Category Archives: Politics

General Politics Transportation

“flyOntario” – Under Local Control and Looking to Grow

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Ontario_International_Airport_Authority

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.

Airplane

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@flyon­tario.com–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 www.flyOntario.com. 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 Politics

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

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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.

General Politics

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

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Assemblyman_Jay_Obernolte

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.

General Politics

Easy to Lead, Hard to Govern

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By Paul C. Granillo, President and CEO, Inland Empire Economic Partnership

Part of the mission of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership is to ensure that the needs and reality of the economic situation of our region are represented in national and state­wide organizations whose decisions or influence might effect the Inland Empire.

One of those organizations that I am pleased to be associated with is California Forward, whose goal is to make the promise of the California Dream attainable for all. Its mission is to inspire better decision-making by governments at all levels in order to: Grow Middle-Class Jobs, Pro­mote Cost-effective Public Services, and Create Accountability for Re­sults. This year California Forward celebrates its 10-year Anniversary as an organization, and I was honored to attend their Gala celebration.

The keynote speaker for the evening was Former Defense Secretary and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Leon Panetta.

Secretary Panetta served as the founding co-chair of California Forward, along with Tom McKiernan, the former CEO of the Automobile Club of Southern California. One was a democrat and the other a republican. Their goal was to help create a organization that would work in a non-partisan way to find solutions for California problems. Sounds easy but it is hard work. In his keynote address Panetta decried the lack of civility and accountability by elected officials at all levels of government. Put plainly, are we electing people who only care about themselves and have lost or never had the understanding that before winning for themselves or their party they were elected to govern? Whether you are a Republican at the national level or a California Democrat, majority control means nothing if choices to tax, regulate and educate are not made with bipartisan input and the motivation that governing means creating the best solutions for the lives of the governed. Sometimes in the Inland Empire we feel forgotten and unappreciated. We cannot let those feelings stop us from holding our elected officials at all levels accountable, not just for their votes but for their attitude toward how they carried out their role in OUR governance structures. It is easy for people to call themselves leaders; it is much harder to actually be one.

General Politics

A Libertarian Approach to Regulatory Reform in California

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By Brian W. Ryman, Co-Chair, Victor Valley Libertarian Alliance

The Libertarian Party of California af­firms in our platform that, “all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal rights of others to live in whatever manner they choose.” This is antithetical to the regulatory environment in California, which controls every aspect of our lives and our business dealings. It is the purpose of this portion of our program to show how we can reform the current system to rein in regulations and allow for greater individual freedom in the state.

The proposals here are not meant to be seen as the final goal of the Libertarian Party in regards to regulations in the state. Nor are they meant to be the only course of action in bringing about a freer society. These are actions that can be taken now, within the present framework established by the US and California Constitutions, federal and state law, and current regula­tory mechanisms and procedures.

Over-regulation is a problem for Cali­fornians. Before offering solutions, it is necessary to understand where we are and examine how we came to this point.

Current Problem

California’s economy is floundering as businesses–both large and small–are leav­ing the state at an alarming rate. The rea­son for this is clear: California is consis­tently rated the worst, or one of the worst, states in which to do business. According to the Tax Foundation’s 2015 State Busi­ness Tax Climate Index, California ranked 48th for corporate taxes (beating only New York and New Jersey); For 11 years in a row Chief Executive Network has rated California the worst state in which to do business; The California Business Roundtable reports that, “California’s regulatory environment is the most cost­ly, complex and uncertain in the nation.” The threefold burden of taxation, legisla­tive uncertainty, and regulations are mak­ing it next to impossible to run a profitable business in this state.

According to the state constitution,“[t]he legislative power of this State is vested in the California Legislature which consists of the Senate and Assembly” as well as “the powers of initiative and referendum” which are reserved to the people of the state. Ironically, neither the legislature nor the people are the source of most of the regulations. The vast majority are pro­posed by the more than 200 state agencies and commissions given that authority by the Legislature. When they are adopted by the rulemaking agency, approved by the Office of Administrative Law and filed with the Secretary of State, these regula­tions have the force of law.

Unfortunately, regulations adopted by state agents are often inconsistent across different agencies and lack transparency and accountability. These regulators often do not adequately understand the impact of their actions.

The detrimental effects of California’s regulatory climate cannot be over-stated. To frame it based on its economic im­pact, it is helpful to put it in perspective by comparing the cost of regulation to the cost of corporate taxation. While busi­nesses operating in California in 2009 paid ~$9,535,679,000 in Corporate income tax, the regulatory costs for these same businesses were over $467,814,918,000. In other words, the regulatory burden on California businesses is 49 times greater than their tax burden. The combination of excessive taxation and regulation has kept Californians from their potential prosper­ity.

