeat is not a simple vote in opposition to higher density zoning. It was a caution flag placed before city council members. There’s a growing tide of dissatisfaction not only in the manner in which the developments have been addressed in the City of Chino but with the abject and constant refusal of four out of five council members to take seriously the comments of the citizens of Chino and weigh them against their own personal opinions. The city councilmen have demonstrated without exception a constant, unwavering support to the wishes and needs of the developers over their constituents. Developers did not vote you into those seats you occupy. The people who live in this city did. They trusted your pre-election representations that you would listen to the voices of a majority of the residents and act to protect their interests. Sadly, judging from your past performance, that was anything but the truth.”
Carson then took aim at what she suggested was a ploy to blow one by the community by holding the public hearing at an inopportune time, in the midst of the Christmas rush, when people are least disposed to attend public meetings.
“I and several others emailed council members asking to have this appeal hearing rescheduled to the January city council meeting,” said Carson. “Setting this appeal so quickly after the planning commission meeting where the commission recommended that the city council reject the proposed development gives a clear and prejudiced advantage to the developer by having the hearing during the holidays when so many residents are involved in holiday preparations and travels, school holiday events and school finals. The council’s refusal to consider to reschedule the appeal hearing is a clear demonstration of its preferential treatment of the developer over the wishes and needs of Chino residents. There’s no greater travesty than violation of the public trust. Traditional political history proves this to be true. We all know circumstances change when you are elected to a government body and begin to address the complexities of that duty. But by virtue of that election, you have been charged with protecting the interests of the citizens, not of the developers. That premise does not change. You can slice the Chino Francis project any way you like, but the bottom line is still this: The houses are too large. The lots are too small. They’re too close together to offer decent defense in case of fire. By virtue of this proposed development, doubling the existing zoning, the project does not conform to the mandates of the general plan. The message is simple: The general plan must prevail. Its loopholes and those in Measure M must be closed and the city councilmen must be held up to serious scrutiny, publicly castigated for their legendary failings on the issue of zoning, and either compelled to heed and take seriously the wishes of the residents of Chino who support the general plan or a new sitting body must be put in place as expeditiously as possible.”
George, in his remarks before the vote was taken paid homage to Borstein, stating, “This is a great development.” George noted that he had received a total of 71 emails relating to the project, 34 of which he said supported the project and 36 of which were against the project. He noted that a significant number of the emails came from property owners in the immediate vicinity of the project and that a majority of those – 19 – were in support of the project, and that 12 reflected opposition. While it appeared from what he initially said that he supported the project, a note of ambiguity crept into his comments when he said, “The proposed property is in the Chino/San Bernardino County sphere of influence and the city and staff and area citizens are in the midst of a study on how to annex the sphere as it is zoned, and then working on the correct path regarding zoning and Measure M. So we’ve got to balance that when we vote on this tonight.”
Haughey gave clear indication of his sentiment in favor of the Borstein’s proposal. While noting it was a “highly contested project,” he indicated that controversy over zoning issues was becoming a way of life in Chino. “We’ve had more of that this year than we’ve had in the past,” he said. He was dismissive of the degree to which those in some quarters were insisting that the density on properties which developers were intent on improving had to remain consistent with the general plan and the zoning code, somewhat derisively referring to the land to be annexed into the city as “new little zones.” He suggested that abiding by the general plan as it stands should not be something city officials should obsess over or fastidiously adhere to, as the general plan is subject to future change. He suggested that the city get on board with the standards the development community wants to apply to property rather than having the city impose on developers the city’s outmoded standards.
“As far as the general plan is concerned, we redid the general plan in 2010,” Haughey said. “We’re going to be redoing it again in another three to five years. I may not be on this council. We may have a whole new council in five, seven, ten years. Who knows what they’re going to put in as far as zoning goes to this particular area.” Thus, Haughey suggested, it is prudent to give the developers looking to move forward now what they want.
Rodriguez said the project provided the city with an opportunity, which he said the city should take. “We look toward the future,” he said, “not toward the past. It’s good to remember the past, but I would say, ‘You leave it to the poets and to the nostalgic individuals.’ You need to be futuristic, not only for all of us who are here, but also for our children.”
Rodriguez said, “The future is here and its going to be here for a long time.”
Mayor Ulloa offered the view that “It’s a beautiful development but for me it’s in the wrong place. It’s inconsistent with our general plan. We’re in the process of studying that area so we don’t have infill projects that are inconsistent with the surrounding areas. Maybe that area will end up at three [units] per acre or four or five per acre. The voters have spoken very strongly: They don’t want any more high density and to stick with the general plan. Sticking with the general plan is RD2. To piecemeal it is going to add areas that do not make sense.”
Thereafter, Rodriquez made a motion to approve the staff recommendation to overturn the planning commission’s denial of the project.
Curiously, Haughey, perhaps mindful that he will need to stand for reelection in 2020 after his 2016 electoral cakewalk in which no one came forward to challenge him in the city’s then-newly formed District 4, waited for George to second the motion. George did not. Rodriguez’s motion thus died for lack of a second.
Thereafter, Ulloa made an alternative motion to uphold the planning commission’s denial of the application. At that point, George seconded the motion, tacitly making a break with the pro-development wing of the city council, marking what could be a sea change in Chino with regard to City Hall’s relationship to the development community.
The vote on that motion was then taken, ending in a 2-2 deadlock, with Ulloa and George voting in favor of it and Rodriguez and Haughey opposed. For Borstein, Elrod’s absence thus proved crucial. With the council vote having ended in a tie and no majority vote to overturn it, the planning commission decision to deny the project remains in place.
By his action in renunciating his pro-development credentials, George at once set up what looks to be a political showdown with Elrod next November, a contest which will very likely demonstrate whether the substantial political donations Elrod will almost assuredly receive from the well-fixed development industry will allow him to prevail over a growing and impassioned contingent of city residents who want to prevent him from remaining in office, so they can begin to roll up the red carpet Elrod and his council allies have been extending to those developers for the last decade.
Effort To Undo Flight Path Above Lake Arrowhead Stalling Out
Seven months after complaints from Lake Arrowhead residents began to register with federal, state and local officials over the jet engine noise they were being subjected to as a consequence of the flight path rerouting put into effect by the Federal Aviation Administration on April 27, the issue has yet to be resolved.
The jets in question, many of them operated by UPS and FedEx and others ferrying passengers, now fly almost directly over Lake Arrowhead on what has been designated as the EAGLZ route, at times as little as 3,500 feet above the community high in the San Bernardino Mountains. The flight path to Ontario International Airport was altered in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Southern California Metroplex project, which is designed to increase the fuel efficiency of air traffic overflying and landing in Southern California. Under the flight matrices laid out in Metroplex, pilots follow pre-programmed flight tangents that are more direct in their approaches to Ontario and other Southland airports. The guideposts for those routes are beamed to the planes from navigational satellites. Over the last eight months, virtually all planes flying into Southern California have been outfitted with instrumentation needed for them to follow the Metroplex flight paths. The Metroplex paths replace dozens of traditional air routes for approaches to six airports in Southern California from some 40 mid-to-large airports elsewhere in the United States.
