Economy General Property

Victor Valley Housing and BIA Efforts Hold Keys to Recovery

Published by:

By Carlos Rodriguez
CEO Building Industry Association Baldy View Chapter

Residential construction in the Victor Valley and along the I-15 corridor cities leading to the region holds the key to San Bernardino County’s economic recovery, and the Building Industry Association (BIA) Baldy View Chapter is launching a program to ensure it happens.

According to figures released by the Construction Industry Research Board (CIRB) and compiled by the Chapter, “the Victor Valley and I-15 corridor continues to anchor our recovery and will provide the gateway to prosperity,” said BIA Baldy View President Jonathan Weldy of Meridian Land Development.

“In 2010, the four incorporated Victor Valley cities of Hesperia, Adelanto, Apple Valley, Victorville and unincorporated county areas in their spheres of influence accounted for over 40 percent of the 1,844 single – and multi – family permits issued in all of San Bernardino County in 2010,” Weldy said.

To ensure this recovery, the BIA Baldy View Chapter launched its own recovery strategy: the BIA Baldy View Jobs Creation Initiative – Keys to Restoring the Health of the Building Industry and our Region’s economy.

“When added to the total of the I-15 corridor cities of Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, and Fontana in the Inland Valley, nearly 70 percent of the building in San Bernardino County took place along this important corridor in 2010 in a trend that has continued since 2005”.

While over one third of all the permits issued in the county were for multi-family uses, nearly 90 percent of the permits issued in the Victor Valley region were for single – family homes and over half of the 2010 single – family permits issued in the entire county last year were issued in the Victor Valley.

Weldy said the Chapter’s Job creation Initiative’s four – tiered approach incorporates a continued push for development impact fee (DIF) reductions, deferring  DIF payments to issuance pf a certificate of occupancy (particularly in school districts), implementing a lien policy regarding performance bonds in cities that have not adopted the ordinance and monitoring the implementation of SB375 – a land -use planning bill that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the reduction of vehicle miles traveled (VMTs) – in coordination with Southern California Associated Governments (SCAG) and San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG).

“The importance of the Chapter’s Jobs Creation Initiative is that the current downturn imposes contradictory challenges on governments to the seemingly obvious approach to spurring economic recovery by encouraging homebuilding,” said former BIA Baldy View Chapter President Todd Tatum of the Victorville – based American Housing Group.

“Local governments faced with critical shortfalls and deficits resist considering or implementing fee reductions when projecting their budgets,” Tatum said. Yet, “I think now cities and city staffs realize that what homebuilding brought to the city in terms of overall community development: major employment, tax revenue streams, infrastructure, parks and libraries,” he added.

” They realize homebuilders are really the drivers of the economy.”

Because a decade – long shortfall of new housing fueled both the housing boom and bust earlier in the decade, revitalizing the housing market holds the key to economic recovery in the region and the state, according to noted economist John E. Husing, Ph.D., of Economics & Politics, Inc., in his 2009 report The Housing Crisis Issues & Potential Strategies.

Fundamentally, the Inland Empire has moved into a deepening recession because of what has occurred in its residential market,” said Husing.

According to the report, housing demand outstripped supply, fulfilling the classic definition of inflation as ‘too many dollars following too few products.’ Husing notes that the ratio of residents to single – family dwelling units was 4.66 as the region recovered from the post – Cold War recession in 1997. However, over the intervening decade, 5.71 people were added for each new single – family unit built during that period.

“To keep the ratio intact at 4.66, another 156,700 units would have had to have been built or 15,670 per year in this ten year period. San Bernardino over that period fell short by nearly 30,000 units,” he added.

The region’s recovery now hinges on “a resumption of residential construction activity,” Husing said. This is the case as the Inland Empire’s competitive advantages are the availability of land that can support new homes and industrial facilities as well as a large marginally educated adult population.

“In the meantime, new home development will stagnate and the recession will persist, unless policy action is undertaken to make home building profitable,” he added.

“And profitability is one of the major issues confronting homebuilders,” said BIA Baldy View Vice President Todd Leibl of Victory Homes. “Current inventories of repossessed homes, short sales, and distressed properties continue to hamstring investment in homebuilding by keeping prices artificially low.” However, he added, “as inventories are liquidated prices should return to reasonable levels.”

“Once that happens,” said Leibl, “we’ll be back in the building business.”

In addition, local governments need to adjust their fee structures to the realities of the current housing market and create incentives for homebuilding, local governments under pressure to maintain staffing levels and entitlement programs.

“The BIA has made an extreme effort with the Jobs Creation Initiative, but you have to have a government that wants to understand the issues and have the ability to make those changes,” Leibl said.

To make housing profitable, Husing recommends steps mirroring the Chapter’s Initiative, such as reducing DIFs while encouraging public policies that enable more compact and affordable housing and new home community designs consistent with the goals of SB375. With these programs in place, San Bernardino County will be positioned for return to prosperity.

The BIA Baldy View Chapter represents homebuilders and associates in the housing industry in all of San Bernardino County and the easternmost portion of Los Angeles County. Founded in 1938, the Baldy View Chapter is the most honored homebuilding chapter in the nation. It is a member of the California Building Association (CBIA), a statewide trade association representing nearly 6,000 businesses including homebuilders,remodelers, subcontractors, architects, engineers, designers, and other industry professionals.

 

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Economy General

The Difference a Year Makes

Published by:

By Bob Thompson
Advanced Listing Services

It is a surety that one day the current troubles in the real estate market will end and appreciation will replace the pervasive depreciation that rules today’s market—but not today. But if not today, when?

Guessing when a market will turn for any good or service is an imperfect exercise due to the number of independent variables that affect the final outcome. The changes and differences in this myriad of small variables make up the large overall swings that become apparent only after they have occurred.

One such indicator is the supply of properties on the market, or current listings. Observe Table 1. In April of 2010 there were 1,554 units of supply on the market in the listed cities. This year there are 76 fewer or 1,478. This informs us that these markets are highly predictable as to supply from year to year. Notice that the number of listings has declined 5%; however the number of REO listings have declined 17%.

We can also see the large differential in prices between non REO in 2010 and non REO 2011. The absolute level of median price declined about 12%. REO declined about 15%. The difference between the two in 2010 was 31%, in 2011 about 34%.

What can be concluded from this narrow study?

(1) REOs as a percentage of the total market fell about 17% between the two years.

(2) In 2010, 33% of the market was REO. Today it is about 29%.

(3) REO, because of price differentials, exercises a strong negative influence on the price line.

(4) REO, while declining, is doing so at a slow pace.

(5) REO will continue to populate the market in high numbers for the next 1-2 years.

(6) Consequently, from a supply perspective, prices will remain weak and in decline into the foreseeable future.

The difference a year makes is that the end of the beginning has begun. REO inventories must decline to achieve price stability, and they are. As REO inventory declines, a tipping point will be reached and prices will firm and turn from negative to positive. This tipping point should not be expected to occur in the near term as markets move slowly but inexorably.