How we got here

Overregulation in California is not a re­cent phenomenon. In 1977 Dow Chemical Corporation abandoned construction plans for a major facility. Dow gave govern­ment regulation and litigation regarding the environmental impact of the plant as the reason. The following year Standard Oil of Ohio abandoned a pipeline project in Long Beach for the same reasons. Both of these projects would have employed thousands of people in a state hit hard by the fiscal malaise of the late 1970s. These events and the subsequent popular revolt that culminated in the passage of the Peo­ple’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxa­tion (Proposition 13) in 1978 had people starting to question the scope and depth of government in their lives. This uprising of the people, and the fact that concerned citizens were alarmed that the California Administrative Code had grown from ~13,500 pages in 1974 to ~ 28,000 pages in 1979, made even government officials take notice.

In response to calls for regulatory reform, California’s legislators from both the Re­publican and Democratic parties proposed a number of bills during the 1978 and 1979 sessions. Most of the bills proposed by the Republicans relied on the legislative veto and the sunset clause for regulations. Democrat Assembly Speaker Leo T. Mc­Carthy, in order to stave off these sweep­ing reforms, put forth Assembly Bill 1111 (Administrative Procedures Act of 1979) on March 22, 1979. This compromise bill passed both the Assembly and Senate al­most unanimously.

Instead of placing regulatory respon­sibility back in the hands of the legisla­ture, AB 1111 established another layer of bureaucracy by creating the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) to oversee the regulatory process. AB 1111 required that any new administrative regulations from 122 rule-making agencies within the ex­ecutive branch of state government would have to be submitted to this new Office of Administrative Law.

The OAL was charged with assuring that any new regulation had to show the fol­lowing: Necessity – a proposed regulation must have “substantial evidence” that the regulation is needed to effectuate the purpose of existing legislation. Authority – the agency making or deleting a regula­tion must have authority to do so. Clarity – the meaning of regulations must be eas­ily understood by people directly affected by them. Consistency – regulations must be consistent with other laws and regula­tions. Reference – regulations must make clear reference to laws and/or regulations that they are modifying. Nonduplication – a regulation does not serve the same pur­pose as a state or federal statute or another regulation.

If a filing meets these standards, the OAL publishes the text of the proposed regula­tion in The California Regulatory Notice Register (Notice Register). At this point the public has 45 days to comment in writ­ing on the regulation as proposed. If there are substantive changes made as a result of this review, the comment period is ex­tended another 15 days. The agency may also opt for public hearings related to its proposals.

There is also a provision for “Emergency Regulations.” A state agency may adopt an emergency regulation if it can show that the regulation is necessary for the immediate preservation of public peace, health and safety, or general welfare. These regulations take effect immediate­ly, without public comment. The public can appeal these regulations directly to the OAL within 5 days. The OAL then has 10 days to substantiate the need for the emergency measure or reject it. Emer­gency regulations remain in effect for 120 days unless renewed.

AB 1111 and subsequent legislation and executive orders also called for a review of the existing regulations to insure that they met the criteria set forth in the new law. So what were the results of these measures?

During the first two years following im­plementation, the growth in new regula­tions averaged a reduction of 49%, and the adoption of emergency regulations was reduced by 63%. As for existing regulations–by the second year, 86 State Agencies had reviewed 23,942 regula­tions, repealed 5,690, and sent back 7,907 for amendment.

Some might see this as promising, but the appearance of meaningful reform was short lived. Many of the new regulations that were disapproved and old regulations that were eliminated were simply dupli­cative of existing statutes or regulations, and most of the regulations sent back for amendment were sent back for lack of clarity. One such rejection for clarity was due to the following language concerning operation of lift equipment on which a person stood on a platform: “Before ele­vating personnel, make sure that the mast is vertical in a sideways direction as well as forward and rearward.” The regulation was later approved with the substitution of the above sentence with the following one: “Before elevating personnel, make sure that the mast is vertical and/or the platform is level.”

Unfortunately, the Regulatory Reforms of 1979, the last major set of reforms at­tempted in the state, had little or no effect in curtailing the promulgation of regula­tions. In fact, the volume of regulations has more than tripled since their enact­ment. During the same period, the num­ber of agencies and commissions that can write regulations has increased by more than 100.