Previously, planes coming into Ontario from the east followed a flight path that is directly over Heaps Peak, which is close to Skyforest and roughly two miles distant from Lake Arrowhead. The reason for the change under the Southern California Metroplex system and the creation of the EAGLZ route is to avoid what in Federal Aviation Administration nomenclature is referred to as “conflicts” with other flight paths, in this case routes taken by aircraft flying on a tangent from eastward originations heading to Long Beach Airport and John Wayne Airport.
With the lion’s share of the flights following EAGLZ flying at an average altitude of 9,000 feet above sea level, most of the jets fly less than 4,000 feet above 5,174 foot-altitude Lake Arrowhead.
There are conflicting figures as to how many planes come into Ontario on the EAGLZ route daily, with the Federal Aviation Administration acknowledging an average of no fewer than 29. Anecdotal, and therefore unofficial, counts by residents put that number at closer to 80 per day.
While the primary objection voiced by residents of Lake Arrowhead and the nearby communities is the sound of the aircraft, there has been concern expressed that jet fuel exhaust from the planes flying directly over Lake Arrowhead which settles downward represents an unacceptable health risk to the residents there as well.
Relatively early on, those lodging protests over the flight route change called for restoring the traditional flight path. The Federal Aviation Administration made no such adjustment, however. In reaction, those animated about the matter contemplated and even threatened legal action targeting both the Federal Aviation Administration and Ontario International Airport. No entity to serve as a plaintiff existed, however. Moreover, none of the individuals impacted had the financial wherewithal to fund such a lawsuit.
This summer, a coalition, Quiet Skies Lake Arrowhead, was formed, spearheaded by Lake Arrowhead resident David Caine. The coalition has stepped up the effort to lobby the Federal Aviation Administration, top Federal Aviation Administrator Michael P. Huerta, U.S. senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, Congressman Paul Cook, California State Senator Mike Morrell and San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford to redress the problem. To some extent, Feinstein, Cook and Rutherford have responded, but their efforts have not prompted any significant movement on the part of the Federal Aviation Administration. At one point, Rutherford indicated her office would force the issue with the Federal Aviation Administration, but no resolution has come about.
Those seeking to have the EAGLZ route jettisoned and have pilots return to the traditional flight path have been met with assertions by the Federal Aviation Administration that EAGLZ is key to achieving the goals of the Metroplex project, which is intended to reduce fuel consumption of planes landing at six California airports by 2.7 million gallons annually, achieve a commensurate reduction in hydrocarbon emissions, reduce fuel costs by $7.8 million and efficientize air travel into Southern California generally.
Moreover, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, it widely disseminated information about its intention to undertake the Metroplex project, and over the course of more than 19 months held 27 workshops related to the plan throughout Southern California at which it sought public input. Based upon its technical studies and public input, the administration claims, it issued a finding of “no significant consequence” arising from the actuation of the Metroplex project and its revamped flight routes.
Mountain residents have cried foul, saying the Federal Aviation Administration held none of those workshops in or near Lake Arrowhead, where the impact of the project is greatest. Meanwhile, a number of residents have given serious reconsideration to the ultimate legal option of suing the Federal Aviation Administration over the imposition of the route, which is what Newport Beach, Phoenix, Arizona and Bethesda, Maryland have done in reaction to flight path deviations that impacted their citizens. Along those lines, some have suggested that Lake Arrowhead could band together with Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles and Culver City in a collective suit relating to discomfiture with the Metroplex project.
Others have sounded a note of caution about turning on the litigation option. While Dennis Roberts, the regional administrator for the FAA Western-Pacific Region, is moving slowly in his reexamination of the EAGLZ flight path, he is reportedly set to address the issue. Some, such as Lewis Murray, one of Supervisor Rutherford field representatives, said Rutherford has made progress in her dialogue with Roberts and other Federal Aviation Administration officials. If a lawsuit is filed, those warning against going to court say, that dialogue will be foreclosed.
Rutherford must stand for reelection in 2018. If the gambit to have the Federal Aviation Administration rethink and undo the EAGLZ flight path fails, she will need to justify to voters in the San Bernardino Mountain portion of her district why she did not support them in taking an aggressive legal stand against the intrusive flight paths by persuading her board colleagues to have the county undertake the lawsuit many in the Lake Arrowhead community have come to believe is their only path toward relief.
Robles Maneuvering After His Second Removal As Dem Central Committee Head
Nearing the close of 2017, more than a half year has passed since a contingent of dissident central committee members first undertook the arduous task of dislodging Chris Robles as the chairman of the San Bernardino County Democratic Party. This month, a clear majority of the county’s elected Democratic Party officials went on record as favoring his ouster as party chairman. On December 7, that movement culminated when a quorum of the central committee voted, without Robles being present, to remove him as a central committee member. Those who undertook the vote maintain it effectively removed him as chairman. At its December 28 meeting, again with a quorum present, the central committee voted to install a new chairman and vice chairman.
What remains to be seen is whether Robles will accept and the state party will recognize the action ousting Robles from the central committee and the ascendancy of the new leadership.
The December insurrection was not the first time Robles was presumptively removed as central committee chairman by a groundswell of the central committee members. At the May 25 Democratic Central Committee meeting, members assailed Robles with complaints about what was said to be his less-than-energetic efforts with regard to promoting Democratic candidates generally. As debate over Robles’ tenure and effectiveness ensued, Robles entrusted the officiating of the remaining proceedings to one of his closest allies on the committee’s executive board, Mark Westwood. Westwood twice refused to recognize motions for a vote of no confidence in Robles that had been seconded. No resolution of the issues germane to the concerns raised with regard to the drift of the party under Robles’ guidance was arrived at. This dissatisfaction carried over to the June 22 central committee meeting, prior to which those intent on Robles’ removal had lodged with the California Democratic Party a complaint against him and a petition for his removal as chairman, including documentation showing that in his capacity as a professional campaign consultant Robles had worked for Republican candidates. When the meeting commenced, Robles found himself under fire and unable to direct the proceedings to even the vaguest semblance of order and was not able to get the collective to allow a vote on considering the agenda for the night’s proceedings, as he was besieged with calls to amend the agenda with the question of his removal. With the meeting descending toward chaos, Robles steadfastly refused to entertain questioning of his leadership or authority and more than a dozen of those present persisted in pursuing those questions. An exasperated Robles abruptly adjourned the meeting and called in the county sheriff. Four law enforcement officers arrived to herd the group out of the room. No action with regard to any of the items on the agenda was taken. Upon Robles’ initiation of the central committee’s July 27 meeting, the proceedings again declined into a cacophonous logjam, and after just 18 minutes, without action being taken on any of the items on the agenda, Robles adjourned the meeting without calling for a vote to confirm that motion. He left along with most of his supporters, calling the police in as he did so. More than 20 central committee members remained, however, moving on to consider the agenda in Robles’ absence. When the police arrived, Ron Cohen, the second vice chair of the central committee and the highest ranking member of both the central committee and the more exclusive executive committee, was at that point chairing the meeting. Cohen convinced the police that a quorum of the central committee was present and that the members were conducting committee business at a regularly scheduled meeting. With two police officers remaining on the premises of the California Teachers Association suite of offices in San Bernardino where the meeting was being held, the meeting proceeded, during which consideration of the removal of Robles as chairman was added to the agenda. Following the discussion of that item, removal of Robles as chairman was moved by Debbie McAfee, seconded, and the vote was counted by raising credentials. Chris Robles was deposed by the aye votes of 27 with two abstentions and zero no votes.
