After County Land Use Services—for the second month in a row—cancelled at the last minute, a commitment to attend a Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council meeting, the two top aides to Supervisor James Ramos stepped in to discuss local concerns about that department’s procedures. Reporter Dan Stork tells what they advised, and reports on what else went on at the MAC meeting…
Phil Paule and Chris Carillo, the Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief for County Supervisor James Ramos, heard complaints from many at the well-attended Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council meeting about the procedures—or apparent lack thereof—used by the County’s Land Use Services department in processing project applications. Concerns included: unreasonably small notification areas for projects such as retail stores and renewable energy projects; limited public access to project questionnaires completed by developers; limited usefulness of the Land Use Services web site; lack of a checklist to monitor the 32 criteria for solar projects written into the new county commercial solar ordinance; and inappropriate handling of grading applications. Attendees also lamented wrong water usage claims by solar developers, and the exemption of renewable energy projects from property tax reassessments. Paule and Carillo urged the MAC to write letters to selected county departments specifying the information it thinks local residents should have readily available about the permitting process, along with what it considers to be reasonable time constraints for public input. The two aides explained that they cannot personally lobby supervisors other than their own boss, and urged the development of grass-roots networks to educate supervisors on local and regional concerns.
In other business, Council member Max Rossi reported on public meetings held by the road use subcommittee, which identified concerns about specific roads, ranging from Amboy Road to Highway 247 to the entrance road to Black Rock campground. Yucca Mesa resident David Cooper sketched his 25-year effort to encourage local government to be more bicycle-friendly. Morongo Valley representative Gayle Swarat reported that Caltrans is planning an electronic sign for the top of the Yucca Grade, to warn motorists coming down the hill of traffic emergencies ahead.