While there is no precise number of state regulations governing Californians to­day, the California Code of Regulations (CCR) consists of 28 Titles and occu­pies 44 bound volumes averaging ~2068 nominal pages (the term nominal is used here because while the pagination may in­dicate 2068 pages, some pages have other divisions- for example page 28 might be continued into 28.1, 28.2, 28.3, etc…). Based on random volume sampling, the estimated total number of pages of cur­rent regulations is between 90,992 and 118,289. Each of these pages may contain several regulations.

It may be that true reform was never in­tended. In 1996 in a series of interviews conducted with Leo T. McCarthy, the au­thor of AB 1111, he made it clear that he did not want to put “some kind of limit on freedom to act through regulations.” He acknowledged that, “One motive that prompted the law was that Democrats were being strongly criticized by Repub­licans for passing new laws that made government bigger and more costly.” This idea is further reinforced by his statement, “My motivation was to put the Democrat­ic Party in a more responsible position as far as the growth of the size of govern­ment is concerned.”

So if the Democrats and McCarthy were acting out of political motivations, why didn’t the Republicans call them on it and work for real reform? McCarthy had the answer to this: “For all the talk about big government, I find Republican legislators spending very little time on analyzing statutes and regu­lations adopted in the past. Their objec­tive to reduce government spending is not undertaken in any specific or analytical way.”

It is time to rectify the shortsightedness of the two establishment parties and enact legislation that will have a real and sub­stantive effect on regulations in Califor­nia. The Libertarian Party is poised to do this, and some of our proposed solutions are in the following section.

Solutions

The principles on which the Libertarian Party was founded call for a maximum of personal liberty and a minimum of gov­ernmental force. Therefore, any approach to Regulatory Reform must be geared to­ward the minimization of artificial gov­ernment regulations. Because of this, the following section offers means within our current system by which regulations can be curtailed and eliminated.

Past proposals have fallen far short. The two main Republican proposals of 1979, even if enacted, were flawed. The Legisla­tive Veto was found to be unconstitutional in 1983, and sunset laws, on their own, have proven ineffective where they have been enacted. Vern McKinley, in his re­search for the Resolution Trust Corpora­tion found that, “In practice, sunset pro­visions have not been very effective, and likely will do little to slow the growth of statutes, agencies, and regulations.”

Sunset clauses for regulations – clauses in a regulation that require periodic review of the rationale for the continued existence of the particular regulation–rarely lead to the end of a regulation. Among the states that use sunset provisions on a regular ba­sis, less than 21% of laws or regulations subject to sunset are allowed to end.

It is clear that more sweeping reforms are needed. These reforms should include a reworking of the Administrative Proce­dures Act to bring the legislative author­ity, now residing in the Regulatory Agen­cies within the Executive branch, back to the Legislature, as called for in the State Constitution.

While many may question the wisdom of vesting regulatory authority in the Cali­fornia Legislature, recent events show that the authority placed there would be less detrimental than leaving it with the Executive. Governor Jerry Brown has stated that he will use every authority at his disposal to push through petroleum- reduction provisions that the legislature properly removed from Senate Bill 350. He pledged to use the full force of his reg­ulatory authority to “change the very ba­sis of our industrial economy, and I think we’re making tremendous progress.”

The Administrative Procedures Act should be modified to redefine the Office of Ad­ministrative Law as an agent of the Legis­lature and not as an office within the Ex­ecutive Branch. The OAL should continue its current vetting process for regulations (including the public review process), but having met their mandated requirements, proposed regulations should be submitted to the legislature for approval. The regula­tion would then be signed into law by the governor as any other law. This procedure would avoid the Constitutional issues that invalidate the legislative veto and would slow the onslaught of regulations.

To further increase freedom and prosperi­ty in California, we should expand our use of sunset provisions to all regulatory laws and agencies. Every regulation should come up for review every three to seven years and every regulatory agency should come up for review every five years (with 1/5th of the total number of agencies be­ing reviewed each year). If a regulation is not reaffirmed at the end of the review, then it is stricken from the books. If an agency fails to have its charter extended upon review, then it will be eliminated.

These reforms address most regulations in California. The only others that need to be dealt with are those passed by public initiative or proposition. To curtail regu­latory expansionism through the initiative process, we call for an amendment to the California Constitution to place sunset provisions on all regulatory or tax propo­sitions allowed on the ballot.

General Politics

Over-Regulation Slows Growth in High Desert

Published by:

By Bob Dutton, San Bernardino County Assessor-Recorder-Clerk

In the last few years, our county has seen an increase in population size as families from neighboring communi­ties seek the many attributes that make our county worth living in. Since 2000, San Bernardino County’s population has grown by approximately 22%. This is good news, as it is a sign that our local economy will continue to become more robust, affording more opportunities for people to become home-owners for and small business owners to invest in our communities.