Robles and his supporters disputed the legitimacy of the action taken by members of the central committee after he had called for the adjournment of the meeting. The California Democratic Party’s Compliance Review Commission took up the matter. On August 23, the commission found that all of the actions taken after Robles adjourned the July 27 meeting were out of order and that Robles was still county party chairman.
A further effort to dethrone Robles was made at the September 28 central committee meeting, but Robles used his control of the proceedings to thwart that.
Undeterred, the not insubstantial contingent of anti-Robles forces within the county central committee persisted, insisting that a “removal from membership” challenge against Robles alleging conduct in violation of California Democratic Party by-laws initiated in June be pursued to a conclusion. Robles responded to the allegations raised in the challenge, declining to resign as a Democratic State Central Committee member. The complaint was considered by a committee known as the “Statewide Officers of the California Democratic Party,” consisting of the highest ranking Democratic Party members in California, including Eric C. Bauman, the chair of the California Democratic Party. That panel concluded the state party’s by-laws did not provide grounds for Robles’ removal from membership, but did issue a letter of admonition to Robles with respect to his dragging his feet in seeking California Democratic Party approval of San Bernardino County Democratic Party endorsements and his engagement of non-Democratic candidates, particularly in election contests in which there were local Democratic Party-endorsed candidates.
In November, Robles told the Sentinel that challenges of his authority as head of the Democratic Party in San Bernardino had been brought to a close with the statewide officers’ finding, “The state party has determined that there are no grounds for my removal,” Robles said. “This is it. There is nothing further.”
But less than a month later, the dissidents were at it again. When Robles sought to cancel the previously scheduled central committee meeting for December, a quorum of the central committee met on December 7 and by a vote of 20 to 0 removed him as a central committee member, simultaneously relieving him of his position as chairman. A quorum of the committee then reconvened yesterday, December 28, at the Communications Workers Union Hall in Colton, where they voted to install Ron Cohen as chairman, James Albert as the first vice chair and Tim Prince as the parliamentarian. Further appointments to the executive committee were deferred until the committee meeting in January.
The substantial dissatisfaction with Robles stems from the Democratic Party’s generally poor showing in San Bernardino County over the four-and-a-half year span of Robles’ chairmanship. A political consultant by vocation, Robles was active in Democratic politics before he relocated to San Bernardino County in 2012, whereupon he was elected to the central committee. Thereafter, he was elevated to the chairmanship based upon the general belief that he would use his knowledge as a political operative gained from his professional experience to promote Democratic candidates for city, county, state and national offices in San Bernardino County, where for decades the Republicans had been ascendant. It was believed that the opportunity to do so existed, since in 2010, the number of registered Democrats in San Bernardino County surpassed the number of registered Republicans. The Democrats have held a growing plurality among registered voters in San Bernardino County ever since, and that trend appeared to be reflected in the countywide results in the 2012 presidential race when Barack Obama outdistanced Republican Mitt Romney 305,109 votes or 52.55 percent to 262,358 or 45.19 percent, and again in 2016, when Hillary Clinton in San Bernardino County outperformed her Republican rival, Donald Trump, polling 340,833 votes or 52.64 percent to 271,240 votes or 41.89 percent. Nevertheless, those two races, among a few notable exceptions, remain as rare showings of Democratic political might in San Bernardino County over the last half dozen years. Despite Democrats currently having a registration advantage over Republicans in San Bernardino County approaching a 4-to-3 margin – 357,397 registered Democratic voters or 40.1 percent to 279,200 registered Republican voters or 31.3 percent among a total of 891,148 voters overall – three of the five members of the board of supervisors are Republicans; two of the county’s five Congress members are Republicans, with two of the Democratic Congress members having districts in which those portions outside San Bernardino County are heavily Democratic; three of the county’s four state senators are Republicans; five of the county’s eight members of the California Assembly are Republicans; and 17 of the county’s 24 cities have city councils composed of a majority of Republicans. Where the Democrats hold state or federal office in San Bernardino County they hold a commanding registration advantage. In those electoral jurisdictions where the Democrats have close to parity with the Republicans or hold a lead that is substantial but less than entirely overwhelming, they have consistently lost to Republicans. Such is the case in the 40th Assembly District where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 89,222 or 40.3 percent to 73,440 or 33.2 percent, and a Republican, Marc Steinorth, holds office. In San Bernardino County’s Fourth Supervisorial District, where the registration numbers are lopsidedly in favor of the Democrats 71,444 or 43 percent to 46,396 or 27.9 percent, a Republican, Curt Hagman is in office, despite the fact that his opponent in the 2014 election was a then-incumbent Democratic U.S. Congresswoman, Gloria Negrete-McLeod.
A number of Democrats have come to believe that Robles is a clandestine Republican operative who has wormed his way into the Democratic Party establishment. They have suggested that from his position as county party chairman, Robles has misapplied, misdirected and misspent the party’s money intended to support Democratic candidates, resulting in Republican victories in at least 17 races in San Bernardino County where a Democrat was the logical frontrunner. For example, in several races, Robles insisted that a considerable portion of party money be used to send mailers in support of Democratic candidates to high propensity Democratic voters. High propensity voters are those who consistently vote in all elections, including primary presidential and general presidential and primary gubernatorial and general gubernatorial elections. High propensity Democratic voters are highly likely to support Democratic candidates; thus, mailers to them were not likely to bring in more votes for Democrats, who already had those votes sewn up. Those mailers, election specialists say, would have been more productive if they had been sent to lower propensity Democratic voters, that is, those less likely to vote, in an effort to drive them to the polls. That Robles would engage in such a strategy that many in his party feel squandered the party’s monetary resources is an indication he was militating on behalf of Republicans, they say.
Others have rejected suggestions that Robles is a traitor to the Democratic Party, but rather believe he is so engaged in promoting his own political consulting company, Vantage Campaigns, that he has neglected his duties as county party chairman, much to the Democrats’ detriment throughout San Bernardino County. Indeed, while Democrats expected Robles to utilize his electioneering expertise and his connections as a professional political consultant to boost the party’s fortunes, that failed to come about. Instead, many Democratic candidates report, during party briefings for candidates which dealt with rudimentary and stock campaigning techniques, Robles provided them with his business card, telling them he could offer them further assistance if they were to retain him as consultant or employ him as their campaign manager. Some have suggested Robles is willing to assist them only if they can pay his substantial consulting fees.
