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
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
from wood-burning firepits may infiltrate evaporative coolers in the
neighborhood, bringing noxious fumes. How about gas instead?
planned shade structures appear to be too delicate for the desert.
Sturdier structures, with solar panels, were urged by multiple
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.
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
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.
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
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.