The High Desert Report » June 2017

Monthly Archives: June 2017


Publisher’s Message-2017

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Joesph W. Brady Headshot

Joseph W. Brady, CCIM, SIOR

Having begun our first edition of the Bradco High Desert Report in May of 1993, how could we ever have thought that in 2017 we would be preparing for the 56th Edition of this publication?

First, I wish to welcome our current, future, and long-standing subscribers and sponsors of the 56th Edition of The Bradco High Desert Report, the first and only full economic overview of the High Desert region, covering the North­ern portion of San Bernardino County and,most specifically, the Cities of Ad­elanto, Barstow, Hesperia, Victorville, and the Town of Apple Valley.

For those who continuously inquire into the medical condition of our original ed­itor, Dr. Alfred Gobar, he continues “to beat cancer,” continues to work with his doctors in maintaining his lifestyle in retirement, and spending all day doing “stock trading.” We talk to Dr. Gobar frequently, and we strongly encourage those who wish to reach out to him to send an email at:

While the economy continues to im­prove within the High Desert region, we are increasingly busy on the leasing and selling side of commercial, industrial, office, and land within our region. I do apologize that we have gone nearly ten (10) months since the last edition of our last publication.

Family issues and a battle with prostate cancer have taught me a greater appre­ciation for life, my family and friends, and those who we interact with on a dai­ly basis. On a sad note, during the last ten (10) months, we have lost some ad­ditional great friends in the High Desert region that include the following:

Mr. Ernest Scott, Ms. JoAnn Kroencke, Ms. Jeannie A. Kramer, Ms. Evelyn B. Betterly, Mr. Kenneth Adams, Ms. Car­ol Jean Randall, Mr. Eugene “Gene” W. Gregory, Mr. Michael Matthew Sabicer, Ms. Janice Lynn Olson, Mr. Malvin Lee, Ms. Carol Colene and Mr. Richard Gene, just to name a few.

I think we all agree we live in a very fast-paced society anymore, and from time to time it is time to reflect on the importance of our family, our friends, our relationships, and the great opportu­nities that life has to offer.

I would like to welcome and thank many of our article suppliers who continuous­ly support our efforts to prompt the High Desert region. We are extremely excited to introduce Ontario International Air­port Authority, an article by Mr. Daniel Adamus, MPA and Chief Marketing Of­ficer of this truly exceptional economic asset located in Ontario, California.

If you have never flown in or out of On­tario, I strongly urge you to do so. Now the airport is controlled by a local entity, and I believe that reading this article will be very exciting to everyone who has any understanding of the long battle it took to gain that control.

Not only do we wish to welcome Ontar­io as a continued contributing member of the nearly 140 article suppliers that we can rely on to write articles, I wish to welcome the Executive Staff, including their CEO Mr. Kelly Fredericks. Con­gratulations to the Ontario City Council and the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, and all of the Elected Officials and Private Sector Leaders who pushed so hard for the control of this new asset.

With a special note, First District Su­pervisor Robert A. Lovingood has now become Chairman of the County of San Bernardino, the largest-sized county in the lower forty-eight (48) states. It is not often that the First District has such a leadership role, and we congratulate Mr. Lovingood and his staff for what they do in making the High Desert region a better place to live, work, and play.

Included with some of our exciting ar­ticles is an update for the Cadiz Water Project (in the Amboy, Bolo Station (area) of San Bernardino County). We also wish to welcome Mr. Brad Poiriez, the newly appointed Executive Director of the Mojave Desert Air Quality Man­agement District.

We have always been very appreciative to the Mojave Desert Air Quality Man­agement District, who has been one of our supporters from the very beginning.

We wish to re-welcome Ms. Louisa L. Miller, Business Consultant for the In­land Empire Small Business Center, which is an integral part in helping small businesses grow and understand the process of building business plans, obtaining loans, and working with the landlords in making a successful busi­ness decision.

We also wish to thank Colonel Paul Cook (RET.), our 8th Congressional District Congressman, who represents our area so well with his article.

Article suppliers include 23rd State Senatorial District Senator Mr. Mike Murrell, San Bernardino County Super­intendent of Schools Mr. Ted Alejandre, 33rd District State of California Assem­blyman Jay Obernolte.

We wish to congratulate Mr. Logan Olds, General Manager of the Victor Valley Waste Water Reclamation Au­thority, and his Board of Directors for completing the upper narrows emer­gency pipeline project, a very large and expensive undertaking.

We wish to welcome back Victor Valley Transat Authority, and the Inland Em­pire Economic Partnership, as well as an article from Mr. Bryan W. Ryman, Co-Chair of the Victor Valley Libertarian Alliance, who gives a different type of angle on government within California, as well as some potential solutions.

We appreciate the insight in this newslet­ter by Mr. Bob Dutton, our San Bernar­dino County Assessor. Our newly elect­ed State Senator Scott Wilk includes a very exciting article (albeit short), and Mr. Paul A. Courtney, a highly-respect­ed businessman within the High Desert and Barstow region, who has recently completed construction and revital­ization of a project in Barstow for his Entrepreneur Resource Center on Main Street. Congratulations, Mr. Courtney. I am proud to call you my friend.

We wish to welcome Mr. Scott Dickinson, Executive Vice President of The Browning Automotive Group, in conjunction with the great leader that he works for, Mr. Kent Browning, who is making a major financial investment in the High Desert by major redevelopment of the Valley-Hi Toyota Dealership along Valley Center Drive.

As well as congratulations to Ms. Sheri Davis of the Inland Empire Film Servic­es and her partner, Mr. Dan Taylor, for their newly formed organization.

I read a book recently that I strongly encourage all of our readers to read, the title is Big Shifts Ahead. I want to personally thank Mr. Chris Porter and Mr. John Burns, both highly recognized officials in the economic industry, for writing a book that I highly recommend anyone who is in the real estate business to read.

Lastly, I wish to thank our five (5) lo­cal Cities (Adelanto, Barstow, Hesperia, Victorville, and the Town of Apple Val­ley) for their continual support of the Bradco High Desert Report.

As Publisher of this publication, if I can be of any personal assistance in answer­ing any questions that you have, or if you have any suggestions about how we can make this publication even big­ger and better, please feel free to call me at my office at (760) 951-5111 x 101. You may call me during the days on my cell phone between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time at (760) 954-4567, or email me at If you email me, please be sure to note in the subject line: Bradco High Desert Report/ “Your Comment.”

Thank you.

General Politics Transportation

“flyOntario” – Under Local Control and Looking to Grow

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By Daniel Adamus, MBA Chief Marketing Officer

Ontario, CA – On November 1, 2016, ownership of the Ontario International Airport (ONT) was transferred to the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) from Los Angeles World Air­ports (LAWA, which is also the parent company of LAX). When the transfer of airport was officially commemorated in a formal ceremony the following day, FAA Administrator (and Riverside, CA, native) Michael Huerta challenged the new owners to seize this unique oppor­tunity.

“He compared us to the dog that actu­ally caught the car,” said OIAA CEO Kelly Fredericks. “Lots of dogs chase cars, but I don’t think any actually catch them. What Administrator Huerta was telling us was that the region wanted the airport under local control and now you have it. More importantly, he was ask­ing ‘now, what are you now going to do with it?’” Fredericks said.

Local Control

One of the key elements necessary for the transfer of ownership was to create an organization which could own and operate the airport in the best possible manner. To that end, the Ontario Inter­national Airport Authority was created on August 21, 2012, via a Joint Exercise of Powers Agreement between the City of Ontario and the County of San Ber­nardino. Alan Wapner, President of the OIAA Board of Commissioners, was actively involved in the effort to return the airport to local control and believed an independent Authority would offer the best possible operational structure.

