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Rowe Asserts Her Oversight Authority, Putting Dicus In The Cross Hairs
By Mark Gutglueck
Shrouded in niceties and politesse, a rare show of disagreement between the county’s governmental leadership was on display this week when Chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors Dawn Rowe called for an examination of the collective response to the blizzard that hit the county’s mountain region late last and early this month.
For the first time in two decades and primarily at Rowe’s behest, the board flexed its authority in a way that pointedly outlined its theoretical oversight of the county sheriff, a position which for more than two-thirds of a century has been occupied by a personage deemed San Bernardino’s primary and most powerful political figure.
In the wake of an unrelenting 11-day blizzard that blanketed the county’s mountain communities in both the San Bernardino Mountains and San Bernardino National Forest/San Gorgonio Wilderness to the east and the San Gabriel and Angeles National Forest to the west in snow drifts reaching or exceeding ten feet in depth, Rowe used her autonomy as board chairwoman to have County Chief Executive Officer Leonard Hernandez undertake a thorough examination of how well the various arms of the county working in concert with three state agencies met the challenges the blizzard represented. Inherent in that review is a critique of the performance of the sheriff’s department and that of Sheriff Shannon Dicus, who played a central role in the response.
Dicus is the current holder of the political scepter passed down to him as the inheritor of the Frank Bland political machine. Bland was first elected in 1954, the last sheriff of San Bernardino County to defeat a sitting sheriff seeking reelection. Bland overcame the incumbent, Gene Mueller, in that election, and in so doing established a political dynasty that has remained intact for 69 years. Bland, who began as a political reformer battling the twin evils of whorehouses where the men of the county indulged themselves sexually outside the bonds of marriage and pinball parlors where teenagers distracted themselves from their homework only to himself become entangled in connections with the prostitution industry, remained as sheriff for 28 years over seven elected terms. In 1982, he anointed Floyd Tidwell as his successor, handing off to him the political machinery he had built over the years, consisting primarily of a wealth of political donors whose generosity in terms of producing electioneering funding rendered Tidwell, like Bland before him, undefeatable. Tidwell in 1990 handed the Bland political machine, along with his endorsement, off to Dick Williams, his undersheriff, in 1990, after Tidwell, too, became personally linked with the prostitution industry through his 1982 and 1986 campaign manager, Garry Brown. In 1994, Williams opted against running for reelection, choosing to endorse Gary Penrod, who used the Bland political machine to achieve an easy victory over opponents. Penrod remained as sheriff for 11 years, resigning as sheriff and recommending that the board of supervisors, which complied, appoint Rod Hoops. Hoops, with the advantage of the backing of the Bland political machine was elected outright in 2010 and in 2011, himself resigned, installing, again with his recommendation and the complicity of the board of supervisors, his handpicked successor, John McMahon. McMahon used the Bland political machine to achieve election in 2012 and reelection in 2016 and 2020. In 2021, he resigned, at which point the board of supervisors acceded to his wish that it replace him with Dicus.
Dicus now controls both the sheriff’s department and the political machine that originated with Bland and was passed down to him through the brotherhood of the intervening last five sheriffs.
In San Bernardino County, as a consequence of the culture of what is the largest county in the lower 48 states, the general mentality of its residents, county history, the immense fundraising facility of the Bland political machine, the overriding advantage that fundraising capability confers upon the incumbent sheriff, the traditional authority of the sheriff’s position itself and the deference shown to the sheriff by virtually every other elected official within the county, the sheriff in San Bernardino County is, hands down, the most powerful and influential officeholder in the county. Every sheriff in San Bernardino County over the last four generations has been able to effectuate with a flick of his wrist what other accomplished politicians throughout the county have not been able to achieve with the application of their entire bodies and souls. No candidate for political office in San Bernardino County since Bland was in place as sheriff has achieved election in the face of the sheriff’s opposition. In the same timeframe, every candidate that has carried the sheriff’s endorsement – for municipal, state or federal office – has won.
In the aftermath of substantial delays in clearing the main highways leading into the county’s mountain communities, travel restrictions both up and down the mountain, accompanying difficulties in getting provisions up to the stores across the mountaintops from both Big Bear’s incorporated and unincorporated districts at the far east end to Lake Arrowhead to Crestline and Mt. Baldy, the failure to open the blocked larger roads that connect with those highways for several days beyond the highways at last being opened and the inability to even reach the smaller and narrower roads off the beaten track that lead to chalets, homes cabins and shacks where individuals and families were snowed in or trapped for, in some cases, more than two weeks, Rowe this week ordered an examination of the performance of county officials in coming to terms with the challenges of the blizzard.
Rowe felt a double imperative to initiate that inquiry. In January, a little more than four years after she was appointed to serve out the last two years of James Ramos’s term as Third District supervisor following his election to the California Assembly in 2018 and two years after her election to the post in her own right, Rowe was selected by her board colleagues to serve as board chairwoman, a post which traditionally carries with it responsibility beyond that of mere supervisor, making her the overseer/ombudswoman of the entire county. In addition, as of last December, following the redistricting of county that took place in 2021 as a consequence of the 2020 Census, the Third District Rowe represents underwent a border change by which it absorbed all of the San Bernardino Mountain communities, including those to the western side of the mountains, which had formerly been part of the Second District. While the Second District encompasses Mount Baldy and Wrightwood lies within the First District, the Third District communities of Crestline, Valley of Enchantment, Lake Gregory, Cedar Glen, Cedarpines Park, Blue Jay, Lake Arrowhead, Arrowbear, Running Springs, Big Bear Lake, Big Bear City, Forest Falls, Angeles Oaks, Green Valley Lake, constitute close to 90 percent of San Bernardino County’s mountain communities.
At the Tuesday, March 14 Board of Supervisors meeting, County Executive Officer Leonard Hernandez aired for the board and the public a video pertaining to the storm and encapsulating the county’s effort to respond to it.
The video featured background music that alternated between being wistful and upbeat, with what looked like overhead footage shot from a moving airplane or helicopter showing a blanket of snow over the mountainous landscape; a ribbon of cleared mountain highway surrounded by snow against the steep mountainside; snowplows, snowblowers and bulldozers being put to use in clearing out snow, boxes of supplies being offloaded from a sheriff’s department helicopter, rows of emergency dispatch personnel at their workstations before computer screens, telephones and walkie talkies; a crew of firefighters being briefed; firefighters digging vehicles out of snowbanks, packages being delivered to residents in homes nearly buried in snow along with similar scenes, together with Rowe addressing the public at a press conference in which she is heard saying, “It is our number one priority to get our residents the food, medicine and access that they need.”
Hernandez then briefed the board and the public on what had occurred and where things stood.
“A storm this widespread and this intense in the rim communities has never occurred,” Hernandez said. “The county did not have the size and scale of plows and other specialized snow removal equipment immediately on hand to quickly clear through the snow. This storm included a particularly strong band of snowfall that spanned over five days through Crestline and Lake Arrowhead. The Mt. Baldy, Wrightwood and Big Bear areas received more snow than they have seen in many years, the volumes of which stressed our response and resources to the limit. Public works and county fire received notice that the incoming storm had become a blizzard warning approximately 24 hours before it hit. Once our teams were notified, they entered a high state of readiness and began to actively monitor the storm and pre-position resources. In the hours leading up to the blizzard, the [California] Office of Emergency Services activated a stormwatch duty officer. Over the weekend, once it was realized that the snowfall was greater than anticipated, the Office of Emergency Services activated the emergency operations center. After conditions became worse and additional storms continued to hit, a unified command structure was stood up, which assures a stronger and more coordinated response to public safety needs. Represented in the unified structure were the sheriff’s department, fire department, county fire, CalFire [the California Division of Forestry], Caltrans [the California Department of Transportation], public works, public health, the American Red Cross, Southern California Edison and the California Highway Patrol, in n addition to the emergency operations center, which included the California Department of Emergency Services. Simply put, all agencies, partners and resources working in a focused partnership.”
Hernandez continued, “In addition to its highest concern, the protection of human life and safety, the priorities for the unified command included making county-maintained roads passable for first responders, ensuring the availability of food, water, medical supplies and prescriptions, assisting utility companies with access and restoring power, establishing multiple community resources, including commodity points of distribution, a prescription delivery service, a donation program, waste disposal sites. We also assisted residents in snow removal from private roads and other non-county roads. A storm this widespread and intense in the Rim Communities has never occurred. Therefore, the county did not have the size and scale of plows and other specialized removal equipment to quickly clear through the snow. “As for the band that struck the Crestline and Lake Arrowhead areas,” Hernandez continue, “we are working to understand whether adequate preparation was accomplished and if there would have been any way to ensure a smooth and quick return to normal. County leadership takes this incident very seriously and looks to learn from this experience to better understand how we can respond to future events. We recognize that this storm event has been an impact on the lives of the residents in the affected areas and believe that there are key takeaways from this situation that will be discussed and implemented for future response events.”
Hernandez said, “For now, there is still work to be done. We are assessing current conditions, looking at the continued clearing of non-county maintained roads, locating areas with high snow berms, rallying teams of volunteers to assist with digging out homes and vehicles and establishing local assistance centers, which bring key resources and agencies to our communities. I appreciate the amazingly hard work and dedication of our county staff. We believe that working together with our partners residents and volunteer groups, there is much to learn and prepare for future extreme weather emergencies.”
