The High Desert Report » November 2011

Monthly Archives: November 2011

General

Publisher’s Message-November 2011

Published by:

By Joseph W. Brady, CCIM, SIOR

I wish to welcome our current and future subscribers of the 49th edition of the Bradco High Desert Report, the only economic overview of the High Desert region, covering the northern portion of San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire. We more specifically address economic issues affecting the cities of Adelanto, Barstow, Hesperia, Victorville, and the Town of Apple Valley.

As always, we wish to thank our committed article suppliers (over 135) and our newsletter sponsors for their continued commitment to our endeavor, and our attempt to find positive, factual and interesting information as it relates to the High Desert economy.

As I’ve said over the past eight (8) editions, I strongly believe that our global economy, our nation, our state, the Inland Empire, and the High Desert region are currently challenged with a very serious financial crisis, a crisis that we’ve never seen before. As publisher of the Bradco High Desert Report, I still believe the “glass is half full”, as evidenced by our continuing attempt to monitor the High Desert region and make information available to those that have an inherent interest in the High Desert region.

When we published the 45th edition, we made the Bradco High Desert Report available electronically and now nearly 2,000± people receive that and any updates we have relative to commercial, industrial, office activity, increase and decrease in absorption and/or vacancy or any other information that we deem appropriate to notify those that care about the High Desert economy.

If you are not receiving information from our office in an electronic fashion, with up-to-date economic information, you may sign up for free at www.thebradcocompanies.com/register.

Having published 49 editions of the Bradco High Desert Report, we are nearing our 50th edition, which we anticipate to be completed by February 15th, 2012. Most importantly, I’m pleased to make some monumental announcements, as it relates to the Bradco High Desert Report, and The Bradco Companies.

On September 12th, 2011, Ronald J. Barbieri, Ph.D., CPA and Mr. Nicholas DiCosola, formerly employed as founding shareholders of Lee & Associates-Inland Empire North, became founding partners with The Bradco Companies.

On September 21st, 2011, Dr. Barbieri, Mr. DiCosola, and I met our new partners with an organization known as TCN Worldwide at their annual conference in Chicago.

We were proud to become a part of The Bradco Companies/TCN Worldwide. TCN Worldwide, a consortium of independent commercial real estate firms, provides completed, integrated real estate solutions locally and internationally. With approximately $21.6 billion in annual transactions, and over 80,000,000 square feet of space under management, the organization ranks as one of the largest service providers in the industry, and based on the commercial property executive rankings for 2011, this makes The Bradco Companies/TCN Worldwide the largest company of its size within the High Desert region. Formed in 1989, TCN Worldwide is comprised of over 800 commercial real estate professionals, serving more than 200 primary and secondary markets worldwide.

I wish to welcome Ron Barbieri, Ph.D., CPA as Co-Editor of our publication. Ron Barbieri has joined our longtime Editor, Mr. Lowell Draper, a former Professor at Victor Valley Community College and a retired teacher who makes the final adjustments to our publication before they are printed. Dr. Barbieri spent a tremendous amount of time preparing his first article, “The Demand for Industrial Space in the High Desert and Inland Empire has Increased Substantially Over the Last Two Years.” Besides information obtained from our five (5) incorporated cities, we also have information this quarter from Mr. Bob Thompson (Las Vegas) who monitors the High Desert housing market and is an expert in doing so, our friend, Mr. Bill Greulich, Public Relations Director for Victor Valley Community College District, Mr. Brian Parno of Stirling Development LLC and Stirling Airports International, the joint venture developer of the former George Air Force Base, now called Southern California Logistics Airport.

I would be remise if I did not welcome our friends and client, Mr. Larry George, President, Mr. Douglas A. Hanby, Chief Financial Officer of United Furniture Industries, Inc, as well as Robert T. Cottam, III, Vice President of Piedmont Risk Management/United Furniture Industries, Inc of Mississippi and North Carolina, who have recently leased through The Bradco Companies the largest square footage lease transaction ever completed by a broker in the region, a 505,192 square foot LEED Certified Gold Industrial space at Southern California Logistics Airport, that will eventually over the next 36-months create 400 jobs.

I’m honored to have had the privilege to work with such a fine company, and I want to thank Mayor Ryan McEachron and his very capable staff of the City of Victorville, Mr. Keith Metzler, Economic Development Director for the City of Victorville and also the Executive Director for Southern California Logistics Airport, First District Supervisor Mr. Brad Mitzelfelt, Mrs. Sandy Harmsen and Mr. Nick Demartz from the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board, and Mr. Robert Lovingood, President of ICR Staffing Services, Inc/DegreedJobs.com, for all the work that they did to help secure this client.

We wish to re-welcome Assemblyman Steve Knight, Mr. Ty Schuiling, the Interim Executive Director for the San Bernardino Association of Governments (SANBAG), the Victor Valley Transit Authority, who is about ready to move into its new facility in Hesperia, Ms. Sheri Davis of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership/Film Commission, Superintendent Dale Marsden of the Victor Valley Elementary School District, the High Desert’s Chair of the San Bernardino County “Alliance for Education” and a very well-known and respected educator, Mr. Tom Shields representing the Barstow Casino Resort, our newest assemblyman responsible for the Town of Apple Valley/Hesperia 59th District Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, Mr. Jonathan Weldy, President of the BIA Baldy View Chapter, Ms. Vici Nagel, PresidentCEO of the High Desert Resource Network, Mr. Darin Cooke and our friends at Caltrans-District 8 and the Victor Valley Community Services Council.

I can’t thank Dr. Alfred Gobar enough for 49 continual articles and to help us advance to our 50th edition, while being challenged with health issues. I recently had dinner with Dr. Gobar and I can assure you that he has not lost his sense of humor, is as enjoyable to have dinner with as anyone I’ve ever met and we convey to him on a continual basis how much our subscribers and readership enjoy reading his articles, his editorials, and his facts. Dr. Gobar, keep up the great job, thanks for your friendship and guidance. We look forward to preparing our 50th edition with you.

Lastly, and most importantly, if you wish to continue to receive a copy of the Bradco High Desert Report, any statistical reports, op-ed articles that we post to our website for free, please register at our website at www.thebradcocompanies.com/register. We help that you have a enjoyable holiday and winter season, and we look forward to producing our 50th edition be February 15th, 2012.