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Air Quality General

Air District Offers Emission-Reduction Grants Up to $1,000,000 Available in the High Desert

Published by:

By Eldon Heaston
Executive Director, MDAQMD

The Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District is now accepting proposals for projects that reduce smog forming emissions from motor vehicles and help improve air quality in the High Desert portion of San Bernardino County and in Riverside County’s Palo Verde Valley.

Approximately $1,000,000 in grant monies is available to public or private entities for projects that reduce emissions from mobile sources, which account for more that 60% of air pollutant emissions gauged in the High Desert. Eligible projects include those that reduce vehicle trips or miles traveled, or encourage the use of alternative travel modes, such as public transit. Projects related to alternative fuel vehicles, parking management, telecommuting, and public education programs that do not duplicate the MDAQMD’s mobile source education efforts are additional examples of projects which may be eligible for funding. The incremental cost of purchasing or leasing clean fuel/ electric vehicles or repowering existing vehicles to operate on alternative fuel may also be eligible for funding in an amount not to exceed 25% of the total project cost.

The AB2766 grant program is funded through vehicle registration fees, which the local air agency uses to support programs that reduce air pollution from motor vehicles, as required by law. Past projects funded through the program include a Park and Ride lot in the City of Hesperia, LNG/CNG fueling station in the City of Barstow and two haul truck repowers for Hi Grade Materials of Hesperia.

Proposals will be competitively evaluated, and accepted through June 1, 2011 at 5:00PM. For more information on the competitive grant process, or to obtain a copy of the Call for projects, please call (760) 245-1661, ext. 1885, or visit the district’s website at www.mdaqmd.ca.gov

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General Water

Preparing for the Next Drought and Beyond

Published by:

By Michael Stevens
Community Liaison Officer

There’s a saying that goes: “No one plans to fail, but many fail to plan.” This adage, however, cannot apply to Mojave Water Agency (MWA) and most water agencies in the High Desert as we work to provide water for a region totaling 437,357 people-and expected to increase 60% by 2035 to 706,388.

The adage can’t apply because in 1983, the State of California adopted the Urban Water Management Planning Act, which requires water agencies to prepare an Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP) every five years when a water agency’s service area includes at least 3,000 connections or water deliveries are equal to or greater than 3,000 acre-feet per year.

Despite better-than-average precipitation levels this past winter and this spring-and the recent cancellation of a three-year statewide drought-the state’s water resources are still subject to increasing demand for a finite supply. Urban Water Management Plans are developed and implemented at the local level in order to ensure effective conservation, water use efficiency and long-term supply reliability. And the Plans work!

For Mojave Water Agency its Plan works because of a proven track record of planning, preparing, and positioning. The Urban Water Management Planning Act requires water agencies to assess growth trends and project water demands a minimum of 20 years in the future. But adoption of the UWMP is one step that helps our region meet future water demands.

Equally critical is executing the Plan and making decisions at the right time, and taking advantage of opportunities that sometimes aren’t always available. One such decision by MWA occured in 1997. Recognizing the explosive growth in the High Desert region, the MWA board made a decision in an intense bidding climate to purchase additional water rights to meet future local water demands.

Again in 2009 the board purchased additional water rights with an “eye on the future” didn’t take too long to arrive because in 2010 the Agency was able to cash in and not just have “access” to water rights but was able to “purchase water” as a result of the additional water rights.

What this means is that MWA’s water deliveries in 2010 through the State Water Project marked the second year in a row the Agency took delivery of its full amount of water available (41,400 acre-feet) but without the acquisition of the additional water rights the total would only have been 37,900! The water delivered was enough to meet all of MWA’s delivery obligations-with 17,600 acre-feet going to underground storage for future use. MWA has planned, prepared, and positioned itself for several years and will continue with the goal of “leaving no water behind.”

Another Key decision enabling the Agency to meet water demands well beyond 20-years was the investment in aggressive water conservation starting in February 2008. The $3,146,605 million dollar invested in the conservation program thus far has seen 3.6 million square footage of turf removed, 1,200 toilets replaced with high efficiency toilets, and 1,989 high efficiency clothes washer rebates issued-resulting in a savings of 876 acre-feet of water. One acre-foot (approximately 326,000 gallons) is enough water to serve a family of four for a year.

The decisions to purchase additional water rights and invest in conservation enabled the Agency’s UWMP to exceed the state’s minimum of 25-years with the ability to plan for beyond.

The public will have several opportunities to provide input about the UWMP during a 30-day public comment period between April 5-May 5 while the draft is available for public review. To view the report you can visit the MWA website: (www.mojavewater.org) or to see a hard copy, visit either local library branch or MWA’s front counter. In addition, the MWA Board of Directors will hold a workshop on April 14th and a public hearing on May 5th before adopting the plan on June 9th.

For more information about Mojave Water Agency, visit our website: www.mojavewater.orgor Facebook page: http:facebook.com/mojavewater, or to speak to someone call: 1-800-254-4242.

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General Water

Taking the Waste Out of Wastewater

Published by:

By Ryan Orr
Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority

Many High Desert residents don’t realize that the water they’re using to irrigate their gardens and lawns, and that municipalities use to irrigate parks, schools and golf courses, is perfectly safe for drinking.

At the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority, we believe this precious resource should be conserved for just drinking and other uses that will sustain our water resources. The agency is introducing two new facilities, that when built out, will provide more than four million gallons of treated, reclaimed water to irrigate nearby parks and golf courses.

This much-needed benefit will not only help conserve water in our drought-ridden region but also create extra capacity in VVWRA’s currently crowded sewer pipe system, allowing for continued responsible growth and making way for new businesses to come to the Victor Valley.

“The Agency has been working on these projects for close to 20 years, and we’re very close to getting them built,” said Logan Olds, General Manager of VVWRA. “This will be an invaluable resource for our growing communities.”

Currently less than one half percent of our basin’s water demand is met by reclaimed water – being used at Westwinds golf course in Victorville. These facilities will serve to sharply increase that percentage and finally put us on an even playing field with other communities in the Inland Empire that have been utilizing this resource for years.

Building these facilities is an important part in both handling wastewater flow and sustaining local water supplies to build a sustainable path for the future of the Victor Valley.

Recycled water equals greener parks at lower costs; VVWRA’s Recycled Water Program needs the Valley’s support.

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Education General

The Lewis Center a Strong Educational Foundation

Published by:

By Rick Piercy
CEO & President of the Lewis Center for Educational Research

Across from my house a school is under construction, and for the past several months I’ve watched as earth was removed, returned, compacted, smoothed and leveled to exact specifications. It was dug up again as conduit was laid, rebar placed, and footings poured. It has been months of exacting work after countless months of planning, engineering, and review. In the end the foundation that has been so meticulously laid will be hidden from view. It will be covered with walls, floors, roofing, and furniture, yet by all accounts it is the most important part of the building; on this all else will be measured. If the foundation lacks integrity the building’s integrity will come into question. If it isn’t square the rest of the structure will not be straight. And if an earthquake hits while full of children, it will not be strong enough to protect those inside.