This perception is exacerbated by the consideration that Vantage Campaigns and Robles have been paid a fair share of professional fees by the San Bernardino County Democratic Party, what several party members consider to be a conflict of interest. A recurrent charge has been that many of those payments to Robles or Vantage Campaigns were not authorized by the central committee or its executive board. Laurie Stalnaker, the committee’s treasurer, said she has been able to trace most if not all of the committee’s 2,900 expenditures during Robles’ tenure, but has been consistently thwarted in her efforts to complete comprehensive audits of the county party’s financials because Robles has not provided her with the minutes of the committee meetings during which the spending authorizations were made. Nor has Robles provided her with invoices or receipts for those expenditures. “Many, although certainly not all, of those payouts were to Chris Robles, himself,” Stalnaker said last night.
An issue cited during the effort during the spring and summer campaigns to remove Robles as party chairman was his work during the 2016 Ontario City Council campaign, when Vantage Campaigns took on as one of its clients Gus Skropos, a former Ontario councilman, former Ontario mayor, former San Bernardino County supervisor and former Superior Court Judge, for the purpose of managing his campaign. Skropos was a Republican. While Robles did support Sam Crowe, a Democrat in the race, he ignored another Democrat vying for city council, Josie Estrada. Neither Crowe, Skropos nor Estrada were successful in that campaign. On May 31 of this year, as Vantage Campaigns’ work on behalf of Skropos was looming as a larger and larger issue with Democrats, Skropos, who had been a Republican the entirety of his political and professional career to that point, re-registered as a Democrat. Subsequently, the state party did not consider Robles work on behalf of Skropos to be grounds for removing him as county party chairman, though it did rebuke him for “engagement of non-Democratic candidates.”
More recently, information has surfaced to indicate Robles has militated against Democrats, albeit outside of San Bernardino County. Earlier this year, Robles went to work as a campaign consultant on behalf of a Republican-led group seeking to recall Mayor Ali Taj and councilmen Victor Manalo and Miguel Canales in the Los Angeles County city of Artesia. Taj, Manalo and Canales are Democrats. That circumstance has been reported to California State Democratic Party officials.
Last night, Cohen told the Sentinel that he did not believe that Robles is disloyal to the Democratic Party but that he nonetheless had neglected his duty as county party chairman while pursuing work on behalf of Vantage Campaigns’ clients which in some cases conflicted with Democratic Party goals and imperatives and in all cases distracted him, leaving crucial Democratic Party work undone and party operatives without clear assignments or the tools or facilities they needed to assist Democratic candidates as a whole in San Bernardino County.
Moreover, a belief that is common among the contingent of the committee members who moved to topple Robles is that in making his executive board assignments and appointments, he installed individuals who were more loyal to maintaining his primacy on the committee than they were committed to advancing the Democratic Party. Two cases in point were Mark Westwood, whom Robles established as the committee’s first vice chair and Carol Robb, whom he appointed to two executive board posts. Both Westwood and Robb were tried and true members of the Robles camp, and engaged in fierce infighting on his behalf when the dissidents sought to cast him out. Robb’s monopoly of two executive board posts prevented Robles’ opponents from occupying a greater position of authority in the county party.
Members of the contingent that removed Robles from the committee and therefore as chairman say they believe his continued occupancy of the committee chairmanship would perpetuate the lack of support of Democratic candidates in San Bernardino County.
One of the developments that weakened Robles was the decision by Rita Ramirez- Dean in October to terminate Westwood as her selected alternate on the central committee. Ramirez-Dean is an ex-officio member of the central committee, based upon her status as the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 8th Congressional District in the 2016 General Election. It was through her appointment of Westwood to the central committee that Robles was able to arrange his appointment as the committee’s first vice chair. When Ramirez-Dean learned, however, that on two occasions during her absence Westwood shut down committee meetings to terminate discussion of Robles’ performance and on another occasion had summoned police officers to the meeting hall in an effort to foreclose committee proceedings on the threat of arrest, she resolved to remove Westwood as her alternate to the committee. This terminated Westwood’s status as first vice chair, leaving Robles without crucial support he needed to maintain his control over the committee and the executive board. Ultimately, Robles approached another ex-officio member of the central committee, Congresswoman Norma Torres, and prevailed upon her to select Westwood as her alternate. Robles has since used Westwood’s reinstatement as a central committee member to reinstall him as first vice chair.
Meanwhile Robles and his camp, which has dwindled to a group of some 22 of the central committee’s 67 members, are refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of the action by 42 members of the committee to sack him as chairman by removing him from the committee altogether. Robles has filed a challenge of the December 7 meeting and its action with the California Democratic Party in Sacramento. On December 23, after learning that a meeting of the committee was scheduled for yesterday, December 28, Robles had his selected parliamentarian, Mario Alfaro, email all members of the committee. In that email, Alfaro referenced the call for the December 28 central committee meeting and stated, “I was asked by chairman Chris Robles and first vice chair Mark Westwood to issue a parliamentary ruling regard[ing] the email sent by Ron Cohen. Put simply, Mr. Cohen’s interpretation of the bylaws and the election’s code (sic) in calling the December 7th meeting either demonstrates material misrepresentations to the body of the San Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee or a failure to understand both.”
Alfaro continued, “Attached to this email is a compliance review commission complaint regarding the December 7th meeting that explains why the December 7th meeting was invalid. Essentially, it comes down to the fact that under Supreme Court and appellate court decisions, our San Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee bylaws are controlling when it comes [to] our internal governance, not the elections code. As such, Mr. Cohen’s purported ‘notice’ of a meeting was invalid because it did not comply with our bylaws. Separately, Mr. Cohen also failed to comply with the election’s code (sic) provisions he claimed to have been following. As a result, the alleged ‘meeting’ held by Mr. Cohen is invalid including any actions allegedly taken. Further this new meeting he is trying to call for December 28th is also invalid.”
Alfaro’s email continues, “With respect to holding elections for the chair and first vice chair positions, despite Mr. Cohen’s claim that the first vice chair position was vacated, it is not. Mark Westwood continues to be the first vice chair as the permanent alternate for Congresswoman Norma Torres. Mr. Cohen would know this if he had bothered to ask. Mr. Cohen’s apparent attempt to dictate to Congresswoman Torres whom she can or cannot appoint as a permanent alternate is not appropriate under either our bylaws or the election’s code (sic).”
According to Alfaro, “Finally, Mr. Cohen’s attempt to remove Chris Robles is improper and invalid. The State Party expressly ruled against Mr. Cohen’s request to remove Mr. Robles. The San Bernardino County Central Committee Executive Committee voted down Mr. Cohen’s request to remove Mr. Robles. The body voted down Mr. Cohen’s attempted appeal of the executive committee’s decision. Finally, the California Democratic Party Rules Committee voted down Mr. Cohen’s appeal of the San Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee’s vote. In short, Mr. Cohen has been rebuffed at every level in his attempt to remove Chris Robles and take the reins of the Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee for himself.”
