Supervisors Override General Plan, With Big Bear Project Getting 32-Fold Density Increase

Supervisors on July 28 gave clearance for RCK Properties, Inc. to intensify the density on 62.43 acres on the north side of Big Bear Lake to more than 32 times what is permitted under the county’s general plan.
The property in question is in Fawnskin, overlooking the lake on what is known as the Moon Camp project site off of North Shore Drive, which at that point is the alternate name for State Route 38, approximately 180 feet east of Canyon Road.
RCK Properties asked for and the county board of supervisors granted a general plan land use designation amendment from the county’s Bear Valley/Rural Living – 40-acre minimum lot size standard that was created specifically for that extremely rustic area to its Bear Valley/Single Residential 20,000-square foot minimum lot size standard on the 62.43 acres in question. The revamping will allow RCK Properties to construct 50 residential lots with a minimum area of 20,000 square feet. The project is to include a 55-boat marina.
A forerunner of the project was first proposed 51 years ago, in 1969. That project concept called for density greater than what was approved this week, but was never able to garner approval. RCK Properties’ adaptation of the long-gestating plan was lopsidedly out of keeping with what has evolved as the officially accepted conception of how development is to take place in that area, if indeed it is to take place at all.
Of relevance is that for decades, California Department of Fish & Wildlife [formerly the Department of Fish & Game] and U.S. Forest Service biologists were greatly concerned about the dwindling numbers of bald eagles in the San Bernardino Mountains and elsewhere in Southern California. The U.S. Government declared the bald eagle an endangered species in 1967. To provide a baseline on the species’ ongoing population numbers and survival, the U.S. Forest Service in 1979 initiated counts of bald eagles on a weekly basis during December, January, February and early March in Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead/Lake Gregory, Silverwood Lake, Lake Perris and Lake Hemet, all of which are areas where the birds of prey wintered. In recent years, the birds seemed to be making something of a comeback.
Since 2017, there has been considerable attention given to the only known pair of eagles nesting on the north side of Big Bear Lake. Those eagles, referred to as Jackie and Shadow by the scientists monitoring them through a video camera trained on their nest, cared for eggs laid by Jackie. As it turned out, however, the eggs laid and hatched in 2017 and 2018 did not survive, felled by winter storms that inundated the nest with ice cold water. This winter, the eggs in the nest failed to hatch.
The RCK Properties project, known by the traditional name of Moon Camp, is 0.85 miles from the Jackie’s and Shadow’s nest. Bird protectionists consider the boldness of RCK Properties’ project request and the county’s willingness to allow the land use there to be intensified to the point that 50 homes are to be built on land designated by the county’s own rules to be suited for just over one-and-a-half homes an indication that something is askew.
A giveaway, they said, is that for an undisclosed price, RCK purchased the services of biologist Tim Krantz, who is a professor at the University of Redlands and director of the Southern California Montane Botanic Garden at The Wildlands Conservancy’s Oak Glen Preserve, as an advocate on behalf of the development.
Krantz told the board that RCK Properties was “a project done right.” Krantz said he knew that he had “put all of my credibility on the line in saying that.”
“He sure did,” said one of the project’s opponents. “He’s sold his soul to the devil.”
The project opponents said that if RCK was able to buy Krantz, who had no vote on the project, it is likely that if has purchased influence with the board members, including Third District Supervisor Dawn Rowe, whose Third District includes Big Bear.
Mark Gutglueck

Leave a Reply