“We created the Ontario International Airport Authority to be an autonomous public entity, separate, apart and inde­pendent from the City of Ontario and the County of San Bernardino. The OIAA was designed to own and operate all ONT assets when the airport was re­turned to local control,” Wapner said.

“In the development of its mission, the OIAA was tasked to operate and grow the Ontario International Airport as one of the most competitive, efficient, inno­vative and customer-friendly passenger, cargo and business airports in the Unit­ed States,” Wapner said. “We believed this to be the case then, and I believe it to be more true now than ever before – the Ontario International Airport is a key economic asset serving and sup­porting not only the Inland Empire but the entire Southern California region,” he said.

The OIAA Board of Commissioners is comprised of five members. Four are appointed by Ontario City Council to include two sitting Ontario City Council Members (Alan Wapner and Jim Bow­man) and two commissioners selected as members of the business community within the airport’s market service area (Lucy Dunn and Ron Loveridge). The fifth commissioner is Curt Hagman, the sitting San Bernardino County Supervi­sor representing the District in which the airport is located.

Wapner said the board of commission­ers is tasked with developing policy, and they hired Fredericks, a seasoned and nationally acclaimed airport ex­ecutive, to serve as the Authority’s first CEO. “We as a board were very im­pressed with Kelly, his background and his achievements in the industry. We brought him in to lead the Authority in March of last year, and he has already made great strides to build his senior staff and to complete the airport transfer process with LAWA,in compliance with all regulatory requirements and with the approval of the FAA,” he said.

“Some may say that was the easy part,” Wapner added. “Now that we have the airport under local control, we must make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Kelly and his staff under­stand the responsibility before them. They also know they have not only the support of the OIAA Board of Commis­sioners but also the support and well wishes of every municipality and busi­ness entity in the entire region,” he said.

The Work Now Begins

With just over three months under their belts, Fredericks and his team have be­gun the process of assessing the massive 1,861-acre property which comprises the Ontario International Airport foot­print. The goal in these still early days is to understand “the good, the bad and the ugly,” Fredericks noted.

“We know we bought a ‘fixer-upper,’” he said. “We have to look at safety first and ensure that all of our operating sys­tems are in compliance with all federal, state and local regulations. We must take inventory, we must modify or re­write all official processes, procedures and documentation to reflect ownership by the OIAA, and we must prioritize all critical and preventive maintenance in an manner which ensures that we do not disrupt any day-to-day operations,” Fredericks said.

As part of the transfer and for the fore­seeable future, the relatively small OIAA staff is supplemented by nearly 200 former LAWA employees who will serve as a contracted labor force dur­ing the next 18-24 months identified as a “transition period.” During this time, the OIAA will have a chance to see how the airport was previously operated and to begin making changes.


Fredericks said the OIAA is evaluating all functional areas aboard the airport, and he said that employees of the for­mer airport owner may have an opportu­nity to join the OIAA in future months. “These are the folks who operated the airport before November 1st and who will continue to do so in the weeks and months following the transfer. They are our front line with our customers, pro­viding their first ‘touch-points’ with the airport and with the OIAA. We are still getting to know each other, but we have a shared focus on providing our custom­ers with the best possible travel experi­ence while they are with us at ONT,” he said. Fredericks noted that as part of the negotiated transfer of the airport, should any LAWA employee not wish to remain at ONT, they are guaranteed a position at LAX or a number of places/departments within the City of Los An­geles.

With all that said, Fredericks and his team believe they have just embarked on an incredible journey. “Ontario In­ternational is truly an amazing airport. We have two of the longest runways on the west coast; one is just shy of 2.5 miles and the other is nearly 2 miles long. With those assets and our capa­bility to operate ‘24/7’ with no restric­tions, we can handle any aircraft flying today,” he said.

ONT currently operates 62 daily flights with seven commercial airlines, private and charter flights managed by two, general aviation fixed-base operators (FBOs) as well as a number of cargo flights by a variety of international car­riers, to include UPS and FedEx. All that activity represents less than half the potential associated with the existing airport infrastructure.

“At its peak (2007-2008), Ontario han­dled more than 7.2 million passengers per year. Today we are handling just over 4.2 million passen­gers per year. Our fa­cility, as it stands, can handle nearly 10 mil­lion passengers, along with sustained cargo growth. Beyond our current two terminals (2 and 4) ,and con­sidering the potential of long-term growth, there are already existing plans for Ter­minals 3 and 5, as well as a strategy to connect all present and future terminals into a single complex,” Fredericks said.

“As we work closely with air carriers from around the world, we have no de­lusions of grandeur,” Fredericks said. We know we must work extremely hard to earn their business by striving to re­duce their operating costs at ONT while creating the best environment possible for passengers,” he said.

Fredericks said he and his staff are work­ing on a plan to “de-stealth” the airport and to re-introduce the airport as a valu­able asset to all of Southern California. “As we work to grow international air service through our development ef­forts, we must also re-introduce ONT to the region,” he said. “According to the 2015 U.S. Census, the Ontario-Riverside-San Bernardino Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) ranks 15th in the United States and is in the nation’s 2nd largest Combined Statistical Area (Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim). We have tremendous numbers in our pri­mary and secondary catchment area, but we have to get the word out about what we are trying to do so people will con­sciously think about flying from Ontario first,” he said.

Fredericks said the “de-stealthing” cam­paign will be about building attention and awareness for the airport and willbe conducted through a comprehensive, targeted marketing and promotional campaign to get the message out to the business and consumer population of the region. He said he and his team will be working to connect with business and municipal leaders, as well as civic and social groups,S to encourage travel­ers to think about flying in and out of Ontario for their next business or leisure trip.

“If we can continue to do our best to improve the customer experience, and if we can be successful with the airlines to bring new and better service to ONT, ev­eryone will win,” Fredericks said. “Pas­sengers will have an easy and stress-free experience, with increased amenities, food and shopping opportunities, just minutes from home. They will reward the investment airlines make in Ontario by filling its flights to new destinations without having to battle hours of traffic to and from other airports in the region,” he added.

Room for Future Development

One of the other amazing statistics Fred­ericks shared was the fact that of those 1,861 acres, 700 are able and available for development on or adjacent to air­side operations. “You could not build an airport of this size, with the resources and capabilities of ONT today, in this, the 2nd largest metropolitan market in the United States,” he said.

Fredericks said the OIAA is now in the final stages of a selection process to hire a firm to develop a master plan for the airport, something never done before for ONT. “The successful can­didate will assist us in creating a map to guide us through the many pathways and options related to future operations and development to ensure we have the information necessary to make the best decisions possible,” Fredericks said. “The master plan process utilizes a variety of certified professionals in a number of disciplines to assist us in determining which structures are valu­able and which should be demolished. It helps us understand where a former industrial complex aboard the airport may require environmental remediation prior to development. Major companies like GE and Lockheed operated facto­ries and facilities at ONT for decades. We must evaluate each legacy property and identify any environmental issues before any development may be consid­ered,” he said.

While Fredericks stresses the impor­tance of the master plan process, he does not see it as any type of hindrance should the right opportunity present it­self. “If the right opportunity is identi­fied with any of our existing airport ten­ants, any new airline or other potential business partner, we are not restricted in any way from taking advantage of it,” he said. Fredericks said he and his team have been fielding inquiries in a number of areas, and they are working diligently to investigate the possibilities associated with each in order to determine the next best steps for the airport.

What Can You Do to Help?