It’s true that we don’t think much about the foundation of a school, hospital, or even our house, but they are obviously so important. Likewise, most of us don’t think deeply about the foundation of our nation. We talk about the strength of a nation being its people; we use cliche sound bites: like our children are our future and needing a well-educated workforce. But few of us look at the importance of the national foundation of the American educational system. There is debate, criticism, letters to the editor, and a thousand self-serving solutions, but very few places where carefully planned solutions are being tested and refined. One such place is the Lewis Center for Educational Research.

Those of you reading this may be doing so out of curiosity. Why would this article appear in the “High Desert Report”, an economic quarterly? At this point you may feel guilty and think you need to get back to the important news in the report. But stay with me, this may be more relevant than you think. The analogy of a building’s foundation is certainly apropos to many of the things you do in your normal workday, as well as the way we educate the country’s children.

Today’s educational system is built on a foundation laid over 100 years ago during the Industrial revolution. Think of today’s builders using 100 year old technology and materials from the early1900’s. Think of them going out and taking anyone off the street to work on the project and pouring foundations with a large group of laborers hand-mixing cement and transporting it in wheel barrows. Our education system was designed using the work of Frederick Winslow Taylor, born in 1856. He is considered the father of scientific management and a leader of the Efficiency Movement, which brought us the assembly line. Think about our schools. Each classroom is a different stage of the assembly line. Children are moved from room to room, from kindergarten to twelfth grade. They enter school not based on maturation or ability but age. Children in our system are not treated like unique, one-of-a-kind individuals but as widgets; something to be shaped to look like every other widget on the line. That system worked for the industrial movement. Henry Ford didn’t have to worry about child labor laws and needed unskilled, uneducated workers. As you know, that is not the case today.

So what can be done to change the system? Is it hopeless? Have so many special interest groups high-jacked the system that our only hope is the complete collapse of America’s schools? We at the Lewis Center and our two laboratory schools don’t think so. In fact we have the audacity to believe that we can change the world and have been doing so a little at a time for over 25 years.

It may certainly sound conceited to say that a small organization in the Town of Apple Valley would think that its work with 2,000 students could change 100 years of entrenched government bureaucracy, but we do. The Lewis Center and its two charter schools, the Norton space and Aeronautics Academy in San Bernardino and the Academy for Academic Excellence in Apple Valley, Provide a wonderful opportunity for us to test and evaluate the latest brain research, pedagogy, best practices and techniques. It is where we look at the effectiveness of technology in the education process and also look at reducing the cost of education and maximizing the return on investment.

The Lewis Center also operates programs that reach students across the United States and around the world. Our partnership with NASA allows us to control and operate three radio telescopes at the Deep Space Network at Goldstone, located on Fort Irwin near Barstow. Through our Mission Control Center in Apple Valley, Students as young as Kindergarten operate a million pound, nine story high radio telescope from their classroom and gather data for NASA scientists on real scientific projects. Our K16 Bridge program is providing over 100,000 students with the tools to take charge of their education and prepare for careers and higher education. Almost 300,000 students have traveled with their classmates and teachers on fieldtrips to our campus on the Mojave River.

The students at the Academy for Academic Excellence, our oldest school at 14 years, are providing proof that what we are doing makes a difference. Last year’s graduating class was comprised of 96 students with 100% graduating. Five went into the military, well prepared in our nationally award winning Air Force JROTC program, a program that 27% of our high school students participate in. The other 91 students were accepted into two and four year colleges and universities, earning $1.74 million dollars in scholarships. You might think that these students were selected into our school for their academic prowess. Not so. All or our students are selected by random lottery, and in fact we have a high percentage of students with special needs.

What we are doing is working. The model we have developed continues to be refined and revolutionary change is right at the tipping point. How do we push it over? How do we change America’s educational system? How do we change the world? By allowing the wonderful technology of the twenty-first century to virtually tie children, teachers, parents and leaders like you into a nationwide community of revolutionary change with the use of networking and telecommunications. I invite you to be part of this movement, help build a foundation for educational excellence, and America will be stronger for it. Visit us on the web at: www.lewiscenter.org

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Education General

San Bernardino County Schools Preparing Students for the 21st Century Global Community

Published by:

By Gary S. Thomas, Ed.D.
County Superintendent

As I start my first full term as San Bernardino County superintendent, I remain inspired by the teaching and learning that takes place in classrooms throughout our communities to prepare our students for this world. I am appreciative to county voters for their confidence and humbled to serve another four years. I am moved by the dedication and collaboration of so many to see that all of our students have access to high quality and innovative educational opportunities in which learning can flourish. Our region, including the High Desert, should be encouraged by the tremendous strides made by students, staff, and families to raise student performance, close achievement gaps, and improve dropout rates. Educators in our county remain dedicated to overcoming the impediments our schools, students, and families face, and seizing the opportunities before us with boldness and renewed sense of purpose and direction. We are committed to building a common vision in San Bernardino County to prepare all of our students to take their places as productive, contributing members of a 21st century global community. Let’s envision the future of what public education can be and what it can do.

The Future For Public Schools In 21st Century

In an interview for Edutopia, futuristic author Alvin Toffer offers us a glimpse into his vision of public schools in the future. Schools are open 24 hours a day. They are integrated into the community. Different kids arrive at different times. The bells don’t just ring all at the same time. That’s because the children are different. They have different potentials. Teachers work with non-teachers. Teachers alternate working in schools and in the business world. Local businesses have offices in the schools. Technology is infused into every aspect of the environment. Curriculum is integrated across the disciplines.

Improving Student Performance

As we look toward the future, it’s important to note our progress to date. Schools in San Bernardino County made notable gains in academic achievement and outpaced the state average in terms of growth last year on California’s measure of school performance, the Academic Performance Index (API). Recently, we received some outstanding news concerning county schools who are being recognized for Title I Academic Achieving honors. Seven of our 14 recipients reside in the High Desert. They are Sycamore Rocks Elementary, Apple Valley Unified; Hinkley Elementary/Middle and Skyline North Elementary, Barstow Unified; Cypress School of the Arts, Hesperia Unified; Sixth Street Prep and Village Elementary, Victor Elementary School District; and University Prep, Victor Valley Union High. These honors came on the heels of news that Sixth Street Prep and University Prep had been selected as National Blue Ribbon schools, a distinction that only 12 county schools have ever achieved.

Addressing the Access and Achievement Gap

This past school year, there were 10 schools from our county that worked hard to exit Program Improvement (PI), which is the federal intervention for schools that do not meet their accountability measurements for two consecutive years. Two of those schools – Friendly Hills Elementary and Joshua Tree Elementary in the Morongo Unified School District – were from the High Desert.

