Yuciapa Council Votes 4-To-1 To Initiate 1,094-Acre Wine County Specific Plan

By Mark Gutglueck
Amidst reports federal authorities are scrutinizing them and their city manager and senior land use officials with regard to their ties to the development industry, the Yucaipa City Council Wednesday night gave approval to the Yucaipa Valley Wine Country Specific Plan, which is to suspend building restrictions on nearly 1,100 acres that were incorporated into the 54,524-population city’s 2016 general plan.
Some saw in the action confirmation of the widespread and penetrating suspicions that reportedly invited federal investigators to take up an examination of the somewhat irregular relationship the city’s decision-makers forged with the city manager they hired in a highly controversial move more than a year ago. Others, however, saw the action as a compromise with a development industry that is salivating at the prospect of converting large swaths of open space on the city’s north end, which was once grazing land or long dormant or more recently forsaken agricultural property, into massive subdivisions to include both residential neighborhoods and commercial centers.
The Wine Country Specific Plan is a proposed phased development to subdivide 1,094 acres in what is referred to as the city’s North Bench into lots for both homes and nonresidential areas for vineyards, wineries, trails, and open space. The plan calls for the primarily undeveloped land to be split into what are very close to halves, with residential uses on 547.4 acres and nonresidential uses on 546.2 acres. The proposed nonresidential land use designations including 465.5 acres for agriculture purposes, 73.6 acres for riparian use and 7.1 acres for utility application by the Yucaipa Valley Water District, the last of which has already been put in place by the water district. Continue reading

Twentynine Palms Brings In Cathedral City Economic Director To Serve As City Manager

Herbert Stone James, currently the economic development director with Cathedral City, has been chosen to serve as city manager in Twentynine Palms.
James will supplant Larry Bowden at City Hall. Bowden has served as interim city manager since October, when former City Manager Frank Luckino departed to become city manager in Desert Hot Springs.
James, 49, has been economic development director in Cathedral City since 2017.
James’ professional experience in government is limited to this tenure in Cathedral City, although he has other experience in governmental appointed posts. In addition, he has experience in real estate and development liaison capacities.
At present, he is a board member of a private school, Palm Valley School Pre K-12th Grade Independent School. Continue reading

Actual Culprit’s Emergence Throws State Suits Against Redlands & SB County Into Question

As homeless assistance projects go, the Step Up homeless faciltity, which had been converted from the former Good Nite Inn in Redlands was an overwhelming success. Insofar as other efforts to formulate a solution to moving people off the streets into a dignified living setting, Redlands city officials had achieved what scores, indeed hundreds and thousands, in actuality, almost all of other elected officials in California had been unable to attain: the application of money into a program where the money wasn’t squandered or eaten up by short-term solutions or consultants and service providers who used the money for salaries or expenses and misdirected the money from those it was intended to help: the destitute.
What Redlands had done was brilliant in its simplicity and workability. The city had taken the Good Nite Inn, a struggling and failing hotel, acquired it using state and federal money, converted it into primitive but yet dignified apartments, each with modest living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette, and then filled it with the denizens of the streets, those who would otherwise be living in alleyways or parks or under freeway on-or-offramps or railroad trestles. Moreover, the city had done it in a relatively short period of time, from conception to occupancy. Continue reading

Second Solar Field Proposed For 29 Palms West Of Its Cemetery

Palm Desert-based E-Group PS is seeking permission from the City of Twentynine Palms to undertake a dual industrial/residential project on 477-acre site proximate to the Twentynine Palms Cemetery.
Represented by Terra Nova Planning, which has taken up the cause of preparing for the project presentation and environmental certification effort for at least one other solar project in the 27,000-population 59.1-square mile city, E-Group is asking Twentynine Palm’s planning and building division to consider its proposal to establish a 50-megawatt solar field featuring 160,000 solar panels on the northern 241 acres of the project site North of Two Mile Road and west of Noel Knolls Road and construct 236 homes on the southern 236 acres of the project site.
According to E-Group PS principal Robert Smith, his company had hoped to work directly with the City of Twentynine Palms in refining the project and tailoring its plans to meet local development standards and mitigate the project in accordance with the needs of local residents and businesses. Continue reading