Fredericks said he wishes everyone in the region to be an extension of the OIAA Marketing Team. “I ask that ev­eryone get to know the airport, to see the things we are doing to improve the ex­perience for our customers and to make it easy to fly Ontario,” he said.

When asked how else people interested in supporting the airport can help the ef­forts of the OIAA, Kelly Fredericks of­fered the following:

  • Please use ONT – Even if you may be paying a few dollars more, demon­strating loyalty to the airport is the best way for the OIAA to recruit (and to keep) new routes from existing carriers and to encourage new airlines to begin operations at ONT.
  • Please advertise at ONT – The OIAA will soon have a new media operator to manage new, expanded advertising and merchan­dising opportunities at the airport. If you can’t adver­tise, please support those companies advertising at the airport
  • Please share your travel data–An e-mail address has been estab­lished–iflyont@flyon­–where you can send your itinerary when you do fly Ontario and as a place where you can share the flight data when you just can’t find the right connection from ONT. This informa­tion is extremely helpful for the air ser­vice development team in preparation for meetings they conduct with the vari­ous airlines.
  • Share insights and advice – If you see something of interest in your travels, share it with the authority. If you have a problem or a bad experience, you are especially asked to share those as well. Fredericks said his staff are continuous­ly working to improve the traveler expe­rience, and they want to know when any situation does not meet the customer’s expectations. He said they take com­plaints seriously and will work with all involved airport personnel, concession­aires and tenants to solve problems as soon as they are identified, so that no customer ever has that same problem again.

For more information and to learn what is happening at the Ontario International Airport, please visit the ONT website at The site is opti­mized for mobile devices, and Freder­icks said it will be a “work-in-progress” for several months as volumes of data and information are transferred from the old airport site and until such a time as the planned 18-24 transition process is complete.

General Politics

Looking Forward as We Set Priorities For the Future

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By Robert A. Lovingood, 1st District Supervisor, County of San Bernardino

As we start a new year, it’s a good time to look back at the year past and look forward as we set priorities for the fu­ture.

In 2016 we saw new business investment in the High Desert. Stirling Capital Investments announced the completion of a fully leased 447,740-square-foot industrial facility in Victorville. Arden Companies relocated to a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Victorville, creating 100 jobs. Plans are underway for a 1.3 million-square-foot distribution center, which is expected to create 400 to 500 long-term jobs in the North Apple Valley Industrial Specific Plan area. And in December, Clark Pacific broke ground on its new precast concrete manufacturing plant in Adelanto.

Last year, for the third year, we allo­cated county funds for “Operation Des­ert Guardian,” a three-month series of crime sweeps that ended with 376 arrests in Hesperia, Apple Valley, Adelanto, Victorville and unincorporated Victor Valley areas. We also implemented re­forms to welfare fraud policies and sup­ported a series of ongoing welfare fraud sweeps around the county. The Board of Supervisors added two additional inves­tigators to strengthen the District Attor­ney’s Cold Case Prosecution Unit. And Sheriff’s Academy Class 205 marked the very first time ever the Department had three academy classes going at the same time.

In the past year, my initiative to use in­mate work crews kicked into high gear. Inmate crews cleared more than 578 tons of trash and 7,922 tires in the First District, plus an additional 68 tons of ce­ment and nine boats at an illegal dump site near Interstate 15 and Dale Evans Parkway. The cement was recycled and the tires were used as fuel at local ce­ment plants.

As we look ahead to 2017, we will work on streamlining County Land Use Ser­vices processes to better serve the de­velopment community. Specifically, we will look to streamline the entitlement and permitting for commercial, residen­tial and industrial developments. These projects create well-paying jobs and have an astonishing economic multi­plier effect:

Each new home built creates seven well-paying jobs. Here in San Bernardino County, we are facing a housing short­age that is expected to grow to 65,000 homes within two years. A significant number of San Bernardino County rent­ers spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing. So we have an op­portunity to grow jobs and expand our regional economy.

Robert Lovingood is chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Super­visors representing the First District.

General Transportation

Caltrans Continues Work in the High Desert

Published by:


By Joy M. Schneider – Public Information Officer, Caltrans

Caltrans contin­ues work in the High Desert to improve and up­grade the trans­portation system to accommodate the rapid growth in the region. The area continues to see heavy goods movement, as well as conges­tion from commuters and recreational adventurers traveling to Las Vegas, the Colorado River and points north.

Projects at the Devore Interchange, in the Cajon Pass and throughout the High Desert will allow for a more enjoyable ride for commuters and travelers.

Devore Interchange Project

Work on the $324 million Interstate 15 (I-15)/Interstate 215 (I-215) Devore Interchange Project is complete. The project added a truck by-pass lane and an additional lane in each direction, brought the interchange up to operation­al standards, as well as addressed the ar­terial highways network deficiencies—specifically, the reconnection of Route 66 (Cajon Boulevard).

A ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the achievements of the project was held on May 20, 2016.

I-15 Cajon Pass Pavement Rehabilitation Project

The I-15 Cajon Pass Pavement Rehabil­itation Project is nearing completion—the contractor is finishing up punch list items (minor tasks to be completed at the end of a project). The project, which is strictly pavement rehabilita­tion, will resurface and restore the pave­ment between Kenwood Avenue and the Hesperia Overhead, which will pro­vide approximately a 40-year life to the pavement through the Cajon Pass.

SR-138 Widening (West) Project

Crews continue work on the State Route (SR-138) Widening (West) Project; cur­rently they are working on the pavement on the south side of SR-138, as well as the Sheep Creek Bridge. The project is approximately 62% complete.

The project will widen SR-138 to four lanes, with a 14-foot median buffer from Phelan Road to Interstate 15. The project will also upgrade shoulders to current standards, extend drainage (as necessary) and construct a wildlife-crossing structure.

The $52.1 million project was awarded to Flatiron Construction Corp. and be­gan in February 2015. It is estimated to be completed in August 2017.

SR-138 Widening (East) Project

The SR-138 Widening (East) Project is a 2.1 mile project that will realign SR-138 from 1.9 miles east of I-15 to just west of Summit Post Office Road. It will also construct two-lane, paved sections of highway with outside shoul­ders, three wildlife crossings and an off-highway vehicle crossing.

Currently, crews are working to clear the project limits to prepare for drainage work, the temporary construction detour and new roadway.

The project is needed because the ex­isting configuration has many non-standard, steep horizontal and vertical curves and grade. There are no paved shoulders and narrow or non-existent earth shoulders, as well as few turnouts and no passing opportunities. This proj­ect will improve operational efficiency, traffic safety and will also upgrade and widen the existing lanes and shoulders to current standards.

The project is estimated to be complete in late August 2018.

SR-58 Hinkley Expressway Project

The $120 million State Route 58 (SR-58) Hinkley Expressway Project is ap­proximately 90% complete. Crews are currently paving the new roadbed for the expressway and finalizing the work on the bridges and ramps.

Ultimately, the project will widen and realign a portion of State Route 58 (SR-58) from a two-lane conventional high­way to a four-lane expressway, extend­ing from approximately 2.4 miles west of Hidden River Road to approximately 0.7 mile east of Lenwood Road, near the unincorporated community of Hinkley in San Bernardino County.

The project will include construction of two interchanges on the widened and realigned portion of SR-58: one at Hinkley Road and the other at Lenwood Road. All entrance ramps (westbound and eastbound) will have two lanes at the local road and will transition to a single lane prior to merging onto the expressway. All exit ramps will have three-way stops at the exit ramp inter­sections with the local road. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant curb ramps will be included.