Rowe said, “My heart goes out to everyone in the mountain communities who has suffered and continues to suffer. I commend and appreciate everyone on the county’s team for their hard work in responding to this natural disaster. There are many who have been working around the clock in very difficult conditions. However, we clearly have people in the community who feel that the county’s response fell short. I have concerns that the county could have been more effective in some key areas. I think we have to ask questions in four key areas as we move forward. What did we do right? What can we do better? What is the institutional knowledge that we’ve learned? How do we ensure that we are prepared for the future? Mr. CEO, I’d like to direct you to lead a comprehensive examination of how the county responded to this crisis and how to respond to emergencies in general and to report back to the board and the public, no later than six months if that’s doable from your perspective, preferably sooner, the findings of a detailed and innovative plan moving forward. The county is especially prone to natural disasters, as we know from our geographic size and the difference of our geographic locations from our mountains to the desert. We regularly face wildfires and floods. We were struck by a series of earthquakes four years ago, and we will have more to come, for sure. We had to respond to the horrific terrorist attacks in the past. Now we can add blizzards to that list. There is no reason for this county to not be the best prepared in the nation and to have a response both on paper and in practice.”
Rowe said, “My deepest thanks to everyone who has been on the front lines without rest helping our mountain residents.”
Rowe’s request of Hernandez reflected the perspective of the thousands of mountain residents who in the first four or five days of the blizzard saw little in the way of governmental response to the general situation on the mountain and their plight, efforts, both successful and unsuccessful, by those acting in an official capacity to prevent individuals and groups unaffiliated with the government to provide relief, and the initial ineffectiveness of the combined governmental assistance [effort] together with delays in rendering that aid.
A huge issue was, multiple sources have told the Sentinel, the triple inability of San Bernardino County officials to first recognize the depth/scope of the problems, second that the official response at least initially was inadequate and third that private or non-governmental assistance efforts that were under way or being attempted were effective and needed to be further facilitated. This was exacerbated by San Bernardino County officials refusing early offers of mutual aid from outside governmental entities such as Los Angeles County and orders given to private charity and relief efforts to desist or stand down.
Ultimately, San Bernardino County officials, working in conjunction with the California Department of Transportation, the California Office of Emergency Services, the California National Guard and the California Highway Patrol formulated and coordinated a generally effective response, but that took more than a week and in certain locations up the mountain more than two weeks to effectuate.
According to Sheriff Shannon Dicus, he did a helicopter tour of the San Bernardino Mountains on March 2, which was fully nine days after the first storm in a series of at least six storms that ultimately manifested as a blizzard. In the intervening time, according to mountain residents and outside relief volunteers who defied the situational and meteorological challenges to place themselves on the mountain top by either flying there or using vehicles outfitted to allow them to traverse the snow and ice covered shuttered roads up the mountain, neither the sheriff’s department nor the fire department had any significant presence in the mountain communities and no program of assistance or aid ongoing at that time.
On Tuesday, February 28, volunteers with the California Disaster Air Response Team were informed of the difficulties being experienced in the San Bernardino Mountains. Of particular concern at that point was a critical shortage of medicine. Initially, the leadership of the California Disaster Air Response Team, known by its acronym CalDART, was informed that the mountain roads were to be opened shortly. Nevertheless, consideration was given toward making preparation fly in supplies, medicine and food in particular, using a seaplane that would land on Lake Arrowhead. By the next day, with donations of food and medicine accumulating in San Bernardino but no means of getting them up to those in need because the roads remained closed and no prospect of them being opened in the short term existed, the circumstance on the ground worsened with the collapse of the roof at the Goodwin & Son’s Market in Crestline, which had been a key source for food for residents on the western side of the San Bernardino Mountains who were able to walk to it. Ultimately, CalDART volunteers made a determination that they would use helicopters in the supply effort they had resolved to mount, given the continuing road closures. On March 2, following a reconnaissance flight, the California Disaster Air Response Team, after hastily arranging to have the contributed supplies massed at San Bernardino Community Hospital, initiated supply flights when a break in the storm offered sufficiently clear weather to operate. Two flights that day brought approximately one ton of cargo to the Mountains Community Hospital helipad on the mountain.
Meanwhile, in anticipation of executing a dozen or more such supply flights over the next several days as weather would permit, CalDART called upon one of its volunteer helicopter pilots, Micha Muzio, who resided in the San Bernardino Mountains and was thus familiar with the lay of the land and was thus knowledgeable about landing zones and capable of orienting out-of-the-area pilots to the mountain locations and terrain, to assist in the effort. Because the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department had imposed travel restrictions, however, Muzio was not able to come down off the mountain. Ultimately, Muzio at 3 a.m. on March 3, when he was able to get through the California Highway Patrol /sheriff’s department closure, Muzio made his way down to San Bernardino. That morning the California Disaster Aerial Response Team began what its volunteer members hoped would be an airlift effort in earnest. Because the Mountain Communities Hospital helipad was the location where other flights into the mountains – particularly those involving the belated flights of sheriff’s department helicopters – were to take place, CalDART, because it did not want to overwhelm the already swamped landing zone coordinator at Mountains Community Hospital with further complications, sought an alternative landing location, ultimately settling on using the Goodwin & Son’s Market parking lot, where a local volunteer, Zach Oliver, was on hand to provide crowd control.
A half hour past noon on March 3, however, the sheriff’s department ordered the California DART to stand down. Reports as to why that order was given were varied and contradictory. One report held that the declaration of the San Bernardino Mountains as a disaster zone resulted in an automatic suspension of flights over and to the area. Another version was that sheriff’s department officials were upset that a landing zone had been established in a town parking lot. Word spread among the hundreds of people who had come to the Goodwin’s Market parking lot, mostly by trudging several miles over the snow-covered landscape, that sheriff’s department commanders did not want their department to be upstaged by other entities in the provision of emergency services and supplies.
Many mountain residents experienced having their families separated or divided by the circumstance that grew out of the blizzard or a combination of the circumstance and restrictions imposed by the government. In hundreds of cases, individuals who were employed down the mountain and who routinely commuted to work in the morning and back home at night, found themselves trapped where they were when the roads were closed. Some workers thus were unable to return home and for days had to remain down the mountain, either overnighting at a hotel, motel or with family and friends and in other cases sleeping in their cars. Some people were unable to get down the mountain to get to work.
In multiple cases, husbands and wives were separated for days and in some cases for more than a week-and-a-half. In at least two cases, children ended up stranded at home without their parents. In one of those instances, a 12-year-old, i.e., a sixth grader, had to look after her siblings for three days before an adult made it back to the family home.
Later, after the opening of the main highways to the mountain communities but before any, many or most of the roads that lead off those main highways were cleared of snow by snowplows, some were able to make their way down into the valley below but were then unable to come back up the mountain. This led to mountain residents having to make what could be some very tough decisions. In some cases, mountain residents on the western side sojourned down on Highway 18 all the way to where the California Highway Patrol in conjunction with the sheriff had set up a barrier at Upper Old Waterman Canyon Road. Those who went south and below that barrier could drive to San Bernardino and beyond but would not be able to return north beyond the barrier. Large numbers of people elected to drive to the barrier, park off the road north of the barrier and then either walk down to a market in San Bernardino to pick up groceries and supplies or phone for family, friends or acquaintances they knew in that area to come up from or through San Bernardino to pick them up and take them to a store and then return them to the barrier. The distance from the barrier at Upper Waterman Canyon Road to the most common destination, the Stater Brothers Market on 40th Street in San Bernardino was 6.4 miles. Thus many mountain residents, to keep themselves in food and domestic supplies, needed to walk a distance of 12.8 miles, both down and up the San Bernardino Mountain foothills grade. The county did not offer a shuttle service from the barrier at the Highway 18/Upper Waterman Canyon Road junction down into San Bernardino and back.
Throughout much of their ordeal, Mountain residents found themselves coordinating their own neighborhood assistance efforts in an atmosphere that was absent any such assistance provided by the government. In the more remote areas, which county and state officials were unable to reach at all during the first week and in a majority of cases through to the end of the second week of the blizzard, elderly and less mobile residents were dependent upon their younger, more hardy, intrepid and daring neighbors who were willing to defy not only the elements but the authorities by venturing out to get supplies and return. The authorities, however, were less than fully accommodating of such efforts. In some cases, the Sentinel is told, individuals who made it to places where food was being distributed were informed that there were strict quotas on how much food they would be given. Even when those individuals told those distributing the food and supplies that they were there to pick supplies up for other households than their own, they would not be provided with anything beyond that amount in a single household quota. In multiple instances, this necessitated return trips to the points of distribution.
Unbeknownst to authorities, a relative handful of mountain residents with specially outfitted all-terrain vehicles were guardedly defying the travel restrictions placed upon the general public. Despite the road closures and barriers that were in place, some people were making trips back and forth between the mountain communities and San Bernardino, in some cases on a near daily – usually late at night or very early in the morning – basis. One such individual, who resides on the west side of the San Bernardino Mountains, was described to the Sentinel as having “a real talent for getting around things like that.” In his case, he managed to pick up food and supplies, including medicine and prescriptions, for over two dozen families/households.
Over the last two weeks, those individuals living in the mountain communities who were willing to defy the civil authorities, up to and including being arrested, to ensure that their family members and neighbors did not starve or were not forced to go without their medical prescriptions or life-sustaining provisions, even as those civil authorities were demonstrating their own inability to keeping the roads into and out of the community and lifelines they represented open, have at this point taken on the cachet of folk heroes, modern day Robin Hoods defying King John within the snow-covered confines of San Bernardino National Forest.
