Tag Archives: san bernardino county planning commission

COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION TO REVISIT ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS TOMORROW

When the County Planning Commission meets at 9 a.m. tomorrow in San Bernardino, short-term vacation rentals will be back on the agenda. Reporter Mike Lipsitz says the focus will be limited to accessory dwelling units…

Among the items on tomorrow’s agenda is a proposed amendment to the development code regulations related to accessory dwelling units in unincorporated areas. The amendment will bring county code into compliance with a series of new state housing-related bills (SB 13, AB 68, AB 587, AB 670, AB 671, AB 881) that were signed into law in recent months. This proposal is a San Bernardino County Development Code (Development Code) Amendment revising the regulations related to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in Chapters 82.03, 82.04, 82.05, 82.06, 83.02, 83.11 and 84.01 (Project). These Chapters include the land use tables, parking and loading standards, allowed projections table and accessory structures and uses.

Much of the recently enacted legislation is related to rules and regulations on accessory dwelling units with the goal of removing restrictive development standards, reducing fees, allowing additional time for compliance and streamlining the review process.

In addition to these changes, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is required to review the local agencies’ changes to ensure compliance with state law. Until the changes have been adopted by the County and certified by HCD, implementation of these changes has been ongoing since the effective date of January 1, 2020.

The proposed amendments, if approved, are not expected to impact the county’s March 31 deadline for owners of short-term vacation rentals to apply for permits.

COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION MEETS THURSDAY

When the county planning commission meets at 9 a.m. tomorrow the public will have an opportunity to weigh in on a plan to expand mining operations in the San Bernardino National Forest. Omya was cited in 2011 for dumping waste rock from its calcium carbonate mine on a 70-acre parcel in the desert near the San Bernardino National Forest and Lucerne Valley. The land is part of the California Desert Conservation Area and is considered an important wintering area for mule deer. It’s also part of a narrow corridor of public land used by bighorn sheep and the golden eagle, and contains a rare desert spring that supports many species of wildlife and plants. Following a public hearing the commission will consider amending a conditional use permit held by Omya Inc. The company wants to expand operations at two limestone quarries on a 95-acre site about seven-and-a-half miles south of Lucerne Valley and five miles north of Big Bear Lake. The Butterfield and Sentinel Quarries would be mined for an additional 40 and 20 years respectively with the aim of excavating 680,000 tons of limestone annually. Tomorrow’s meeting and public hearing will be held at the County Government Center on Arrowhead Avenue in San Bernardino.

Omya wants to expand its limestone mining operations near Big Bear and Lucerne Valley. Tom Egan/CA Desert Rep./Defenders of Wildlife photo.

MASSIVE SOLAR PROJECT NEAR BARSTOW-DAGGETT AIRPORT APPROVED

A large solar project planned in the nearby unincorporated communities of Daggett and Newberry Springs, east of Barstow, has been given the green light. Tuesday, December 10, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors denied an appeal filed by residents over the county planning commission’s approval of San Francisco-based Clearway Energy Group’s plans for a solar-generating facility on about 3,500 acres near the Barstow-Daggett airport. While supervisors’ decision upholds the project’s approval, they asked the developer to keep it farther away from nearby homes and to use technology to monitor dust and air quality. In September, planning commissioners unanimously approved the project which includes a 650-megawatt photovoltaic solar power generating facility with up to 450 megawatts of battery-storage capacity.

COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION APPROVES JOSHUA TREE AIRSTREAM CAMPGROUND

The County’s Planning Commission met Thursday to discuss a 55-unit Airstream campground on the northeast corner of Sunburst and Highway 62 in Joshua Tree. Several Morongo Basin residents went to the county government center in Joshua Tree to give their opinions on the project.

The project manager for the Joshua Tree Autocamp said the Joshua Tree site is expected to donate to local environmental organizations, and generate $1.4 million in transient occupancy taxes over five years, along with half a million in property taxes over the same time period. While some speakers were supportive of the project, citing economic growth and benefits to other business, others were worried about the project’s effects on traffic, wildlife and vegetation, and the dark night skies. Others worried that the project would not hire local residents as employees to clean the trailers and do the laundry generated from the sheets and towels. The planning commissioners were pleased with the project and only asked about how wastewater would be handled (a package treatment plant was the answer).

The planning commissioners approved the Autocamp project 5-0.

Z107.7’s former reporter Dan Stork attended the meeting and sent this summary of the meeting:

A dozen or so local residents were in attendance, most of whom had come to offer public comment.