The project includes access to non-motorized transportation modes (e.g., pedestrian/bikes/equestrian) by provid­ing six-foot wide sidewalks, as well as standard eight-foot shoulders across the two overcrossing bridges at Lenwood and Hinkley Roads. A short length of the existing SR-58 at the east end of the project is proposed to be realigned to tie in to the Lenwood Road west­bound entrance and exit ramps. The widened and realigned ex­pressway is planned to be on a fill section (elevated sections of a roadway). All locations with large vertical surfaces (i.e., re­taining walls and bridge struc­tures) will include aesthetic/ar­chitectural treatment to prevent graffiti.

Substantial completion is esti­mated for summer 2017.

I-15 Stoddard Wells, D & E Street Interchange Project

The $74 million I-15 Stoddard Wells, D & E Street Interchange Project will construct new interchanges, bridges and ramps on I-15 at Stoddard Wells, D Street and E Street.

The project was awarded to Ames Con­struction, Inc. and began in summer 2015. It is estimated to be complete in early 2019.

Currently, crews are performing dirt hauling, surveying and utility work. Additionally, the widening of the Mo­jave River Bridge is underway.

Kramer Junction (SR-58 & US-395)

The $101 million Kramer Junction Ex­pressway Project is currently in the plan­ning phase. The project will construct a four-lane divided expressway in order to alleviate some of the congestion caused by the current lane configuration.

The project is scheduled to begin con­struction in late 2017 or early 2018.

Caltrans is committed to delivering quality projects that will enhance the transportation infrastructure in the High Desert. Providing a safe, sustainable, integrated and efficient transportation system to enhance California’s economy and livability is Caltrans’ top priority.

General Water

Cadiz Water Project: Conservation and Sustainable Management of Desert Groundwater

Published by:

By Courtney Degener, Vice President, Communications & Investor Relations

A Part of the Cadiz Team for over 12 years.

Over the last two decades, California has grappled with systemic challenges to its traditional water supplies. Climat­ic extremes and more regular dry years are the new normal. The availability of reliable water to meet all of the state’s demands is a persistent public policy is­sue. We need water for our people, our environment and to sustain our way of life. In recognition of this need, in 2009 Cadiz Inc. set the objective of creating, designing, permitting and constructing an environmentally benign water proj­ect, and today we are nearing comple­tion of these objectives.

Cadiz Inc. is the largest private land­owner in the eastern Mojave Desert, where billions of gallons of water evaporate every year from the highly-saline Bristol and Cadiz dry lakes near the town of Amboy. The playas are the down-gradient end of a massive ground­water basin in a watershed the size of Rhode Island. To stop this loss, we’ve proposed to better manage the basin to provide a reliable supply and new aqui­fer storage capacity. By capturing and conserving water before it evaporates, we can create a new, sustainable annual supply for nearly 400,000 Californians.

Under our plan, conserved project water would be delivered to the Metropolitan Water District’s Colorado River Aque­duct for distribution throughout South­ern California via a pipeline that would be built in an existing railroad right-of-way. We selected this route, which is longer and costlier than a more direct pipeline route would be, because it will avoid impacts to desert lands. Construc­tion of the pipeline, wellfield and related infrastructure will create thousands of jobs for local residents and veterans, generate nearly $1 billion in economic activity, augment Southern California’s water supply reliability and take pres­sure off existing imported supplies.

Phase 2 of the project, its storage com­ponent, is particularly relevant in this very wet year. It would enable storage of imported excess flows at Cadiz, uti­lizing the aquifer’s estimated 1 million acre-feet of storage capacity. Southern California water providers could move surplus wet-year water from either the Colorado River Aqueduct or the State Water Project via an abandoned natu­ral gas pipeline from Barstow to Cadiz, which we have purchased, and store it at Cadiz until the inevitable subsequent dry years. A “programmatic” environmen­tal review of Phase 2 was completed in 2012, meaning a preliminary evaluation of the concept, and a “project” level re­view must still be completed once Phase 1 gets underway.

Although the project’s concept may sound unique, the sustainable use of groundwater in California’s managed basins and the movement of water be­tween basins is not. Californians have a history of not living where the water is, and all seven Southern California counties rely on imports from the State Water Project, the Colorado River and neighboring basins to sustain their pop­ulations. Groundwater storage is also a preferred method of capturing excess flows in wet years and is becoming more common in California and the West.

To ensure that the project is a resource that helps meet Southern California’s water management needs, the project incorporates stringent groundwater management principles in its approved Groundwater Management Plan. The County of San Bernardino, which was viewed as the superior protector of desert groundwater resources during the recent controversy over the Soda Mountain solar generating station, will enforce the plan. Data on groundwater levels will be compiled, posted for the public, and reviewed by an independent committee appointed by the county. If water levels fall below a county-desig­nated floor, or if there’s evidence of un­anticipated impacts on the desert envi­ronment, the county can adjust or even stop operations.

This Groundwater Management Plan grew out of recommendations by some of the nation’s leading hydrologists and scientists as they peer-reviewed the Cadiz EIR’s hydrological study. The study used the US Geological Survey’s newest and best computer model for desert hydrology in the Southwestern U.S., created in 2006, to estimate the aquifer system’s size (over 20 million acre-feet, about the size of Lake Mead) and how much water flows into it annu­ally (its recharge rate, found to be about 32,000 acre-feet a year). To verify the computer model’s calculation of the system’s recharge rate, we asked scien­tists from the Desert Research Institute to measure evaporation from the Bristol and Cadiz dry lakes, where all the wa­ter in the aquifer ends up, completing the water cycle. The amount of water going in should equal the amount of water evaporating out, and that is what the study verified – the volumes are the same.

The project’s EIR and Groundwater Management Plan withstood court chal­lenges over four years and emerged with no changes or additional studies ordered. With these court challenges behind us, we are working to implement the project and initiate Phase II’s water storage component so we can deliver on our promises of sustainable water sup­ply and economic benefits. Developing sustainable projects in California takes time, but when done right they can be useful for all in dry and wet years alike.

For more information, please visit:

Air Quality General

Poiriez Carries on MDAQMD’s Business-Responsive Legacy

Published by:

Brad Poiriez

By Violette Roberts, Community Relations & Education Manager

Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District

Brad Poiriez was appointed Execu­tive Director of the Mojave Desert Air Quality Manage­ment District by the Victorville-based agency’s Govern­ing Board on July 25, 2016. Poiriez is responsible for enforcing the MDAQMD’s rules and regulations, enforcing health and safety provisions and state programs, running the district’s day-to-day operations and supervising the MDAQMD’s 39 em­ployees.

While Poiriez may be new to the MDAQMD, he is no stranger to air qual­ity management, having served as Air Pollution Control Officer for the Imperi­al County Air Pollution Control District since 2008 and as an employee of the El Centro-based air district for over 22 years. Poiriez received his Bachelor of Science degree in Health Studies from Eastern Illinois University in 1990 and has worked in the environmental field for over 23 years. Prior to joining the ICAPCD, Poiriez was employed by the Peoria County Environmental Health Department in Peoria, Illinois.

Poiriez is the past U.S. co-chair of the Imperial Valley/Mexicali Region Air Quality Task Force for “Border 2012” and has worked extensively on the new­ly proposed “Border 2020” program. He was instrumental in getting indus­try representatives and the community involved and participating in develop­ing methods to improve air quality in Imperial County. “Brad’s extensive knowledge of regional air quality is­sues, combined with his years of experi­ence brokering common-sense, clean air solutions at the local and international level, make him an exceptional choice to lead the MDAQMD,” commented MDAQMD Governing Board Member/San Bernardino County First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood.