The 2016 annual property assessment roll showcases that San Bernardino County is heading in the right direc­tion. However, it also highlights a need for community stakeholders to really dive into the issue of what’s hindering further growth in our communities, particularly, in the High Desert: over-regulation.

The 2016 San Bernardino County assessment roll contained 817,383 taxable parcels and is valued at $194,671,781,504. This is a 4.2% net increase as compared to the 2015 as­sessment roll. Primary reasons for the increase countywide are attributed to the sustained recovery of real estate values, increased sales activity, Prop 13 inflationary adjustments and the restoration of assessed values previ­ously reduced under Prop 8 decline in market value provisions.

The High Desert communities of Adelanto, Apple Valley, Barstow, Hesperia, and Victorville had a total count of 133,146 parcels, valued at $21,413,577,745 collectively, for the year 2016.

Countywide, the average increase in real estate values was 4.45%. An area of concern is the unsecured valuations, mainly of business personal property, which was 4.9% lower than 2015. This decrease was due partly to com­panies divesting of property, leaving the county to do business elsewhere or closing down.

As was clear in the 2016 assessment roll, our community gets hit hard when businesses choose to leave the county, do business elsewhere, or never even set foot in the county. Yet our com­munity continues to see an increase in population size and a demand for housing, which means businesses and real estate developers should be flock­ing to our community to invest.

According to Dr. John Husing’s lat­est quarterly report, one of the main vulnerabilities for the Inland Empire is over-regulation of construction projects, which delays industrial, in­frastructure and residential projects for years, even if funding sources are already secured. I couldn’t agree more with Dr. Husing. With demand being so high for affordable housing, there just isn’t enough development, be­cause environmental regulations slow down the process. According to the High Desert Association of Realtors, 980 homes are currently available in the High Desert, which is 1,000 homes short of having a balanced market.

In order to experience further eco­nomic growth, San Bernardino Coun­ty will have to attract development by working with state leaders to remove burdensome governmental regula­tions that are hindering investments in housing and industrial buildings. We need to do more to attract people from other counties to live, shop, invest, and grow here. I have always main­tained a strong commitment to work­ing with community stakeholders and the business community, with a goal of economic growth in the High Des­ert region, as well as throughout all of San Bernardino County. The connec­tion between the accessibility of good paying jobs and housing is an indica­tor of the health of the local economy.

As San Bernardino County’s Asses­sor-Recorder-Clerk, and a member of the California Assessors’ Association Legislative Committee, I am commit­ted to working with colleagues to de­velop and support legislation which encourage growth and streamline gov­ernmental regulations. It is imperative that our county has the ability to grow jobs and have access to affordable housing, as these are the foundation of creating prosperity in our region.

Here are the assessed values for the High Desert region:

Assessed_Values

General Politics Transportation

It’s Time for Action on Failing Roadways

Published by:

Scott Wilk

By Senator Scott Wilk

Responding to a call on Cajon Pass last month, a San Bernardino County Fire crew watched as their beloved Engine plummeted about 20 feet to its demise as Interstate 15 collapsed underneath it.

Thankfully, the firefighters remained on what solid ground was left on the dilapi­dated thoroughfare. But this incident highlighted, in dramatic fashion, the ramshackle shape of our region’s net­work of roads.

We once led the world in transportation ingenuity in this state. During the mid­dle part of the last century, California — under the direction of Jerry Brown’s father, Governor Pat Brown — built a system of highways unrivaled by any other in the nation.

They built long roads over tough terrain and huge bridges up and down our rug­ged coastline. And they found new and innovative ways to fund and complete these massive undertakings, partnering with the federal government to raise funds for the unprecedented projects.

In the years since, though, we’ve let those advancements that made Califor­nia a beacon of progress fall by the way­side. Our roads and highways, once the model for transportation excellence, are now a paragon of dilapidation and mis­management. The highway system, one of the most ambitious projects our state took on back then, is now in shambles.

The collapse of Interstate 15 a was shocking display of our incompetence in the area of road maintenance. Just last year another instance was on prime display in the Victor Valley when High­way 18, a major commuter route be­tween the Victor and Antelope Valleys, remained closed for a year and a half as mismanagement of the repair project led to delay after delay, increasing cost and detouring over 5,000 commuters headed to work.

Unfortunately, these are not rare ex­amples; they only a few in a long line of troublesome extremes we’ve experi­enced after decades of neglectful trans­portation policies.