In response Cohen cited the preamble to the San Bernardino County Central Committee’s bylaws, which he said establishes that the quorum of the central committee was justified, in contravention of Alfaro’s assertion, in relying on the California Elections Code in carrying out the December 7 meeting at which Robles was removed. The preamble to the bylaws states, “The San Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee is created by the law of the State of California and is enabled thereby to adopt by-laws not inconsistent with its parent legislation. Where a conflict appears, these by-laws shall be deemed subordinate, and the law of the State of California shall prevail. The Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee shall also be known as the California Democratic Party of San Bernardino County.”
Cohen said he anticipates that the California Democratic Party’s rules committee will make a determination with regard to Robles’ challenge of the December 7 meeting and his removal as a committee member and thus as chairman within the next two months. Until that time, Cohen said, he and the majority of the central committee will proceed on the assumption that Robles’ removal was properly effectuated.
Central committee members said the leadership of the committee remains in doubt, while decrying the power struggle over the county party’s leadership, saying it detracted from the efforts to promote Democratic candidates and attenuate the hold of the Republicans on the county and its political institutions. One wryly remarked that if Robles would merely devote as much focus, intensity, energy and skill to promoting the Democratic Party in San Bernardino County as he has employed in his maneuvering to retain his party chairmanship, the entirety of the central committee would be in lockstep behind him.
Lucerne Valley’s Von Haug In Quixotic Gubernatorial Run
Mavrick Von Haug, the one-time mixed martial arts fighter turned actor who has more recently been bitten by the political bug, has resigned his current elected position to concentrate on a run for governor.
Von Haug was the top vote-getter in the November 2016 race among four candidates for two positions on the Lucerne Valley Unified School District board of trustees, gathering 848 votes or 28.34 percent. He replaced Joanne Collingham. But he has now voluntarily renounced his hold on that position to concentrate his political firepower in an effort to become California’s 40th governor.
He and his wife, Gwen, recently sojourned from Lucerne Valley to Sacramento, where he completed his official filing to become governor.
“We’re physically driving all the way to Sacramento to make sure my paperwork is turned in, and turned in properly,” Von Haug said at the outset of the trip.
Once at the state capitol, Von Haug lodged the documentation with the California Secretary of State’s office. “We decided to drive all the way here because they just didn’t have the information in San Bernardino,” Von Haug said via video. “We wanted to make sure there wasn’t any Russians or anything weird messing up our paperwork. We met with the two most helpful people I’ve ever dealt with in the political reform office. We’ve got it all done. It’s all squared away. It’s official and we’re ready to get running.”
Von Haug toured the capitol building, where he filed past the portrait hall of those in whose footsteps he aspires to tread, Peter Burnett (1849-1851), John McDougal (1851-1852), John Bigler (1852-1856), J. Neely Johnson (1856-1858), John Weller (1858-1860), Milton Latham (Jan 9-14, 1860), John Downey (1860-1862), Leland Stanford (1862-1863), Henry Haight (1867-1871), Newton Booth (1871-1875), Romualdo Pacheco (Feb – Dec 1875), William Irwin (1875-1880), George Perkins (1880-1883), George Stoneman (1883-1887), Washington Bartlett (1887-1887), Robert Waterman (1887-1891), Henry Harrison Markham (1891-1895), James Budd (1895-1899), Henry Gage (1899-1903), George Pardee (1903-1907), James Gillett (1907-1911), Hiram Johnson (1911-1917), William Stephens (1917-1923), Friend Richardson (1923-1927), C. C. Young (1927-1931), James Rolph (1931-1934), Frank Merriam (1934-1939), Culbert Olson (1939-1943), Earl Warren (1943-1953), Goodwin Knight (1954-1959), Edmund G. “Pat” Brown (1959-1967), Ronald Reagan (1967-1975), Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown (1975-1983), George Deukmejian (1983-1991), Pete Wilson (1991-1999), Gray Davis (1999-2003), Arnold Schwarzenegger (2003-2011) and Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown (2011-present).
“You have to ask yourself what separates yourself from these others,” Von Haug asked rhetorically as he gazed at the portraits, and then answered, “Nothing. They’re not greater. These men are not better. You better ask somebody. Mavrick 2018,” he said.
The latter part of his statement echoes the slogan of his campaign “Nothing limits you. You better ask somebody.”
Von Haug said, “It’s not about being a Republican or a Democrat or any of the above. It’s about the people of California and what’s right for the people of California.”
Von Haug was a professional mixed martial arts fighter from 1996 until 2007, going undefeated in a string of fights from 1999 until 2006, retiring in 2008. He made a single comeback bout in 2016, and boasts a career record of 8 wins, 5 losses and one draw. He defeated George Alvarez, Shaun Caris, Steale Williams, Ghost Ghost, Ronan Bushnanik, Shannon Ritch twice and John Dale. He lost to Brian Matapua, Giva Santana, Falaniko Vitale, Marcus Gaines and Shannon Ritch in his 2016 comeback rematch.
As an actor, he played Meat in 2013’s “Revelation Road: The Beginning of the End;” reprised Meat for 2013’s “Revelation Road 2: Sea of Glass and Fire;” Nefarius in 2015’s “Do You Believe?;” Mongrel in 2015’s “Dancer and the Dame;” and Circle Face in 2017’s “Boone: The Bounty Hunter.”
He is currently seen on the small screen on “Storage Wars.”
Von Haug appears poised to conduct a campaign that will rely heavily on videos, which he is posting to the internet. In one of those, he took up an issue he intends to explore, expounding his belief that police departments should end their recruitment practice of relying upon the invitation of 20-year-olds into police academies and then installing them as officers at the age of 21. He said he favors hiring officers at a somewhat more advanced age, saying the challenges of functioning within a law enforcement environment require a greater degree of maturity than is typically obtained by someone who has barely achieved the age of majority, who, as he put it, “have never gotten a parking ticket themselves.” He said the long existing current recruitment policy was derived some seven decades ago, when circumstances, including social circumstances, the sophistication of enforcement tools, and the anticipated longevity of officers was much different than at present.
“In this day and age the average life expectancy for a male is in the mid-70s, so I don’t think the kids these days – and I call them kids – have enough life experience or enough time with their feet on the pavement to do the job that policing is requiring now in California. Times have changed. There’s lot of guns. There’s a lot of hate crimes and a lot of things going on. A lot of 21-year-olds have different life experiences, but from my belief, it’s a fact that I don’t think a 21-year-old kid has really experienced enough to be a police officer.”
As a consequence of Von Haug’s effort to move up the political food chain, the Lucerne Valley Unified School District is seeking applicants to fill the position on its board of trustees that he vacated.
The term to which the successful applicant will be appointed, according to district superintendent Peter Livingston, will run until the next regularly scheduled board election in November 2018, at which time the position will be placed on the ballot.
Those interested in filling the board vacancy can obtain an application packet from the Lucerne Valley Unified School District office at 8560 Aliento Road in Lucerne Valley through January 3 or can download one at http://lucernevalleyusd.org. The applications must be filed at the district office by noon on January 4, 2018, and no electronic and/or facsimile applications will be accepted.