As the local air pollution control agen­cy for San Bernardino County’s High Desert region and the Palo Verde Val­ley portion of Riverside County, the MDAQMD has primary responsibility for controlling emissions from station­ary sources of air pollution within its 20,000-plus-square-mile jurisdiction, which is home to over 550,000 resi­dents. Throughout its 24 year history, the MDAQMD has earned a reputation as one of the most business friendly air districts in California, whose coopera­tive working relationship with regulated industry has become a model for air dis­tricts across the state. Thus, it’s no co­incidence that between 2010 and 2016, the number of permitted facilities locat­ed within the MDAQMD’s jurisdiction increased by 16%, from 966 to 1,122,

While new leadership often brings with it growth and change, Poiriez states that the district’s mission statement–“To attain and maintain a healthful envi­ronment while supporting strong and sustainable economic growth–will re­main intact, and keeping the lines of communication open with constituents will continue to be a priority. “When businesses understand what is expected of them and we provide them with the tools to help them comply–whether these tools are in the form of compli­ance assistance, grants or just a friendly ear–we all benefit through increased business retention, enhanced economic development and improved air quality,” said Poiriez.

While the MDAQMD cannot directly create jobs because the severity of the air quality problem in the High Desert is much less than that in the greater Los Angeles area, the MDAQMD’s regulatory structure is less restrictive. This tends to encour­age job relocation from more severely regulated areas (Los Angeles) to less se­verely regulated ar­eas (such as the High Desert). Hence, regulatory flexibility is key to economic and environmental sustainability in the High Desert and is the foundation of the MDAQMD’s ef­forts.

Although it’s impossible to predict the ultimate trickle down effects of Wash­ington’s new administration on local air districts, the MDAQMD plans to con­tinue offering regulated business some of the lowest permitting and applica­tion fees found anywhere in California, as well as providing some of the most expedient permit-processing times. The MDAQMD will also continue to proac­tively promote the creation and recog­nition of emission reductions credits, which allows new sources to site in the High Desert. Generous grants will continue to be offered for local projects which reduce mobile source and diesel emissions thorough the MDAQMD’s AB 2766 and Moyer Grant programs. Regulated businesses which exceed reg­ulatory requirements and reduce emis­sions for the benefit of local air quality will continue to be recognized through the District’s Mojave Green Gas Sta­tion Program and its annual Exemplar Awards. The MDAQMD will also con­tinue to works closely with each appli­cant to cut through the red tape instead of creating an additional layer.

The MDAQMD is proud to exemplify California’s “final frontier” for busi­nesses seeking to locate or remain in the Golden State. For more informa­tion, visit or call (760)245-1661 today.

General Transportation

The New San Bernardino County Transportation Authority Continues Its Decades-Long Commitment to Serving the High Desert

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By Tim Watkins, SBCTA, Chief of Legislative and Public Affairs

The San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) has been a steady influence on the develop­ment of transportation improvements for decades. However, the commut­ers, residents and business owners of the High Desert may not realize that projects like the I-15/I-215 Devore Interchange, the La Mesa/Nisqualli and Ranchero Road interchanges, the Yucca Loma Corridor, and the Len­wood Road Grade Separation would not be possible without the efforts of this county-wide agency that serves as the Transportation Commission, the Transportation Authority, the Conges­tion Management Agency, the Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies, and a Council of Governments.

On January 1, 2017, this agency, re­sponsible for the delivery of so many quality-of-life aspects for its residents, began operating under a new name: The San Bernardino County Transpor­tation Authority or SBCTA.

Essentially, the legislative change to the agency is fairly simple in that functionally, it will still operate as it always has to meet its commitments to the voters of San Bernardino County. Senate Bill 1305 (Morrell) consolidat­ed its previous four transportation en­tities into the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority, clarifying the distinction between the transpor­tation-related efforts of the agency and its Council of Governments role. Simply put, the agency is a dual entity made up of the SBCTA and the San Bernardino Associated Governments, which now operates under the name San Bernardino Council of Govern­ments (SBCOG).

The re-naming development process began with a county-wide survey gauging the community’s perceptions, recognition, and project knowledge as it relates to the San Bernardino Asso­ciated Governments and “SANBAG.” Research showed that only about one-third of the 800 registered voters who were surveyed were familiar with the agency.

However, when those voters were shown the transportation projects the agency was responsible for, fa­vorability of the agency dramatically increased to 75% through connecting the dots to the improvements to the system. The insights gathered through the county-wide survey supported the need to successfully brand the SBCTA and rebrand the San Bernardino Asso­ciated Governments as the SBCOG, providing both entities the opportuni­ty to build a recognizable and positive brand identity that will resonate with residents and workers in the county for years to come.

The next step in the process was an exploration of branding the SBCTA. The hope was to develop a singular name that would help to clearly iden­tify the agency. Unfortunately, after the review of more than a dozen pos­sible names and naming conventions, a natural-flowing option that accu­rately covered the role of the SBCTA did not present itself. As a result, the effort moved forward with brand­ing the SBCTA acronym. Great de­tail went into the new brand concept, considering all aspects of our county (i.e. mountains, desert, lakes, valley, roads, etc.). The goal was to develop a brand that was fresh, modern, artistic, and innovative and evoked the feel­ings of development, movement, and evolution–all exceptional characteris­tics that the agency represents within San Bernardino County–and reflects the goals shared by those who live and work in the region.

Ultimately, three concepts were eval­uated for how well they provided an opportunity for flexibility with color scheme, graphical design, and the ability to give a brand identity to oth­er functions of our agency, all while committing to a consistent, recogniz­able logo. Considerations of integra­tion with our sister agencies in the re­gion (LA Metro, OCTA, and RCTC) and what that might look like on a partnership document were also strong factors to the final brand concept. The agency wanted something that would stand out from the other agencies but would not overwhelm. After a number of revisions and adjustments, a brand concept was presented to the SAN­BAG Board of Directors for final ap­proval, which was granted on Novem­ber 2, 2016.

Moving forward as the SBCTA, the agency remains committed to provid­ing the quality-of-life improvements it has been dedicated to since its incep­tion in 1973. Transportation improve­ments are a major part of the way our residents navigate the largest county in the United States. Expect that SBC­TA will continue to play a role in how commuters and travelers effectively move to and through the region, mak­ing the High Desert a great place to live, work, and play.

Economy General

Inland Empire Small Business Development Center Assist High Desert Business Start-Ups Evaluate the Local Business Environment

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By Louisa L. Miller, Business Consultant

The economic fate of the nation of­ten does not reflect the environment and activity in the High Desert. Small business growth has been slow since the Great Recession across the coun­try ,and the uncertainties caused by changes in national and local govern­ment, for better or for worse, make business and banking more cautious. Uncertainty is the hobgoblin of busi­ness growth. The interest folks in the High Desert have for starting and growing their small businesses is strong.

The Inland Empire Small Business Development Center notes that the top startup business categories in­clude food services/restaurants, retail, consulting and fitness-related busi­nesses. These categories look a lot like they did a decade ago. In some ways that is a concern because of rela­tively low pay, but the upside is that our region consumes a lot of retail of­ferings. There is opportunity for small manufacturing-and logistics-related services that can be supported by local infrastructure and personnel.

Those wishing to take advantage of the older and newer opportunities need to look for problems that exist and bring solutions that solve problems that peo­ple care about to the table. It is also important for them to be passionate about what they do and not just be in it for the money. A key component of working with startup businesses is assisting them in the feasibility pro­cess in evaluating the business envi­ronment, identification of customers, as well as establishing their business legal structure. In short, there needs to be evidence that supports the busi­ness idea.

