Thursday, February 11, 2021

Grocery Distribution.

 PLEASE read below carefully.


GROCERY BAG DISTRIBUTION


The Friends of Wonder Valley is partnering with the 29 Palms Community Food Pantry and Outreach Ministries INC. for a Grocery Distribution, at 10:00 a.m. on WEDNESDAY, February 24, at the Wonder Valley Community Center, 80526-½ Amboy Road, Wonder Valley CA 92277. The Community Center is next to the Fire Station. The event continues until 11 a.m., or until we’ve given out all the bags.

This food distribution is for Wonder Valley residents only. Please wear a mask and stay in your car.You may pick up ONE (1) bag for a neighbor, or they may pick up ONE (1) bag for you.

Please enter the access road at the WVCC sign and continue driving around the building until you stop behind the car in front of you. Stay to the inside of the curve (left) in case someone has to leave. Do NOT get out of your car. We will come around, take your name(s), and as you drive up to the loading zone, we’ll bring your bag(s) to your car. Please be patient and follow all instructions from the volunteers. This is to insure your safety and the safety of our volunteers and staff. Thank you.

The WVCC is CLOSED. The park is closed.


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Wonder Valley Community Cleanup Scheduled for March


Land Use Services will be having a community cleanup on March 13, at the Wonder Valley Community Center. Fliers will be going out to Wonder Valley residents on February 19.

Due to COVID the cleanup will be by appointment only. More information will be forthcoming. 

Staff and participants will be required to wear facemasks and observe social distancing. Community members will be required to unload their own waste materials. Staff will be on hand to assist. 

USDA Food Distribution.

PLEASE read below carefully.

The USDA Food Distribution will begin at 10:00 a.m. on TUESDAY, February 9 at the Wonder Valley Community Center, 80526-½ Amboy Road, Wonder Valley CA 92277. The Community Center is next to the Fire Station. The event continues until noon, or until the food runs out, which has been happening lately, about 11:00 a.m.

This food distribution is for Wonder Valley residents only. Please wear a mask and stay in your car.

We will be taking PRECAUTIONS to protect YOUR and OUR health.

Please enter the access road at the WVCC sign and continue driving around the building until you stop behind the car in front of you. Stay to the inside of the curve (left) in case someone has to leave. Do NOT get out of your car. We will come around, take your name, give you a ticket(s), and then bring your box(es) to your car. Please be patient and follow all instructions from the volunteers. This is to insure your safety and the safety of our volunteers and staff. Thank you.

The WVCC is CLOSED. The park is closed.

Low income Wonder Valley residents self-certify on site. No ID or other documentation is required. You may pick up ONE (1) box for a neighbor, or they may pick up ONE (1) box for you, IF a signed pick up form is presented. One pick up per person. Pick up forms are available online at http://tinyurl.com/wv-pickup-form. They are also available at the WVCC on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., and at the kiosk outside the WVCC the week before the event.

For more information, call Teresa Sitz at (760) 367-9880.

The text below is required.

Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3) email: program.intake@usda.gov.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Special Community Meeting on Illegal Grows - Meeting Notes



Wonder Valley Special Community Meeting on Public Safety and Marijuana Grows was held via Zoom on Wednesday, January 13, 2021.

The 5 pm meeting got a late start (5:22 PM) due to technical difficulties caused by a San Bernardino County (SBC) firewall upgrade that prevented Sheriff Captain Luke Niles from connecting directly through the Zoom application. The impromptu solution was for Captain Niles to conduct his presentation and Q&A session via speaker phone (thanks Cheri for the quick thinking!)

PRESENTATION

Late last Summer Supervisor Dawn Rowe and SBC Sheriff John McMahon met and it was decided to assemble a dedicated special marijuana/cannabis cultivation enforcement team with patrol staff deputies given up from every station. This team operated from September 12, 2020 through January 1, 2021 with 300 search warrants served across the Morongo Basin, Lucerne and Apple Valley. 77 search warrants were served in the Morongo Basin including the target-rich areas of Wonder Valley, East 29 Palms, and Landers. Total count: 300 arrests, 21 felony cases and 272 misdemeanors.

The cannabis enforcement team still exists and still working. Reassigned deputies have had to return to fill in the gaps in patrol service due to COVID among deputies, and 3 more search warrants were served today (1/13/2021). Currently there are 85 grows on the target list with 31 in the greater Wonder Valley area.