Economy

Tenuous Optimism Prevails

Published by:

By Dr. Alfred J. Gobar
Chairman, Alfred Gobar Associates

The last issue of the newsletter provided preliminary evidence of improving economic conditions that will eventually affect the High Desert’s economy and real estate market. Although recent trends are far from robust, they do continue to be positive, as indicated in the graph in Exhibit 1. The low point in the employment index in July 2011 is higher than the previous low point, which is a positive indicator. This relationship is made more explicit in terms of change in nonagricultural wage and salary employment over the twelve months ended July 2011. During this interval, the six-county Southern California area experienced growth in total non-farm employment of 49,300 jobs—about one-third the “average” level of growth in nonagricultural wage and salary employment in Southern California over longer periods of time. Gross increase in nonagricultural wage and salary employment in the six-county Southern California area over this interval was 65,300 jobs. This increase was mitigated by a decline of 16,000 jobs in the government sector, primarily in terms of federal government employment and decline in state and local education employment.

These trends suggest some improvement on the demand side of the supply/demand equation that defines housing markets. As would be expected in light of economic circumstances, little new housing has been added on the High Desert in recent months. During the first half of 2011, a total of 188 new units were authorized by permit for construction in the High Desert area—mostly in Victorville. Extrapolating six months’ data to a full year suggests total permit activity on the order of 370 to 400 units a year, comparable to the full-year permit activity for 2010.

In 2005, 8,295 new units were authorized by permit in the High Desert. Permit activity is down ±95.0 percent from the 2005 level. An interesting aspect of the permit data is the increase in target value of new single-family units being authorized for construction on the High Desert. This indicates an above-average proportion of these units are probably custom homes.

The overall relationship of building permit activity on the High Desert and in Southern California as a whole is shown graphically in Exhibit 2. The graphs show that for both Southern California as a whole and the High Desert, building permit activity recently has been at unprecedented low levels, indicating that new supply is not a threat to the housing market on the High Desert in the near term in any sense of the word. Foreclosures, short sales, etc., occasioned by the unusual financial structure of the housing market prior to the collapse, however, imply ample supply.

The statistics suggest we probably have passed the bottom of the cycle, and that the trends should improve in coming months. Note, however, on the basis of the materials in Exhibit 1, it is likely to take quite some time to return supply and demand conditions to those we saw in 2007. A simple extrapolation suggests that recovery to this level of market activity is unlikely to occur before 2017—about six years from now.

Even this doleful extrapolation may be optimistic in light of the relatively slower economic recovery evident currently than was the case during recovery from the 1990’s recession.

Unemployment rates continue to be extraordinarily high. The official unemployment rate probably understates the degree of dislocation in terms of employment evident in the real world. One interesting glitz in the employment data is that although establishment-based nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased in the twelve months ended July 2011, the other indicator of overall employment—employment estimates generated by household surveys—showed a net decrease over the same interval, which may mean that the net effect of the improved employment figures may be less positive than they appear, reinforcing Harry Truman’s observation that he preferred one-armed economists so they could not resort to saying…”On the other hand…” Over the twelve-month period ended July 2011, nonagricultural wage and salary employment actually declined in the Inland Empire, while on an overall basis in Southern California there was a net increase. The bulk of the increase occurred in San Diego County and Orange County, and, to a minor degree, in Los Angeles County.

More detail with regard to the supply-side figures based on building permit data shows that in 2011 the High Desert accounted for the smallest proportion of new single-family units authorized by permit in Southern California in any of the years tabulated since 1980. Only 2.24 percent of the new single-family units authorized by permit in Southern California during the first half of 2011 were in the High Desert area, while during boom periods the High Desert has accounted for more than 12.0 percent of the new single-family units authorized for construction in the six-county Southern California region.

At the national level, unemployment continues at an extraordinarily high level. At a little above 9.0 percent, the national unemployment figure for the U.S. has stubbornly remained at near record highs for several years, reflecting unemployment trends similar to those observed in Germany and France in the first half of the last decade where unemployment levels remained above 9.0 percent for several years before and after 2000. This comparison suggests the possibility that enduring high levels of unemployment may be a characteristic of welfare economies, such as the U.S. is apparently becoming. On the other hand, Sweden and Norway experienced reasonably satisfactory unemployment levels during most of the last decade. The European Union overall generally had unemployment rates on average in excess of 7.5 percent throughout the decade of the 2000’s. Hopefully, this does not imply that as the U.S. moves closer to the European model of welfare state, we have to accept as a concomitant an enduring and sustained level of high unemployment. Welfare states tend to sustain an environment that provides incentive for avoiding work by people with a predisposition to do so, which may account for the difference in unemployment rates at the margin between welfare states and free market economies.

Another analogous period of high and enduring unemployment rate was our own depression (the 1930’s) during which we had high long-lasting unemployment rates despite massive public spending and rapid progress towards a welfare state. Could it be that pursuit of a welfare state and concurrent big public spending are associated with high unemployment over an extended timeframe, contrary to what people my age were taught in graduate school? Maybe my Ph.D. in economics was based on an erroneous theory? Will I be asked to return my diploma?

The U.S. currently appears to be in a contest to define itself as either a free market economy or a welfare state. Economic uncertainty that is a byproduct of this clash of philosophies has the spillover effect of discouraging investment, employment growth, etc., associated with demand for newly-developed real state and, therefore, has a special impact on the economy of the High Desert which has historically been dependent on real estate development as a stimulus for local economic growth.

Economy

Anatomy of a Market Collapse

Published by:

By Bob Thompson – Advanced Listing Services

Beginning in January 2005, observe that median price was increasing in a steady fashion until the first quarter of 2006. Then began a precipitous decline in the price schedule until 3rd quarter of 2009, when the market plateaued after losing over $200,000 in median price value.

Notice that demand (closed properties) peaked in the 2nd quarter of 2005, about 1 year before price declines begin. Demand then continued to decline until the first quarter of 2008, then declined again (double dip) and has now steadied. Failures increased to unprecedented levels and have now declined to 2005 levels.

Market efficiency (the ratio of closings to total attempts to list) peaked in April of 2005 and declined steadily to the bottom in October of 2007. It has now climbed back to former levels and steadied.

Now here is the lesson in all this. The market began to fail in July of 2005. Prices peaked in May of 2006 (almost a year later.) As the market was failing,property values continued to rise to the peak, and then collapsed over a period of about 900 days to the current plateau.