Logically, county officials placed a higher priority on clearing snow and ice from the major highways leading up to, between and into the mountain communities such as Highway 18, Highway 138, Highway 330 and Highway 138 and then moved onto the wider streets or roadways those Highways linked up with and then onto the narrower roads and streets that led to the more isolated, stand-alone neighborhoods. On March 3, Sheriff Dicus said, “[O]our state highways are like arteries. Then you go down to county roads, which are like veins, and you go to individual services and homes that are like capillaries. Those services and homes that people need to access are blocked by walls of snow. So, even though we’re making progress, we still have to knock down those walls, get peoples’ driveways cleared, get businesses cleared, and a number of things. We’re making huge strides in that area.”
Once things were coordinated, the county made fair progress toward opening the major highways and getting the streets and road immediately accessible to them cleared, though it areas such as Twin Peaks, Cedarpines Park, Cedar Glen and Valley of Enchantment, smaller roads are still blocked and have proven accessible only by means such as Snow Cats. In certain parts of Crestline, streets remained impassible for two solid weeks.
By the first week of March, accounts appearing in local, regional and national publications contained text or headlines suggesting that there were delays in the rendering of assistance to trapped or snowed-in residents or reports which were in some fashion critical of the quality of local government’s planning for or response to the storms. This prompted responses in which officials downplayed or denied such suggestions. Assemblyman Tom Lackey, whose district includes the San Bernardino Mountain communities, noted that the driving factor in what had occurred was the weather, which was beyond the ability of government to control. San Bernardino County Fire Chief Dan Munsey, while acknowledging that his agency and others were caught flatfooted at a certain, said no one could have anticipated that multiple weather systems stacked one upon the other would descend on the region in such short order. On March 8, Sheriff Dicus, piqued by the stinging criticism of his department and the team of the other county and state emergency responders of which he and his department were central parts, responded in an interview with the San Bernardino Sun in which he pointed out that the perception that enough wasn’t being done in reaction to the blizzard was a consequence of the consideration that his department was actively engaged in quiet but effective action rather than in a public relations gambit of flashily promoting and publicizing what it was doing and accomplishing.
“When we’re out there trying to do things, the last thing we are doing is taking pictures of us doing our job,” Dicus told Sun reporter Brian Rokos. Whatever delays that were occurring as a consequence of the persistence of ice and snow on the ground that came about as the result of sustained storm conditions, his department and the other agencies had provided, Dicus asserted to Rokos an “immediate… response… in terms of doing what’s important — protecting human life.”
In San Bernardino County, there has long been a culture and code by which criticism, valid or invalid, of the sheriff as a person and the sheriff’s department as an institution is considered heresy.
The Blizzard of ‘23 triggered a litany of such criticisms. Some of those stand as serious indictments of San Bernardino County officialdom.
Among the county’s sheriff’s deputies are ones who live in the San Bernardino Mountains. Some of those, however, expressed frustration with how the department had virtually no presence in that area during the first week of the Blizzard. When personnel in sufficient numbers reached those spots where they could do the most good, however, in many cases they lacked the equipment to be able to render the assistance they were there to provide. Twin Peaks, an unincorporated community of 2,826 people about four miles west south west from Lake Arrowhead and five miles east from Crestline, was the one location in the entirety of the county hardest hit by storm, with 786 calls for assistance, many of them desperate, having come in between February 22 and March 3. In reaction, the sheriff’s department by March 2 had temporarily transferred 15 of its personnel to Twin Peaks. Yet only one of the eight Snow Cats that were available to the sheriff’s department and fire department, was on location in Twin Peaks. Tracked vehicles that are not dependent upon wheels to motivate, Snow Cats have proven to be the one means of transportation that can function efficiently on the mountain terrain in the aftermath of the blizzard.
Three days into the blizzard, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department offered to provide 25 equipped personnel to assist with relief, supply and rescue operations. San Bernardino County turned that offer down.
As the storm conditions continued and worsened, many of those impacted residents and those informed outsiders who were on hand to see what was going on and how San Bernardino County officials were flailing in their efforts to get a grip on the situation did not remain silent.
After the Sheriff’s Department ordered the California Disaster Airlift Response Team to stand down in the very early afternoon of March 3, the stockpiles of donated food, propane and domestic supplies continued to pour into the holding place at San Bernardino Community Hospital, from which it was to be loaded into helicopters and flown to the mountaintop. But because of the stand down order, that day’s flight time, during which the clouds had thinned, making flights into Crestline and other locations would have been possible, were squandered. Mountain residents, who had previously been told that supplies were to continue to come their way via CalDART helicopters that day, found themselves waiting in vain for flights that never arrived. When those who had hiked, in many cases five, six or seven miles in the snow to Goodwin & Son’s Market with the expectation of getting rations to sustain them for several more days, were told that the sheriff’s department had ordered the discontinuation of the flights, many became livid. By late that afternoon, sheriff’s department dispatch switchboards were overloaded with calls from residents demanding explanations, accusing Dicus and his executive staff of having a laissez-faire attitude toward crucial issues of life and death and pleading for a rescission of the stand down order. Simultaneously a group of residents reached out to California Governor Gavin Newsom’s office, with some of those saying that if the declaration of the San Bernardino County Mountain Districts as a disaster area indeed carried with it an automatic and blanket suspension of civilian flights over and into the area, the governor should at once waive that provision of the declaration to allow the fights to continue.
With the convoys of trucks and other vehicles escorted by the sheriff’s department, the county fire department and the county public works department succeeding at that point of merely putting a dent into the supply deficit in the mountain communities and the affected population growing more irate by the minute, the sheriff’s department relented, allowing the CalDART to resume deliveries, pursuant to the face-saving requirements that those landings take place at the Mountain Community Hospital helipad or an alternate landing site of a field adjoining a local school under the condition that two ground observers with safety vests and radios allowing them to communicate with the pilots be present at the landing zones when the helicopters set down.
Flights resumed, such that the California Disaster Airlift Response Team had succeeded in bringing in a total of a tone-and-a-half of supplies. On March 4 and March 5. however, the weather, consisting primarily of dense clouds around the landing site, shut down the aviation operations. With the accumulation of supplies at San Bernardino Community Hospital but no immediately readable means of transporting them, CalDART’s management arranged to move the mountain relief operation base from San Bernardino Community Hospital Helipad to San Bernardino International Airport, while simultaneously seeking to recruit as many of the organization’s pilots and helicopters as were available to get the supplies to their delivery destination as rapidly as possible when the next break in the weather allowed that to take place, before any further bureaucratic obstruction to the effort could manifest.
On Tuesday, March 6, clouds on the mountains continued to limit how many flights could be made. California Disaster Airlift Team members, however, were lining up two Robinson 44, two H125 and one each 600N, 407, 145, EC125 and a 206L4 model helicopters, along with a total of ten pilots to begin a cargo transportation effort in earnest, weather permitting. Muzio gave those pilots a crash course on the landing sites, the lay of the land around them and other geographical and aeronautical peculiarities of the mountain district.
On March 7, with Ron Lovick, a retired Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department helicopter pilot, serving as the CalDART incident commander, intensive operations in the face of relatively clear skies began, with nine flights carrying 7,218 pounds of supplies that day. The next day, March 8, the California Disaster Airlift R Team conducted 13 flights, carrying roughly 7,100 pounds of cargo up to the mountaintop.
At that point, with substantial ground transportation having been reestablished and nine of the ten pilots recruited for effort and eight of the nine helicopters that were at the ready having been utilized, what had been dubbed Operation Mountain Strong was halted after a total of 37 flights carrying roughly 21,000 pounds of supplies to their destinations in the mountains.
In the same timeframe, the effort to clear the San Bernardino Mountain road system was progressing slowly, hampered by snowdrifts as high as 10 feet in some areas. Repeatedly, the depth of those drifts completely covered and obscured vehicles parked along the side of roads, and there were recurrent instances of the snowplows hitting them. For that reason and other complications narrower and less-traveled roads off the beaten track in more remote areas were not and have not yet been cleared. Additionally, roads not maintained by the county have been in virtually all cases been ignored.
With the county effort in that regard having come up short, a call went out to Dave “Heavy D” Sparks and Dave “Diesel Dave” Kiley, two of the so-called Diesel Brothers, for assistance. The Diesel Brothers are the prominent characters in an eponymous reality show that follows the activity of a group of 20-to-40 year-olds from Utah who modify, drive, operate and otherwise utilize pick-up trucks, off-road vehicles and heavy equipment. Sparks and Kiley were persuaded to bring snowplows and snowblowers to the San Bernardino Mountains to clear roads and streets in the rustic, snow-covered residential and lesser-populated areas of the district. They did, accompanied by a film crew that documented much of what they were doing. In the course of their filming, they made inroads on the problems local mountain residents were facing.
There were reports that some San Bernardino officials, including those in both the sheriff’s department and the fire department, were not, exactly, overjoyed at the presence of the Diesel Brothers in the San Bernardino Mountains. This discomfiture was based less upon concern that they might interfere with the county and state road clearing effort than upon the prospect that the reality show performers would steal the glory from the county and state government effort to alleviate the problem with impassible roads. Though the sheriff’s department could have used its authority to prevent the Diesel Brothers from engaging in the activity it did by ordering to desist because of potential interference with the county emergency response effort, it reportedly elected not to do so for four reasons. The first was that the entertainers might actually prove effective at clearing several of the roads in the area. The second was that the department did not want to risk the negative publicity that shutting down a television crew with a national following might generate. The third was that doing so might draw attention to the previous decision, in the initial days of the blizzard, to turn down the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s offer of assistance. The fourth was that it was Rowe who had invited the Diesel Brothers to work their magic on the mountaintop.