Existing businesses counseled sought assistance with business expansion, working capital, equipment or real es­tate purchase loans; business manage­ment and marketing. The IESBDC assists them with gathering market and financial data to support their business expansion, loan, etc. In addition, as­sistance is provided with the develop­ment of financial projections based on proposed business growth expected from the expanded operations or fund­ing. It is also important to assist exist­ing business with a feasibility analysis to ensure that the proposed expansion will be profitable and generate posi­tive cash flow.

Client sessions cover a variety of top­ics based on the client’s specific needs and can touch on things such as: how to start; being an entrepreneur; busi­ness planning for expansion and mar­keting/advertising. The top areas of counseling are: Sources of Capital, Startup Assistance, Business Planning and Marketing. Client referrals come from a variety of sources, including banks, government agencies, cham­bers of commerce and client word of mouth. These businesses include light manufacturing, restaurants, au­tomotive service/repair, janitorial, re­tail, Internet-based businesses, home -based businesses, landscaping, coffee shops, gift shops, and residential care facilities.

In 2016, with the establishment of outreach offices at the Apple Valley Chamber of Commerce and the City of Hesperia, individuals seeking to use the services of the IES­BDC were given the op­portunity to choose one of two locations to meet with Business Consultant Loui­sa Miller. During 2016 the IESBDC offered 13 semi­nars and workshops in the High Desert covering such areas a pre-business plan­ning, marketing/sales, ac­counting/budgets, business loans, QuickBooks and tax planning. In addition, in late fall a Business Focus/Boot Camp-style series was hosted at the Apple Valley Chamber of Commerce offices. The 4-part series included the following topics: Open for Business; Under­standing Your Financials; Marketing Your Small Business; and Marketing Technologies to Attract Customers.

Currently, there are 10 seminars scheduled for 2017. Anyone interested in registering for one of the High Desert seminars or others scheduled throughout the two-county area can go the IESBDC’s website,, and click on the Training section.

The Inland Empire Small Business Development Center is a cooperative program of the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship and is supported by the U.S. Small Business Admin­istration (SBA) and California State University Fullerton and extended to the public on a non-discriminatory ba­sis. To learn more about the program or to schedule an appointment, call Louisa at 951-295-4183.

General Politics

We Have a Real Opportunity to Move a Pro-Growth Agenda Forward Under Trump and a Republican Congress

Published by:

Col. Paul Cook (Ret), U.S. Congressman, 8th Congressional District

A lot has changed in a year. Most people assumed we would continue to have divided government in Washington for the foreseeable future. However, the results of the November election left us with a unified Republican Congress and presidency.

Absent the partisan gridlock that characterizes a divided government, we have a real opportunity to move a pro-growth agenda forward. Repub­licans in Congress are committed to working with President Trump on economic issues.

President Trump set the tone in his initial days with his “two-for-one” executive order, which requires that federal agencies eliminate two regu­lations for every new one they at­tempt to implement. Americans, par­ticularly small business owners, are seeing the rising cost of regulations, and they aren’t happy. In fact, ac­cording to the National Association of Manufacturers, more than 90% of small business owners support re­forming the regulatory process. 72% of small businesses reported that regulations were hurting their oper­ating environment.

Since 2008 over 3,300 new regula­tions have been added each year that collectively cost $981 billion. The total cost of all US regulations amounts to an estimated $1.86 tril­lion–or $15,000 per family per year. The Obama Administration set new records for regulations, averaging a new regulation every 15 days during his eight years in office.

One of the first items of business passed by the new Congress was HR 5, the Regulatory Accountabil­ity Act. The legislation takes aim at the problem of overreaching federal regulation by bringing together six separate regulatory reform bills that passed the House in previous years with bipartisan support. It eliminates excessive red tape and regulations, lifting an unnecessary burden on hardworking Americans and promot­ing jobs, innovation, and economic growth.

Specifically, this legislation pro­motes transparency by requiring publication of easy-to-understand online summaries of new proposed rules, as well as proposed costs. It also requires agencies to choose the lowest-cost rulemaking alternative, permitting costlier rules only when cost-justified. It also prohibits new billion-dollar rules from taking ef­fect until the courts and Congress have a say.

This legislation begins to reverse some of the regulatory overreach and will help our lo­cal businesses become more competitive. This legislation is a small step in the right direc­tion, but certainly, there is more to be done.

Congress must also confront Obamacare. For too many Ameri­cans the dream of better healthcare has turned into a nightmare of sky­rocketing premiums, limited choices, and cumbersome regula­tions. One report found that Obamacare ex­changes have networks with 34 % fewer providers than those plans not part of the exchanges. I’ve heard from many of my constituents about the costs of their healthcare in­creasing to the point that it is simply unaffordable and unsustainable.

My constituents deserve a plan to address their healthcare needs. They need a plan that provides more choices and lower costs. In the com­ing months I’ll continue working to­ward this goal.

As always, I encourage and welcome you to contact my office at 760-247-1815 with any concerns you have about our federal government. It’s an honor to serve as your Represen­tative.

General Politics

Focus Should Be on State’s Economy, Not Taxes

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By Senator Mike Morrell, 23rd State Senate District

While in recent years our state gov­ernment has seen record-setting bud­gets, the same cannot be said, unfor­tunately, for working Californians and small businesses. Their hard-earned money does not go as far as it should, meaning that families and entrepreneurs have less to invest in their futures.

High taxes and extensive regulations discourage businesses from opening or investing here. It is the reason that for 12 years straight, California has been named the worst state for busi­ness in CEO surveys taken by Chief Executive Magazine.

However, attempts to increase taxes are well underway. Despite the fact that California drivers already pay some of the highest gas taxes in the country for deteriorating roads, legislative Democrats have started pushing for additional gas taxes and vehicle fees.

Among the tax and fee increases in­cluded in the current proposal:

  • Gasoline excise tax: 12 cents per gallon, phased in over three years
  • Price-based excise tax: 7.5 cents per gallon
  • Diesel excise tax: 20 cents per gal­lon
  • Diesel sales tax: 4% per gallon
  • Vehicle Registration Fee: $38 per vehicle annually

Californians already pay enough for the services and programs they expect. Reforms and efficiencies should first be made with existing resources.

Along with pinching household bud­gets, these proposed increases will also drive up the cost of doing busi­ness here. With the threat of another recession always looming, the fo­cus rather needs to be on effectively growing our economy and fostering a business environment that inspires confidence in job creators.

To this end I have authored legisla­tion aimed at making California more business-friendly. Senate Bill 248 would lower the minimum franchise tax paid by new small businesses from $800 to $400. Senate Bill 555 would require that any regulation ad­opted by a state agency be reviewed five years after implementation.

Both measures are important steps in strengthening our state’s economy.

At the same time, any progress we make on this front can only be sus­tained if we continue paying down the hundreds of billions of dollars the state owes in public pensions and other obligations.

Absent major reforms, the debt situ­ation is only going to get worse. Groups like the American Legisla­tive Exchange Council peg our state­wide unfunded liabilities at almost a trillion dollars.

Consider that for the 2015-16 fiscal year, the California Public Employ­ees Retirement System (CalPERS) planned for a 7.5% rate of return on its investments. However, it only managed to achieve a 0.6% rate of return. 7% of a $400 billion liability means a shortfall of $28 billion.

Weak investment returns are forcing CalPERS to re-evaluate the sound­ness of their assumptions. The de­partment will at some point in the future have to admit that investments alone may not be enough to cover pension costs.