The market sent fair warning that went unheeded. The question is did agents and brokers do their part in communicating market reality? If they warned, did sellers listen or did they hire another agent that told them what they wanted to hear? Thousands were financially crushed over the time period. I fear it was a bit of both.

Transportation

I-15 and I-215 Devore Junction Goods Movement Improvement Project

Published by:

The junction of Interstate 15 and Interstate 215 near Devore, California, is one of the worst grade-related bottlenecks in the USA. Severe delays are common, especially during peak afternoon and weekend hours. The purpose of the proposed project is to reduce congestion, reduce accidents, and improve freeway operation.

Caltrans and SANBAG have studied a number of proposed improvements for the interchange. These improvements include the addition of one northbound lane and one southbound lane on Interstate 15 between Interstate 215 and Glen Helen Parkway, where the current freeway is three lanes in each direction. The addition of the new lanes would provide a continuous set of four lanes in each direction between State Route 60 and US Highway 395. This would allow motorists to travel through the interchange without having to change lanes or lose lanes in the process.

The proposed improvements to Interstate 15 would allow this freeway to be the primary movement for traffic, with I-215 traffic merging and diverging from the right-hand side of the freeway. These improvements would reduce traffic delays, improve the flow of goods through the region and enhance the reliability of goods headed to and from freight facilities in the San Bernardino Valley and the Victor Valley.

Truck bypass lanes are also being considered to help improve traffic flow along this major freight movement route. I-15 is designated a Corridor of National Significance, and this interchange is a critical bottleneck for the region. Adding truck bypass lanes would eliminate the need for slower-moving trucks to weave across heavy, faster-moving automobile traffic to enter the right lanes as they pass through the interchange.

In addition, the project will enhance local road operations, notably the connection of Cajon Boulevard/Route 66 through the interchange. This connection will allow local traffic to travel through Devore directly from north to south without entering the freeway or winding hilly, county roads.

The preliminary cost estimate for the project is more than $350 million. Cost estimates vary, based upon the design alternatives. A total of $118 million has been programmed for the interchange from the State Highway Operations and Protection Program. Other federal, state, and local funding sources will be sought to fund the balance of the project. Local sources include Measure I, the half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements in San Bernardino County.

Economy General Nonprofits

High Desert Resource Network

Published by:

By Vici Nagel, President/CEO
High Desert Resource Network

As we in San Bernardino County focus on the economy and how to turn it around locally, I urge us all to think about how nonprofit organizations can and do play a significant role in local economic activity … and what we can do to strengthen that role. “Nonprofits” present our county with huge opportunities for economic growth and it is time for serious investment in this sector!

First, a word about the term, “nonprofit.” I cannot think of any other industry who’s title tells you what it is not, rather than what it is! In my opinion, the term “nonprofit” should be replaced because it causes all sorts of misconceptions about the sector. It is a term that comes from the Internal Revenue Service, which basically means that these types of businesses, and they are businesses, may not distribute their excess revenues over expenses, their “profits,” to owners. Instead, nonprofits must reinvest all of their “profits” back in to their nonprofit purposes; such as caring for the sick, sheltering the homeless, and preparing our next generation of leaders.

It has long been understood that nonprofit organizations provide value to communities as they help improve the quality of life and mitigate a host of ills. What is often overlooked, however, is the economic impact nonprofit programs and services have. Here are a few examples:

• Every dollar invested in quality early care and education for children saves taxpayers up to $13.00 in future costs.

• An investment of $10 per person per year in proven community-based programs to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and prevent smoking and other tobacco use could save California more than $1.7 billion in annual health care costs within 5 years.

• Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year.

In our county, nonprofit organizations contribute a great deal of economic activity. Nonprofits purchase numerous goods and services, mostly in the local economy, including things such as real estate, rental property, utilities, insurance, office supplies and equipment, financial services and printing to name a few. They hire employees who purchase houses and cars and pay local property and income taxes. Following are a few stats about our county’s nonprofit sector:

• There are more than 5,000 nonprofit organizations in San Bernardino County.

• They employ 5% of the workforce.

• They spend more than $3 billion annually.

• They control roughly $4 billion in assets.

In addition to the current benefits nonprofit organizations already provide our community, they are also a greatly untapped resource for generating additional economic activity in our recession-worn region. For example, the disparity in foundation funding to local nonprofits is staggering: California nonprofit organizations annually secure an average of $119 per capita in private foundation grants, while San Bernardino County nonprofits average just $3 per capita.

Let me repeat that another way … our communities receive $116 per person less than the state average in foundation funding. With more than 2 million county residents, that amounts to $230+ million a year in untapped resources for local food banks, domestic violence shelters, children’s charities and more.

This certainly begs the question, “Why?” Why, with vastly higher levels of need does our county receive vastly less funding to address those needs?

My colleagues in the region and I believe the answer is multifaceted. First, there are very few foundations located in San Bernardino County, so we must attract outside investment. Second, the huge size of our region makes collaborations that foundations want to fund, more difficult. Third, the majority of local nonprofits are small and under-developed, and less sophisticated in their efforts to attract funds.

That’s the bad news, but the good news can be summed up in the word “opportunity!”

With our county recently bringing together all of its 24 cities and towns to craft a shared vision, the opportunity for collaboration has never been greater. This collaborative effort to create a better future can be the cornerstone we need for advancing the nonprofit sector and attracting major support from foundations outside our region.

Another opportunity that exists is the organization I work for, High Desert Resource Network. As we work with county government, the local philanthropic community, and our extensive network of nonprofit partners, our vital social service sector continues to grow and increase services. For example, as the region’s nonprofit management support center, our training programs have been proven to have a 4:1 benefit. In other words, each $1,000 High Desert Resource Network spends on training provided to make nonprofits stronger, helps those organizations generate an additional $4,000 for services for the community.

Finally, the biggest opportunity lies in those funding disparity numbers. What would you invest to generate a $230+ million annual return? And, where would you invest it? I challenge all Bradco High Desert Report readers to seriously consider investing in the strengthening of the region’s nonprofit sector.

For further information about how you can get involved in the exciting opportunities strengthening the region’s nonprofits pose, email me at vgnagel@yahoo.com. I can’t wait to work with you to create a prosperous future for our community!

Vici Nagel is a 30-year nonprofit professional and President/CEO of High Desert Resource Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in our region by supporting and strengthening the social service sector. Further information may be found at www.hdrnetwork.org.