“I was responsible for getting Heavy D Sparks and the Diesel Brothers out when we realized that the snow volume was greater than anything we had equipment for,” Rowe said at the March 14 board of supervisors meeting. “Heavy D and the Diesel Brothers, who live in the Utah area, had equipment that was specialized for those large snow responses and they mobilized within hours and came down. Our incident commander, Chief Munsey, was able to inject them into the team and have them help our residents.”
It is not altogether clear whether Rowe recognized the full implication of, first, her action in bringing the Diesel Brothers in to undertake an assignment normally left to the county’s traditional team of public safety/public service/public works functionaries, which includes the sheriff as a key, indeed the primary, member nor of her call for Hernandez to carry out a review of the performance of that same team of functionaries. What is clear is that by her action, Rowe has created a degree of tension between the board of supervisors, the body which is by the terms of the county charter the dominant political entity within the county governmental hierarchy, and the sheriff, who in reality is practically, historically and by tradition the dominant political entity within the county governmental hierarchy, not seen for nearly two decades.
Certainly, the challenge to Sheriff Dicus’s implicit authority issued by Rowe with her call on Tuesday for an investigation of the performance of the county’s first responders is not as pointed nor direct as the challenge the entire board of supervisors issued to then-Sheriff Gary Penrod in 2002. Nevertheless, she has crossed a line whereby she has asserted her authority – and by extension the authority of the entire board of supervisors – as being co-equal to or perhaps even exceeding that of Dicus.
The board of supervisors’ 2002 challenge of Penrod – and that of the office of sheriff, generally – did not end particularly well for the supervisors. It is yet to be seen how much damage might be visited upon Rowe and her board colleagues over what she touched off this week.
In July 2002, the board of supervisors – then composed of Bill Postmus, Jon Mikels, Dennis Hansberger, Fred Aguiar and Jerry Eaves – adopted an ordinance empowering itself, as a body, to reprimand and remove all county officers, including the county treasurer, county assessor, the district attorney and the sheriff. The ordinance gave the board the authority to reprimand and, pursuant to a four-fifths or unanimous vote of all five of its members, to remove from office any elected county official other than a supervisor for a stated cause upon first providing the officeholder to be removed a written statement of the alleged grounds for such removal, and giving the official a reasonable opportunity to be heard in the way of explanation or defense of that action or actions.
Penrod, as the sheriff, filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of the ordinance and seeking an injunction against its enforcement. After the San Bernardino County Superior Court granted a preliminary injunction against the ordinance as it was drafted, the board of supervisors adopted a redrafted ordinance which omitted the reprimand provision but retained the removal provision, adding language to clarify that the ordinance could not be applied to interfere with the independent and constitutional and statutory investigative and prosecutorial functions of the sheriff and the district attorney.
After Penrod filed a first amended complaint in June 2003, the granted the county board of supervisors’ motion for summary judgment, finding the removal provision to be constitutional and valid. Penrod appealed that decision, but the California, Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division Two in Riverside in 2005 upheld the lower court decision that the ordinance was constitutional and valid.
While the board of supervisors prevailed with regard to sustaining the ordinance, it paid a rather steep political price.
Less than a year after the ordinance was passed, Mikels was voted out of office, replaced by Paul Biane. That was the end of Mikels’ political career.
In 2003, for reasons unrelated to the ordinance, Aguiar left the board of supervisors to go to work in the governor’s office. He was replaced by his wife, who voted as supervisor to seek to continue to defend against Penrod’s lawsuit and sustain the ordinance. She did not seek to remain in office in the following year’s election. From that point forward, the Aguiars have found themselves out of elective politics.
In 2004, Eaves, despite being one of Penrod’s political allies, was convicted of violating state conflict of interest laws and resigned from office. That ended his political career.
While Hansberger survived the 2004 election, in 2008 he was voted out of office.
In 2009, Postmus, who had left the board of supervisors to successfully seek the position of county assessor in 2006, was forced to resign from office. That was the end of his political career. He was charged criminally with regard to his action in office while assessor in 2009 and in 2010 was charged with crimes relating to his time in office while supervisor. In 2011, he was convicted on 14 felony counts.
In 2010, Biane, who upon being elected to the board of supervisors in 2002 had supported the county’s defense against Penrod’s suit and the effort to sustain the ordinance giving the board of supervisors the authority to remove the sheriff from office, was voted out of office. That was the end of his political career. In 2011 he was indicted. He went to trial on the political corruption charges that had been lodged against him in the 2011 indictment and was, after a nearly eight-months-long trial, acquitted.
On Tuesday, both Supervisor Joe Baca Jr. and Supervisor Curt Hagman sought to signal, subtly, there disavowal of the action Rowe had taken in ordering Hernandez to carry out the inquiry into the county’s handling of the Blizzard response.
The call for the examination was not made on a vote of the entire board but was rather ordered up by Rowe pursuant to her authority as board chairman. The prospect of the entire board endorsing an investigation into the performance of the county’s public safety divisions, in particular the sheriff’s department, would appear doubtful.
Baca tried to be diplomatic about it.
“I want to thank Madam Chair Rowe for her leadership on the response to the mountain community,” he said, avoiding saying anything which might be construed as support for the inquiry she had called for. He then emphasized his belief that the county’s response to the mountain blizzard was more than adequate.
“We’ve done a great job, and all of our team members have done a great job,” he said. “Number one has been safety of the residents, making sure our mountain residents are safe. I know it was a very challenging, a very trying, time for many people. I want to thank those for their patience. I saw our staff committed. They were boxing dry goods for our residents. They were working frantically to make sure our residents were taken care of. I just want to thank all our employees for the County of San Bernardino, their commitment and dedication in the public service to all of our residents. They did a great job.”
Hagman said he had personally witnessed “both our administrative and public safety teams, so many different agencies that came out, the mutual aid system, Chief Munsey, Sheriff Dicus and other departments were a part of making sure that every resource that we had [and] were requesting and other things to get up the mountain to work this once-in-the-history type of event. A lot of people are praising the county — and they should — and a lot of people are second-guessing a lot of things, but to respond to a natural disaster like the way our team did, it just makes us proud that we are doing everything.”
Hagman credited the county’s public safety employees with working “a hundred hours a week. I’m just very proud of the response. Each time there’s a new disaster about this county we rise to the occasion and take care of it as best we can.”
The Sentinel sought to engage with Sheriff Dicus with regard to the perception that the county’s public safety divisions, first responders and those involved in assisting the mountain community residents in the face of the blizzard had failed to coordinate adequately and in a timely manner with the myriad volunteers who had offered their assistance.
Mara Rodriguez, the sheriff’s department’s public information officer told the Sentinel, “The Sheriff is not available. However, I can provide you some information about the efforts by the volunteer group to provide food and supplies during the storm. The group was very successful in getting supplies together to aid those in the mountain communities during the February/March storm. The initial issue was a helicopter was attempting to land at a location that was already in use for other public aid. The sheriff’s department aided in securing a safe and workable landing area at a mountain hospital so that the supplies could be utilized by those on the mountain. Also, an additional landing point was secured for additional supplies to be brought in, this time at a school field. The efforts and supplies from these volunteers were not denied. We recognize the importance of community members helping community members and appreciate all the efforts made.”
Garcia Looking To Succeed Gomez Reyes In The 50th Assembly District
Robert Garcia, a member of the Etiwanda School District Board of Trustees since 2016 and a Democrat, is hoping to capitalize on his political experience thus far and his party affiliation to succeed Eloise Gómez Reyes in representing the 50th Assembly District.
Gómez Reyes, the current majority leader in the Assembly, has revealed her intention to run for the newly-drawn State Senate 29th District in 2024.
My announcing his candidacy for Assembly early, Garcia hopes to get a jump on others who are likewise interest in the Assembly post. Reconstituted with the reapportionment in 2021 that followed the 2020 Census, the 50th Assembly District is comprised by all or portions of Fontana, Bloomington, Colton, Loma Linda, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, Rialto, and San Bernardino.
Voter registration in the 50th is highly favorable toward the Democrats. Of the district’s 251,997 registered voters, 116,615 or 46.3 percent affiliate with the Democratic Party. The 59,850 or 23.8 percent who are registered Republicans are not that much more numerous than the 56,240 or 22.3 percent who have no party affiliation. The remaining 7.6 percent of the voters in the district identify as members of the Libertarian, Peace & Freedom, American Independent, Green or other more obscure parties.
Garcia and others believe that the real race in the 50th in 2024 will be between the Democrats who will need to battle it out in the March primary to achieve the honor of vying against what is likely to be a Republican in the Novmeber general election.
On his website, Garcia celebrates himself as the sort of candidate who will appeal to mainstream Democrats.
“Robert is a son of immigrants, educator, and public servant who has spent his life making excellence in education his mission,” the website states. “His biggest influences have been his parents, who instilled a work ethic to excel in school and in life. Born to his mother, age 17, and his father who was denied an education past third grade, he thrived because of the sacrifices his working-class parents made to prioritize education. At 17, Robert became the first in his family to graduate high school. Robert continued his education earning his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and master’s degree in public policy from the University of Southern California. Having volunteered to mentor high school students from schools in Los Angeles challenged with low educational outcomes, he was driven to become a teacher. In his 20 years as an educator, as a math and science classroom teacher and current school administrator, he has led schools through transformational change and success.”
