General

Inland Empire Housing Market

Published by:

By Michael D. Reynolds
Director – The Concord Group

Introduction
The Inland Empire (“IE”) has felt the brunt of Southern California’s housing and economic slowdown. Since peak, home prices in the IE are down a staggering 55%, new construction is at a virtual standstill and unemployment rates have nearly tripled. However, there is a glimmer of hope for the region. Housing affordability in the IE has never been greater. In 4Q09, an allocation of only 20% of income to housing is required to afford a median priced home. Sales volume has trended up seven consecutive quarters, despite a lack of job creation.

However, not all submarkets behave the same. Exurb markets such as the Victor Valley and Central Riverside were hit the hardest, enduring the steepest decline in prices and building activity. However, in recent months, these same exurbs have generated significant price growth. Please find below The Concord Group’s (“TCG”) housing update for the IE’s seven major submarkets (see Figure A below).

The Good

  • Annualized sales volume up for the seventh straight quarter, increasing 63% from 1Q08, but only than 1% vs. 3Q09.
  • Median home price up for second consecutive quarter, rising 9% since 2Q09.
  • Unprecedented affordability – 20% income to housing payment ratio.
  • Level of distress activity is falling – cumulative number of notices of default, auction notices and foreclosures in 4Q09 lower than 3Q09 (46,500 vs. 55,900).

The Bad

  • Jobs – unemployment continues to creep up. Annualized unemployment rose 90 basis points in 4Q09 vs. 3Q09. However, pace of unemployment is slowing, down from a 150 basis point increase between 1Q09 and 4Q08.
  • Building activity continues to fall. Annual pace of building permits issuances fell to 5,953, down 34% from 4Q08, but nearly level with 3Q09 (5,950).
  • New home closings continue to fall as well, down 2% in 4Q09 vs. 3Q09 (annualized).

Victor Valley Spotlight

  • Annualized sales volume up for the seventh straight quarter, up 131% from 1Q08and 2% from 3Q09.
  • Median home price up for second consecutive quarter, rising 8% since 2Q09.
  • Most affordable submarket in the IE – 15% income to housing payment ratio.
  • Annualized unemployment of 16.4% in 4Q09 – second highest amongst the seven IE submarkets.
  • Only 333 building permits issued in 2009.

Trends to Look Out For

  • Foreclosures – level of distress seemed to reach a peak in early to mid 2009 – potential for further declines in early 2010.
  • Increased sales volume and recent price increases have been partially buoyed by the federal tax credit. Will demand for housing slow once the tax credit is phased out? May lead to higher than average annualized volume in 1Q10, but a significant drop in 2Q10.
  • Supply constraints? With little new construction activity over the last several years, select IE submarkets have seen significant builder interest in finished lots, leading to a rapid rise in lot prices. Are recent lot price increases a result of market fundamentals or irrational builder behavior?
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Painful Descent
Housing construction (measured by building permit activity) in the two-county Inland Empire region is down 89% from peak 2005 levels. While all IE markets have been hard-hit, some have suffered more than others. TCG analyzed three “pain” variables for the seven major IE submarkets. “Pain” was quantified relative to percent change from peak activity in home price, building permits, and unemployment.
The Inland Empire’s three priciest housing markets, with a median home price that is 25% higher than the IE average, have generally suffered the least – Southwest San Bernardino, South Riverside, and Northwest Riverside. These same three submarkets have endured an average 50% loss in home price, while outperforming the Inland Empire relative to unemployment.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, three Inland Empire housing markets have suffered more than others – I-10 Corridor, Victor Valley, and Central Riverside. Since peak, these three submarkets have endured a three-fold increase in unemployment, home price drop of 60% or more, and a 94% drop in permit activity. However, despite the large decline in fundamentals, these three exurb markets have been the recipient of strong sales activity during the past year.