General Nonprofits

Victor Valley Community Services Council

Published by:

By Midge M. Nicosia
Director of Programs Adminstration

The Victor Valley Community Services Council is the High Desert’s very first non-profit service agency. Established in 1956, the VVCSC began with the purpose of meeting the emerging needs of the community. The VVCSC is committed to “promote and sustain the quality of life for persons and organizations in the High Desert through education, collaboration of services and new program developments.”

In her book Pearl’s Story, the founder Pearl Barstow Pettis recalls the first project of the VVCSC was to number the houses in the Victor Valley so that the mail could be delivered. In a study financed by Southwest Portland Cement, the VVCSC started numbering with homes at the Cajon Pass continuing throughout the valley, which “made life easier for a lot of people” as well as emergency vehicles.

Pearl goes on to recall that the VVCSC Thrift Shop funded the beginning of counseling services from the San Bernardino Family Service Agency in the High Desert, Emergency Welfare, Christmas Baskets, a Senior Citizens Club and the United Fund.

In six years the VVCSC received California’s award for the council most successfully meeting the human needs of the community, the High Desert, at a grass roots level. At the time, this was in competition with much larger cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.

It is clear that the VVCSC plays a major roll in the history of the High Desert and is continuing to do so with each new program developed, and yet many are not aware of its presence.

VVCSC is currently operating free programs for High Desert seniors, low to mid income and over 60 years of age. The VVCSC is a vendor of the Department of Aging and Adult service through Title IIIB funds and a current recipient of The Town of Apple Valley Community Development Block Grant dollars.

For seniors who are no longer working, often the only source of income is a small social security benefit. Some seniors have had their personal investments decrease with the economy, and a growing variety of illnesses have increased their payments to the pharmacy.

It may seem like some seniors have the ideal lifestyle, retired with a house paid off and no more kids to send to college. A car and a home that is paid for is not enough to get them by when they can’t drive and their home is in need of repair.

Perfectly capable of caring for themselves, many High Desert seniors simply need a little extra help that will allow them to remain at home. The goal of the VVCSC is to keep High Desert Seniors living independently at home, out of managed care, by providing access to life’s necessities and enabling them to do so.

Funded through grant monies, fundraising efforts and the generosity of charitable partners, programs for seniors include a Minor Home Repair and Modification Program, Transportation Program, Visiting Program, and Telephone Reassurance Program.

Although funding from the Department of Aging and Adult Services has been steady for the last few years, it is not enough to keep the doors open full time. The VVCSC is a part time organization open Monday through Thursday from 9am until 3pm. San Bernardino County non profits are feeling the recession of the economy. As shown by a study commissioned by the James Irvine Foundation in 2009, the per capita state, federal and foundation funding for San Bernardino County community based organizations is $3 versus the statewide average of $119 per capita. This makes it even more important for individuals and private sector to become involved in supporting our local service agencies, which assist with a great variety of needs in their community, many acting unseen and unspoken of.

There are a large number of older residents and mobile homes in the High Desert. Due to the extreme environments, combined with lack of funds, many senior citizens live in dilapidating conditions. Many are unable to afford the necessary repairs and some fall prey to those who would take advantage of their frail state with severe price inflation.

VVCSC’s Minor Home Repair and Modification Program is available to provide solutions to health and welfare issues, which may develop into hazardous situations. Some examples of such issues are grab bar installation, plumbing and electrical fixture repair or installation, minor swamp cooler repairs and maintenance, and broken windows open to the elements. This program does not address aesthetic improvements such as painting.

With its Transportation Program the VVCSC provides seniors, who cannot drive, access to life’s necessities such as doctor appointments, banking, and grocery shopping with a door-to-door individualized appointment. This is a non-assisted transportation program not able to accommodate wheelchairs at this time.

Friendly Visiting and Telephone Reassurance programs provide comfort for those home bound or institutionalized who need that extra personal connection. Visits are done with or without friendly dogs and can be made to groups or individuals for short periods of time.The Telephone Reassurance Program calls individuals at home twice a week to make sure they are not in need of any assistance while providing a comforting voice to a lonely senior.

Operating with only three part time employees, the VVCSC depends on the community volunteer efforts and is always in search of dedicated men and women who would like to participate in its mission. A budget of little more than $100,000 at this time, the council continues to be a center for assistance to the High Desert, as was its founders dream.

Available to all residents through the VVCSC is the First Call For Help 24/7 Information Line, staffed by volunteers and the Alternative Sentencing Program serving the Victorville and Barstow courts as a member of the California League of Alternative Sentencing. The Alternative Sentencing Program is a fee for service program assigning those needing to perform community service to over 200 different non profit agencies in the High Desert and Barstow areas. The council still fiscally sponsors new non profits while they work toward their goal of independence and has been responsible for the incubation of many you may know today, including the High Desert Homeless Shelter, Victorville Senior Citizens Center, and the Desert Communities United Way.

If you are interested in volunteering your time, providing in kind or financial support to an organization that has been a valuable network for many High Desert residents over the last five decades, please contact the office of the Victor Valley Community Services Council at (760) 243-9646. Email vvcsc@vvcsc.com

First Call For Help Information Line (760) 240-8255

 

Economy

Putting Job Creation at the Forefront of Public Policy

Published by:

By Jonathan Weldy
President BIA Baldy View

The Building Industry Association Baldy View Chapter (BIA) recognizes how important infrastructure funding is for the long-term health of communities in which we build. Public infrastructure, particularly in the more rural communities of the High Desert remains a key component of building great communities, and the building community continues to seek to pay its fair share for these projects. However, we are concerned that San Bernardino County’s recent decision to begin the process of implementing a development impact fee (DIF) program will ultimately hurt the already fragile construction industry in our region and will not help to alleviate the existing infrastructure challenges our region faces.

For the record, home builders in the unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County do indeed currently pay per-home “fair share” transportation fees to help build new roads as required under the 2005 extension of Measure I, which the BIA supported along with numerous elected leaders and stakeholders. Similarly, home builders in San Bernardino County also currently pay fees for new schools and connection fees for water infrastructure. In addition, San Bernardino County currently charges a variety of permit fees, which they recently increased as well.