Recent laws (County ordinance on cannabis cultivation) make cultivation a lesser crime and that mean more work to obtain search warrants (usually need a felony to obtain a search warrant). We need lots of surveillance and quantities and have to go to a special judge who grants a search warrant on a misdemeanor.

We continue to plug away on this problem and Supervisor Dawn and Sheriff are working on creating an expanded cannabis team in the next few months. It's still going to take some time to get them all but our maximum effort is concentrated in the Morongo Basin. Currently there are equal or more grows in the area between North Joshua Tree and Johnson Valley and we're getting 4-5 per day. Despite this effort, every week sees another 3 ones generated. Currently we've had to refocus patrol efforts back from illegal cannabis cultivation enforcement to patrol tasks due to an increase in Part 1 crimes (homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson).

In our operations against the grows we've come across the use of harsh chemicals that are damaging the ground and in one case we had a human traffic case (an juvenile was out of state was involved).

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Michael Brown: How can we take the prosecution of cultivation out of law enforcement in San Bernardino County?
Captain Niles: The cannabis cultivation ordinance is normally enforced by County Code Enforcement but this cultivation has little to do with our market here. The main cause, land is cheap and water cheaper here than West of us. The product is transported to counties where cultivation is legal but it is still black market. It's not a matter of legal or not here, but cheap land and product finding it's way to counties where its legal but is purchased until the table, i.e. the black market.

Remo Packer: We're concerned about the grow operations using pesticides and chemicals and their well use, tapping our aquifer. #1, are the pesticides and chemicals draining back into the aquifer and #2, Can we approach enforcement this way? It's a genuine concern for all of us.
Captain Niles: The team is sometimes accompanied by State Fish & Game experts along with BLM rangers and this was their focus. They will add additional charges to land owners when it's warranted. This State and Federal support is much appreciated and we don't know yet about impacts on the aquifer but we do now  they (pesticides, chemicals) are not good and result in what they call 'soiled ground.'

Evan Browsowsky: Does Code Enforcement even go along with the team to cite growers on structural issues? The police presence on Amboy Road is another effective enforcement against growers' vehicles.
Captain Niles: The CHP (California Highway Patrol) does a good job patrolling and assisting us and we have good communication with the Morongo Basin's Eric Lee. [The police presence at the WV Fire Station/Community Center is staffed by the CHP on a rotating basis and is separate from the SBC Sheriff Department]. Code Enforcement is short handed and strapped with calls on illegal grows, campground, etc. When available they do come with the team and identify issues and issue citations. The sheriff deputies also take photos at the grow and send them to Code Enforcement for follow-up investigations and citations.

David Greene: There is a nest of growers, 5-6, getting more aggressive with backhoes and building berms on Screech Owl between Blower and Wilson. There is obvious coordination of efforts and I wonder about shell owners. Lots of water trucks going to town. Can we monitor this? Twentynine Palms is making bank on the water - are there records we could access? And real estate agents play a role in this, with buyers paying cash for properties. Can we look at the real estate agents who facilitate these selling?
Captain Niles: Excellent points and they do not go unnoticed. Regarding real estate agents, recent California legislation intended to prevent discrimination prevents real estate agents from communicating with deputies. Earlier, utility companies can't communicate with law enforcement without a judge signed search warrant, and we can't information about whether a felony is being performed (re theft of utilities). The digging of berms is a new theme and one in Johnson Valley was 45 feet deep! You couldn't see it except from the air. It's definitely a destruction of the natural landscape and I expect some Fish & Game enforcement down the road. Regarding communicating with the water tender drivers, we have a lack of resources to devote to this and when we have given them attention they've altered their routes.
In general, for information gathering about grows, we need community members to communicate, and I ask you to communicate with me, Captain Niles, ideally via email [See end of notes]. Returning to coordination, yes, there's 100% coordination and we do record search for recent land purchases and do go back out afterwards. Property owners get citations and persons present get a different citation.Property owners may lease to phantom LLC companies but the owners will get cited and individual at the grows are many times undocumented.

Zandria Petteway: Can we get ICE (federal agency Immigration Customs Enforcement) involved in enforcement?
Captain Niles: No. Californian Proposition 54 makes it illegal for loaw enforcement to work with ICE with the exception of human trafficking. The recent incident was an undocumented juvenile who was a human trafficking victims and we communicated with ICE.