Turning a Corner?
The same submarkets that endured the greatest drop in home price are now benefiting from unprecedented affordability, which is driving significant gains in sales volume. Total annualized sales volume in the Victor Valley, I-10 Corridor, and Central Riverside exurb submarkets is up 183% since 1Q08, compared to an IE average increase of 120%. Increasing demand exhibited by strong sales figures is also leading to higher home prices. The median home price in the IE is up 8.9% since 2Q09, while the three exurb submarkets have garnered an average 8.0% price increase.
The new home market remains depressed. During 2009, only 7,400 new homes closed in the Inland Empire, continuing a downward trend that started in 1Q07. Only two submarkets exhibited an increase in new home closings – Southwest San Bernardino, with an annualized increase of 10% compared to 2Q09, and Central Riverside, with a 1% increase over 3Q09. Overall, the pace of sales decline in the IE is slowing significantly. Annualized new home sales fell only 2% in 4Q09 vs. 3Q09 – the smallest decrease in the past three years – and only the second quarter without a double-digit drop. The expiration of the federal tax, and the associated rush to buy before it ends, will likely yield the first increase to annualized volume in over three years in 1Q10.
Victor Valley Spotlight
The Victor Valley submarket overheated to an annualized building pace of 7,675 permits by 2Q06 – multiples above its historic10-year average. By 4Q09, the annual building pace has fallen to a level of only 330 permits – an astounding 96% drop. However, while construction remains mired in an unprecedented slump, the resale market has rebounded nicely, with annualized sales volume nearly doubling between 2Q08 and 4Q09.
Renewed interest in homebuying is driving up demand for homes, leading to the recent price gains in the Victor Valley. Since 2Q09, the median home price is up 8% – a welcome change from the 68% price drop that was endured between 4Q06 and 2Q09.
Moving forward, foreclosures remain a significant obstacle to housing growth. In 4Q09, there was one foreclosure activity for every 20 households – much higher than the IE average of 28. Until new jobs are created and the foreclosure inventory is addressed, the best hope is for flat to moderated growth in sales volumes.

About The Concord Group
The Concord Group is a leading real estate strategy firm with offices in Newport Beach, San Francisco and Boston. TCG’s professional consulting staff completes hundreds of assignments annually in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Our services include market and consumer analyses, transaction due diligence, and asset valuation. Recent private equity assignments have included multiple analyses of distressed assets of commercial banks and new acquisitions for next-cycle development. We also continue to assist developer, builder, and financial clients on value maximization of owned-assets. We cover all property types (commercial, residential, and land), in all metro areas and work under tight due diligence deadlines.

Education General

Victor Valley Community College Construction News

Published by:

By Bill Greulich and Al McQuilkin

Victor Valley Community College’s drive to bring its bond-funded construction projects online in an expedient manner will result in high paying jobs for our community and facilities to create new training programs in a time when these items are essential to the economic welfare of our High Desert region. The projects, outlined below, will enhance essential programs, new technology, dramatic energy savings, and service to a burgeoning student population.