It is important to recognize all of these aforementioned development fees currently paid in the unincorporated areas of the county account for hundreds of millions of dollars for new infrastructure that improve the quality of life for current and future county residents. These fees are also carefully calculated based on objective economic variables, such as land and construction costs and paid on a per-home basis.

Indeed, some infrastructure fees within the county, such as parks, are paid on a project-by-project basis but are based on careful cost estimates calculated by county staff – not some arbitrary figure open to negotiation as the editorial suggests. Regardless, before adopting a $250,000 consultant contract that would seek to expand this aspect of fee collection, we have requested that the process be put on hold indefinitely until a careful analysis of the economic and job impacts of the proposal are considered.

San Bernardino County should first consider to what extent the proposed fee expansion would adversely impact the uncertainty of construction costs in an already volatile market. It is important to first embark on a careful and deliberative public review of any unintentional consequences to the proposed fee expansion, such as discouraging future land purchases, entitlements, and overall development resulting in fewer homes at higher prices, which inevitably all lead down the dead end road to fewer jobs and a longer recession.

There’s no debate that improvement of the 9% national and 14% countywide unemployment rate will be led by the job creation from new home development and the economic spark it also provides by triggering future commercial or retail job growth. To illustrate, a 2009 study by Dr. John Husing noted that over 54% or 141,000 jobs lost between 2005 to 2009 were linked to construction. Also, the decrease in the High Desert building activity in the past years shows just how much the construction industry has deteriorated. In 2005, the High Desert cities (Adelanto, Apple Valley, Hesperia and Victorville) issued 6,408 single family building permits. They issued 5,362 in 2006 and 1,942 in 2007. The cities issued 432 permits in 2008, 330 in 2009, and 407 in 2010. Through the first eight months of 2011, those cities have issued only 119 permits.

In addition, a July study released by the National Association of Homebuilder’s Economic and Housing Policy group finds that on average, regulations and fees imposed by governments at all levels account for 25% of the final price of a new single-family home built for sale. This is a hefty price home buyers are paying for government regulations and represents just one more obstacle to job creation and economic recovery. We hope San Bernardino County leaders will take a moment to pause before adding to this regulatory burden.

No matter how the county collects revenue from development, there is one simple fact that we cannot overlook: If there is NO development, the county will collect NO fees, regardless of what type of mitigation program is in place. Construction is the cornerstone of our economy, particularly in the High Desert, and we are unfortunately feeling all the effects of a market downturn: high unemployment, low construction activity, and low tax and fee revenues for our local jurisdictions. During this time of great economic challenge, our local jurisdictions should be doing everything they can to promote construction activity and to get people back to work. A new fee program will do just the opposite.

Economy Film Politics

Inland Empire Film Commission

Published by:

By Sheri Davis

During this economic age, the one thing feature film productions hunt after are tax incentives. So in 2009, California started offering production tax incentives through 2014 in hopes to encourage companies to stay in the state. Recently, the California State Senate voted to extend the state’s Film & Television Tax Credit Program for one more year. The original legislation (AB 1069) which passed the State Assembly as a five-year extension (through 2020), was amended in the Senate on August 26th to provide a one-year, $100 million extension (through 2015). If signed by the governor, it will add one year to the current five-year, $500 million program. Although the film commission’s pushed for an incentive “bump” on the original bill passed in 2009 to encourage the industry to travel outside of its comfort zone of Los Angeles, it was never included. The Film Commissions in the State are hoping that when this bill gets to the Senate, that piece will be added to encourage filming all across the state.

Feature filming is still on the decline as the studios continue to search for the best incentives around the world. The incentive package that the State of California implemented in 2009 did fund lots of smaller budgeted feature films; however most of the large tentpole features are still leaving because the program is not available to films over $75 million. In light of that, The Inland Empire Film Commission (IEFC) still capture 12 features, mostly in the desert areas of San Bernardino County. Some of those features included the Green Lantern, Fast Five (aka Fast & Furious 5), Thor and Priest. The feature film Priest reported expenditures of $625,718 in the High Desert when they filmed on Soggy Dry Lake.

There were 18 television shows that found exactly what they needed in the San Bernardino County desert. Shows like Chaos, Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files, Car Nutz, Wheels Up (for the Speed Channel), Top Gear (U.S. and U.K. versions), It’s Effin Science, Man vs Wild, Storage Wars, and The Event.

Commercial and still photography are still the two main types of production that select the region. 118 projects were shot in the area during 2010. The big attraction for the film industry is the open vistas, great light and diversity of locations.

We are in the final stages of opening existing BLM land for filming in the 1st District of San Bernardino County. We worked with Supervisor Mitzelfelt to accomplish this goal, that was started all the way back in 1999. The IEFC manages this project between the Bureau of Land Management and the County of San Bernardino.

The IEFC did numerous marketing ventures that showcased the desert at several Trade Shows in 2010. Being outside of the 30-mile zone has its challenges, but as residents and industry professionals in the valley work with the IEFC, we have developed our own local “incentive package”….hotels willing to give competitive rates, restaurants and other service providers offering incentives and, of course, the crew that is resident in the valley is always there to help.

The economy slowed down commercial production for 2010 but the High Desert still managed to hold its own with film companies electing to stay in California.

The 16th Annual California on Location Awards once again brought recognition to the High Desert with a number of the finalists who shot their projects in the desert region. The 2010 event attracted over 525 Industry professionals and was hosted by the premier awards hotel – the Beverly Hilton.

The California Film Commission’s “Power Breakfast” always gets attention as the Dumont Dunes was highlighted as one of the six photos used on the one-page flyer dedicated to the Inland Empire. This year’s breakfast was hosted by the Softiel Hotel in Beverly Hills, and 85 Studio Executives and production company owners attended.

The2010 estimated economic impact for District 1 was $8,995,500 and District 3 for 2010 was $3,765,500 for a total of $12,761,000.

Education Politics

Public-Private Efforts Bring Aviation Tech School to VVC

Published by:

By Brad Mitzelfelt
1st District Supervisor, San Bernardino

An educated and well-trained workforce is essential to attracting the types of business that will carry the High Desert economy into the future.

Aviation is one of those industries, and Southern California Logistics Airport has already proven itself to be the regional economic engine we imagined after the U.S. Air Force left in the early 1990s.

Providing a ready supply of qualified aircraft technicians makes SCLA even more attractive to aviation companies. One of the most successful public-private education efforts has been the Southern California Logistics Airport School of Aviation Technology.