According to the website, “Robert is passionate about education and its role in strengthening communities. It is for that reason that Robert was drawn to serve. Robert is running for State Assembly to continue his mission for excellence, prioritizing the needs of all in the Inland Empire. He will fight to ensure safe neighborhoods, fully fund our schools, invest in homelessness reduction, create good-paying job opportunities while building a sustainable economy, and supporting our small businesses across the Inland Empire.”
Garcia and his wife, Samantha, live in Rancho Cuamonga with their three children.
“I look forward to joining the State Assembly and bringing critical resources to ensure safe neighborhoods, fully fund our schools, invest in homelessness reduction, create good-paying job opportunities while building a sustainable economy, and supporting our small businesses across the Inland Empire,” Garcia said.
While Garcia has moved quickly to pick up the endorsements of several local Democratic officeholders, such as San Bernardino County Supervisor Joe Baca Jr., Fontana City Councilman Jesse Sandoval, Fontana Unified School District Board Member Mary Sandoval and San Bernardino County School Boardmember Laura Abernathy Mancha, he has yet to get the key support of Gómez Reyes, who is more experienced in the cutthroat world of politics and is sizing up who will be in the field to succeed her before she enters into an affiliation with Garcia when it may be more beneficial to her political prospects for her to enter into an alliance with someone who might run against Garcia.
Garcia, throwing caution to the wind, is proceeding as if he believes that affiliating with Gómez Reyes is in his absolute best interest.
“I am grateful for Majority Leader Reyes’ leadership and look forward to working together to represent our community,” he said.
County Planning Commission Consigns Flamingo Heights Camping Resort To Limbo
The San Bernardino County Planning Commission on March 9 considered but failed to reach a decision on and therefore passively denied a camping resort project proposed on raw land in Flamingo Heights area near Landers by a Los Angeles-based real estate speculation outfit.
The RoBott Land Company, which is headquartered on Wilshire Boulevard and since 2011 has pursued mostly small-scale development efforts primarily on limited acreage contained on larger expanses of inexpensive desert land as part of a business model intended to escalate the value of the property it has invested in, sought clearance to construct a 75-site campground on 25 of the acres of the 640 acres it has tied on the east side of Old Woman Springs Road, south of the extension of Luna Vista Lane.
The overall reaction of the four planning commissioners who were present for the hearing on the project was hard to read. To some it appeared that at least two and perhaps three and all four of the commissioners present were taken aback by the too-enthusiastic advocacy of the project by the county planning division employee who had been assigned to evaluate it.
After a 2 hour 52 minute and 16 second hearing, none of the commissioners was willing to make a motion to either approve or deny the project, leaving the project in limbo and thus denied by default.
At the hearing the proposed project, which lies not to distant from what had been Count Basie’s desert getaway home, was previewed to the commission and the public by Jim Morrissey, the San Bernardino County Department of Land Use Services employee who served as the planner on the project.
Morrisey said that RoBott was seeking a conditional use permit for 75 camp sites, which he said were to consist of camping lofts, camping tents and chalets. The tents were defined as yurt style and teepee-models. RoBott also intended to construct, all within 25 acres on the land, a store that I to also serve as a reception center, a 10,000 square-foot restaurant, a bar, what was described as an “art barn,” workshops, a pool and patio, a yoga deck, fire pits and a heli-pad intended primarily for emergency use.
Initially, RoBott proposed an amphitheater, which was to serve as a musical performance venue encompassing 90 acres. The company withdrew that proposal. Additionally, the company had apparently initially intended the site and its amenities – the store, restaurant, bar, art barn, workshop and yoga facility – to be open to the general public. It was indicated, however, that only those who have reservations at the campground resort will be able to frequent those commercial elements of the project.
The lion’s share of the 640 acres, Morrissey said, including Pipes Wash and the flat land to the north of the campground will not be used. Access to the site will be made from Old Woman Springs Road, which is also known as State Highway 247.
According to Morrissey, off-road vehicle use, sport utility vehicles, all terrain vehicles, motorcycles, dirt bikes, bicycles and scooters will not be permitted at the campground or the area around it. The campground resort will have no accommodations for equestrian activities, he said. Travel trailers, motor home or campers are not to be allowed on the site. Cars will be kept in a separate parking lot away from he campground, where vehicles will be permitted only long enough for campers to unload camping equipment from them. Harvesting of native plants by resort guests will not be allowed, Morrissey said.
The environmental certification of the project is to be done through a mitigated negative declaration prepared for the planning commission, Morrissey said. The initial study for that mitigated negative declaration, which is an assurance to be signed off on by the planning commission that any adverse impacts from the project will be mitigated by the conditions of approval to be imposed by the commission on the developer, included taking into consideration light pollution, scenic resources and vistas, air quality, biological and cultural resources, noise pollution, public services, traffic and trip generation, wastewater and solid waste generated by resort guests and employees, wildfire hazards. The mitigated negative declaration and a more in-depth environmental impact report is not needed, Morrissey said. The campground is located 900 feet from the highway, he said.
Morrissey said there were 2,734 Joshua Trees located on the 640 acres, 43 of which will be uprooted and replanted in conformance with regulations, which include obtaining a permit to replant each of them.
Past biological resource assessment indicated that desert tortoise did live on the site but more recent studies turned up no evidence that the reptiles are presently on the property, Morrissey said.
In recommending that the planning commission give the project go-ahead, Morrissey said, a campground resort will wreak substantially less ecological havoc on the area than would housing.
The property is currently zoned for rural living, with one unit per acre permitted on the land.
“If you think about it from that item alone,” said Morrisey, “the amount of emissions for air quality, the amount of water used is tremendously less than what you would do in a residential development.”
In many categories, Morrissey said, the intensity of use would be greater if the property were to be developed residentially. He said there would be about 2/7s of the traffic impact if the project were developed as a camping resort rather than as homes. He said that there would be an 11 p.m. curfew on the camps’ fire pits.
Morrissey indicated that the intensity of land use at the camp resort did not merit the most exacting form of environmental certification of a full-blown environmental impact report. Instead, he said, a certified negative declaration would suffice.
“We did not feel it was necessary, based upon really the threshold of the project,” Morrissey said. “It’s a 640 acre site. A minimal amount of the site is being used and its being used for 75 campsites. The threshold for a traffic study was not reached. We did did not believe the think that the effect of the project would be significant enough to rise ta level that an EIR [environmental impact report] would be required. The significant amount of environmental review s covered by a negative declaration or mitigated negative declaration process.”
Morrissey’s recommendation to the planning commission was that it adopt the mitigated negative declaration and mitigation monitoring program, adopt the recommended finding of approval for the project and sign off on a conditional use permit for the camp resort.
RoBott was represented by Nancy Ferguson.
While Ferguson described the project as matching in most respects what Morrissey had laid out, there was a significant difference in the number of Joshua tree located on the property.
According to Ferguson there are “2,700 Joshua trees” on the land to be impacted by the development, which said was “just a partial count” when the 640 acres was considered. She said there were “at least double that number.”
It was not clear from either Ferguson’s statements or Morrissey’s the acreage involved in making the Joshua Tree counts.
Ferguson described the project as consisting of a reception and camp store, restrooms, fire pits, a pool with a patio workshops, an art barn.”
She said the camp resort would “not be open to the public.”
She said a large portion of the 640 acres involved Pipes Canyon but that the resort itself would not be located on Pieps Was or the east side of the wash.
“We understand that desert tortoise are common in the area. We’ll believe it when the residents show us picture of desert tortoise that they’ve seen. [In] the biological resources report that they refer to that from 2006 that was done by Circle Mountain, they found a number desert tortoise on site. However, that was 14 years ago. Tortoise move. Things happen. There was a long drought. Our biologists surveyed the entire site under the protocols established by Fish & Wildlife and they did not find signs of tortoise. That does not mean that tortoise are not there.”
“We think that the noise associated with the project will be minimal,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson the construction workers on the project will be sensitive to the ecology of the site and will not harm it.
“The construction workers before they even start will have a pretty good idea of how to act and what to do and stay away and what to fence off,” she said.
Because of Commission Chairman Jonathan Welty’s inexact pronunciation of the names of those speaking before the commission, the Sentinel’s spellings of those offering comment are the best phonetic approximations that could be made and therefore may be inaccurate.
Justin Merino, the president of the Homestead Valley Community Council said, “The MND [mitigated negative declaration] reads as if its conclusions were reached before the studies were even conducted, almost like it was written by the developer, not the planner. When the initial study was released, the Homestead Valley Community Council commented that it was insufficient, as the project site sits in the middle of a BLM [Bureau of Land Management] area of critical environmental concern. When the MND draft was published, it still did not address that the project was inside an area of critical environmental concern, which we noted again. That prompted a response from the planner via Supervisor Dawn Rowe. Quote, Pipes Canyon was not listed on the BLM’s website under the current list of areas of critical environmental concern, end quote. This is obviously categorically false Therefor the Homestead Valley Community Council doesn’t feel that the documents you have in front of you right now justify approval for the CUP [conditional use permit]. They do not address the potential concerns that a thorough analysis of the ACEC [area of critical environmental concern] might have brought to light. We wonder what else might be missing.”