4 Sheriff’s Department Use Of Force Incidents In One Month In Hesperia, Apple Valley & RC Net 3 Deaths

A rash of use of force incidents, including three that resulted in the deaths of civilians, bedeviled the sheriff’s department this month.
The violent nature of the encounters has provoked loud and repeated charges that sheriff’s deputies are using an excessive and unnecessary degree of force and has tested unto breaking Sheriff Shannon Dicus’s stated commitment to release the relevant footage of the bodyworn video cameras all of his deputies have recently been outfitted.
The most recent such contretemps to come to public attention was the March 26 arrest of a Hesperia-based entrepreneur the sheriff’s department maintains was involved in an armed robbery two days previously. That arrest involved deputies from the Hesperia Station and took place roughly ten blocks from the man’s place of business, a tattoo parlor located at 16138 Main Street next to Ararat Market Avenue on the north side of Main between Third Avenue and Fifth Avenue. Much of the department’s takedown of Alonso was captured on video by a passerby and mounted onto a social media platform, thereafter going viral.
In the video, at first three deputies can be seen grappling with the man, identified as Christian Cardenas Alonso, a 36-year-old resident of Adelanto, at the side of the roadway behind Alonso’s maroon- or burgundy-colored 1964 Chevrolet Impala, bearing the license plate number 72IX939. Alonzo is face down on the pavement, with the deputies kneeling at various angles over him. At several points, Alonso’s head is being scraped or raked with force against the pavement on the shoulder of the road. A fourth deputy then comes into the video’s frame of focus to assist in making the arrest. Throughout the ordeal, Alonso sustains repeated blows to his head. Continue reading

$4 Minimum Wage Boost For Fast-Food Workers On April 1 Triggers Massive Layoffs

In anticipation of the 25 percent escalation of the minimum wage for their workers in California to take place next Monday, fast-food outlets throughout the county have already begun laying off workers en masse. It is anticipated that thousands more of those in that sector within San Bernardino County will be out of work by May.
The trend in the loss of jobs is an unwelcome manifestation of the move to increase pay for workers traditionally considered to be at the bottom of the pay scale in the Golden State.
On April 1, workers in that part of the restaurant industry providing what is defined as fast-food, will see their pay jump by $4 – a substantial 25 percent – from $16 to $20. For franchises and the companies themselves – McDonald’s Jack in the Box, Burger King, In-N-Out, Taco Bell, Del Taco, Baker’s, Wendy’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Church’s Chicken, El Pollo Loco, Juan Pollo, Chick-Fil-A, Popeyes, Arby’s, Panda Express, Subway and others of that nature – the expense of rising minimum wages is one they are already staggering under.
Under the law, fast-food operations were considered to be part of the remainder of the economy, subject to the same conditions, vicissitudes, regulations and wage rules as all other businesses. Over the years, the minimum wage has escalated in California. On March 1, 1997, the minimum was $5.00. As of September 1, 1997 it grew to $5.15. As of March 1, 1998 it rose to $5.75. As of January 1, 2001 it became $6.25. On January 1, 2002 it reached $6.75. Upon January 1, 2007 it climbed to $7.50. On January 1, 2008, the minimum wage stood at $8.00. On July 1, 2014, workers could be paid no less than $9.00 per hour. That minimum was raised to $10,00 on January 1, 2016. As of January 1, 2017, it became $10.50. A slight bump to $11.00 came on January 1, 2018. On January 1, 2023, the state minimum wage leapt to $15.50. A relatively minor increase to $16 per hour went into effect on January 1 of this year. Continue reading

Lake Arrowhead Community Services District Wants Federal Help Eluding PFAS Liability

The Lake Arrowhead Community Services District is seeking federal assistance in dealing with its perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances contamination problem.
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, known as PFOA, compose a family of more than 5,000 man-made and mostly unregulated chemicals that have been produced since the 1950s. They are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” because they are resistant to degradation in the environment and when degradation occurs, it results in the formation of additional PFAS compounds or constituents.
The precise source of the contamination has yet to be established. In October 2023, the California Environmental Protection Agency published a finding that Lake Arrowhead had a total PFAS concentration levels of 26. It has been theorized that Lake Arrowhead’s PFAS contamination is a byproduct of its Grass Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant which processes the sewer effluent from Lake Arrowhead and recycles water to irrigate the golf course at the Lake Arrowhead Country Club. The theory is that the inadequate filtration of the water has resulted in eliminating other contaminants while compounding the concentration of PFAS. Continue reading