This winter Highway 50 in Northern California was almost completely inop­erable due to half of its lanes falling off the hillside in the Sierra Nevada moun­tains. Likewise, Interstate 80 and high­ways 49, 101, 20, 1 and 299 have all left Californians stranded in remote areas of the state as one after another they’ve seen massive failures over the past few months.

Not only have we let our roads fall into horrible disrepair, but we long ago stopped pursuing new projects as well. Our transportation network was a mas­sive undertaking for our predecessors. They saw the need to connect our state and the driving economic force that convenient transportation could be; and they took action.

Our highways made trade and travel throughout the state easy and accessible for all Californians. But our transporta­tion infrastructure hasn’t been upgraded in nearly 60 years, and it wasn’t built for today’s California. Interstate 5, and most of our state’s highways, were built in the 1950s when our population was just over 10 million; by the end of this decade it will hit 40 million.

California leaders way back then, includ­ing the first Governor Brown, couldn’t have anticipated the massive population growth we’ve experienced or that their successors, and children, would give up entirely on maintaining and expanding our transportation network. Unfortu­nately, the old adage about apples and the tree apparently doesn’t hold true when it comes to prioritizing our trans­portation needs.

Our governor and the legislature have not prioritized these needs in the least. We have over $57 billion in deferred maintenance for our roads. That means $57 billion worth of things they could and should have taken care of but didn’t. That means $57 billion worth of repairs just to keep the roads we already have in working order, much less expand or build new ones.

While political elites in Sacramento will tell you there’s no money for these ser­vices and that raising taxes, again and again, is the only answer, this is simply not the case. Californians already pay the highest transportation taxes in the nation. In fact, Californians are already taxed enough each year to cover every squareinch of every highway in the state with dollar bills.

But our politicians, in their infinite wis­dom, have “redirected” those funds to cover their reckless spending in other areas. So while we’re already being taxed to pay for highway repair, and taxed again for highway maintenance, and taxed again for highway construc­tion, we continue to see the deferred maintenance figures rise and road driv­ability fall.

Adding more taxes is not going to solve the problems we face.

California Republicans have introduced a plan to address those maintenance needs without raising taxes. Instead, we’ve proposed spending tax revenue meant for infrastructure repairs on – in­frastructure repairs.

The legislature knows the money is there. To fix our roads, to build free­ways and expand those we have. To build a highway system suited to handle the huge number of people traversing this state each day. To end traffic con­gestion. To reduce deadly accidents. To solve our state’s infrastructure problems once and for all. But they’d rather not.

They’d rather “redirect,” “repurpose” and “redistribute” our money to pork-barrel projects and gubernatorial pipedreams. They’d rather do any and everything but take action to fix one of the most glaring problems impacting Californians today.

So, as we drive on the nation’s most di­lapidated roads and highways, we do it as our government spends $64 billion on a bullet train to nowhere rather than directing that money to the $57 billion in maintenance our roads desperately need.

It is time for action on our failing road­ways. We can no longer afford to stand by as the asphalt crumbles beneath us. The fire engine that fell off a collapsing Interstate 15 last month was empty; no one was hurt.

But next time it could be a school bus full of our children, or a family headed to Sunday service or any other night­mare scenario where our government’s negligence on fixing our roads leads to the loss of human lives.

Scott Wilk represents the 21st Senate District which includes the Antelope, Santa Clarita, and Victor valleys.

General Politics

Governor’s Record Budget Asks Taxpayers For Even More

Published by:

By Senator Mike Morrell

At the beginning of the year, the gov­ernor released the details of his pro­posed state budget. While the next few months will be filled with negotiations and committee hearings to hammer out the details, it is already clear that this budget continues a trend of gov­ernment growth and spending at the expense of the taxpayer – this time to the tune of a record $122.6 billion.

The governor and Democratic leaders have reiterated their belief that Cali­fornia is in good financial shape and have used this assessment to justify spending increases, though many, in­cluding the governor himself, con­tinue to warn that another recession could be just around the corner.

Yet still the governor has doubled down on calls for higher taxes.

A cornerstone of this plan would enact $3 billion in new gas taxes and “road user fees.” Senate Republicans have put forward our own plan that would provide nearly the same amount for California’s roads and highways with­out raising taxes. Included in our plan is a guarantee that taxes paid by driv­ers and truckers would be used to the benefit of our roads and highways.

If you drive as much as I do, you are well aware that in California, we al­ready pay among the nation’s highest prices for gas. Between taxes and en­vironmental regulations, government costs imposed on motorists are nearly 70 cents per gallon. For families and businesses alike, paying more at the pump will mean even less money to put toward investing and saving for the future.