One of my main economic development goals was to see the school become self-sufficient. The program is now fully integrated with Victor Valley College.

Students who have graduated with their full airframe and powerplant certification from the Federal Aviation Administration are already being snapped up by area companies. Aviation technicians earn a good middle-class wage with experienced technicians able to earn six figures.

New students will be invited to begin the aviation training program in the Spring 2012 Semester. Students who are interested in the program will now be eligible for college credits and financial aid in addition to meeting the stringent licensing requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The program’s transition was brokered with support from my First District office by the Victor Valley College Foundation, whose leaders remained involved with the Victor Valley Aviation Education Consortium during the independent start up of the school. The Foundation’s involvement in securing a grant that allowed the college to provide funding for a contracted training program through the school reopened the dialog about a college takeover. Throughout the past year, the foundation has led the partnership between the college and the Aviation Consortium to that end.

“The foundation was uniquely positioned to make this transition happen.” said Dr. Christopher O’Hearn, Superintendent / President. “They are truly a valuable partner for the college and make great things happen for our student’s every day.”

The process was also bolstered significantly by support from my First District office and the Southern California Logistics Airport Authority (SCLAA). My office secured funding from the County of San Bernardino to establish an endowment that will partially support operations of the training program at Victor Valley College and provide scholarships for its students every year. The SCLAA offered to continue providing facilities at no cost for the school, which reduced some of the burden for the college to take on the training program amidst its most challenging budget situation yet.

Establishing the school as a self-sufficient program has been a difficult but worthwhile effort with benefits for the entire regional economy. The pay-off will be apparent for the new technicians who will have high quality, long-term jobs, and for the local aviation industry which has access to highly trained workers.

Education is everyone’s business and the aviation technology school is a great example of how private industry and government can work together for the betterment of the local economy.

Education

Victor Valley College’s 50th Anniversary

Published by:

By Bill Greulich, Public Information Officer
President’s Office

The year 2011 represents a milestone in the history of Victor Valley College. It is the 50th Anniversary of the college and its service to students. During these five decades, the college has experienced many changes. The most significant change is the growth of student enrollments. Student population has grown from 500 full-time students to more than 13,500 individual students with some taking a minimum schedule of three credits to others carrying a full load of 15 credits of more. This growth has subjected the college to many major challenges, chief among them, is the demand for more classes and classrooms space to serve the need. This need is being addressed with the construction of new facilities in Apple Valley and the future expansion of the college into a second campus in Hesperia.

The second major challenge is the need to maintain and upgrade eroding infrastructure,roadways, parking lots, and unsafe, inadequate access to and from the campus.

Fortunately, these concerns were addressed in 2008, when the citizens of the High Desert voted to approve a local bond measure (JJ) to assist the college to build new facilities, upgrade infrastructure, and repair or replace parking lots and roadways. Also, Redevelopment funds (RDA’s) were set aside to address these issues. Today, the college is taking action.

This important work is now underway. Student safety, cost savings, and sustainability played key roles in all of the decisions regarding the projects outlined in this report. The projects include roadway repair, parking lot replacement, energy management, and beautification/sustainability.

VVC Campus Wide Roadway and Parking Lot Replacement

Over the summer, the college completed the first major overhaul of roadways and parking lots since the current campus was built in 1964. These upgrades include a safer, more uniform transition for student from the major thoroughfares to and from campus,repairs tocrumbling parking lots and roadways and redirects the flow of traffic that has been a concern for campus and community officials for years. Working with local architectural and engineering firms, the VVC Facilities Construction department, traffic consultants, the City of Victorville, the VVC Campus Police, and the Facilities Committee, VVC now offers students and the community a more logical solution to trafficcongestion. The entrance to campus at Jacaranda, Fish Hatchery andFrancesca roads have all been redesigned and engineered tominimize congestion and provide safer access to and from the campus. The redesign has substantially reduced the backup of cars on the major arteries bordering the campus. The project also included the complete replacement of parking lots 1, 2, and 3; new construction of an addition to parking lot #16; and replacement of the “loop road” from Fish Hatchery Road at the entrance to the maintenance yard around to the main entrance at Jacaranda.

Energy Management System

The second major economic development at VVC is the Energy Efficiency Project. This project will accomplish three major goals. First, the project will manage all mechanical systems with the use of computer programs that are design to control energy usage throughout the campus. Next, it will tie the Allied Health Building to the central plant for air handling. The final element of the Energy Efficiency Project is the replacement of all campus lighting with more energy efficient alternatives. This system will save the college thousands of dollars much the same as the solar field that is now saving the college a third of its energy costs.

Campus Beautification and Sustainability

The beautification project runs from and encompasses the eastside of the main entrance to the west side of the marquee. It stretches from the border of the lake and those buildings located in this front position facing Bear Valley Road. A small portion of this project also includes the border of the property that connects to a major street next to the campus. The benefit to the campus and the community lies in its ability reduce water usage, lower maintenance costs, and provide an ascetically pleasing, endurable, sustainable desert landscape that requires no upgrades for decades to come. The project also provides a standardized material list for trees, shrubs, inorganic material, and site furnishings to create a uniform campus look and theme.

The cost of these projects is $2.1 million for roads and parking lots, $1.8 million for energy efficiency and $614,000 for sustainability and beautification.

Much of the work has been and will be provided by local contractors and labor. These projects, when completed, should have an economic effect of nearly $14 million dollars for our local community.

 

Education

Full STEAM for the High Desert: What Local Leaders are Doing to Make Education the High Desert’s # 1 Economic Priority

Published by:

By Dale Marsden, Ed.D. Superintendent
Victor Elementary School District

The statistics are startling: About one in five high school students (21.6%) drop out before their senior year; less than six out of ten who do graduate from high school actually attend community college; and if they do go, less than 40% of the high desert population is CSU/UC eligible. (Oh, and by the way, if you want to guess when the last time was that a high school diploma could land you a job to provide for your family, the answer is at the end of this article.) At the end of the day, when the rubber meets the real world of work, less than 11% of adults in the high desert have a BA or higher degree. Following interviews with dozens of political, business, education, and community leaders, everyone is finally in agreement on one point: It hurts bad enough!