The school board will review submitted application packets and then schedule interviews on the morning of January 6 with candidates deemed ahead of time to be qualified to hold the position. The board is reserving the right to not interview any candidates who do not pass initial inspection as was well as the right to not make an appointment of any of the applicants should none be considered qualified for the position.
Groundwater Authority At Extreme End Of County Facing Fiscal Challenges
The joint powers agency formed by Kern, Inyo and San Bernardino counties in 2016 to prevent the depletion of the aquifer in a portion of the West Mojave is running into fiscal difficulties.
The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority will finance its operations in the first half of 2018 with an advance from the Kern County-based Indian Wells Valley Water District, under an arrangement approved by its board members last week. But funding down the road will be needed, and there is no clear source of revenue identified to keep the agency functioning.
Indian Wells Valley straddles southeastern Kern County, southwestern Inyo County and Northwestern San Bernardino County. Underlying it is the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin, from which the City of Ridgecrest and its outlying area’s domestic, commercial, industrial and agricultural entities draw their water, as does the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, the Searles Valley Mineral Company in Trona and the remainder of industrial, commercial and domestic users in Trona.
Historically, the Indian Wells Valley Water Basin experiences roughly 7,000 to 11,000 acre-feet of annual natural water recharge per year, but for three decades has been using on average 28,000 to 30,000 acre-feet of water annually. Two years ago, California Governor Jerry Brown, in the face of a four-year running drought, mandated water saving measures throughout the state. Water use in the Indian Wells Valley Water Basin was reduced to under 24,000 acre-feet, which still exceeded the estimated 7,300 acre-feet of recharge by 16,700 acre feet.
In September 2014, Governor Brown signed into law the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires local agencies to draft plans to bring groundwater aquifers into balanced levels of pumping and recharge. It was thus mandated that a groundwater sustainability agency for Indian Wells Valley be formed by June 30, 2017, and that the agency adopt a groundwater sustainability plan by January 30, 2020.
In response, through a joint exercise of powers agreement the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority was chartered in 2016 with Kern County, San Bernardino County, Inyo County, the City of Ridgecrest and the Indian Wells Valley Water District as general and voting members and United States Navy and United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management as non-voting associate members.
Practically speaking, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority is dominated by Kern County together with Ridgecrest and the water district. Nevertheless, the town of Trona, which at present is not the industrial and mining powerhouse it was a century ago and in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, has an interest in the action of the authority. Trona, which lies within San Bernardino County adjacent to the Inyo County border, possesses tremendous potential as an important industrial asset regionally, statewide and nationally, and its access to water in sufficient quantity to sustain mining operations and production efforts based upon the availability of an abundance of minerals locally is crucial to realizing that potential.
While the other voting members filled the board with people who have established status as political representatives and possess sensitivity to the use of water in domestic settings, San Bernardino County was able to get a commitment from the other participants that it would be able to place as its permanent representative on the groundwater authority board a personage employed with the major mining company in Trona. Also participating on an informal basis from time to time has been San Bernardino County First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood.
Kern County Supervisor Mick Gleason at present chairs the authority’s board, and Alan Christensen, Kern County’s deputy county administrative officer, handles much of the preparation for action to be taken by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board as the general director. A policy advisory committee is drafting a framework for the groundwater sustainability plan with input from a second advisory committee steeped in hydrology expertise. The second panel is referred to as the technical committee.
While both committees exist as official governmental committees subject to the Ralph M. Brown Act, the state’s open public meeting law, and thus holds meetings open to the public, they are not officially the final arbiters of the final draft for the plan, as the board of directors holds that authority. Nevertheless, in their advisory capacity, those committees are in control of the ultimate form of the groundwater conservation plan.
There are seventeen members of the policy advisory committee, one from each of the five general members and two associate members; two from large agriculture interests, specifically Meadowbrook Farms Mutual Water Company and the Mojave Ranch; one from small agriculture interests; two business; two domestic well owners; one from a planning agency/background; an environmental-oriented member, in this case a board member of the Eastern Kern County Resource Conservation District; and one industrial, that being a representative of the Searles Valley Minerals operation in Trona.
The technical advisory committee has a dozen members, one from each of the authority’s five general and two voting members; one each from agriculture, domestic well and industrial interests; one from Kern County Water Agency; and the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s technical consultant. The committee members have formal education and extensive experience in water/groundwater-related fields, and they have technical backgrounds in hydrology, hydrogeology or geology, and each possesses a familiarity with Indian Wells Valley.
The draft 2018 budget for the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority rather optimistically projects $1.7 million in spending over the next 12 months toward groundwater preservation planning. But the budget specifies only $740,000 in specific tasks to be performed from January to June. The Indian Wells Valley Water District has agreed to provide and the board said it would accept a cool half of a million dollars to cover roughly two-thirds of that six months worth of the authority’s operations. The Indian Wells Valley Water District is advancing the money against the amount of money that it is anticipated major water pumpers from the Indian Wells aquifer will be assessed as part of the future implementation of the groundwater sustainability plan. That plan has yet to be fully formulated.
In addition to imposing a water conservation regime intended to limit the amount of water drawn from the Indian Wells Valley water table, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority is very likely to create a cost sharing regime to defray the cost of importing water from the State Water Project. That imported water could be pumped into the water table to recharge it, or more likely, be conveyed directly into the reservoirs of the various water users.
Indian Wells Water District officials were met with verbal challenges over the propriety of advancing the money to the authority, curtailing those questions through clearance by the district’s legal counsel, which said it was okay to do so as long as the money was disbursed from its alternative water sources fund.
Unclear at this point is how the authority will continue to sustain its operations, as there is at present no funding source dedicated to it, and it lacks taxing or any other type of assessment authorization. The authority will be free to utilize some $268,000 in anticipated Proposition 1 grant money.
That leaves questions as to where the authority will get the remainder of the roughly $932,000 needed to fulfill the budget for all of 2018. There has been talk of having further grant money from the state cover a portion of that cost, but there are no definite commitments from Sacramento in that regard.
That funding gap creates an opportunity for interests within San Bernardino County to step forward and increase their influence over the authority’s processes. At present, Kern County, the City of Ridgecrest and the Indian Wells Valley Water District are the dominant players within the authority. San Bernardino County, Trona and the Searles Valley Mineral Company, though they posses a single vote on the board, are considered to be minority stakeholders. In November 2007, Ahmedabad, India-based Nirma purchased the Searles Valley Mineral Company from Sun Capital Partners. Nirma appears committed to hanging onto the company and its attendant property as a long term investment, believing that at some future point the mining and production of the mineral trona, either in the form trisodium hydrogendicarbonate dihydrate or sodium sesquicarbonate dihydrate, as well as soda ash, sodium sulfate and borax will be highly economically advantageous. The mineral Trona is the primary source of sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash, produced in the United States. Soda ash is used in the fabrication of glass, detergents and dyes. Potash was also a major mineral mined in the Trona area, and was crucial to the American war effort during World War I.
