Expansionist Apple Valley Gobbles Up More Land

Apple Valley, which is already San Bernardino County’s largest municipality landwise, has been given permission by the county agency overseeing jurisdictional matters to expand the area within its town limits by 2.14 square miles.
The San Bernardino County Local Agency Formation Commission ratified the town’s request to annex just under 1,370 acres of desert expanse north of Bell Mountain, east of and immediately adjacent to Interstate 15, south of Morro Road, west of Fairfield Road and North of Johnson Road.
The acquisition puts more distance between the town and the City of Victorville for the title of San Bernardino County’s largest geographical incorporated entity.
Before the annexation, Apple Valley, Victorville and Hesperia were in a three-way dead heat for bragging rights as to the size of city/town limits, or more aptly put in this case, city/town expanse. Apple Valley stood at a total of 74.99 square miles, including 74.92 square miles of dry land and 0.07 square miles of water. Victorville covers 73.89 square miles, of which 73.33 square miles is land and 0.56 square miles is surface water. Hesperia consists of 73.21 square miles, including a land mass of 73.1 square miles and a 0.11 square mile body of water.
With the annexation, Apple Valley now spreads out over 77.13 square miles.
After an evaluation of the application by the Local Agency Formation Commission’s staff, the commission issued a certificate of completion on February 27. The commission certified that the town council had made the proper notification of all land owners and had conducted a previously noticed and properly advertised protest hearing on February 4, followed by the town council’s approval of the annexation on February 12, together with a determination that the town has the requisite financial wherewithal to jumpstart the provision of a full range of services to the area to be subsumed. According to a long-term fiscal-impact analysis, as the eastern periphery of the I-15 develops in accordance with the town’s commercial zoning for the area, tax revenues into the town will substantially increase, more than offsetting the cost of providing infrastructure and services to the area.
Moreover the certification attests that the city has avowed it will make a filing to annex the remaining 1,405 acres of 2,775 acres the town had sought to annex in 2009. The 2009 annexation effort, which included the 1,370 acres now being brought into the town, proved unsuccessful. At that time, the town referred to the 2,775 acres as “the Golden Triangle.”
That reference alludes to the significant addition of sales-tax producing commercial property the annexation represents.
Under the annexation arrangement, the town will share property tax revenues with San Bernardino County in accordance with a tax allocation schedule that entitles Apple Valley to half of the 9.5 percent property tax rate.
“The annexation adds three miles of prime freeway frontage to the town’s boundaries,” said Apple Valley Mayor Larry Cusack. “The annexation area is a logical extension of the town’s continued growth.”
In persisting with the land takeover, Apple Valley effectuates several imperatives in one blow. It makes way for the town to capture the potentially lucrative tax proceeds from the businesses anticipated to crop up along the east side of the I-15 north of the city. It also ensures that, for the territory annexed at least, any designs that Victorville may have had on the land will be thwarted. The extension of Apple Valley northward reduces considerably, as well, the prospect that Victorville will be able to extend itself northward and surround Apple Valley or hem it in.
Victorville has a demonstrated history of expansionist intent. Incorporated in 1962, Victorville was a much more mature municipal entity than either Apple Valley, incorporated in 1988, and Hesperia, also incorporated in 1988. Victorville continuously and consistently outmaneuvered both the Town of Apple Valley and the City of Hesperia when it came to securing and virtually monopolizing the prime commercial properties in the High Desert, particular those bordering the I-15 Freeway, along which some 190,000 commuters sojourning from the Greater Los Angeles Area to La Vegas travel weekly. The property at the focus of Apple Valley’s 2009 annexation effort was the second area in the High Desert to be referred to as the “Golden Triangle.” Further south, another key piece of property, this one involving land coterminous with Victorville and Hesperia, had been termed “the Golden Triangle.” This property lies at the tip of the nexus between the 15 Freeway and Highway 395 at the southern end and extends northward between those two major arteries all the way to its northern boundary at Bear Valley Road. Hesperia, shortly after its incorporation, led by then-City Manager Robert Rizzo, had initially managed to put that property into its sphere of influence. But before Hesperia could annex it, Victorville, then led by Mayor Terry Caldwell and City Manager James Cox, in the early 1990s used the experience and sophistication of its top city officials and their contacts at the county seat in San Bernardino to outmaneuver their less astute political and administrative counterparts in Hesperia to first remove the Golden Triangle from Hesperia’s sphere of influence, then have the San Bernardino County Local Agency Formation Commission put that property, with its rich sales tax-producing frontages, within Victorville’s sphere of influence and subsequently, after a short interim, annex it to within Victorville’s city limits.
Cox, who is now a city councilman in Victorville, in 2007 and 2008 served as Apple Valley’s town manager and was instrumental while he was in that capacity in laying the foundation of Apple Valley’s annexation application for the north-lying Golden Triangle.
It is anticipated that the town will submit the second request relating to the remaining 1,405 acres by September or October.
Apple Valley has tentatively slated more than 5.6 million square feet situated between Johnson and Morro roads for commercial and office/professional use. The annexation of the 1,365 acres, putting all land use authority into the hands of Town Hall, makes for a streamlined process that will render the development of that property much easier to execute, assuming the property owners have intentions consistent with Apple Valley’s codes and zoning. As development occurs, the value of the property will increase, upping the town’s property tax revenues. As the property is utilized for sales of taxable goods, sales tax revenue will increase, as well.
If the landowners and developers are willing to abide by the town’s expectations as shown in and provided for on zoning maps, its development code and general plan, up to 247 single family residential units will go where the property is zoned residential and 3.6 million square feet of industrial space will be welcomed into the area’s commercial zones. Tax revenue from the project at buildout will exceed $11 million per year, town officials confidently predict.
-Mark Gutglueck

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