Jennifer Ruff: Understaffed and undermanned. Would it be better to contact State and Federal? State Cannabis Board and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency)?
Captain Niles: Wonderful points! The Bureau of Cannabis Control is locally headed by a good friend and former Sergeant here. Store front dispensaries, that's their main charge. For Federal interest, there would have to be enormous quantities at any site to draw their assets to it. How large? 4,000 plants - we did several sites close to the 10,000 mark. Federal enforcement is associated with honey, labs, etc. When grows are being constructed here, share this information even if plants are not present. Might get lucky if someone is available, we'd contact the contractors, obtain a search warrant earlier. Don't get frustrated - when I can we'll send out a deputy.

Lanny Swerdlow: State Proposition 64 legalized and added regulation for cannabis. If San Bernardino County legalized cultivation like Riverside County, it would just be illegal, unlicensed businesses that needed regulation and enforcement. The city of Adelanto is permitting cannabis businesses and reaping the rewards in fees generated.
Captain Niles: Reality is somewhere in between. I know you're very passionate about this and I don't discount some of the points you make but legalization is always accompanied by a black market. Doing nothing causes problems, and taxing causes problems.

Ben Schafer: Coordination between grow operations, multiple owners, is their an estimation of the coordination? Any profile? Seems very large, very professional out here.
Captain Niles: There are property owners out of Las Vegas that bought land in Wonder Valley for the product to go to Arizona and Nevada. Property owners from San Diego up to Los Angeles, but not massive cartels, more individual entrepreneurs.

Ellie Kordes: Is there are correlation between the rise in crime in Wonder Valley and the grows? Robberies and growers, driving growers out of business, causation?
Captain Niles: There's no significant correlation between burglaries and grows. Some traffic accidents. Some crimes related, an unknown individual attempted to rob a grow, but as a whole, no, not based on the information we have.

Lyn Healy: 300 arrests, 272 misdemeanors - what happens? 
Captain Niles: Individual is issued a citation, a misdemeanor ticket to respond to court for misdemeanor cultivation, with possible $500 fine. Due to COVID, court dates to appear within 90 days (would have been in February) have now been extended and pushed out to 180 days.

Julie Dole: Riverside has the same problems even with legalization, crime and honey houses as shipping flowers is expensive. We need to look at 'mules' hauling water. Cut off utilities if that's in your quiver. Honey houses is where it's at. Solutions - water mules, and focus on tangential problems, a 'broken windows' approach. Measure K passed - get some of that money!
Captain Niles: All wonderful suggestions. Thank you.

Alexander Tarnes: Are the growers violent? Are any people stuck there being abused?
Captain Niles: On the Wonder Valley side law enforcement has not met with much violence nor are we aware of violence between grows and anyone else. In Landers and Johnson Valley there has been multiple shooting at grow sites with robbers attempting to rob grows and protectors shot. Are these isolated incidents? But there's no significant violence in Wonder Valley.

Steve Reyes thanked Captain Niles for his time and adjourned the meeting at 6:49 p.m.

If anyone has information on illegal grows in their neighborhood that they wish to share with Captain Niles, he can reached at lniles@sbcsd.org. His phone number is 760-366-4175, but email is best.

Attendees (alphabetical order): Patrick Bailey, Joseph Barrett, Jeffrey Barrett, Cathryn Beeks, Jim Brakebill, Evan Brosowsky, Michael Brown, Sam Charters, Julie Dole, Sunny Downer, Peter Gilstrap, David Greene, Kelly Hake, Lyn Healy, Grey Hill, Florrie Holloway, Steve Jensen, Isul Kim, Ellie Kordas, Eric Lenz, Larry LeVoir, Mark Lundquist, Arnold Martinez-Lenz, Luke Niles, Paul Nugent, Sally Nugent, Remo Packer, Zandria Petteway, Anthony Quniones, Steve Reyes, Cheri Reyes, Nancy Riley, Dan Riley, Max Rossi, Olympia Rossi, Jennifer Ruff, Ben Schafer, Brian Schirk, Georgene Shelton, Kate Short, Ken Sitz, Randy Smith, Lanny Swerdlow, Alexander Tarnas, Deborah Tobin, Gary Tutfel, Michael Walker, Elizabeth Wheeler, Burt Wisotzkey, Natalie Zuk

Monday, January 18, 2021

Drive Through Grocery Distribution

The Friends of Wonder Valley
in partnership with 

29 Palms Community Food Pantry and Outreach Ministries INC. 

will be distributing bags of groceries at:

10:00 a.m. on WEDNESDAY, January 27 at the:

Wonder Valley Community Center|
80526-½ Amboy Road
Wonder Valley CA 92277

The Community Center is next to the Fire Station. The event continues until 11 a.m., or until we’ve given out all the bags.