By venturing an infusion of capital into the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority at this point, the Town of Trona, Nirma or San Bernardino County or perhaps all three could purchase a greater degree of participation in and influence over the authority, smoothing the way for the Searles Valley Mineral Company to reinitiate operations when the time to do so is propitious.
The authority’s board of directors is next scheduled to meet on January 18, 2018 at Ridgecrest City Hall. At that time, it is anticipated that Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden will replace Gleason as the board chairperson and Ridgecrest City Manager Ron Strand will supplant Christensen as general manager.
In Missive To Employees, City Manager Conflates San Bernardino With Covina
In a faux pas of what is perhaps form rather than of substance, the San Bernardino city manager last week confused the city she is now leading with the city where she was employed as top administrator two years ago.
In a year-end letter to the city’s employees, city manager Andrea Travis-Miller referred to San Bernardino as Covina. The confusion was made at a crucial point in the missive that dealt with the concept of taking pride in the city and striving for excellence, a blunder that may have undercut the spirit and substance of Travis-Miller’s attempt to connect with her underlings at City Hall.
Dated December 21, the letter carries the salutation “To all of our city employees.” It begins, “As 2017 draws to a close and 2018 begins to dawn, it seems like a great time to reflect on what we have accomplished, the journey we have taken to get to where we are, and the plans we have for an exciting, bright future in San Bernardino. I’d like to begin by telling you how much I appreciate each of you. The city would not be where it is without the contributions made by each and every one of our employees. Thank you for all of your work and your resiliency over the last year.”
Though the letter then goes on to state “Last year was a year of transition” and celebrates “significant progress… in the face of significant challenges,” while referencing “a period of change in the city’s leadership – a new city manager, assistant city manager and several new department [heads],” the letter makes no overt reference to San Bernardino’s emergence from bankruptcy, which was ratified this spring by Federal Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury and effectuated on June 15. The bankruptcy is mentioned in passing on page two of the letter in conjunction with “tough decisions” and an assertion “the city established a sustainable financial model that serves as a strong foundation.”
Travis-Miller wrote, “Critical positions throughout the organization are also being filled to ensure we have the complement of talent needed to provide high quality service to our community. With the team in place and with the help of all of you, we are making strides in achieving our strategic goal of creating a culture of leadership, service and high performance throughout the organization.”
The letter takes on the character of a pep talk, encouraging employees to focus on “responsiveness, priority setting, effective communication, and engaged leadership.”
Travis-Miller told her employees, “In the spirit of providing good customer service, we are creating an atmosphere of caring. It means treating people with respect, listening, proposing reasonable solutions, and following through in a timely manner. Through the strategic planning process, the mayor and city council and staff are establishing priority goals and objectives, identifying the job of the city, our vision and new paradigms that will guide our efforts in the coming years. Producing results will instill confidence in the city. Clear messages that are delivered at the appropriate time are critical to building confidence. As an organization, we are working to earn the trust of our community. We are demonstrating a commitment to using their resources wisely, and we are building a reputation for excellence.”
Working toward a crescendo, Travis Miller wrote, “2018 will bring its own mix of successes and challenges, but our direction is clear. Our job is to continue to focus intently on what we can control – providing our residents and businesses with the best, most responsive municipal services; managing our costs and spending taxpayer money prudently; building our reputation; and doing our part to keep San Bernardino moving forward and ensure we are recognized as one of the safest, most desirable cities in the Inland Empire.”
At that point, Travis-Miller called upon the city’s employees to “strive for excellence in everything you do,” and moved into the province wherein she conflated San Bernardino with Covina, calling for “excellence in your work, excellence with our residents, businesses, people we do business with, and visitors to our community, excellence with your teammates, excellence in the community, excellence with our resources, [and] excellence in yourself.”
It was under the topic of community that Travis-Miller called for “excellence in how you give of your time and efforts to make Covina a great place to live and work.”
Travis-Miller, an attorney, is well-traveled as a municipal employee. This is her second go-round in San Bernardino. In her mid-30s she acceded to the position of La Mirada city manager in 2001. She remained in that position until 2008, at which point she went to work with a law firm. In 2011, she agreed to become San Bernardino deputy city manager under then-city manager Charles McNeeley. It was in the final stages of McNeeley’s tenure as city manager that a long-developing financial crisis at last overtook the city. McNeeley resigned. In that circumstance, Travis-Miller was elevated to the position of acting city manager. In tandem with then-finance director Jason Simpson, Travis-Miller made a review of the city’s financial books, at the conclusion of which the duo convinced the city council in July 2012 that its best course was to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. The city did so the following month. Travis-Miller gamely soldiered on as acting city manager, but in 2013 left to become the executive director of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments. In March 2015, she accepted the position of city manager in Covina.
After she resigned as Covina city manager in May 2016, Travis-Miller made her way back to San Bernardino, where she was again installed as deputy city manager. She was in place as deputy city manager when the city made its historic exit, after nearly five years, from bankruptcy. She was designated in July to replace Mark Scott as city manager following his official departure in August.
It appears that Travis-Miller may have been working from a boilerplate text in composing the letter and simply overlooked language relating to Covina, which remained in the template, as the last time she utilized it she was the city manager in that city. Another interpretation is that Travis-Miller may have actually composed the letter herself within the last few weeks, but in doing so mnemonically or reflexively defaulted to the reference to Covina, and then failed to catch the error before posting the letter.
The error raised, under one interpretation, questions about the sincerity of the letter writing effort, as this would indicate it was being done by rote and without regard for the city’s true character and uniqueness. Under the variant interpretation, it raised a question about the failing of Travis-Miller’s mental performance on the fly.
Many were willing to forgive someone who is actively engaged in running the oldest and populous municipality in San Bernardino County, with over 216,000 residents, a community beset my numerous intractable challenges for having committed a single word textual error. Some were not.
Local attorney Tim Prince, whose father Ralph was the longest serving city attorney in San Bernardino history, said he sees the mistake as symbolic of recent City Hall failures.
“The current leadership at City Hall seems to be operating from a formulaic mentality of one size fits all without regard to the history and uniqueness of San Bernardino. This administration closed our beautiful City Hall without a plan to retrofit and reopen it, closed the Carousel Mall without a developer committed to redevelop it, throws out our historic city charter for a formulaic shell, outsources our historic fire department and refuse services for ever-increasing fees, and spends barrels of money on out-of-town consultants. These management practices all reflect a low standard of city manager advice and accountability., the same type of shoddy leadership that would slap San Bernardino’s name on text prepared for another city.”
San Bernardino City Councilman Fred Shorett told the Sentinel, “There is no way she would be using a template, and for someone to suggest she would have set letters where she would substitute in one city for another is just absurd. This was a simple slip of the tongue or the pen or whatever. This woman is thoroughly entrenched in this city like no other city manager I have worked with in ten years. This isn’t anything other than a small mistake and not worth talking about at all. Andrea is involved and enthusiastic about what she is doing and totally dedicated to restoring San Bernardino into a world class city. For someone to suggest she is working from a template is something I find personally insulting.”