This budget proposal is premised on a view that the books are balanced. By several measures, however, Califor­nia’s fiscal situation is far from bal­anced.

Consider that the State Treasurer has estimated state and local government debt at $1.5 trillion. While the budget includes about $7 billion to pay down related debt costs, this amount rep­resents only the minimum necessary to pay off a small portion of state li­abilities. With windfall revenues, the budget could pay off more debt, avoid future interest costs, and prevent the cycle of issuing more debt to finance existing debt so that future generations are not stuck having to foot this bill rather than fuel more out-of-control spending in Sacramento on things like high-speed rail.

Our duty is to provide an environ­ment where businesses and families thrive. We have our work cut out for us in California, where the nation’s top CEOs for 11 years straight have named our state the worst place to do business.

Throughout history it has been dem­onstrated that the larger government becomes, the more it consumes, and the fewer freedoms all of us will have. Last year Republicans heeded this cautionary truth to stop tax increases in their tracks.

As we finalize the budget in the months ahead, our resolve remains the same as we work to protect the taxpayers of California.

Senator Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cu­camonga, represents the 23rd District in the State Senate which includes portions of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.

General Politics

Valdez appointed San Bernardino Auditor-Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector

Published by:

Oscar Valdez

Oscar Valdez was appointed to the vacated elected posi­tion of Audi­tor-Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on February 17, 2016. Prior to his appointment, Valdez served as the Assistant Auditor-Con­troller/Treasurer/Tax Collector from May 2011 until his current appoint­ment in 2016 and was responsible for the management and oversight of the auditor, controller, and treasurer divi­sions for the County of San Bernardino. Valdez has over 20 years of accounting, auditing, budgeting, finance, and man­agement experience, 16 of which have been with San Bernardino County.

The Auditor-Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector’s Office has a budget of near­ly $40 million and employs 315 county employees. The department performs the accounting, reporting, and claims of all county financial activities to ensure sound financial management. Valdez is responsible for the investment of all county and school district funds within the county investment pool and over­sees the collection of over $2.3 billion in property taxes each year for payment of over 805,000 annual secured and un­secured tax bills.

Valdez and his staff provide courteous and professional customer service to county departments, residents, and local government agencies. Valdez’s commit­ment to providing superior customer ser­vice is evident by the many convenient ways his office offers residents to pay their property taxes, including eCheck, debit card, and credit card services available online, in person, and over the phone. On March 22, 2016, Valdez was presented with a NACo Award in recog­nition of his department’s Online Bank­ing Tax Payment Project, which resulted in increased efficiency in processing payments remitted through a taxpayer’s online banking system.

Valdez’s office averages a 98% annual collection rate, meeting the established performance measures and in doing so ­supporting the Countywide Vision and Goals. Property tax bills that are not paid become tax-defaulted and subject to the Tax Collector’s power to sell after five or more years. Annual tax sale auc­tions are held each May in an effort to return these properties to property tax-paying status. Properties not sold at the May auction are re-offered in August at a reduced minimum bid. Last year 2,296 tax-defaulted properties were offered at the May and August tax sales, and 92.5% of those properties were sold, resulting in $14.7 million in collected revenue.

The Tax Collector’s tax sale auctions are hosted online. This year’s auction was held May 14-20, 2016. Each parcel list­ed for tax sale included a current parcel number, situs city, minimum bid, parcel map and Google map, and some parcels also included a photo. To maintain single ownership on undeveloped tracts, Val­dez’s office offered grouped parcels that must be purchased on an all-or-nothing basis. Developers interested in review­ing current tract maps for grouped par­cels can request a copy from the County Recorder’s Office. A complete listing of parcels scheduled for future tax sale can request a copy of the listings from the Tax Collector’s website at www.mytax­collector.com under Tax Collector>Tax Sale Information>Current Sale Items.

Beyond his many roles for the County of San Bernardino, Valdez is an active member of the following professional organizations: Government Finance Of­ficers Association, California Associa­tion of County Treasurers and Tax Col­lectors, California State Association of County Auditors, Association of Gov­ernment Accountants, and Institute of Internal Auditors.

General Politics

Building Opportunity and Time for the High Desert

Published by:

By Tim Watkins, Chief of Legislative and Public Affairs, San Bernardino Associated Governments

In the High Desert region of San Bernar­dino County, transportation continues to be a major factor in the quality of life of the people who live and work here and beyond. According to census data, near­ly 40,000 residents of the High Desert work in areas south of the Cajon Pass. This commuter demand relies heavily on a freeway corridor that also serves as a primary artery for goods movement to and from the rest of the nation, offering significant motivation to find solutions to the transportation challenges before us. As the economy continues to slowly rebound from the downturn experienced almost a decade ago, housing starts are returning to the region. This will only result in even greater demand on our in­frastructure.