The dichotomy for us is that three county schools celebrated the fact that they reached the state standard of 800 for the first time, but at the same time also fell into Program Improvement for not meeting federal targets. All totaled countywide, seven 800 schools were placed in PI last year, a dubious first. It’s a mixed message when schools can be deemed successful on the one hand but labeled failing on the other.

In terms of closing the achievement gap, there was very encouraging growth measured by Hispanic and African American subgroups of county students – both were above state averages for those meeting growth targets. Hispanic students were three points higher than state averages at 74 percent. African American students in the county were five points higher than the state averages for those who met their growth targets at 68 percent. In addition, socioeconomically disadvantaged students in the county finished higher than their peers statewide by 1 percent with 71 percent meeting their API growth targets. We celebrate the growth and accomplishments of all of our schools and districts on academic performance indicators.

The Future Of High Schools

Improving dropout and college-going rates in San Bernardino County has been at the forefront of our work. When we envision the future for our students, region, state and nation, we know we’ve got to step-up our growth at every level in order to be competitive, viable and successful. In the most recent data reported by the state, county schools have made improvements in our dropout rates decreasing from 22.5 percent for 2007-08 to 21.6 percent in 2008-09. Meanwhile, the state dropout rate increased from 18.9 percent to 21.5 percent. Not only is San Bernardino County moving in the right direction, we are bucking the state trend!

Three years ago when the first set of data came out, the dropout numbers were abysmal for our county – 26.3 percent of our high school students were leaving over four-year periods. That ranked us fifth from the bottom among California’s 58 counties. As our dropout rates have improved over the past two years, San Bernardino County has jumped 15 spots in the state rankings. While it’s better, it still is not where our students need to be to make our area more attractive to employers and businesses, and it’s certainly not where our students need to be in order to be prepared for a global economy.

A Call to Action – Everyone Counts

Reducing dropout rates and increasing high school graduates is the goal of the Call to Action – Everyone Counts initiative. Already, since this partnership of educators, business, labor, government, community and faith-based stakeholders formed 18 months ago, we’ve seen improvement in countywide dropout rates. Key research shows that effective dropout prevention and intervention strategies are systems of support for all students that include school, family, and community efforts and ultimately, districts and schools are the architect when designing what programs work best to target student populations. One district that stepped up to pilot some of the research-based Call to Action strategies is Barstow Unified, and we are pleased to be able to support its efforts. While the district has great challenges to address in regards to its dropout rates, in the past year alone, Barstow Unified saw a 5.2 percent decrease in its dropout rate.

Early Assessment Program

High school graduation and college readiness are connected, whether a student enters into community college or the University of California/Cal State University systems. In 2008-09, 22.4 percent more high school seniors in San Bernardino County graduated with UC/CSU required courses from the prior year. These numbers show significant strides. Ensuring that high school graduates on a college path are truly ready to succeed in college is the goal of the Early Assessment Program (EAP).

The 11th grade assessment is designed to give high school students an early indication of college readiness in English language arts and math, and to avoid incoming college students’ need for remediation. A student who is deemed by the program to be college-ready will be exempt from taking the UC/CSU placement tests and can enroll directly into college level classes upon admission. Working with our school districts, community colleges, Cal State San Bernardino, Cal Poly Pomona and UC Riverside, we are working with school leaders to continue to increase student participation in the EAP.

Additionally, our office is working with Chaffey Joint Union High School District and Cal State San Bernardino to develop a pilot for students who do not pass EAP in their junior year, providing high school counselors and teachers with a gauge for course placement. In this era of limited resources, envision a future where high schools, community colleges, and universities align coursework, teacher training, tests, and college entrance expectations so students are prepared, at graduation, for the next stage of their education.

Alliance for Education

There can’t be a conversation about a vision of schools for the future and not touch on the need for graduates, teachers and professionals in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – or what’s commonly referred to as STEM. County Schools’ Alliance for Education continues to grow and expand efforts in developing STEM- focused programs in elementary through post-secondary levels across the county. This year’s expansion has involved increasing elementary-level participation in STEM-focused activities. STEM programs of study have expanded to 10 districts and 19 school sites with over 1,500 enrolled students.

Real world learning experiences not only make learning relevant for students, it also inspires and excites them. Nearly 500 middle school students from eight school districts had their engines revved up for the day at the second Auto Club Speedway Math and Science Day in Fontana in March. They had an opportunity to hear from Dave Rogers – he’s the crew chief for driver Kyle Busch- and got the opportunity to meet Rutledge Wood of Speed TV. But students, some of whom were on spring break and still attended the event, also got excited about conducting math and science labs on speed, acceleration, mass, force, and friction. Talk about relevance!

Regional Occupational Programs

We’ve moved toward great clarity in the education community that all students need to graduate high school with preparation for post-secondary opportunities—whether that be a four-year institution, a community college, training for a career or directly into the workforce. I’m a strong believer in Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) and their role in the future of our public schools. Data shows that ROP courses reinforce academic standards, provide relevance, and help to reduce the dropout rate. Over 35,000 high school students were served through the three county ROP during the 2009-10 school year. Funding for these programs is precious and crucial to our economy, and we all need to fight the good fight to protect it.

Student Services

Equally critical to districts, families, and communities are our Student Services programs, as they serve the most vulnerable of student populations. I am proud to say the deliveries of services in these programs are models statewide. The California Department of Education selected our Juvenile Court Schools’ Special Education Records Collection System as a statewide model. The office was awarded a grant to present the system to county offices throughout the state.

Because of the variety of student populations served in our alternative and special education classrooms, a variety of innovative technological solutions are being used to support teaching and learning. Audio enhancement systems help deaf and hard-of-hearing students understand verbal communications while iPods and iPads are used to visually enforce teaching strategies with visual learners in special education classrooms. In our Juvenile Court Schools programs, on-line college courses are helping students not only get back on track for high school graduation but bound for college.

School Safety

Through collaborative school safety programs, we have a number of prevention and intervention programs in place as safety nets to catch at-risk students. It’s troubling – children today are exposed to a myriad of societal challenges and negative external factors. Yet when our students come to school each morning, the challenges and influences in their day-to-day lives do not get left outside the campus gate. Even so, the majority of students do attend school with a willingness to learn and with attitudes of understanding and acceptance.

We have built partnerships and shared tools and resources in this county to ensure the safety of schools through our Law Enforcement Education Partnership and the Gangs and Drugs Task Force. I want to acknowledge districts and communities in our county for steps taken to calm recent incidents of violence and bring about discussion and healing in their communities and on school campuses. These tragic events deeply sadden and touch us all, and we grieve for the families and communities directly affected. District administration, school staff, board members, government officials, local law enforcement, church leaders, parents, and students have all been willing to band together and lift their community back up. Lack of knowledge and understanding can bring about fear, distrust, and intolerance, often times at a great cost. We must continually envision schools without prejudice, intolerance, and bullying and strive for that vision. The future of our children is dependent upon it.