Forum… Or Against ‘em
By Count Friedrich von Olsen
You don’t have to be crazy to be a newspaper man, but it does help…
I put the feed bag on at a local bistro, one where the food is very good and which also features a lounge, a piano, a chanteuse and a dance floor. I kept my ears open while I enjoyed the victuals. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to identify the chophouse because if I were to do so, I might not be allowed to return. I overheard a few things…
A father was recently arrested and brought before a judge, charged with spanking his 18-year-old daughter. His honor, a loyal Republican, dismissed the charge when daddy explained he did it to prevent her from taking part in a sit down strike…
And here’s a tip for the police: the bookie office of the local bet taker has been moved from its old quarters to a similar set up just across the street…
Speaking of fast horses, what local frequent denizen of Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Del Mar will not be making his frequent flights to Florida for the next three racing seasons after authorities there learned he had doped up a horse at race track in the Sunshine State?
I see Mrs. William Stanton Frieden III is on a diet again, that is champagne and caviar….
What billionaire playboy with wedding bells in his beret would tune them out pronto if he found out his nightclub canary still has a legal mate?
What coffee king is going to be crowned a slave when his wife finds him holding hands with the manicurist at Louis Christie’s instead of getting his locks shorn at the Palace Barber Shop?
Dobsonflies are a type of flying insect with large, clumsy wings. These bugs are not often seen because they are most often active at night or at twilight. They are part of the Megalopteran family Corydalidae and fall within the subfamily of Corydalinae. Their aquatic larvae, referred to as hellgrammites, are coveted by fisherman as bait for trout and fresh water bass.
Adult dobsonflies are some of the largest non-Lepidopteran insects of temperate zones such as the United States and Canada, with a wingspan of up to seven inches in some species. The wings vary from a grayish to translucent shade, depending on the species, and the anal region of the hindwing is wide and folded at rest. Despite the large wings, adults are weak, fluttery fliers. The body is soft and reaches up to three inches in length, and coloration varies from yellow to dark shades of brown.
Male adults are easily recognized by their long, curving mandibles, reaching up to an inch and three-fifths in length, which they use in competition for females. These oversized mandibles have developed as secondary sex characteristics used by females to evaluate males during courtship. Males cannot use these mandibles to bite because they are too long; on the other hand, females have short, heavily sclerotized mandibles which enable them to deliver powerful bites when threatened. The antennae of males are also noticeably elongated, even longer than the mandibles.
Dobsonflies have quadrate heads with a postocular spine, ridge, and plane, non-pectinate antennae, four crossveins between the radius and the radial sector, and distinctive male terminalia with a well developed sexual appendage.
Dobsonflies and their larvae are aquatic, living in streams. The larvae, commonly called hellgrammites, are perhaps better known than the adults due to their more readily findable nature. In the water, they absorb dissolved oxygen through abdominal lateral filaments and tracheal gills. They also have spiracles that allow them to take in air directly when above water.
Larvae of dobsonflies bear eight pairs of lateral processes as well as anal prolegs with a pair of terminal hooks used to hold themselves to a stream bottom or other surface. At the end of the abdomen is a pair of claw-like structures. Body color is black or dark brown.
The larvae of dobsonflies live along the rocky bottoms of streams, and are chiefly active during the night, when they ambush prey in the middle of riffles, shallow landforms in a flowing channel, which supply plenty of oxygen and stir up prey. They are generalist predators; dissections have revealed that they primarily eat aquatic immatures of mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, and chironomid midges. Although the larvae spend most of their lives under rocks below water, emergences, known as “hellgrammite crawlings,” occur during thunderstorms or when at night a bright light source is placed atop a boulder or large rock that is partially immersed in and partially out of the water.
Dobsonfly adults are nocturnal, and are seldom seen as they hide under leaves in the canopy during the daytime. However, they do sometimes form aggregations under bridges or other structures along streams. Since the adults live only about a week, they are not known to eat anything, although they have been reported to drink sweet solution in captivity.
Males compete with each other for females, aggressively fluttering their wings and trying to place their long mandibles underneath the body of the opponent in order to flip him into the air. Afterwards, the male approaches a female from the side and touches her with his antennae. At first the female reacts somewhat aggressively, moving the head from side to side with mandibles wide apart. However, she then allows the male to come closer and place his mandibles over her wings in a perpendicular position, a position he holds until the female signals reception to mating.
During copulation the male attaches to the female’s genitalia a large, globular spermatophore about 4 mm long and wide. The spermatophore consists of two parts: a large gelatinous mass, and a smaller seminal duct containing the sperm. After copulation, the female proceeds to spread her legs wide apart, curl the abdomen under the chest, and eat the gelatinous part of the spermatophore.
Oviposition occurs along rocky walls of streams at night, most often from May to September. The females deposit egg masses containing on average one thousand grey, cylindrical eggs, each egg about 1.5 mm long and 0.5 mm wide. This mass is covered by a layer of a chalky, white substance, which probably protects the eggs from desiccation and overheating. Females tend to deposit egg masses at relatively few sites, resulting in grouped egg masses.
One to two weeks after oviposition, the eggs hatch and the first instar larvae either fall directly into the stream or if not, immediately search for water. There the larvae live for up to five years, going through 10-12 instar molts. Large, older larvae, which may be up to 3.15 inches long, have strong biting mouthparts and are ferocious predators on other aquatic insects and small invertebrates. When they have finally reached maturity, larvae migrate from their freshwater habitat to wet soil, moss, or decaying vegetation, a rock, log, or other anthropogenic debris, typically close to the stream but sometimes up to 130 feet away. There they construct a chamber for pupation and spend several days as prepupae before shedding the exoskeleton and spending about a week as pupae. The pupae are yellow-orange with dark spots on the dorsum of the abdomen. Although the males have a small tubercle on the prothoracic sternum and a slightly wider head than the females, the mandibles are not as noticeably divergent as in the adults. Finally, the pupae emerge from the chamber, leaving behind the larval and pupal skins.
From Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica
Grace Bernal’s California Style: Elongation
The defining look of the season is in full bloom and it’s extending the leg. The deep winter addition is all about ankle boots coming over or under your pants. This style definitely brings back a showgirl kind of look with elongated legs, ankle boots worn with denim pants, trousers, skirts, and tights. Pretty practical but not so much when an ankle boot is worn in stiletto heels in a walking town. In the end, it’s a high fashion statement of the shoe variety and sometimes the shoe is pretty high. There’s no such thing as no fashion because it’s here – always has been, and it’s stunning. All eras of fashion come in and define many things with regard to clothes. It’s neat to see women wear all the looks of a moment and right now it’s reminiscent of dancer long legs, thanks to ankle boots. We’re at a point in fashion where it’s all about direction and it can get predictable if you start following a trend from the beginning to its peak. In this case, we know ankle boots have been here for a while. The long legs are always good for anyone, whether her legs are naturally long or short, in which later case by this nifty stratagem her legs can be artificially stretched. And if you don’t like it, you can always create your own look.
I always love to dress up, but I usually end up in a leather jacket and boots! -Bella Hadid