Over the past few years, the San Bernar­dino Associated Governments (SAN­BAG) has been directly involved in the development and delivery of major improvements to connect people and communities to opportunity and time through enhancements to our transpor­tation system.

For example, when SANBAG and the City of Victorville were joined by nearly 300 citizens and business owners to open the La Mesa/Nisqualli Interchange back in 2013, we welcomed in an alternative to the then heavily-congested Bear Val­ley Road. At the time, Bear Valley car­ried more vehicles per day than Inter­state 15, and as a result commuters and businesses felt the impact during peak hours…which at that time represented most of the day. Today, because of La Mesa/Nisqualli, traffic on Bear Valley Road is manageable and people can ac­cess their destinations more effectively and efficiently.

About a year later, Victorville’s neigh­bor to the south, Hesperia, was also joined by SANBAG to usher in the new Ranchero Road Interchange. Couple this project with the Ranchero Road Rail­road Underpass to the east, and residents of this growing community were able to have better access to and from Interstate 15. Prior to the interchange comple­tion, Main Street carried practically theentire traffic burden for commuters try­ing to get to the interstate. Much like Bear Valley Road, the congestion relief experienced after the completion of the interchange was a welcomed sight for commuters and businesses alike.

And, just as time matters to us as com­muters, it matters to our economy as well. San Bernardino County serves as the gateway to and from the rest of the nation for the various goods that come in and out of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Much of that is via truck, but equally important is how we keep freight moving on our rail lines as well. Last year we opened the Lenwood Road Grade Separation project which represents just that…a moving economy. Hundreds of trains pass through that community daily and now they can do so even more efficiently. Sometimes overlooked is the fact that grade separa­tion projects help the local community as well. Improved traffic circulation, enhanced response times for emergency service providers, and less noise are all positive by-products of this investment into the region.

Moving forward, finding ways to con­nect east and west continues to be a crit­ical challenge for our region. SANBAG is actively working with the County of San Bernardino, the Town of Apple Val­ley, and the City of Victorville to tackle the funding needs for a complete Yucca Loma Corridor. This three-pronged ap­proach has already seen major strides toward connecting the eastern portion of the High Desert to Interstate 15. The Yucca Loma Bridge and Yates Road widening are complete and construction to widen Yucca Loma Road, the eastern leg of the corridor to Apple Valley, is underway.

Our transportation partners at the Cali­fornia Department of Transportation (Caltrans) have kicked off the reconstruction of the “D” and “E” Street in­terchanges. This all started as part of a two-phase project to widen Interstate 15 between Victorville and Barstow almost two decades ago. The work underway will reconstruct these two interchanges and widen the Mojave River Bridge so that the freeway median and shoulders can be brought up to federal standards. This will enhance the safety and opera­tions of the freeway and also improve the overall driver experience in this area.

Perhaps the most significant SANBAG/Caltrans partnership is the nearly com­pleted Interstate 15/Interstate 215 Dev­ore Interchange Project. This approxi­mately $300 million project was part of an innovative delivery design-build pilot program that enabled the project team to develop and build it more than a year ahead of schedule compared to the typi­cal process. When complete (a public ceremony was held May 20th), drivers will now be able enjoy the multiple en­hancements that were constructed in one of the most used corridors in our county. The relationship between Interstate 15 and Interstate 215 will be modified to make for seamless transitions that will greatly reduce the weaving of passenger vehicles and heavy trucks. Trucks will be using newly constructed truck by-pass lanes and passenger vehicles using the I-15 fast lane to get up and down the pass will stay in the fast lane as they transition through Glen Helen, Fontana, and Rancho Cucamonga.

In addition, wider lanes, improved ramps, and enhanced bridges will make for a better drive and more efficient commute for the nearly one million vehicle trips through the pass weekly. Route 66 which runs parallel to I-15, will be re­connected, providing an alternate route when needed and improve overall fire and public safety response times.

Couple the Devore Interchange Proj­ect completion with the concurrently scheduled completion of the Caltrans Cajon Pass Project that is rehabilitat­ing concrete lanes on I-15 between the summit and State Route 138, and com­muters, recreational travelers, and other users of the system will experience an improved transportation system that re­duces travel times and increases access to and from the High Desert.