State Education Budget

While legislators in Sacramento tussle with the issue of what may become of five-year tax extensions that could shore up $12 billion to cover roughly half of the state’s $25.4 billion shortfall, county districts are making difficult decisions concerning their 2011-12 budgets.

We’ve heard these stats before, but they’re worth repeating: $18 billion in cuts over the last 3 budget years; $1 out of every $5 going to districts is now being deferred, that’s 20 percent of revenue for our cash-strapped districts; also over the course of 3 years – 30,000 teachers and 10,000 classified employees laid off statewide; 174 districts in qualified or negative status statewide and eight of 33 districts self-certified as qualified at first interim in our county.

California schools have one of shortest school years in developed countries, and there’s concern it could get shorter. Plus, our students sit in the most crowded classrooms in the nation. If the tax extensions are not approved, K-12 schools stand to lose $2 billion in funding at a minimum.

California’s disinvestment in education is choking the economic engine of this state and breaking the promise of opportunity for our students. Until the legislature can agree that a disinvestment in public education robs our students of the opportunities to prepare them for productive citizenry; and until this state delivers a school finance system that adequately funds our schools, I encourage us to rally resources and work toward a common vision where access, equality, and opportunities abound for every student in San Bernardino County. An investment in education is an investment in our common future.

Envisioning The Future

In a time of shrinking resources, it challenges us to take courageous steps to not only improve but to rethink our public schools. I look forward to the next four years of working together. We have a great deal of hard work ahead of us; and we cannot do it without a vision – with a common vision for the future.

With a common vision, more of our students will be successful in school. With a common vision, more of our students will graduate prepared for work and college. With a common vision, our schools will be safer and our communities will grow stronger. With a common vision, we will graduate highly trained, skilled employees and get this economy back on its feet. With a common vision, families will thrive and communities will prosper. With a common vision, we can achieve equity and excellence for all students. Envision the future.

If you would like to receive the full edition of the Bradco High Desert Report, our quarterly newsletter, please click on the link: http://www.thebradcocompanies.com/register

General

Victor Valley College’s Public Safety Training Center Offers Wide Ranging Opportunity

Published by:

By Bill Gruelich

Described as a “Village Under One Roof,” the Victor Valley College’s Public Safety Training Center will open its doors in February 2012 to a new world of opportunity for students. Who are these students? They are our country’s future first responders, disaster preparedness proponents, public safety officers, and community leaders.

It is the goal of the faculty in the public safety sector to train and qualify these students to be uniquely capable of competing for high paying jobs in our communities and across the country because they will receive an all encompassing, real-life, cross-discipline training that will combine elements of fire, EMT, paramedics, administration of justice, SWAT, and corrections. This multi-agency approach to disaster training is unique in its approach because it will occur under one roof.

Each individual training program will have an opportunity to work cooperatively with other related services in real-life scenarios that run the gambit from a shooter in a high- rise building to responding to earthquakes, terrorists, chemical and natural disasters.

The facility, designed specifically for public safety training, will incorporate advanced technology; such as high speed WiFi, interactive video, a video production lab, Mac and PC computer lab. The complex contains a five story fire burn tower, 4 burn rooms plus 2 class A burn rooms, prop yard, collapse building structure, four double length lane fire garage, a rail tanker car, HD video surveillance, SimMan (3G portable wireless high fidelity manikins), a tactical indoor 9-lane shooting range with live-fire and virtual training simulation utilizing a MILO HD video tactical shooting simulator. The shooting range will be able to accommodate 50 caliber, and high caliber assault rifle training. It will be SWAT Qualified 223 range. The facility will also enable qualified faculty to offer community gun clubs with shooting competitions and armor classes that encompass weapons care and safety.

 

The facility will operate as an Administration/Classroom/Lab building, comprising faculty offices, classrooms, labs, shower facilities, restrooms, student and faculty lounges. It also contains 15 class rooms that accommodate 368 seats that will be used on a rotational basis.

The design-built team for the project was awarded to Highland Partnership/Carrier-Johnson Architects. The total project budget comes in at approximately $ 31,500,000. The site was donated by WalMart to the Apple Valley Fire District. The college and the fire district entered into a community partnership to build a 41,000 square foot facility on the 9 acre site located at Navajo Road and Johnson Road North of the Apple Valley Airport and adjacent to the WalMart 1.3 million square foot distribution center. The building will have a 230kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system, consisting of rooftop panels and solar covered carports. The PV system will provide up to 80 percent of the buildings total electricity demand. The building will also be certified at a LEED Gold level. LEED is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings.

The construction phase of this facility is estimated to produce a one-time economic impact of $73,628,000. The project also achieved the Victor Valley College Board of Trustees state goal to employ 83.60% of total work force from local labor.

The Public Safety Training Center is a Measure JJ bond-funded project that was approved by the voters in November 2008.

If you would like to receive the full edition of the Bradco High Desert Report, our quarterly newsletter, please click on the link: http://www.thebradcocompanies.com/register

City Updates General

Adelanto City Update

Published by:

By Mike Borja, Management Analyst
City of Adelanto

Adelanto has been greatly impacted by the recent economic downturn; however some projections indicate that the city will rebound.

The current situation of the City of Adelanto:

  • Adelanto has great potential
  • The city has improved its image
  • The city has taken on an aggressive approach to attracting new business
  • Adelanto has a new economic development plan

Ultimately, the city has to improve its economic position in the marketplace and establish a benchmark from which to grade the effort moving forward.

The long-term goals include: elevated image, awareness, and overall appeal of the City of Adelanto.

Our marketing objectives follow accordingly:

  • To generate private development revenue and community support in implementing a long-range economic strategy plan
  • Improve the quality of life for our residents
  • Improve the perception and success of local business and potential redevelopment partners

Vision

Adelanto is a city of open spaces, open minds and open hearts. It is a welcoming place of family values, friendly businesses and progressive leadership where the possibilities are unlimited.

Key Citywide Strategies

Adelanto has adopted a vision to provide a framework for effective and efficient decision making and coordination between policy makers, city departments, business leaders, and the community.

We have integrated the economic development strategy into the short-term (0-2 years), mid-term (3-5 years) and long-term planning, budgeting, redevelopment, and capital improvement process.

The city has developed a consistent, branded- identity program that builds on Adelanto’s strengths, improves its competitive position in the future and highlights a city on the move.

Adelanto, The Possibilities Begin Now

New dynamic planning initiatives, a progressive leadership, a wealth of branded assets, and a willingness to move forward, has the potential to demonstrate that Adelanto truly does mean progress. The city has the ability to engineer and design the next chapter of the Adelanto story – A story about unlimited potential, and a forward-thinking combination of people with a plan to make it happen. 

City Updates General

Victorville city Update

Published by:

By Bernie Calderon, Management Technician
City of Victorville Economic Development Department 

SCLA

The Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) has continued its growth as a business and logistics park. Over 2,500 jobs have been created since its inception. Major industry leaders such as Boeing, General Electric, Newell Rubbermaid, and Dr Pepper Snapple Group call SCLA home. Many companies continue to show their interest in SCLA as a potential home for their operations.