Merino said, “We have been championing with Land Use Services and Supervisor Rowe a review of rural living zoning allowable uses, including campgrounds. Progress has been made and a consensus seems to exist on all sides that resort camping was never the vision of campgrounds and furthermore should not be included in the rural living allowable uses.”
Carolyn Portamian told the commission that “RoBott Land’s traffic assessment was inaccurate. We want a full EIR [environmental impact report] and traffic study. This project does not belong in a rural living environment.”
Demetrius Drafamatos stated, “This is not an insignificant development. There are a lot of significant impacts to consider Even though the developer has agreed not to develop the portion of the parcel that contains the wash itself, it is not clear that developing the land immediately adjacent to it will not have significant unmitagated impacts to the area.”
Drafamatos reference combustible vegetation that exists on the project site and that it would be cleared to a distance of 100 feet around the structures to be constructed. This he said would leave “dust and erosion” in its wake.
Drafamatos accused RoBott of “overreach. The developer seems to be trying to see what he can get away with. A bar, a restaurant and other amenities that have no business in a residential neighborhood, let alone adjacent to an area designated as an area of critical environmental concern.”
Janice Rivera told the commission, “The developer is greatly misleading you in terms of the scope of this huge and dangerous project. Where they want to develop is basically this narrow plot of land right off this really dangerous freeway. It’s a beautiful area. We moved there for this reason.”
Pio Headstrom said, “The developers have deliberately falsified the amount of added traffic, pulling numbers like 60 morning trips and 200 evening trips.”
Focusing on the claim that “Guests would not be entering and exiting the site daily,”
Headstrom pointed out, however that “On the developer’s website they are selling the project as follows: ‘The subject property is in close proximity within a 15 minute drive to Pappy & Harriet’s, Pioneer Town, Joshua Tree downtown and the Joshua Tree National] park entrance and Giant Rock.’ One of the big selling points is that the guests can go back and forth from these attractions and restaurants. Why would they stay in their so-called tents when there is s big show at legendary Pappy & Harriet’s around the corner?”
Headstrom said the camping resort would generate “500 to 700 trips per day, not 60, 20 or the conservative amount of 200 that they claim.”
Aiden Koch said the project will intrude into the remoteness and natural beauty of the area and “drastically disrupt the sense of rural living” that the district now enjoys.
Amy Keeler noted that the desert tortoise population has declined 50 percent since 2004 and that the species is “on a path for extinction.”
Cordelia Reynolds, noting the bar, restaurant, workshops swimming pool and patio features of the development said, “To call this development a campground is a gross and bold lie. Glamping [camping in glamourous surroundings] is not camping.” She said the project was meant “not as a campground” but as “a destination resort.”
Kelly Herbinson with the Mojave Desert Land Trust, said the project land exists as a “habitat for wildlife” and a “wildlife corridor.”
Erin Shelley said the project would increase the raven population of the area and increase traffic along Highway 247 while damaging the wildlife corridor that runs across the property.
She said “much more thorough environmental impact studies of all of the areas this project will affect is needed” and noted that comments on the project were missing from the exhibits submitted as part of the initial study for the mitigated negative declaration.
Cookie Philsborough told the commission that “citizens have felt dismissed dismissed” by the county’s decisionmakers “in favor of money, privilege and power entities.” She implied the same thing was occurring with the project under consideration.
Alex Valdivia said “It’s very rare for a Joshua tree that is uprooted and replanted to survive.”
Marina Wagner told the commission that the “Calfifornia [Department of] Fish and Wildlife recommended that the entire site be inventoried by a qualified biologist. I feel that it is premature to approve this project without a full inventory, an assessment of the full tree protection plan and that this must be completed now before the project could be approved.”
Alan Songer said, “The permanent structures being built on this site dwarf even the largest commercial structures of their kind in Yucca Valley, a town of 25,000 people. The bar, [at] 5,500 square feet, will be four times the size of the largest bar in Yucca Valley. This is to serve 75 camping sites? I don’t think so. The restaurant, the 10,000 square foot restaurant, is double the size of the largest restaurant in Yucca Valley. If you have a resort with those sort of facilities available, it is really more of an event center than a hotel or a resort. This is not what should be approved on rural living spaces.”
Russ Cohen said, “All I m asking is that you abide by your own county policy plan [and] the Homestead Valley Community Action Guide.”
Carrie Alie said, “What’s missing in the condition of approval for this project is a requirement that the majority of the revenue from this ‘campground’ is from lodging.”
Steve Bardwell, the president of the Morongo Basin Conservation Association, said his organization “rejects the findings of this proposed mitigated negative determination. The initial study describing this project as a campground is false and incorrect. The project must be analyzed as what it is: a resort hotel. The mitigated negative declaration is wholly inadequate in addressing the following as well as other issues: -The potential adverse effects on wildlife and habitat fragmentation in proximity to wildlife corridors. -There is no mention of the Pipes Canyon area of critical environmental concern within the mitigated negative declaration. -The destruction of Joshua tree woodland habitat must be studied and evaluated with the ongoing cumulative loss of habitat contributing to species extinction. -Significant impacts on scenic vistas. -The introduction of artificial light sources within a relatively dark area. The creation of excessive noise sources within an otherwise quiet area. -Air quality issues related to vehicle traffic, use of campfires and the potential for wildfires initiated from the site. -The potential for adverse effects on water wells, drainages and blue line water courses. -The impact of additional traffic on Highway 247.”
Peter Spur said the county needed to do a full environmental impact report rather than accepting a mitigated negative declaration with regard to the project. Doing so, he said, amounted to being “hopelessly irresponsible and poor public policy.”
Claudia Soll said the project “will preclude a more needed use for affordable housing.”
David Lamb said he was probably “one of the only people in favor of this project. His support, he said, was conditional upon the developer putting in a traffic light and high speed ramps for those getting onto and off of Highway 247. He said he was concerned that people would go to the campground to live.”
Claire Wadsworth she said she was concerned about fire hazards and traffic hazards that would result from the completed project.
Jake Ireland said the property on which the project is to be located is “zoned rural living for a reason, not commercial for a reason. Respect that.”
Olivia Stroud said the inclusion of a music venue in the previous version of the plan led her to the conclusion that the stated intent to limit development on the entire 640 acres to 25 acres was not sincere.
David Scott said the heavy wind in the area would ruin the campground’s tents and destroy the viability of the campground as a business.
Welty, as chairman, offered Ferguson and a biolgoical issues consultant working on behalf of RoBott an opportunity to refute the assertions in the statements of opposition to the project.
“Our initial project proposal in our pre-application and throughout the conditional use application and even today described this as a a campground that also had resort amenities,” said Ferguson. “That’s why the project description in your staff report describes this as a resort. But it is also described as a campground. We discussed this with your project planner early on and it does qualify to be called a campground. That is why we moved forward with the project. We have campsites. We understand the wind. We understand how people should act in a campsite. We expect through the operator’s conditions of approval – and people that would be there – people are going out to the desert to come to this place. I honestly believe it would not be their intent to come live off the desert We’re not going to allow all terrain vehicles. These are people that are going to come and they’re going to relax or they’re going to hike or they’re going to go to the park or they’re going to go to downtown shopping. We do believe the management intends to make sure that happens. There’s not going to be wild parties. There’s not going to be excessive noise. That was the major we reason we had originally talked about having the festival and then deleted it from the project site. We deleted the festival and also the 90-acre parking lot, which reduced the effects on Joshua trees significantly.”
Dr. Tom McGill of Element Environmental Consulting, who was retained by RoBott Land Company, said that while there is a wildlife corridor in Pipes Canyon, “Animals may come up on the hillside and go back down, but it’s a fairly small area out of hundreds and hundreds of acres set aside for the corridor. I don’t see it having any kind of really significant impact. Animals will continue to move through, bypass. They’ll go down through the corridor, go through the area. There’s a lot of housing and development actually west of the road through there. That creates more of an impediment than this development here would for movement of wildlife through the area. There’s some desert tortoise and kind of a limited desert tortoise populated in this area as opposed to say the upper Mojave Desert, but there’s an entire system in place with Fish & Game and with Fish & Wildlife for addressing that issue. Those agencies will dictate what should be done.”
Weldy said the commission would not focus on whether the project would be successful commercially but whether it was a compatible land use in the area.
Weldy presented an argument for allowing the project to proceed. After confirming from staff that 82 houses could be built on the property in question, he said, “Eighty-two houses and the number of trips impacting 24/7, 82 houses impact to the environment, 82 houses as far as the footprint of people and what happens on residential lots is considerably more devastating to than the 25 or 40 acres that we’re talking about.”
Weldy said that those opposed to the project had not done anything to end the off-road and all terrain vehicle use in Pipes Canyon, and that the project proponents had committed to doing so, though he expressed doubt they would be able to actually that goal.
Commissioner Matthew Slowik appeared relatively favorably disposed toward the project.
Commissioner Melissa Demirci made no substantive statement.
Michael Stoffel was relatively non-commital as well.
Commissioner Kareem Gongora was not present.
Weldy said, “There is clearly energy on both sides. Regardless of how this turns out, I want to remind everyone that we serve at the pleasure of the board of supervisors. So, if you don’t like the decision we come up with, it’s appealable. You can take it to the board and they will make the final decision.”
Weldy then said, “I’m looking for some action on this to move forward or move against.”