The hearing began with a presentation by a county staffer, who described the project, and listed all the studies that had been made and requirements that had been met. The site is east of Sunburst, north of Twentynine Palms Highway, and south of Verbena. The only access to the camp will be on Verbena. The staffer cited zoning, traffic, air pollution, water supply, drainage, noise, wastewater treatment, geotechnical studies, and aesthetics. The project has been judged to have minimal environmental impact, and has been exempted from the CEQA process.

Then representatives of Autocamp, the developer and operator of the site, gave presentations. Autocamp has existing sites in Yosemite, Russian River, and Santa Barbara, which it describes as “alternative hotels.” The Airstream units are new, factory-built for the purpose for Autocamp. Autocamp’s project manager for Joshua Tree, Sam White, emphasized that Autocamp donates to local environmental organizations in the vicinities of its existing locations — $1 per rental. It projects $1.4 million in TOT revenues, and $0.5 million in property taxes over the course of 5 years for the Joshua Tree site. It also projects 40 percent less water usage per unit than a typical hotel unit. They have speaker programs at the camp, and make bicycles available to guests. Some units are ADA-compliant, for guests with disabilities. There will be a clubhouse, common restroom (as well as in the units), and 24/7 management presence. There will be International Dark Sky-compliant lighting in the outdoor areas.

The Planning Commissioners were very pleased with the project. There was a single question – how was wastewater to be handled – and was satisfied to hear that a package plant, “vetted by Joshua Basin Water District”, is planned to meet that concern.

Public comment was heard from 11 locals from the video conferencing room, and a few more from Commission chambers in San Bernardino.

Some local residents were skeptical about assurances from the County and from Autocamp that minimized concern about traffic, headlight glare, water treatment, water usage, and noise. More than one expressed dismay at the CEQA exemption, noting the presence of wildlife in the area. One speaker gave unqualified support for the project. Others were generally supportive (citing economic growth, benefit to other local businesses, concentrated and regulated accommodation of visitors, and apparently responsible design, as pluses), or at least were not dismissive, but cited several specific concerns:

  • Smoke from wood-burning firepits may infiltrate evaporative coolers in the neighborhood, bringing noxious fumes. How about gas instead?
  • The planned shade structures appear to be too delicate for the desert. Sturdier structures, with solar panels, were urged by multiple speakers.
  • The developers plan to do laundry “off-site”. Where? A service? There are no known facilities in the immediate area. Steve Bardwell (who was even-handed in in his pro-and-con evaluation of the project) suggested doing laundry on-site, with a grey water system to irrigate vegetation.
  • The Autocamp proposal says that housekeeping will be outsourced. A local motel operator, Susan Burnet, who operates the Mojave Sands Motel across the highway from the planned Autocamp site, and who is generally in favor of the project, questioned where this labor is going to come from. She hopes “outsourcing” is not an excuse for not hiring permanent staff, to whom wages and benefits should be paid.
  • Local resident Pamela Goodchild worried about rodent infestation, which has been a big problem of late. Please don’t use rodenticides to control them – the carcasses and effect on the food chain create other problems — find another way.
  • Pat Flanagan was concerned about the impact on the ancient (and carbon-sequestering) native creosote and ephedra. Concern was also expressed about unwelcome hybridization that the introduction of non-native plants would cause. Flanagan also urged the use of electric barbecues, and questioned whether local geology as it related to earthquake faults had been adequately addressed.

The commenters who spoke from San Bernardino were a succession of younger people who spoke glowingly of their experiences at Autocamp sites in Russian River and Santa Barbara. (One JT attendee was heard to say, “here are the ringers”.)

COUNTY CONSIDERS JOSHUA TREE AIRSTREAM MOTEL TOMORROW

Tomorrow morning, the county planning commission will consider a 55-unit Airstream auto camp proposed on a 26-acre site in Joshua Tree. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has the report and information on how the public can weigh in on the topic…

Among the projects up for consideration at tomorrow’s 9 a.m. meeting of the planning commission in San Bernardino is an Airstream suite hotel that would be located off Highway 62 east of Sunburst Street on the south side of Verbena Road. The site would include a 1,500-square-foot Quonset hut clubhouse, and two additional service buildings totaling another 2,000 square feet. The county department of Land Use Services has recommended the project be approved. Tomorrow’s meeting will be broadcast live to the video-conference center in the County Government Building in Joshua Tree where public comment may be made via live video link.

A link to the full staff report:

http://www.sbcounty.gov/uploads/lus/pc/FinalStaffReportP201900121.pdf

APN: 0603-191-03, -4, & -29. Project no: P2001900121 – filed February 25, 2019.