The dual realities of a fragile eco­nomic recovery and a public pension fund that is financially unstable put our state in a perpetually precarious situation.

As budget talks get further underway and the legislative year moves for­ward, the governor and his Democrat colleagues need to recognize that ad­ditional taxes would magnify these challenges facing California.

Senator Morrell represents the 23rd State Senate District, which covers portions of Riverside, San Bernar­dino and Los Angeles counties, in­cluding Phelan and Piñon Hills.

Education General

Meeting the Demands of the 21st Century Workforce for all Students

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By Ted Alejandre, San Bernardino County Superintendent

At San Bernardino County Superinten­dent of Schools, we work collectively with our school districts, inter-agency partners and community to see that all students meet the demands of the 21st century workforce and become pro­ductive citizens who contribute to the quality of life in our communities. As educators we know that work extends far beyond the classroom, which is why we have committed the County­wide Vision goal of partnering with all sectors of the community to support the success of every child from cradle to career. That means reaching out to our business and labor leaders, to govern­ment, to faith-based organizations and community groups, to post-secondary institutions, and of course to our fami­lies to give the more than 408,000 stu­dents who attend public schools in our county the academic and social skills and tools they need to be able to com­pete in a global economy.

As we review recent data and achieve­ments that impact our county and High Desert region, we take note of impor­tant firsts for public education here; we recognize the progress of our students with support from staff, families and community; and we renew our deep commitment to transform lives through education.

With a focus on literacy, we are ad­vocating for a community of readers as part of the Countywide Vision2­Read Initiative. This spring we are launching a countywide literacy proj­ect through the nationally recognized Footsteps2Brilliance program. Using any electronic communication device, young students will be able to access thousands of books, games and pro­grams that will develop literacy in both English and Spanish. The initial pilot for the program targets 1,500 preschool children, but the program will be ex­panded in 2017 to include all county children. The program is free and is available on all mobile devices. We see this as a game-changer for increasing early literacy in our county.

Snowline Joint Unified School District has implemented Footsteps2Brilliance in the classroom already this school year, and the results they have seen have been tremendous. First-graders using the program reported a 5%gain in benchmark scoring for reading from the beginning of the year until Decem­ber. One student reported reading more than 94,000 words after just 40 hours using the program.

Research shows that the ability to read by third grade is one of the greatest in­dicators of a child’s future academic performance and success in life. If our students are able to be proficient read­ers, we know that will make them more likely to be high school graduates and prepare them for either entering the workforce or meeting the requirements to attend college. These are fundamen­tals to meeting our Countywide Vision to have an educated populace that will sustain economic vitality for the region and quality of life for our residents.

We know reading proficiency is criti­cal to the long-term success of our stu­dents in the classroom and their ability to be college- and career-ready when they graduate from high school. For the first time, our county graduation rate reached an all-time high and exceeded 80 %, according to the most recent data released by the California Department of Education. Among High Desert com­munities, Silver Valley Unified saw the county’s highest graduation rate for the Class of ‘15 at 97.5%. With a grad rate of 72.6% in 2010-11, the district moved from 21st among the 24 districts in the county with high school grads to No. 1 in five years! The district attributes the results to site strategic planning, a more positive school culture, professional development in English language arts and math, and a “Triple-A” focus on academics, activities and athletics.

Among graduates countywide, the per­centage of students meeting A-G re­quirements has increased 9.5% points over the past five years, growing to 34%. While we celebrate the growth we have seen, we know we must accel­erate this upward course. The demands of the labor markets now seek a more highly skilled and educated workforce.

One key program that is addressing those demands is Advancement Via Individual Determination–or AVID. It has done a phenomenal job to create a pipeline of college-bound students. Last school year a record number of 2,300 students in our county were recognized at the AVID Senior Recognition event. In the High Desert, Victor Valley High School had the largest senior class of AVID graduates with 99 seniors. There are amazing statistics about our AVID graduates, but the two that stand out are that 99% of our AVID students gradu­ated high school, and 96% met A-G re­quirements for acceptance into the UC and CSU systems. It is worth noting that our region has the largest concen­tration of AVID programs anywhere in the world. Because of the success of AVID at the high school level, it is now growing at the middle and elementary school levels, providing students with early development in the skills and tools they need to be successful for col­leges and careers.

Another effort to boost the college-going rate in our county is a new part­nership with the American Council on Education. Along with the AVID Center in San Diego, University of California, California State University, and 23 of our county’s high schools, they are working in concert to create a schoolwide college application day this academic year as part of the Ameri­can College Application and Success Campaign. The campaign is focused on increasing college and financial aid applications and enrollment to post-secondary institutions by all seniors at the participating schools. Another part­nership aimed at seeing that more of our students are prepared for post-sec­ondary options is a pilot program with County Schools, the College Board, Apple Valley, Chaffey, Hesperia, Mo­rongo, Upland and the College Board to support administration of pre-college testing to the entire 10th grade class.

We are seeing more investment com­ing to our region for college and career readiness–with more than $2 million in grants supporting our efforts. One comes to our Linked Learning Re­gional Hub of Excellence–one of four statewide models selected by the James Irvine Foundation. Participating dis­tricts are expanding career pathways that offer rigorous academics coupled with relevant career-technical educa­tion in the region’s most in-demand industry sectors. School districts and ROPs across our county have benefit­ed from California’s Career Technical Education Incentive Grant program, the largest of its kind in the nation. San Bernardino County ROP received $1.5 million, which will support emerging labor market needs in the field of infor­mation and communications technol­ogy, primarily in the emerging cyber­security field.

The newly formed Mountain Desert Regional Career and Occupational Pathways JPA is working regionally with business and industry to prepare students for college, careers and post-secondary training. Formed on the no­tion of collective impact and working together to create better economic and education opportunities for the region, the JPA’s nine desert/mountain school districts have established career path­ways and academies, proving to equip students with the credentials needed to enter the workforce.

Also, the Desert Mountain Economic Partnership, which involves education, city and county government, and pri­vate industry in the High Desert, has taken a collective impact approach to propel education and the economy in the region.

I am encouraged by the growing sup­port and commitment from partners such as Job Corps, Linked Learning, the College Board, our school districts, higher education, city and county gov­ernments, and community stakeholders in these many collaborative efforts.

In the fall of 2016, we launched the first countywide Open Data Platform, primarily focused on improving stu­dent success outcomes from cradle to career. San Bernardino County is the first county office of education across the state to pursue using the data plat­form to provide transparency of and access to education data with the goal of engaging our publics, informing de­cision-making and providing a contin­uum of services to improve conditions for our youth.

On the statewide level, the transition to a new accountability system is in the process of rolling out in the next several months. This winter the State Board of Education finalized adoption of a landmark accountability system for California public schools. The ac­countability system is among the most rigorous and ambitious in the nation, with the goal of ensuring our state’s public schools are preparing students for success in college and 21st century careers. In March the state is scheduled to unveil its California School Dashboard concept to the public that will provide a wealth of new information to help parents, educators and the public assess the performance and progress of their schools.

Rather than using just one number to measure school progress, as was the case with the former Academic Perfor­mance Index, the new system is driven by a rubric of performance indicators such as student test scores, graduation rates, attendance, and college and ca­reer readiness. Multiple measures will give parents, teachers and community members a better idea of what is hap­pening at their schools and how well schools are meeting statewide educa­tional priorities, as well as goals defined in district Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP).

Among county offices of education statewide, ours was the first to develop a model that provides a multi-faceted team of experts to support districts in the cross-development of their budgets and LCAP and to work collaboratively with districts in continuous improve­ment. Of course, the most crucial and important changes are what is happen­ing in classrooms where teachers are teaching to new rigorous state stan­dards, and students are gaining mastery on higher-level thinking skills. It is be­cause of their hard work that we saw improvements across the board in both math and English language arts when the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress results were released in 2016.