Despite the tone of their comments, by which they came across as being more likely to support the project than oppose it, neither Weldy nor Slowik made any motions with regard to accepting Morrissey’s recommendation of approval. Neither Demici nor Stoffel leapt into the breach.
“In the absence of any action, this will die,” Weldy said. “This will be disapproved. Any action?”
There was silence from the rest of the commission present.
“I don’t know the statute of limitations here, but my sense is we are not of one mind to move forward in this,” Weldy said.
Deputy County Counsel Jason said, “Failure to act would be considered a denial,” and said either those in favor or against the project could make an appeal to the county board of supervisors over the lack of action.
“I feel that we are sort of derelict if we don’t make a decision,” said Weldy. “On the other hand, I don’t want to prejudice it either. So, I’m inclined to let it stand as it is. I am going to ask one more time if there is a motion from the planning commission. If there isn’t a motion from the planning commission, then this will be denied and you will have an opportunity to take another run at it, if you choose to, to rethink this project or to head in another direction if that’s the case. So, do I have any motion from the planning commission?”
There was no response.
“I have no motion from the planning commission,” Weldy said. “This is deemed denied as it stands, without prejudice. Fair enough.”
Word has reached the Sentinel that the RoBott Land Company has asked the board of supervisors to consider its appeal of the planning commission’s passive denial.
Body Cameras On Order For Roughly 1,350 Of San Bernardino County’s 2,007 Sheriff’s Deputies
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has signed off on spending $312,267 this year to initiate a program to equip roughly two-thirds of the sheriff’s department’s 2,007 deputies with bodyworn cameras.
That expenditure represents a commitment to outfit all of the department’s deputies with the video devices and cover the cost of storing and retrieving the data captured by them for approximately three-and-a-half months.
According to information available to the Sentinel, the county is to pay $399 to Scottsdale, Arizona based Axon Enterprises, Incorporated for each camera along with a $79 per month fee for unlimited data storage and retrieval from each device.
The cameras will be worn by all of the department’s deputies and detectives. It has not been determined yet whether the department’s sergeants and lieutenants will also routinely sport the devices. The concept, the Sentinel was informed, is to have all department personnel who interact with citizens in the field on a routine or daily basis to be required to wear them. The department’s captains, while occasionally coming in contact with residents and commonplace citizens are not in the field on a constant basis and spend far more of their time in indoor settings at department facilities. Sergeants and lieutenants divide their time, in most circumstances, between office work and field work, and generally do not involve themselves in activity in which controversy over citizen contact has played out, although there are exceptions.
A substantial number of other departments in San Bernardino County and Southern California have adopted body cameras into the daily patrol lives of their street and field officers. The sheriff’s department is profiting by the experience of other agencies, county officials maintain.
Additionally, in 2018, the department initiated a pilot program/experiment in which a limited number of deputies were outfitted with body cameras. The deputies and their superiors reported no problems with the program on their end, although there were what were termed “technological issues” that made the operation of the cameras unreliable in certain circumstances or areas of the 20,105 square-mile county.
A timeline for getting the equipment has not been announced, though officials said there are no restrictions on the initiation of the program on the department’s side, and delivery of the product from Axon is the major factor in when the program will be in full swing. It is thought that substantial numbers of deputies working the streets will have them by August or September, and that after those working in the field have been completely outfitted by late October or early November, deputies working in the county’s detention facilities in Rancho Cucamonga, Glen Helen, San Bernardino and Adelanto will be equipped next, to be followed by the department’s detectives.
In the latter case, the cameras are considered to be less of a monitor of officer-citizen interaction and more of an investigative tool, one which will capture the answers and body language of subjects and suspects interviewed during the course of investigations.
It is not crucial or even desirable that some department members wear the cameras, according to the department.
Under the arrangement approved by the county board of supervisors on February 28, the county is to fork over to Axon $6,561,335 for a five-year purchase and service arrangement. At $399 each, 2,007 cameras will cost $800,793. Thereafter, the county will pay $79 per month for the unlimited data storage and retrieval from each camera, a total of $158,553 monthly or $1,902,636 annually.
It appears that only a handful of the department’s personnel will be outfitted with the cameras by the end of the current fiscal year. Thus, for most of the current 2022-23 fiscal year, the cameras will not have been in use by the department’s members in any real sense. Use of the cameras will begin in earnest during the first half of the 2023-24 fiscal year.
Thus, it would appear, based upon the $1,312,267 per year contract for a total amount not to exceed $6,561,335 for the period of March 1, 2023 through February 29, 2028 and the Sentinel’s unconfirmed calculations, that the approximate four-and-one-half year program costing $6,561,335 will entail 1,350 of the department’s personnel being outfitted with cameras.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is the sixth largest law enforcement agency in the state, with its ranks outnumbered only by those of the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the San Francisco Police Department and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. The per item price it obtained on the cameras and the data storage and retrieval rates were no better than those paid by departments one-fifth its size.
The contract approved by the supervisors contains an option to extend the contract for one additional two-year period, or two additional one-year periods.
Among some knowledgeable about the program, there was concern akin to befuddlement at the price the county was willing to pay for the devices and what was perceived as a lack of will on the part of the sheriff’s department, the county purchasing division, the county executive office and the board of supervisors to ensure that the county achieved the most economical deal based upon economies of scale in dealing with Axon.
Oftentimes, the Sentinel was told, there are hidden springbacks or kickbacks layered into or buried within large government contracts, but that those generally run to no more than $100,000, primarily because those benefiting from them do not want to get caught. In this case, the Sentinel was told, the arrangement represents a loss to the county of well over a million dollars, as the county should have been able to work out an arrangement by which Axon sold enough cameras to the department to outfit all 2,007 of the department’s sworn officers, including Dicus, the undersheriff, all three assistant sheriffs, all seven deputy chiefs, its captains, lieutenants, sergeants, detectives, corporals and deputies and provide the data storage and retrieval on all of those devices for the stated five years for the quoted price of $6,561,335. This would suggest, the one-time purchasing official said, that the springbacks extended to more than one individual.
Those involved with the contract were Deputy County Counsel Richard D. Luczak, Purchasing Department Lead Buyer Michael Candelaria, Risk Management Director Victor Tordesillas, San Bernardino County Deputy Chief Controller Vanessa Doyle, Administrative Analyst Erika Rodarte, Deputy Executive Chief County Finance and Administration Officer Robert Saldana and Sheriff’s Bureau of Administration Chief Deputy Director Kelly Welty.
State Supreme Court Represents A Bulwark Against Housing Density
A fight over the principle of local land use control playing out 427 miles from the San Bernardino County seat carries with it the potential that Sacramento will no longer be able to mandate that local jurisdictions accommodate ever denser and denser residential development contrary to the wishes of the officials and citizens who must live with the consequences of that accelerated construction.
Traditionally in California, as virtually everywhere else in the United States, control over construction and development has been vested with local government. The state has building and safety standards which are enforced by both local and state authorities, while planning processes take place generally in California at the municipal and county levels, with the federal and state governments having qualified autonomy on development issues on state-owned and federal-owned land. Land use authority falls within the purview of county government in the unincorporated county areas outside the jurisdictions of towns and cities. Within city/incorporated town limits, that control is exercised by the cities and towns themselves. At the county level, the ultimate land use authority is the board of supervisors and in cities and towns the city or town councils, although at their discretion those panels can delegate to their respective planning commissions the authority to grant a project applicant an entitlement to build.
Under this arrangement, theoretically and for the most part practically, through their elected leadership local residents had some level of control with regard to the tenor of development, its intensity, its quality, its mix, its character and nature, and its density.
In recent years, the cost of housing in California has escalated dramatically beyond what was already a significant inflationary scale. At the same time, the incidence of homelessness has increased. This has prompted state elected and staff officials to seek to induce more and intensified home building.
In California over the past nine years, policies pushed by both immediate past Governor Jerry Brown and his administration as well as that of current Governor Gavin Newsom, abetted by the super-majority Democratic legislature, have been exceptionally accommodating of the development industry as part of intensified efforts at solving what has been declared to be a housing crisis.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development has pushed for local jurisdictions to adhere to the developmental mandates derived through an assessment of a survey of housing needs carried out throughout the state. Collated into a document given the title Regional Housing Needs Allocation, those figures provide the basis of the mandates that state officials impose on all jurisdictions, including cities and unincorporated county areas in California, demands that those entities include in their general plans and zoning codes an accommodation of the number of dwelling units specified in the assessment, meaning each city must allow the construction of at least the number of homes the state says is its share of the burden to meet housing demand statewide.
In this way, in what is widely seen, both positively and negatively, as a daring social experiment, the State of California has, through Government Code §65580, required each municipality in the state to assist in alleviating the homelessness crisis by complying with what the California Department of Housing and Community Development deems to be each city’s housing responsibility.
Under this so-called Regional Housing Needs Allocation process, a determination is made of what number of dwelling units according to affordability type each community is to accommodate over an eight-year period. The expectation is that those cities will comply by granting developers clearance to build the specified number of houses within that span.
Based upon the numbers formulated for the state by the Southern California Association of Governments – a joint powers authority consisting of Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino County, Orange, Los Angeles and Ventura counties – as part of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation effort, San Bernardino County must accommodate the construction of 138,110 new homes between the end of 2021 and the end of 2028, including 35,667 intended for very-low-income homebuyers; 21,903 for low-income homebuyers; 24,140 for moderate-income homebuyers and 56,400 for above moderate-income homebuyers.