Exquadrum

Exquadrum Corporation chose to move its operations to SCLA for its defense product testing. As a former air force base SCLA provided availability of bunkers, which was a major attraction for the company. Exquadrum has worked with the Department of Defense in the past on various innovations that are still used today. Products developed by Exquadrum include chemical and biological weapons neutralization, satellite thrusters, and non-lethal weapons technology. The company will be developing new decoy flares for defense aircraft. Decoy flares are installed on military aircraft for protection against anti-aircraft missiles. When a missile is fired the flares are deployed to ward off the missile and divert it from the aircraft.

Leading Edge

Leading Edge Aviation Services has called SCLA its home since 2007. Leading Edge is the largest independent aircraft painting company in the world. With locations in Amarillo, TX Greenville, SC, and Kuala Lampur, Malaysia the company is truly global. Leading Edge has been very busy with the mergers in the airline industry over the last few years. They are currently housed in two remodeled bay hangars that can store aircrafts as large as a 757. In March 2011, Leading Edge moved into another existing hangar at SCLA. The three hangars are in response to the growing demand for Leading Edge’s services. The company currently has over 300 employees with plans to hire more at its Victorville location.

SCLA School of Aviation

In January 2011, the SCLA School of Aviation had its first graduating class of 43 students with full certification in general aviation mechanics and comprehensive power plant and airframe mechanical training. Some of the graduates have jobs awaiting them in SCLA with companies such as Pacific Aerospace Resource Technologies and Southern California Aviation. The school offers educational opportunities for local residents for entry level positions in the growing aircraft maintenance industry. The school also offers assistance with job placement.

Walmart

Walmart has announced the opening of two new stores in Victorville. These locations will help serve the needs of the growing population of Victorville. Construction of these two Walmart stores will commence in 2011.

One store will be opened in the Dunia Plaza retail center. The Dunia Plaza currently includes retailers such as Lowe’s, Kohl’s and Fashion Bug. Restaurant chains such as Applebees, Chili’s and Mimi’s Café are also located in the Plaza. The opening of Walmart in 2012 is a welcome addition to the Dunia Plaza to continue its growth as a retail destination in the Victor Valley.

The second Walmart will be constructed on the northeast corner of Palmdale Road and Highway 395. The area has seen residential growth over the last few years and the Walmart center is needed to serve the surrounding neighborhoods. New retail and restaurants will be built around the center to create a viable retail development for residents in the western portion of Victorville.

Both Walmart locations will include a retail component as well as a grocery section. Opening of the two locations is scheduled for early 2012. The retail growth within Victorville shows the economic vitality of the city and its ability to support retail centers.

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City Updates General

Primed and Empowered for Prosperity, Hesperia Courts New Business and Industry Hesperia City Update

Published by:

By Lisa K. LaMere
Economic Development Analyst

With strong economic indicators in its favor and having developed a diverse toolkit of business friendly programs and strategies, the economic development team for the city of Hesperia is primed for prosperity. They’ve done their homework and they’ve rallied the economic fates and forces and as a result, they now have a multi-tiered selling proposition for business that’s virtually impossible to dismiss:

A strategic location that offers land, infrastructure, affordability and opportunity.

Hesperia is located along both the I-15 and SR-395 highways, in the expanding High Desert region of Southern California. Framed by the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountain ranges, this gateway to the high desert features a temperate climate with clean air, abundant sunshine and large tracts of available land. With 17 miles of freeway frontage, Hesperia offers easy access to 366,000 High Desert residents and proximity to 20 million residents in Southern California.

The region is becoming a major distribution and logistics hub serving one of the world’s largest international trade areas, with the nearby Southern California Logistics Airport and highly efficient freight rail lines that run through the city and serve Ontario, San Bernardino and LAX airports as well as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. From Hesperia, distributors can transport cargo by truck to 11 Western states within 24 hours.

Impressive incentive programs and full access to the city’s business development brain trust.

In 2009, the city’s economic management team seized two highly prized competitive advantages to add to Hesperia’s business development arsenal. Designation of much of the city (30 square miles) as a California Enterprise Zone means that businesses currently located or newly locating “in the zone” qualify for substantial benefits and incentives. These include an array of cost-savings and advantages, such as hiring and wage credits, net operating loss deductions, business expense deductions, sales or use tax credits, net interest deductions on business and mortgage loans, and even bidding preferences in specified state contracts. These benefits can be quite lucrative, with reductions in the cost of doing business ranging from the tens to the hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

A second state designation has targeted Hesperia as an area incentivized to promote recycling and reduce landfill waste. The Hesperia Recycling Market Development Zone combines state benefits, such as below market-rate loans, with innovative incentives offered by the city. In addition, some participating businesses may receive market identification and research, business planning, marketing, and technical assistance.

In a dauntless quest to expand business and create jobs for Hesperia, a team of economic development experts leaves no stone unturned in ferreting out programs and advantages for businesses. With expert knowledge of a wide range of incentive and assistance tools available from the city, the state and even from the federal government, well-informed and motivated management advisors are available to provide assistance on an individualized basis to help executives identify and navigate the maze of opportunities available, but perhaps unknown, to them. There also are additional programs targeted specifically to brokers, franchisees, and restaurateurs.

Strong economic indicators and a track record of recent success.

Regional economic indicators support the premise that Hesperia is poised for the next big wave of opportunity. According to the 2010 San Bernardino County Community Indicators Report, since 1990 the region has demonstrated a 300 percent growth in business and professional services, 180 percent growth in logistics and distribution, and 180 percent growth in wholesale trade.

A growing labor force in Hesperia has a younger median age (31) than both the state and national averages. More than 70 percent of residents are homeowners and average household income is about $66,000. Hesperia offers a diversified workforce, with about two-thirds of residents having some college education and eight percent have bachelor degrees or higher.

A relatively stable housing market has retained an affordable pricing index — according to the California Association of Realtors, the most affordable in California — and a median home price of $121,000. Proactive and full of foresight, the city of Hesperia has since 2008 been identifying and purchasing abandoned and foreclosed residential properties through a $4.6 million grant from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Currently the city is rehabilitating the homes to prepare them for sale or lease.

Even during the economic downturn of the recent past, Hesperia has demonstrated strong growth and astute regional planning, keeping its ribbon-cutting shears impressively honed with 29 commercial openings over two years. Last fall, The High Desert Gateway Center, a 500,000-square foot retail center, opened and now features 18 tenants, among them a Super Target, Marshall’s, Farmer Boys and Golden Corral restaurants, and Ross Dress for Less.

Sophisticated, integrated infrastructure and resources.

Businesses rely on sophisticated infrastructure and Hesperia has it in spades. Transportation improvements are planned for I-15, with one new interchange planned and one new underpass approved and funded in Hesperia city limits. Caltrans also is in the planning stages for a High Desert Corridor freeway, which will create a 63-mile link from I-15 to I-5.

