Residents speak their minds at Wrightwood Community Services District (WWCSD) Q&A
By Vicky Rinek
Last week, June 9, 2016, the feasibility committee for the Wrightwood Community Services District (WWCSD) met at the Wrightwood Community Building for another residential Q&A session.
Natalie Lopiccolo, with Al Morrissette as consultant, and two County representatives headed the meeting; concerned residents of Wrightwood attended the meeting.
Currently the San Bernardino County manages the Parks & Recreation, streetlights, and solid waste collection (CR&R franchise fee of 8%) under the Special Districts CSA-56. These services would fall under the control of the new WWCSD.
A few visitors asked what is a CSD and why does Wrightwood need to have a CSD. Small communities like Wrightwood would not have the tax base necessary to incorporate into a city. Instead, residents must rely on the county to provide all essential services. A CSD would allow residents control over limited services and address problems or complaints. This independent form of local government is able to be much more responsive to the community’s needs.
The process to form a CSD has been in the works for many months. The original target date for a community-wide election was November 2016. The election date has now been moved to March 2017 to accommodate individuals who wish to be on the ballet as board members. The approval of a CSD requires a 2/3rds majority approval of registered voters residing within the CSD proposed boundaries (including the Los Angeles portions of Wrightwood). Once approved, the CSD will take over functions previously operated by the County.
Another question brought to the meeting was: How will the CSD be funded? Property owners will pay taxes to the CSD instead of the county of services provided. Taxes are calculated on assessed value of the land and improvements and placed on the property tax bill. CSDs are limited to a portion of the property tax now collected by the San Bernardino County (to a maximum tax levy of 1% of assessed valuation unless a majority vote authorizes it to exceed that limit.) However, the Los Angeles side of Wrightwood would not have a tax levy for the CSD.
Hank Hallmark asked: What is the advantage of including the Los Angeles side of Wrightwood in the CSD? Natalie’s answer: “to encompass the trails leading up to the Blue Ridge and to allow for complete community control over the unincorporated areas.” Natalie continued, “The boarder lines have to be in marked parcels. The elected Board can address hiking trails in the Blue Ridge area. The border was extended down Lone Pine Canyon Road east to the Clyde Ranch and west of the LA County line residential area and north to the Desert Front area. The hiking trails would then be under control of the CSD who can then address problems and complaints as well as plan for CSD sponsored community events and activities.”
Hank continued to ask: “If the CSD does not receive tax reveneu for the LA side what services will they receive.” Natalie addressed that concern by stating the trash collection will be continued by CR&R and the negotiation of the 8% franchise fee will be addressed with the new Board and CR&R. The consensus is that CR&R will be cooperative with the franchise arrangements. LA County side residents would continue trash collection service through them, but they would not receive the annual Disposal use Permit card that is issued to the San Bernardino side residents.” Brent Speers of CR&R has mentioned before that, LA County residents could possibly purchase the dump card from them directly for the same $85 fee.
Hank asked, “Why don’t they receive this card?” Natalie stated that the arrangement with CR&R and the County is for Wrightwood residents who pay the $85 fee per household in their tax bill. LA County does not have that arrangement.” Natalie continued, “Right now the County keeps the $85 fee if a resident does not use this service. If WWCSD is approved, the $85 per household would be collected and paid to CR&R when used. If not used the fee would remain with the WWCSD.”
Carolyn Therrio asked: Why are the boundaries all the way over the ridge into the National Forest area? Natalie pointed out the State’s parcel lines of the area and it was recommended by LAFCO that the General Plan expand to the ridge.
Natalie continued to point out that the boarder now extends to the Desert Front area north up to the PPHCSD boundaries.
Lynn Crawford asked: “the projected 5-year budget shows a $44,000 surplus. How could those funds be used?” Natalie stated that the elected Board members would have control of these funds to be used to help with community events like the Mountaineer Days and reduce the Chamber’s expenses.” She continued, “Any funds allocated must be used within the WWCSD boundaries and for the benefit of its residents.”
Natalie emphasizes, “keeping the CSD minimal in its initial powers will be a base while maintaining and maximizing services for the enjoyment of the community.”
To view the plan, go to: www.wrightwoodcsd.org.
Weekend temps to reach dangerous highs
By Terri Hill
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report this week indicating dangerously high temperatures Friday into Sunday.
According to NOAA, the hot temperatures and the transition from below average to well above average high temperatures could cause heat stress or illness. The potential for heat illness will increase if this heat wave extends beyond Sunday and Monday into the middle of next week. This heat could be life-threatening to unprepared hikers, especially in the deserts.
Temperatures in the mountains and foothills below 6000 feet are expected to reach 95 to 105 degrees. High Deserts, including Apple and Lucerne Valleys will see 100 to 108 degree temperatures.
Causing the drastic shift in temperatures is high pressure aloft over northern Mexico that will strengthen and expand to the north and west bringing a strong warming trend for Friday through Sunday, with excessive heat likely by Sunday for inland areas and possibly near the coast.
Precautions are strongly recommended for protection from the heat, whether at work or play. The Centers for disease control (CDC) report that while heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, annually many people succumb to extreme heat. The CDC recommends the following three-part protocol for safety in extreme temperatures:
Stay Cool – Keep your body temperature cool to avoid heat-related illness.
Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible.
Find an air-conditioned shelter.
Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.
Avoid direct sunlight.
Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
Take cool showers or baths.
Check on those most at-risk twice a day.
Stay Hydrated –
Because your body loses fluids through sweat, you can become dehydrated during times of extreme heat.
Drink more water than usual.
Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more fluids.
Drink from two to four cups of water every hour while working or exercising outside.
Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar.
Remind others to drink enough water.
Stay updated on local weather forecasts so you can plan activities safely when it’s hot outside.
Check local news for extreme heat alerts and safety tips.
Learn the symptoms of heat illness.
For additional information related to heat related illness visit https://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/.
In response to the forecast and drought conditions, Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (ANF/SGMNM) Fire Officials raised the Fire Danger Level from “High” to “Very High” effective Monday, June 13th.
Drought conditions continue for the fifth year in a row adding to already dry vegetation and the live fuel moisture levels in shrubs and brush have decreased. Despite the change, there are no new campfire restrictions. Open wood and charcoal fires will still be permitted in approved “developed” campgrounds and picnic areas where a steel ring or stoves are provided. Propane or jelled gas stoves and grills are permitted in non-developed areas with a valid California Campfire Permit. Smoking is allowed in enclosed vehicles or developed recreation sites only.
Concern over illegal dumping
By Al Morrissette
Cathy Williams moved to Pinon Hills because she loves the serenity and landscape of the high desert and felt it is the right place for her to retire. What she found can best be described by Cathy herself, “Now that I live in the high desert, I’ve been very dismayed to see all the dumping”, adding, “I now live off of dirt roads that are about 1.5 miles from a paved road. You can’t imagine all the tires that have been dumped!”
She concludes her comments to friends with, “but my complaint now is household junk dumped basically in my backyard”, She states, “I noticed some junk a few weeks ago and picked up everything that I could lift and threw it away in my trash. I left a couch and tabletop, as it was too heavy for me to lift alone and I hadn’t planned on going to the dump. Today I see in the same spot more junk - looks like a dishwasher, a bike, and just some big items that someone decided to litter my neighborhood with. I didn’t have time to stop, but I’ll go back tomorrow and see what I can gather so it won’t be blown into the desert.”
The sentiments from Williams are typical of many residents to the High Desert rural communities. For years people have avoided landfill fees by using the open space to dispose of their rubbish, or after arriving at the landfill after hours with a load of trash, they just find a convenient spot to dump in the desert, rather than come back the next day.
Prior to 2007, the county seldom issued illegal dumping citations, but the upsurge in the population had brought a significant increase of dumping violations. Through the guidance of First District Supervisor, Brad Mitzelfelt in 2007, the Board of Supervisors started a 5-point plan to help control the problem. The program resulted in an increase from 10 citations per year, to more than 120 per year. Much of the increase in arrests and citations have come from a network of approximately 20 video systems and 30 digital still cameras. These systems are stationed at various known dumping areas sites in the High Desert.
A reward of up to $1,000 has been offered to residents who anonymously report violators by calling (800) 782-7463. Fines for dumping violations are a minimum of $100, with a maximum of $10,000 and six months in jail. Sheriff’s Deputies do not recommend confronting violators. Instead, a photograph of the suspect and the license plate should be turned at the Phelan sub-station. The Phelan Pinon Hills CSD has been working with CR&R Disposal Service for several years, holding free dump days and $2 tire days. Coming up on June 25 is the next $2 tire day held at the CR&R service yard in Pinon Hills, near the County Sheep Creek Transfer Station, from 8am to 1pm.
A Thousand Cranes for Ryan Kistner
A multicultural art lesson created in a classroom at Serrano High has, by a show of spontaneous student support, evolved into a fundraiser for Ryan Kistner. Ryan, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, is the son of Katie Kistner, a Snowline employee who works at Serrano. The art lesson, developed by art teacher Lisa Fitch, involved the folding of origami cranes; Mrs. Fitch’s intention was to have students write prayers for Ryan’s healing inside a folded crane in the tradition of Senbazuru. Fitch based the project on an art/history lesson about Sadako Sasaki and the “Thousand Paper Cranes” by Eleanor Coerr .) Fitch figured she could collect at least a hundred cranes from her students to send to the Kistners to show Serrano’s support.
By the end of the day, however, other Serrano students had gotten wind of the project and were also folding cranes; suddenly the art classroom was nesting hundreds of paper cranes! But instead of stringing a thousand cranes together for Ryan, it occurred to Fitch that perhaps the cranes could be sold for a dollar each, and the money donated to the Kistners. Students responded with such great enthusiasm; they continued to fold, true to the tradition, to reach a goal of one thousand Origami cranes. So far, more than three hundred cranes have been distributed for the donation of $1.00 apiece. Donations will go directly to the Kistner family, along with the first string of cranes intended for Ryan. There are plenty left to “sell;” Mrs. Fitch is intending to set up a table around town in order to collect donations for the remaining cranes. Her thought is: “It is the heartfelt intention of all of us to bring this idea to fruition. Why not share in this wonderful cause by donating a dollar for an artwork, folded with compassionate, healing wishes?
Help us help the Kistners! The students of Serrano thank you!”
Serving Wrightwood, Phelan, Pinon HIlls and West Cajon Valley Since 1961