Specifically, under the Regional Housing Needs Allocation, known by its acronym RHNA, Adelanto is being called upon to allow the construction of 3,756 residential units; Apple Valley 4,280; Barstow 1.516; Big Bear Lake 212; Chino 6,961; Chino Hills 3,720; Colton 5,420; Fontana 17,477; Grand Terrace 628; Hesperia 8,135; Highland 2,508; Loma Linda 2,048; Montclair 2,586; Needles 87; Ontario 20,805; Rancho Cucamonga 10,501; Redlands 3,507; Rialto 8,252; San Bernardino 8,104; Twentynine Palms 1,044; Upland 5,673; Victorville 8,146; Yucaipa 2,859; and Yucca Valley 748. The unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County are supposed to absorb 8,813.
There is a difference of opinion among the population as to whether intensifying residential development is a sensible response to the general situation. Some have argued that more homes are needed to accommodate the greater influx of people. Others, citing what they consider to be a diminution in the quality of life as the population increases, argue that efforts to limit or end population growth in California is the more reasonable approach to the issue. They propound that there is an inadvisability to, indeed what some have come to perceive as the absurdity of, allowing Sacramento to dictate land use policy throughout the 163,696-square mile state. Though the vast majority of municipal officials in California accept the state’s asserted authority in this area, up and down the state there has been protest of, and in some cases resistance to, these mandates. Land use policies – from zoning to development standards to architectural guidelines to height restrictions and limitations on density – have evolved gradually over a period of more than a century at the local political levels in response to immediate and regional concerns and conditions. These policies have come to reflect the character of the varied communities and the values, attitudes and expectations of residents/citizens who inhabit those areas. To force not only the individual local governments of the state but the citizens that live in those communities to dispense with standards and polices that have been carefully and methodically developed over decades and generations in favor of meeting what are relatively short-term goals to address the housing crisis and the burgeoning numbers of homeless constitutes a myopic fix to a problem that exists in a much larger context, some social scientists, governmental analysts, politicians and California residents have observed. The imposition of that fix, entailing the construction of residential projects of a vastly higher density than what has been the previous norm, is very likely to result in undesirable consequences that will remain in place and mar the communities in question for decades or even centuries to come, those opposed to the mandates assert.
In San Bernardino County, the city councils of Fontana, Chino Hills, Chino and Barstow were brave enough to challenge the state in 2020, prior to the finalization of the RHNA to cover 2021 until 2029, asking that the number of homes they were being called upon to accommodate be lowered. Barstow asked the state to cut its 1,516 house-building mandate by 58 percent to 635; Chino Hills requested 1,797 units in lieu of 3,720, a 52 percent reduction; Chino wanted a 49 percent cut from 6,961 to 3,564; and Fontana insisted that the 17,477 units it was being asked to accommodate was 30 percent too optimistic, requesting that its mandate be reduced to 10,563.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development did not budge in its demands, conveying that the government does not negotiate with scofflaws, renegades, terrorists or any entity or anybody that does not respect the rule of law. Lest anyone forget, California Government Code §65580 is the law, those city officials were warned.
According to the preamble for Government Code §65580-65589.8, “The Legislature finds and declares as follows: (a) The availability of housing is of vital statewide importance, and the early attainment of decent housing and a suitable living environment for every Californian, including farmworkers, is a priority of the highest order.”
Those who are still intent on undercutting the California Department of Housing and Community Development down to size, however, see in the legal developments relating to two lawsuits launched by residents of the City of Berkeley against the University of California, Berkeley a glimmer of hope that state government cannot use it authority and imperiousness to force citizens to accept standards that are antithetical to their collective values.
When the University of California, Berkeley undertook to increase its enrollment by 8,000 students between 2007 and 2017, a move which would result in the lion’s share of those students looking to find housing within the already densely packed 110,000-population 10.43-square mile city, a group of Berkeley residents formed the organization Save Berkeley Neighborhoods. When the university in 2018 and 2019 gave indication that it intended to up its number of students to around 42,000 during the 2020-21 academic year and to 45,050 students during the 2022-23 academic year, Save Berkeley Neighborhoods prepared a legal challenge against the university and ultimately filed suit, alleging the university by increasing student enrollment had failed to honor the California Environmental Quality Act by disregarding a number of quality of life issues affecting Berkeley residents, including crowding, housing, homelessness, traffic and noise..
In August 2021, an Alameda County Superior Court ruled in favor of Save Berkeley Neighborhoods, suspending a proposed faculty housing and classroom construction project, and ordered the campus to limit enrollment to its 2020-2021 level of just over 42,000 students.
The university appealed that ruling and in an expedited progression through the appeals process, the matter came before the California Supreme Court within five months In march 2022, the California Supreme Court upheld the Alameda Superior Court, ordering the University of California, Berkeley to freeze its undergraduate enrollment at 2020-21 levels, meaning it would have to accept at least 3,000 fewer students than planned for the upcoming academic year.
The California Legislature undertook to bypass that setback for the university, introducing and then passing virtually within a week legislation, Senate Bill 118, that stipulated college enrollment falls outside the definition of a “project,” which, if it were so defined would require being addressed and mitigated under the California Environmental Quality Act. Days after being taken up, Senate Bill 118 sailed through the Assembly and the California Senate and was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. It went into effect immediately and retroactively, making immediately applicable to the circumstance in Berkeley.
Nevertheless, another collection of Berkeley residents, under the aegis of the group Make UC a Good Neighbor, had filed a California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit that paralleled some of what was in the Save Berkeley Neighborhoods action, challenging UC Berkeley’s long-range development plan and the university’s intent to transform People’s Park, the historic site of anti-Viet Nam War demonstrations in the 1960s and 1970s into a student housing facility. In February, a state appellate court rejected denied the challenge to University of California, Berkeley’s development plan while making a finding that the University had to better define and refine its dormitory project at the People’s Park site. In that ruling, the court held that the University of California, Berkeley “failed to assess potential noise impacts from loud student parties in residential neighborhoods near the campus, a longstanding problem that the environmental impact report improperly dismissed as speculative.”
That decision is being appealed to the California Supreme Court. If it is upheld, as most legal analysts believe it will, it will leave open a chink in the armor of state government mandates for the accommodation of residential development without regard to a wide range of land use and environmental considerations, as has been the trend with the legislature over the last nine or so years.
In the hands of skillful legal representatives of local governmental entities such as cities which are motivated to preserve their land use authority to prevent the state from usurping their control over the character of their communities and have the financial means to wage such legal efforts, a Supreme Court ruling that government-mandated housing projects are subject to all aspects of the California Environmental Quality Act could lead to the unraveling of Government Code §65580-65589.8 and the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s imposition of Regional Housing Needs Allocations.
Chaffey Community Show Band 1960s Music Concert At Gardiner Spring March 20
The musicians of the Ontario Chaffey Community Show Band and the Milhiser Family will present “Music of the 60’s” on Monday March 20, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. in Gardiner W. Spring Auditorium located on the campus of Chaffey High School, 1250 N. Euclid Ave. in Ontario.
Early concert goers are invited to arrive at 7:00 p.m. to be entertained by the “Woodwind Celebration” ensemble in the lobby while enjoying complimentary coffee and cookies. The performance is free to the public.
The March concert features a collection of hit songs from a transformational period in American popular music – the 1960’s. The program will present a variety of musical genres that include folk, rock, swing, soul, and bossa nova.
Soloists from within the Show Band will be featured, including Zelna Zamora, Greg Cosner, Holly Audet, Tom “Elvis” Hill, John Holguin, Dana Rawlings, and Pat Arnold, the band’s assistant director .
The concert will also feature special guest artist Victor Garnica.
Several hits from the film The Graduate will be featured: a french horn duet by Zelna Zamora and Greg Cosner in “Scarborough Fair,” and Holly Audet will play a clarinet solo in “Sound of Silence.” Tom Hill will sing two memorable hits recorded by Elvis Presley, “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Teddy Bear.”
Vocalist John Holguin will perform the Frank Sinatra hit “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
Flautists Dana Rawlings and Pat Arnold will be featured on the Bossa Nova hit “The Girl From Ipanema.” Arnold will also sing “Love Potion #9.”
Special guest vocalist Victor Garnica will sing “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” and “It’s Not Unusual.”
The musicians of the Show Band will highlight the evening with their performances of “Goin’ Out Of My Head,” “The Shadow Of Your Smile,” and The Beatles hit “Eleanor Rigby.”
The performance will be narrated by Retired City Manager and Monte Vista Water District Board Member Michael Milhiser and Ontario City Treasurer and Friends of the Show Band Treasurer Jim Milhiser.
Those so inclined can support the Show Band by visiting and feeding the Hungry Tuba located in the lobby of the auditorium. The concert will be broadcast on local Ontario cable Channel 3. Check your cable listings for the date and time.
The Ontario Chaffey Community Show Band was founded in 1985 by R. Jack Mercer and is now under the direction of Dr. Gabe Petrocelli and assistant directors David Schaafsma and Pat Arnold. Band members represent at least two dozen communities throughout Southern California. Adult musicians and students are invited to participate. Rehearsals are held on Monday evenings from 7 to 9:00 p.m. at the Chaffey High School Jack Mercer Band Room. The band performs monthly concerts on the campus of Chaffey High School as well as at other venues throughout the community. All performances are free to the public.
For more information about the concert visit the Show Band website at www.showband.net or contact Dr. Petrocelli at firstname.lastname@example.org.