Hesperia is ideally situated near the Southern California Logistics Airport, located just 18 miles up the highway. Since two major freight rail lines pass directly through Hesperia, the city has secured a $2 million federal grant and is currently developing almost one mile of industrial rail lead track and a parallel runaround track. Scheduled for completion next year, the industrial rail will provide outstanding access for 200 acres of adjacent industrially zoned parcels and is expected to stimulate development of more warehousing and distribution centers near I-15. A team trans-load facility also is planned to make rail accessible for small businesses throughout the region that will now be able to ship and receive goods by rail.

With water shortages projected throughout the state by 2020, the Victor Valley Wastewater reclamation Authority has developed innovative strategies to efficiently use and reuse water for sustainable living. Pipelines are currently being upgraded and Hesperia is one of two locations where a new local sub-regional treatment facility will be constructed.

A highly motivated economic development team working for business.

The Hesperia economic development team is vested in the success of existing and prospective businesses. They have worked hard to develop a unique and powerful toolkit of benefits and programs to offer business and industrial clients the greatest practical incentives for choosing this vibrant market. The team daily asserts a strong commitment to growing the Hesperia economy by working to attract new businesses and development and in turn, jobs for residents. The department offers a standing invitation to business owners for individual counseling and advice as well as help determining eligibility for a range of city and state programs.

Troy Litzenberger knows firsthand how invaluable access to that kind of knowledge and assistance can be to a small business owner. He is president of The Litzenberger Company, high-precision custom metal fabricators of prototypes for aerospace, professional motorsports and alternative energy. A cottage industry founded in 1985, Litzenberger located to Hesperia from Wrightwood three years ago. His business has been steadily expanding and about a year ago, he found himself looking at industrial space to buy or lease.

“We needed to take advantage of the opportunity to grow with these other companies we were working with and we were turning away work because our small staff was busy enough already and couldn’t assume responsibility for more work,” Litzenberger said. “I knew we needed more floor space, which would drive more employees and more production.”

When Litzenberger found a 5,600-square foot property he wanted to buy and improve, his real estate agent suggested he contact Gwen Bedics, SBA relationship officer with Enterprise Funding, a nonprofit corporation that specializes in small business development loans in the Inland Empire.

Together they crunched the numbers, but Litzenberger couldn’t quite qualify for the loan he needed. That’s when Bedics asked him if he had explored assistance from the City of Hesperia Economic Development Department. Says Bedics of Hesperia, “They’re the most business friendly of the economic development departments in the High Desert and the most aggressive. I can’t always help a borrower, but I can give direction and I know if somebody calls them, they will communicate with them. Whether they can help you or not, they will communicate with you.”

So Bedics encouraged Litzenberger to contact Rod Yahnke, EDFP, Management Analyst with Hesperia Economic Development, who assessed the case and learned that if the city provided gap financing to help Litzenberger qualify for a loan to expand his business, the project could move forward. “Good businesspeople are worth the city’s investment, to put money into the deal, as in this case, to make the expansion possible,” Yahnke said. “A good, viable business helps bring more business to the city, sales and property taxes and employment, one of the most important reasons we (redevelopment) are here. Housing grows, commerce grows, but it all starts with jobs.”

“Rod was very helpful in securing additional funds and moving us through the process,” according to Litzenberger, who said two other team members, Tracy Wrigley, Community Development Supervisor and John Regner, Senior Plans Examiner, also helped lead him “almost by the hand” through the process, smoothing over onerous requirements and code issues.

“It’s interesting, because I have a longtime friend who also is self-employed, with a shop in LA County. He went through a similar process several years ahead of me. We compare stories and he’s got some horror stories to tell of all the things like zoning codes and landscaping that he was not expecting when he bought the company.

“A lot of people have dreams and find a building that would work perfectly, only to find out after they buy it that it comes with a lot of control by the county and conditions that weren’t anticipated on the other end. In my situation, the city was interested in holding my hand and showing me what was required and ultimately all the things that were required were very doable.”

Litzenberger said that working closely with Yahnke, Wrigley, and Regner, he was able to fully understand all the codes and requirements before purchase of the building. Because one of the threshold values driving code issues is calculated on the sizes of the building and the company, at one point Litzenberger was daunted to discover that he might have to invest an additional $80,000 to $100,000 to improve the property. But the economic development team, thanks to a thorough understanding of its meaning and intent, was able to steer him clear of the stipulation, knowing that it was intended to address much larger companies.

With pressing deadlines on current projects, Litzenberger delayed moving into the new building by several months. He said the city was helpful in allowing him to get a certificate of occupancy ahead of schedule so financing and tenant improvements could move forward and he could continue uninterrupted business operations.

Taking occupancy in February, Litzenberger is thrilled with his new facility and the 1.25 acres of property on which it sits, providing more room to grow, both of which he says are far more than he expected when he set out to look for new shop space. “The value is so much better,” he said, “I am easily getting two to three times what my friend got in the Van Nuys area for the same price.”

So Litzenberger goes on to build the American Dream in Hesperia, a small business serving major players such as General Atomics, AeroVironment, Honda Performance Development (the research and development wing of Honda Motorsports), and Capstone Turbine. He says the area offers him the location, the labor pool, and the resources he needs now and into the future.

“I have a very good impression with Hesperia,” Litzenberger says. “You just drive through town, and it goes beyond the city employees that I’ve dealt with. You get the impression that it is a well-established desert community but with a bit of an odd twist because the government here is interested in helping business and is very interested in improving the city and facilities for residents. On all levels, you drive around and you think, ‘Here is a community that cares, right down to the city trucks that are well-maintained and presented nicely.’ It just looks like a city that cares about how they do business and how they present themselves.”

The City of Hesperia has a wealth of resources, information, seminars, and individualized assistance available to businesses looking to expand or locate their companies in the gateway to the High Desert. For more information, visit www.cityofhesperia.us/econdev, call Steven Lantsberger, CED/EDFP, Deputy Economic Development Director at (760) 947-1906 or e-mail slantsberger@cityofhesperia.us.

 

If you would like to receive the full edition of the Bradco High Desert Report, our quarterly newsletter, please click on the link: http://www.thebradcocompanies.com/register

City Updates General

Is the Recession Over? It’s Beginning to Look Like It. Barstow City Update

Published by:

By Ron Rector
Community & Economic Development Director, City of Barstow

The city of Barstow is excited to see a renewed interest in the industrial, office, and retail sectors. It has been a long dry spell – for most. The city is experiencing several positive events throughout the community, which signals a positive uptick in the economy. As an example:

Two new national retailers, Dollar General and Family Dollar, have chosen Barstow to set up their business. Dollar General will operate out of a new 12,000 sq. ft. facility and Family Dollar will move into an existing 14,000 sq. ft. facility. Church’s Chicken is taking a location in the city to serve its famous chicken meals. A new Subway and Java Juice will open soon on Barstow Road and the I-15. Yoshinoya and a Togo’s (Great Sandwiches) are in final plan check. Another sign of the city’s improved economy is in new home starts.