This food distribution is for Wonder Valley residents only. Please wear a mask and stay in your car.

We will need you to fill out a form for the

29 Palms Community Food Pantry and Outreach Ministries INC.

You may pick up ONE (1) bag for a neighbor, or they may pick up ONE (1) bag for you.

Please enter the access road at the WVCC sign and continue driving around the building until you stop behind the car in front of you. Stay to the inside of the curve (left) in case someone has to leave. Do NOT get out of your car. We will come around, take your name(s), and as you drive up to the loading zone, we’ll bring your bag(s) to your car. Please be patient and follow all instructions from the volunteers. This is to insure your safety and the safety of our volunteers and staff. Thank you.

The WVCC is CLOSED. The park is closed. 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Wonder Valley Special Community Meeting



A virtual (Zoom) Special Community Meeting will be held at 

5:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The topics will be Public Safety and Illegal Cannabis Grows with Morongo Basin Advisory Council (MAC) representative Steve Reyes.

Attending will be San Bernardino County Sheriff Captain Niles and SBC 3rd District Supervisor Dawn Rowe’s Morongo Basin Field Representative Mark Lundquist.

Everyone is invited and welcome to attend and participate.

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYocOivqToqE9If6DwTA6ySmLjie4tZ-Fnr

Agenda link: https://bit.ly/WVJan2021MeetingAgenda
The agenda was posted at the WVCC on January 2nd.

Meeting Notes link: https://www.wondervalley.org/2021/01/special-community-meeting-on-illegal.html


Monday, December 21, 2020

WV Community Meeting Notes - 12/16/2020

October 3, 2017 Community Meeting
October 3, 2017 Community Meeting at the Wonder Valley Community Center (WVCC)


Meeting called to order 5:01 PM with 28 Zoom participants (This was a virtual meeting as the WVCC is currently closed due to the COVID pandemic)

Presentations by current Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) representative Steve Reyes and Special Districts Recreation Supervisor Frank Haggard (CSA 70M & CSA 20)

Introduction 

Steve Reyes announced that the position of Wonder Valley representative for Supervisor Dawn Rowe's Morongo Basin MAC is open again with the dissolution of the existing MAC with the conclusion of the Supervisor's term as appointed replacement to serve out the term of the previous supervisor. A new MAC will be appointed in the beginning of 2021 and applicants can apply to the County and be interviewed for the position by filling out the form here: http://www.sbcounty.gov/COB/Main/NewBCCApp.aspx

Steve stated that he has re-applied and Supervisor Rowe's field representative for the Morongo Basin Mark Lundquist later added that the acceptance of applications is for 30-days with interview followings. The process is not expected to be completed and a new MAC seated until March 2021.

Reports

Steve announced that he requested and received pandemic Certificates of Recognition from County Supervisor Dawn Rowe for 7 individuals active in Wonder Valley during this difficult period of COVID-19. They are Max & Olivia Rossi, Dylan Baudounie, John Bradford, Teresa & Ken Sitz, Randy Harrison (See below for Steve's note providing more info).

Amboy Road resurfacing has been completed and the County has said it will (unfortunately) not extend beyond the curve.

Steve encourages people to use SB County Code Enforcement to report any issues including about grow houses and recommends the easy to use online complaint forms http://cms.sbcounty.gov/lus/CodeEnforcement/Complaints.aspx

The County will not be able to respond to the recent growth of graffiti by overpainting because the graffiti is on private property [Note: neighbors have been known to cover-up the graffiti ad hoc on neighborhood structures.]

Steve and Supervisor Dawn Rowe field representative Mark Lundquist gave an update on illegal marijuana grows. Steve mentioned that the 2016 law that makes cultivating marijuana a misdemeanor has limited law enforcement options. [Jennifer Ruff who works in the cannabis industry disputed the misdemeanor status and said it was still a felony to sell. See SBC Code of Ordinances on Commercial Cannabs Activity at bottom of theses notes]. Steve has met with the Sheriff about the enforcement efforts that have been concentrated in the Landers and Lucerne area. Mark noted that the Highway Patrol (CHP) has joined in the effort to stop and cite trucks servicing the grows (in the first day in Lucerne, 7 trucks were impounded for various issues, tags, tailpipes, etc). Mark says the County task force does not have an exact number of grow houses in the hi-desert but it's estimated to be between 600-700. Steve estimates there are ~50 in Wonder Valley and Mark said the County task force is beginning to work on Wonder Valley with 9-10 grows cited last week, and to remain patient as the task force develops more techniques to rein in the illegal grows. Due to the numerous issues involving the illegal grows (water usage, noise, road degradation, etc) Steve will work to put together a special community meeting for January.