Echoing recent comments from John Husing, the Inland Empire’s leading economist, if we are going to turn our local economy from “survive to thrive,” we must first address the quality of our educational system to ensure a prepared and highly skilled workforce to meet the demands of our 21st Century. We cannot expect to address the larger issues of global competition, nor hope to sustain America as the leading nation in innovation and creativity, without looking first at our own backyard. We must engage the students and adults in our community in rigorous, relevant content that causes authentic preparation for the actual world of work. Call it paradigm shift, if you will, as we begin to think of our schools as our community’s largest employment agencies. If we are going to turn the economic tide and avoid Einstein’s definition of insanity, “Doing the same thing and expecting different results,” we must act cohesively. In short, the level of urgency of our collective community response is directly correlated to our pocketbook!

In his latest book, Education Nation (2010), Milton Chen, executive director of The George Lucas Educational Foundation, calls us to,

“Imagine an ‘Education Nation,’ a learning society where the education of children and adults is the highest national priority, on par with a strong economy, high employment and national security. Where resources from public and private sources fund a ‘ladder of learning’ for learners of all ages, from pre-K through ‘gray.’ Where learners take courses through the formal institutions of high-quality schools and universities and also take advantage of informal experiences offered through museums, libraries, churches, youth groups, and parks as well as via the media.”

Similarly, as shared by local corporate leader, Eric Schmidt, Exquadrum, Vice President & COO, The Washington Post commentary for August 27, 2011, titled, “Science and tech firms need to play a bigger role in preparing the future workforce,” charged local educational institutions to “seek out industry leaders who can prepare students for the workplace, especially for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.” Reinventing our school system as a community-based approach is no easy task.

Yet, this is exactly the response several of our local business and community leaders have taken through their shared commitment to a Call to Action for the High Desert: STEAM 2020. Working under the auspices of the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Alliance for Education, over fifty local businesses, schools, community, and faith-based organizations are rallying efforts to meet a new goal for the high desert: By 2020, every child and adult in the Victor Valley will be prepared for the 21st Century Workforce by achieving their high school diploma concurrently with their community college degree (or vocational, trade or technical school equivalent certificate) in a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Applied Arts or Math) related field.

We are calling this our “BHAG” – Big Hairy Audacious Goal. It is certainly not for the faint in heart, nor is it a goal that can be entered into lightly. Earlier this month, with the assistance of National Baldrige Examiner Ruth Miller, local political, school, medical, faith-based, business, and sector leaders gathered to commit to this goal and they are determined to engage in specific action to ensure this goal is accomplished. In addition to representation from Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon’s and Senator Sharon Runner’s offices, the attendance list was quite impressive. Following is a partial list of those in attendance for the Call to Action:

• Assemblyman Steve Knight, 36th Assembly District

• Ryan McEachron, Mayor, City of Victorville

• Doug Robertson, City Manager, City of Victorville

• Michele Spears, CEO, Victorville Chamber of Commerce

• Robert Lovingood, President, ICR Staffing Services, Inc., and President, Board of Directors, Victorville Chamber of Commerce

• Dr. Beth Higbee, Assistant Superintendent, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools

• Dr. Christopher O’Hearn, Supt./President, Victor Valley Community College

• Joseph W. Brady, CCIM, SIOR, President, The Bradco Companies and Trustee for the Victor Valley Community College

• Chris Piercy, Director, K16 Bridge Program

• Rev. Dr. David Denson, Jr., Pastor/Founder, Burning Bush Baptist Church

• Dr. Dale Marsden, Superintendent, Victor Elementary School District

• Dr. Gary Elder, President, Board of Trustees, Victor Elementary School District

• Elvin Moman, Superintendent, Victor Union High School District

• Mike Hayhurst, Executive Director, Excelsior Education Center

• Tom Hoegerman, Superintendent, Apple Valley Unified High School District

• Rick Piercy, President/CEO, Lewis Center for Educational Research

• Leslie Rodden, Director of Higher Educ. & Work Force Development, Alliance for Education, San Bernardino County Supt. of Schools

• Bill and Linda Scott, President/CEO, Scott Turbon Mixer, Inc.

• Regina W. Bell, President/CEO, Gi & Associates

Since our first meeting date, this group has been coordinating efforts to act urgently and responsively to achieve STEAM 2020. Each of us, avoiding our laundry list of excuses, is working to strategically identify barriers to achieving our goal, and agreeing to focus on the “ONE THING” that we will do to make our goal for the high desert a reality. If you are a key stakeholder in the high desert’s economic success and are interested in being a part of this conversation and action, visit www.STEAM2020.com and get onboard, because we are “Full STEAM Ahead for the High Desert.”

The last time a high school diploma could land you a high-paying job? 1984!

Dr. Dale Marsden is the superintendent of the Victor Elementary School District and member of the Executive Board for the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Alliance for Education, and High Desert STEAM Region Lead. For more information, please email him directly at dmarsden@vesd.net.

Politics

California’s Green Dream

Published by:

By Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, 59th District

Politicians and special interest groups have been fighting for years to make their green dream a reality in California, even at the expense of our economy. Extreme environmentalism has emitted its influence into every sector of the marketplace – polluting the business climate with onerous regulations.

California was the land of the Gold Rush; it was where innovators and adventurers once flocked. Now, the state claims to have “gone green,” but entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers are fleeing in search of greener pastures. Something has gone horribly wrong. It is time to clear the air about environmental regulations and their devastating impact on business.

In 2006, the California Legislature passed AB32 “The Global Warming Solutions Act,” which has destroyed manufacturing, mining, and construction in the state. The bill passed when California had a 4.9% unemployment rate and grand hopes that the rest of the country would follow suit. Today the scales have tipped at 12.1% unemployment and nearly 22% underemployment and those hopes have been dashed. California may have been a trendsetter on some issues, but, not surprisingly, most states are unwilling to sacrifice jobs on the altar of a questionable plan to save the planet.

These green-utopia driven policies have put the state at a severe disadvantage. And this all for a reduction of less than 1% of greenhouse gas emissions around the world? As Cal State-Fullerton Professor Robert Michaels has been quoted as saying, “AB32 is the most incredibly effective psychotherapy I’ve ever seen.” No matter how “green” California strives to be, the simple truth remains that air has no borders. California’s actions are akin to leaving the air conditioner on full blast with all of the windows open and we are going broke because of it.