State testing is one measurement of the progress that’s taking place in our classrooms, but another key priority is the social and emotional development of our students. One initiative that is addressing those needs comes from our countywide Student Advisory Panels.

More than 150 students representing over 40 high schools are participating and meet four times annually to engage with their peers and develop presenta­tions in the areas of economy, educa­tion, safety, and health and wellness – areas identified as priorities in the Community Vital Signs Transforma­tion Plan. The culmination of student efforts is realized in final presentations to a panel of elected officials and policy makers who listen intently to student proposals and opinions. When students see that their voices are being heard and influencing decisions, and they are invited to act as leaders in the process, a collaborative community of learners is formed.

Creating strong and healthy school and community environments for students, staff and families is the goal of County Schools’ first countywide Wellness Strategic Planning Initiative. A growing body of research shows that supporting students and families with emotional wellness early on can help students be successful in school and into their adult lives. Research by the National Alliance on Mental Illness shows that behavioral health issues during adoles­cence contribute to more than half of all instances of students dropping out at the high school level.

The research-proven program, Posi­tive Behavioral Interventions and Supports—or PBIS—is making ma­jor strides in creating a more positive culture at our schools and supporting student wellness. PBIS is a proactive approach to establishing the behavioral supports and social culture needed for all students in a school to achieve so­cial, emotional and academic success. Countywide, we are approaching more than 250 schools in 28 school districts and County Schools alternative edu­cation settings. With more than 100 schools implementing PBIS in the High Desert, the Positive Behavior Interven­tions and Supports Coalition awarded over 40 schools in 2016 with bronze, silver and gold awards for improving campus culture.

In Silver Valley Unified, Newberry Springs Elementary was the only school to receive a gold award. Newberry re­duced the number of suspensions from 15 in 2012-13 to 1 in 2015-16. All to­tal, 11 High Desert school districts had at least one school awarded, with Ad­elanto Elementary and Snowline Joint Unified school districts each having nine total schools to receive bronze and silver awards. The positive outcomes of such programs have made inroads in reducing discipline referrals, plus help­ing achieve declines in suspension and expulsion rates. The number of suspen­sions has dropped 30% from 2011-12 to the most recent released data for the 2014-15 academic year. The expulsion rate has dropped 23% over the past three reporting years.

We have real opportunity to change the trajectory of our county and launch our schools and communities into a future that provides all of our students with opportunities to fulfill their boundless potential. At County Schools, we will continue our work of collaborating with our school districts, inter-agency part­ners and communities to bring about the skills our students need to be col­lege- and career-ready. Their prepara­tion for the demands of the workforce will impact the economic vitality of the High Desert, our county and the state.


High Desert Opportunity Announces 2017 Event Plans

Published by:


By Cari Thomas

Continuing with their mission to pro­mote economic growth by presenting a conference that showcases business opportunities in High Desert, the HDO Board of Directors is pleased to announce this year’s High Desert Op­portunity (HDO) event will once again be held at the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center in Rancho Cucamonga on Thurs­day, November 2, 2017

“We are capitalizing on the momentum of the 2016 conference at Victoria Gar­dens, which proved to be an excellent site to reach our target audience of Or­ange, Los Angeles and San Diego Coun­ties, as well as the Inland Empire,” said HDO President Cari Thomas.

Although event details are pending, added this year are an exhibit hall, lunch and keynote speaker. Tickets are $60, with Early Bird pricing at $50. Tickets go on sale soon, along with more event details to come.

For more information about the High Desert Opportunity Conference and volunteer opportunities, call 760-245-7600, email, or visit their website at

About High Desert Opportunity

High Desert Opportunity (HDO) is the premier High Desert event annually showcasing local businesses and de­velopment opportunities for new and expanding businesses. The goal of the event is to support economic growth and stability by attracting businesses and jobs to the High Desert. The region encompasses the cities of Adelanto, Ap­ple Valley, Barstow, Hesperia and Vic­torville, as well as portions of San Ber­nardino County. In its 36th year, High Desert Opportunity continues to grow and evolve, focusing on the benefits of doing business in the High Desert.

General Politics

Update From Jay Obernolte’s First Term as State Assemblyman, 33rd District

Published by:


Assemblyman Jay Obernolte

During my first term representing you in the State Assembly, I have had the honor to serve my constituents not only through the advocacy of my dis­trict office, but also by authoring and passing legislation that benefits our district.

My first piece of legislation that im­pacts the district and our rural areas was AB 1034. AB 1034 amended the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA) of 1975 to allow the con­struction and operation of renewable energy projects on already-disturbed mining lands. Too often renewable energy projects that do not benefit our communities are sited in our neighbor­hoods, causing blight. This bill allows renewable energy projects to be sited away from our communities and pro­tects our environment by encouraging them to be located on previously dis­turbed lands and not our pristine des­ert.

Another piece of legislation I authored and passed was AB 1773. This bill expanded the Renewable Energy Self-Generation Bill Credit Transfer (RES-BCT) program to allow qualifying local government entities to participate in the program. This bill had a direct impact on the Victor Valley Waste Water Reclamation Authority and will save their ratepayers $400,000.00 annually.

AB 809, which was sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Associa­tion, requires local ordinances that im­pose or raise taxes to clearly state in the description of the measure the fact that the measure is a new tax or tax increase, the amount of money to be raised annually from the tax, and the rate and duration of the tax to be levied. Previously, when citizens would vote on local ballot measures, that informa­tion was not required to be available to the voters. AB 809 prevents local agencies from disguising tax increases from the voters.

Finally, AB 1775 adjusted California tax return due dates for Limited Lia­bility Companies (LLC) and C corpo­rations to make them consistent with federal law. The federal tax due dates were modified last year for several common federal returns. However, this discrepancy complicated the filing process for many of the state’s taxpay­ers and businesses which were required to comply with multiple tax deadlines for the same returns. AB 1775 creates consistency between state and federal regulations and saves taxpayers from costly penalties.

During the upcoming legislative ses­sion, I plan to continue authoring and advancing legislation that will keep jobs in California and promote trans­parency and government efficiency wherever possible. I believe that all Californians deserve that from their state government.

To that effect I have introduced sev­eral bills that will have a direct impact on our region. Last year the Gover­nor signed into law Senate Bill 1263, which prohibits the permitting of a home or cabin where the source of water supply is hauled water. That bill was retroactive in nature, ultimately rendering many property owner’s land worthless by taking away their abil­ity to build on land located in areas without adequate water infrastructure. I’ve introduced AB 366 in response, which would exempt property owners of existing parcels from this law and allow them to build on their property if legally obtained hauled water is the listed source of water. This bill will protect the rights of rural property owners.

Also, I have introduced AB 195, which expands on the transparency re­quirements enacted by AB 809. AB 195 extends transparency to all local initiatives that levy taxes. I strongly believe this transparency is needed be­cause voters should have access to all relevant information in order to make a responsible, informed decision about a tax increase.

I also recently introduced AB 912, the Small Business Regulatory Fairness Act. This bill would give state agen­cies the flexibility to reduce statutory fines and penalties on small businesses in cases where the violation was inad­vertent and the business is cooperating with the agency.

In the coming months I plan on in­troducing more legislation to benefit our region and all Californians. I am a California optimist, and I believe that working together we can make our state once again the crucible of in­novation and entrepreneurship that it used to be.

It is an honor to represent you.