Special Districts Recreation Director Frank Haggard who oversees both CSA 70M* (Wonder Valley) and CSA 20 (Joshua Tree) presented a planning update for the remodeling of the Wonder Valley Community Center kitchen and bathrooms to bring them up to health code and enable the kitchen to be a commercial kitchen available for events and rental for production (the Joshua Tree center currently has two commercial kitchen that are contracted for local food production). The CSA 70M upgrade includes new park equipment and remodeling to bring it into compliance with the ADA (American with Disability Act). Frank is asking for community feedback through this online survey and hopes to identify people and groups willing to work on seeing the project through. Kelly Hake requested a carousel for the park and Frank thought this was a great suggestion and said to put that into the feedback and that it was one of his dream projects too. https://specialdistricts.wufoo.com/forms/xd09r2u1qu4rdv/

Frank also presented the Phase II plan for the Desert View Conservation Area (DVCA, aka 'Section 6'). He is seeking community feedback on the DVCA Phase II plan at https://specialdistricts.wufoo.com/forms/x14n5snn0pzisjb/

[NOTE: Wonder Valley is County Service Area 70M and is administered by Special Districts which manages operations for unincorporated area of San Bernardino County.]

Agenda Items for Next Meeting

Steve will work with the Sheriff to put together a community meeting on the illegal marijuana grows for early next year (January if possible).

Meeting adjourned at 5:45 pm.

* * * * *

Pandemic Certificate of Recognition

The one thing I wanted to do was to recognize and thank certain individuals who have been instrumental in keeping Wonder Valley afloat during this trying times.  I asked Mark Lundquist if there was a way San Bernardino County could accomplish this.  Without hesitation, Mark Lundquist recommended a Certificate of Recognition signed by Supervisor Rowe. 

Teresa & Ken Sitz - Although the community center has been closed Ken and Teresa have worked tirelessly in organizing food distributions.  Feeding those less fortunate living in Wonder Valley.  These food distributions are no small effort and would not take place if it were not for Ken and Teresa.

Max & Olympia Rossi - Pastor Max and his wife Olympia have offered spiritual support to people living in Wonder Valley.  Living in a rural community offers its own challenges and the Rossi's continued their efforts regardless of the current environment.  Olympia learned of a fresh fruit and vegetable program and she quickly organized volunteers and distributed much need produce.

John Bradford / Dylan Baudounie - Special Districts and Road Maintenance - Our road grader has been doing an outstanding job in maintaining our roads and keeping traffic flowing.  Traffic includes much needed services provided to the most fragile members the community.  On many occasions, I have spoken to John Bradford and made special requests in regard to sign replacement and the grading of specific roads.  On each and every occasion he has directly helped me and or directed me to the correct county entity.

Randy Harrison - (UPS) - Randy our beloved "UPS Guy" never stopped his timely and much needed parcel deliveries.  His deliveries are a gamut of Amazon, medicine and food.  His service to Wonder Valley cannot be underestimated!  Randy knows all the roads in Wonder Valley and always delivers packages as close to peoples doors as possible.  Randy once told me "I am just doing my job."  In these difficult times this cannot be further from the truth and his efforts are truly appreciated by all. 

* * * * *

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, CODE OF ORDINANCES

CHAPTER 84.34: COMMERCIAL CANNABIS ACTIVITY

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1S1sOK0y2SlAPulEIIaAXw6s9117dS0Xs/view?usp=sharing

§ 84.34.030 Prohibition of Commercial Cannabis Activity.

Except as expressly provided by §§ 84.34.040 and 83.34.050, commercial cannabis activity shall not be considered a permitted or conditionally permitted use in any land use zoning district. Commercial cannabis activity, including delivery, is prohibited in all land use zoning districts, as those may be amended from time to time, and no permit of any type shall be issued therefor. It shall be unlawful for any person to conduct, cause to be conducted, or permit to be conducted, a commercial cannabis activity within the

unincorporated area of the County. Any person violating any provision of this Chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 86.09 (Enforcement) and Chapter 2 of Division 1 of Title 1 of this Code. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a misdemeanor violation may be cited, charged, and prosecuted as an infraction. This Section shall not affect the right to possess or use cannabis as authorized by Federal or State law.

(Ord. 4309, passed - -2016; Am. Ord. 4360, passed - -2019)