We are feeling the effects of this insanity now more than ever. In fact, California lost 5 times as many businesses in 2011 as it did in 2009. It is no wonder that many parts of the state have reached depression levels of unemployment. My district alone has lost thousands of jobs as businesses flee, the most recent example being Rainbird Sprinklers. Before coming to the Legislature I owned my own small business in manufacturing. I have personal experience working as a supplier to Rainbird, which has joined the long list of companies throwing their hands up at California’s regulation-heavy business environment. With them, will go hundreds of jobs in the middle of what I believe will one day be called the 2nd Great Depression. Given that Rainbird Sprinklers has dedicated resources to educate owners on water conservation and responsibility, the announcement speaks volumes about how extreme California really has become.

The fact is every regulation presents a huge capital cost, acting as a net tax increase. I regularly hear from frustrated business owners and hopeful entrepreneurs that doing business in California is more costly than it is worth. Those who are still here are wondering when the relief is coming. The number one reason cited for companies expanding outside or leaving the state altogether, is an excess of regulation. I constantly hear stories about how the environmental constraints are keeping job-creating companies from growing within California, especially in a timely manner. Ironically, environmental regulations are even hitting the so-called “green jobs.” I have learned of building projects taking up to 10 years to get off the ground, school busses unnecessarily retired, and potentially hazardous roadways left untouched. In large part, these cases are due to the cost of upgrading equipment to meet standards or the time-extensive environmental impact reports required before anyone can act.

Recently, you may have heard, the federal government decided to “invest” your tax dollars into a “green” company – Solyndra – even though the market for its success did not exist. This would serve as a prime example and test of the Democrat’s plan to create a new economy based on “green jobs.” Government cannot create an industry; it can only create programs. Citing Spain as his example, President Obama poured half a billion dollars into the company. The dirty little secret is that Spain has since backed down from its extensive green energy plan, but not before devastating employment in the nation. One Spanish economist implored the United States not to make the same mistake Spain had. Unfortunately, his warning fell on deaf ears. Last month, Solyndra filed for bankruptcy, taking your $535 million in taxes with it.

Sacramento has successfully decimated whole sectors of our economy. Manufacturing, construction, and even the green industries cannot survive the regulatory climate in the state. I should clarify that not all manufacturing is dead in California; the legislature continues to produce more and more regulation every year. Governor Brown is considering 600 new bills as you read this and his record is abysmal. Recently, he vetoed AB 135, showing he cannot stand to have even one person with small business experience on the California Air Resources Board. I guess that was just too much to ask of Jerry the “Green Tyrant” Governor. If we continue down this path, history will record that the green dream turned out to be an economic nightmare. We need to make a full U-turn, and I mean quickly, if we want to give businesses a sense that the government is not gunning for them.

We must wrest control of the Golden State from the green extremists and turn California once again into the land of opportunity for job-creators, innovators and entrepreneurs. November 3, 2012 will be a rude awakening for the politicians still dreaming away on your dime. Enough is enough.

Transportation

Victor Valley Transit Authority

Published by:

By Kevin Kane

Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA) was established through a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) in 1991. The JPA includes the cities of Adelanto, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Victorville, and the County of San Bernardino. VVTA operates local fixed route and ADA complementary paratransit bus services and provides public transportation services for Adelanto, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Victorville, and unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County including Helendale, Silver Lakes, Oro Grande, Lucerne Valley, Phelan, Piñon Hills, and Wrightwood in the High Desert of Southern California.

VVTA has come a long way from operating out of a trailer in the Victorville Public Works Yard to building a valuable service that is now a community staple for many residents.

With an eye toward sustainable energy from the beginning, CNG fuel was one of VVTA’s first agency discussions back in 1992. Just two years after that discussion, VVTA was able to procure a platform-mounted Hurricane CNG compressor. In that same year, VVTA purchased a 5.2 acre Business Center Property to house the CNG station with hopes to build a bus facility there as well. Between 1998 and 2003, VVTA converted its entire big bus fleet from diesel to CNG, also switching from “school bus” type vehicles to modern transit coaches- the same used by LA.

By 2005, it was apparent that the 5.2 acre site would not accommodate VVTA’s growth into the future. The 5.2 acre site was sold and ten acres on E Avenue was purchased to house a new bus facility. In 2009, the first phase of the new facility construction was completed. It was a CNG fueling station that saved VVTA $200,000 in fuel costs the first year compared to buying its CNG fuel at a retail station.

Making significant advances in incorporating new technology, VVTA has introduced advances such as electronic fare boxes, global positioning, automatic vehicle locators, Google Transit, on-board computers, and security cameras. The next technology phase introduced in October 2011 includes automatic passenger counters, automated bus stop announcements, online bus tracking and a state of the art communications system.

Between July 1, 2007 and December 31, 2010, VVTA’s ridership on regional fixed routes increased by almost half (48%) and ridership on the rural County routes increased by 80%. During that same period, VVTA added routes and increased headways on many routes from 60 to 30 minutes. Even though VVTA increased revenue hours by 2,841 per month, or 60%, the riders per hour only decreased by one.

In addition to increasing their fixed route and paratransit ridership, VVTA has also partnered with the City of Barstow to develop a new inter-city bus service, B-V Link. B-V Link launched service in mid-January of 2011. B-V Link responded to the requests from Barstow residents, many of whom are elderly or disabled, who frequently travel to Apple Valley and Victorville for medical or social service appointments. Other projects being considered include the creation of van pool and lifeline bus services, which will provide transportation down into the San Bernardino valley and connect passengers from as far away as Barstow to medical, social, and legal services there.

An ever-growing operation, such as VVTA, was sure to outgrow its roots. Eagerly awaiting its move in November, VVTA is in the process of completing construction of a brand new Administration, Operations, and Maintenance Facility. This facility is on target for a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold rating. The LEED rating system categorizes the level of sustainability of new construction as Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum based on the credit accrued in the five green design categories of sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy, and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality. The new facility will include a 1-megawatt photovoltaic system designed to meet all of VVTA’s electricity needs and provide shade for buses to reduce air conditioning cooling times, which will in turn save fuel consumption and reduce emissions.

Continuing to listen to and meet the needs of its community, VVTA recently released a request for proposals for a Comprehensive Operations Analysis (COA), which will provide a thorough analysis of VVTA’s transit services. The COA will include an in-depth rider survey to gain better knowledge of VVTA riders and to identify challenges and opportunities. The goals of the COA are to improve VVTA’s customer travel experience by reducing travel time, improve service frequencies and connections where feasible, and to introduce new and innovative transit options.