Economy General Politics

San Bernardino County Economic Development Agency Improving the Job Prospects of Residents

Published by:

By Mary Jane Olhasso, Assistant Executive Officer, County of San Bernardino

One of the most rewarding aspects of the San Bernardino County Economic De­velopment Agency’s work is improving the job prospects of residents. Work­ing with the business community on relocation and expansion opportunities and implementing proactive workforce development programs are just some of the ways the agency makes an impact. Moreover, the department’s efforts are augmented by valuable partners in edu­cation, investment and real estate who work in collaboration to ensure job cre­ation opportunities.

A great example now being led by edu­cation partners is the implementation of a nearly $15 millon grant awarded to Chaffey College and the Inland Empire Regional Training Consortium (IERTC) in 2014. The competitive grant was awarded by the Trade Adjustment As­sistance Community College and Ca­reer Training (TAACCCT), which is co-administered by the Department of Labor and Department of Education, to improve manufacturing training for the Inland Empire. The IERTC includes 10 community colleges, 2-four-year universities, and the Manufacturers’ Council of the Inland Empire as well as several faith-based and community or­ganizations.

In March Chaffey and the consortium celebrated the opening of the Industri­al Technical Learning Center (InTech Center) located on the campus of Cali­fornia Steel Industries (CSI) that will train thousands of workers in advanced manufacturing, advanced transporta­tion, logistics, energy and utilities, as well as computer/ICT/digital media. These programs are conducted at no or low cost to employers and employees, thanks to the TAACCCT grant.

Through TAACCT funding, Barstow Community College now offers a low-cost, two-year plan in Industrial Main­tenance Mechanic Technology. This program offers National Center for Construction Education and Research(NCCER) stackable certificates. Bar­stow offers this program at a lower cost compared to similar programs offered at private colleges.

These programs and others are true job creation successes. California Steel ac­cepted five Barstow Community College students into their paid internship program over the last several years and a few have stayed on to become full-time California Steel employees. A number of other companies have partnered with Barstow Community College, either by recruitment, placement, advisory, or donations, including: NRG Energy, Abengoa Solar, Rio Tinto, Trinity Con­struction, National Training Center-Fort Irwin, Marine Corps Logistics Base, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

Another example of how community colleges are increasing job prospects is the work being done by Victor Valley College. The Welding Department at Victor Valley College has been an ac­tive department in the community for more than 35 years as a Los Angeles Certified Testing Facility for the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, an American Welding Society Certified S.E.N.S.E educational facil­ity, and a Fabricator and Manufacturers Association International Educational partner. Today, the Victor Valley Weld­ing department has evolved into a robust program that has placed students throughout the years with government agencies such as NASA, the Naval Nuclear Submarine Assembly dock in Virginia, and the Marine Corp Logistics Base in Yermo. It has served as a pre-employment testing facility for Northwest Pipe and Cas­ing, partnered with local industry to create intern­ships and pathways, and is continually working to provide students with job placement opportunities.

Thanks to additional funds, Victor Val­ley’s successful Welding department will expand its training in metal forming and fabrication with the planned addi­tion of space and resources. Construc­tion will begin on their new facility, which is slated to be completed by the end of this year.

The efforts of Barstow Community Col­lege, Victor Valley College and InTech Center are all part of a collaborative solutions-oriented effort to provide an economic boost to the county by provid­ing new skills to workers who are then able to quickly fill jobs in manufactur­ing, distribution and related technology sectors.

The Economic Development Agency has also been focused on a manufac­turing initiative that builds awareness of the county’s advantages for manu­facturing businesses: it identifies opportunities for manufacturers outside the county to consider expansion or relocation to the county; identifies obstacles to expansion of existing county busi­nesses; and informs busi­nesses about workforce incentives and programs.

The team has already reached out to nearly 1,000 unique manufac­turing companies, result­ing in more than 258 direct contacts that allowed staff to share information on the benefits of San Bernardino County. More than 90 of those contacts were sent follow-up let­ters and general cost com­parisons for manufactur­ing in San Bernardino vs. Los Angeles or Orange County. This effort will continue throughout this year.

The department also hosted educational workshops in collaboration with other partners, provided resources to educate and prepare local manufacturing busi­nesses that are interested in exporting or expanding their export base, and en­gaged in business-to-business match­making meetings, both locally and in other countries. Additionally, the county is participating in the Advanced Manu­facturing Partnership’s (AMP SoCal) efforts with USC Center for Economic Development as the lead agency to pro­mote and support the aerospace and de­fense industry in Southern California.

These multiple outreach efforts and the progress to date will continue to posi­tion this region as a premier choice, especially in Southern California, for new investment and job creation.