Williams Homes, Inc. out of Santa Clarita is completing two models for a 58 lot subdivision on Mural Drive south of Rimrock Road. The subdivision is named “Falcon Ridge.” The development will offer three new home sizes: 1,465 sq. ft., 1,580 sq. ft. and 1,810 sq. ft.

The Historic Harvey House, offering executive office space, is almost full. The current tenants are: Pace Services, Securitas, Terra West, Barstow Industrial Supplies, County of San Bernardino, URS, Eclipse and soon – the Federal Aviation Administration. The Harvey House is also home to the Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau, Western American Railroad Museum, and Route 66 Museum. The Harvey House has four 1,100 sq. ft. suites left, so hurry in while the supply lasts. The City of Barstow celebrated a community milestone in September 2010 with the groundbreaking of the new 30 bed acute-care Barstow Community Hospital. The facility, currently under construction, is expected to open its doors towards the end of 2012. Layton Construction, an Irvine-based general contractor, has completed the preliminary construction for sewer, storm drains, retaining walls, steel structure frame, and the helicopter pad. The structure is now taking shape with completion anticipated for fall of 2012.

On March 21, 2011, the Barstow City Council approved an Energy Services Contract with Johnson Controls, Inc., who will implement an energy and cost savings project for the city. The City of Barstow is “going green” by incorporating various methods of energy conservation at city-owned facilities, including water conservation at several parks, replacement of natural gas driven motors with electric ones, replacement of traffic signals with LEDs bulbs, installing drought resistant landscaping at City Hall, and adding solar technology at the city’s LNG/CLNG fueling station and the Senior Citizen’s Center facility, to name a few. The energy cost savings will pay for these enhancements.

The Barstow Mall is the new home to the County of San Bernardino. The County moved into its newly renovated 37,500 sq. ft. space in January 2011. The Barstow Mall offers 141,819 square feet of rentable space with an approximate parking ratio of 5:1000. Significant renovations to the property were recently completed, which included the complete reconstruction of the parking lot and site landscaping.

Barstow Community College plans to open its 40,000 sq. ft. Performing Arts Center in June of 2012. The center will offer seating for 700. A new Learning Resource Center was completed in 2009 to accommodate a growing student population.

The Barstow City Council approved a $13 million dollar Capital Improvement Program for the reconstruction of numerous city streets. To date, the city has completed reconstruction of over 5.6 miles of local streets with 1.8 miles planned for FY12. The city’s Public Works Department has also slurried over 10 miles of city streets; further improving the appearance of the city.

As can be seen, the city is well positioned to accommodate the exciting new growth coming to the community. If you would like to learn more about “California’s Crossroads of Opportunity,” please visit the city’s website at: www.barstowca.org or contact Ron Rector at: (760) 255-5151. 

If you would like to receive the full edition of the Bradco High Desert Report, our quarterly newsletter, please click on the link: http://www.thebradcocompanies.com/register

City Updates General

Town of Apple Valley City Update

Published by:

By Kathie Martin
Marketing and Public Affairs Officer

Apple Valley RDA Gets the Job Done

Apple Valley Commons, Jess Ranch Marketplace, Walmart Distribution Center, and more than 5600 jobs—these are just a few of the successes from the effective administration of Redevelopment Agency (RDA) dollars in the Town of Apple Valley.

Facing a chronic budget crisis, however, the State of California is questioning the benefits of RDAs and is threatening to dissolve them entirely. As a result, critical projects and job cultivators would come to a screeching halt if the ill-advised proposal comes to pass.

Concrete Results and Local Investment

Apple Valley has made wise use of this important financial resource. Since 2004, the Town has invested $55 million of RDA funds, generating $394 million in project expenditures by our development partners. Using the State’s Department of Finance IMPLAN Job Calculator model, the ultimate economic impact from our initial investments is $739 million. This means each $1 million invested has resulted in a $13.4 million economic impact. The Town can attribute over 5600 jobs to our RDA investments; a figure that translates to only $9749 spent per job created!

RDA investments bring jobs, retail and industry, such as Apple Valley Commons and Jess Ranch Marketplace, which provide shopping convenience to our residents and sales tax to our community. The largest project, providing as many as 1100 jobs, is the Walmart Distribution Center. Built in 2004, it was the first recipient of RDA funds which were used to acquire a portion of the property. The investment further paved the way to the formation of the North Apple Valley Industrial Specific Plan (NAVISP), the Town’s future economic engine.

The Town was also fortunate to have the opportunity to fund a municipal animal shelter as well as a public works facility (currently under construction) through the redevelopment mechanism. The facilities fall squarely within a redevelopment area. The surrounding light industrial area will be served well with the location of these well-designed municipal buildings. Studies have shown that such uses raise the visibility and property values of surrounding development.

Backbone to Growth

Most RDA funded projects focused on the installation of backbone infrastructure. Roads, storm drains, and traffic signals are among the major public facilities that have been built. “We’ve barely tapped the potential of some of these investments,” explains Mayor Scott Nassif. “Using RDA dollars lets us get the backbone system in place, laying the groundwork for all future development to an area.”

Oftentimes it is the added cost of off-site improvements that will break a potential development project. By providing RDA dollars, the Town assists business development by defraying the overall cost of the project, yet the Town still owns the infrastructure. These public improvements help the community as a whole, providing improved traffic flow, as well as incentivizing commercial development that may not have happened otherwise. The developers contribute as well, with RDA investments representing just a percentage of the cost of improvements. “We will see a continued return on our investment for years to come,” added Mayor Nassif. “When the economy picks up steam again, developers will turn to Apple Valley and we’ll be ready for them.”

What We Risk

“If the RDA goes away, so does Yucca Loma Bridge,” explains Nassif. “This is the Town Council’s number one transportation priority in Vision 2020, and preliminary work in the riverbed has started.” Apple Valley’s match of $13 million towards the $55 million cost of phase one is budgeted to come from RDA funds. Should the State be successful in its bid to eliminate RDAs, the Yucca Loma Bridge work will come to a halt, along with this effort to relieve traffic congestion across the Victor Valley.

Equally as critical are the planned infrastructure improvements for the Town’s number one economic development priority, the 5100-acre NAVISP area. Construction of the required backbone infrastructure would already be underway if not for the 2010 State raid of almost $4 million from AVRDA. At build-out, the NAVISP is projected to generate 38,000 jobs and establish itself as the Town’s economic engine for the foreseeable future. “California’s economic crisis can only get better through job creation and increased spendable income,” said Nassif. “Eliminating RDAs eliminates a critical tool that municipal agencies can use to that end. The State’s proposal will certainly only cause what it seeks to prevent.”

If you would like to receive the full edition of the Bradco High Desert Report, our quarterly newsletter, please click on the link: http://www.thebradcocompanies.com/register