Eastside Public Safety Training Center:
Project Awarded: August 11, 2009
Design-Build Team Highland Partnership/Carrier-Johnson Architects
Contract Amount: $ 25,000,000
Total Project Budget: $ 29,946,466
Project Completion: Construction Completion – December 2011
Current Project Status:
Schematic design (SD) was completed as scheduled on September 24, 2009. Design Development (DD) was completed on November 11, 2009. Highland Partnership has submitted the first package to DSA, and anticipates submitting the remaining packages to DSA in March 2010. The District’s environmental consultant, Dudek, has been working on the technical studies needed to support the environmental document being prepared for the project. Over the past few months, Dudek has prepared the biological assessment, conducted a cultural resources review of previously-prepared documents, prepared a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment and started the air quality impact analysis. Linscott, Law & Greenspan (LLG) has been preparing the traffic study for the project. All technical studies are set to be completed by the end of December. The Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND), which is the environmental document needed to fulfill the District’s obligation under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), will be released for public comment on march 5, 2010. The project is scheduled for completion in December 2011.
Main Campus Solar Project:
Description: 1 megawatt Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System
Project Awarded: December 8, 2009
Company: SolFocus, Inc.
Contract Amount: $4,662,840
Project Completion: April 2010
Throughout the planning for bond and non-bond projects on the campus, energy conservation and renewable energy projects have been identified as very high priorities.
Following many weeks of discussion and research by district staff and program manager, the board, on November 10, 2009, approved moving forward with a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a 1MW solar generating facility. On November 13, 2009, a Request for Best & Final Proposal (BAFP) was issued to those firms that had previously submitted proposals, and on November 24, 2009, the District received five (5) responsive proposals.
A selection committee conducted interviews of all five proposers and completed a “best value” evaluation. The best value scoring, which included technical and price criteria, resulted in SolFocus, Inc. being the number one ranked proposer.
SolFocus’ proposal provides the District with the latest advanced technology, dual-axis, concentrator PV, coupled with the best price/performance ratio and the lowest installed cost. The guaranteed output from SolFocus’ system will achieve well over $20 million in savings over 25 years. The system will generate almost $4 million in incentives from the California Solar Initiative and an additional $2 million in avoided cost, tariff and renewable energy credit savings in the first 5 years.
The District plans on funding a portion of the solar facility from Measure JJ funds. Approximately $1.5 million of the total project cost of $4,662,840 will come from non-bond funds, with the remainder coming from Measure JJ funds.
The project is scheduled for completion by mid April, 2010
Westside Workforce Development Center (Phase I):
Project Delivery Method: Design-Build (Same process as Eastside Center)
Revised Project Budget: $ 32,847,642
Revised Timeline: Program Development, Scoping Document Development, Site Design (Grading, Infrastructure, Hydrology, Off-Site Improvements) – June 2010
Completion of Draft EIR – June 2010
Release RFP for Phase I Building – June, 2010
Complete Final EIR – December 2010
Complete Phase I Site Improvements – December 2012
Current Project Status:
The Westside Workforce Development Center is progressing. Several discussions with the City of Hesperia have helped define and clarify the CEQA process, which is currently underway. Several planning meetings have taken place to develop a site hydrology and drainage plan. Dudek has been working with the District, gkkworks, and project engineers to develop the Project Description for the Westside Center. Dudek will be conducting its biological field work on the Westside site in December. Results of the biological field work can be used by the engineers and the District to consider environmental constraints of the site in site planning. The CEQA process for the Westside Center will commence once the project description has been developed in sufficient detail. An environmental impact report (EIR) will be prepared for the project.
The timeline for program development and scoping document preparation has been modified to coordinate with the expected completion of the draft EIR in June 2010.
General

It’s Water That Drives Our Economy

Published by:

By Michael Stevens
Mojave Water Agency Community Liason Officer

Whether you’ve been part of the High Desert for five, 10, 20-years more—or even less time—think back to how much commercial and residential construction our communities have experienced. Although current economic conditions have slowed the growth, it hasn’t stalled and projections that development projects will increase and home building will rebound. Read elsewhere in this publication about the different development projects and tracts that have come or are coming to the Victor Valley and Barstow areas and you’ll likely agree development hasn’t stalled. Later in this article is a description of capital projects by Mojave Water Agency (MWA) that are supporting our local economy.
But whether the development project is a Ross, Lowes, a Super Target, or tract of 200 homes, the various development projects all share two things in common. One, they all will result in either temporary or permanent jobs. Some would argue that it’s jobs and the spending they create that drive our economy. Yes, secondarily. But primarily, without an adequate water supply to support the various commercial, retail, industrial and institutional projects—there will be no jobs. The second thing that development projects share in common is that they create a higher demand for our local resources: natural gas, electricity—and the one resource we absolutely cannot survive without—water.
The two are inextricably linked, water and jobs. Without water, development, and the jobs that it brings, comes to a screeching halt. So how do we ensure that water supplies are sufficient to accommodate the growth? First it’s important to note that water agencies, including the Mojave Water Agency, have no land use authority. Whether development projects are approved or not rests with the Planning Commissions and the City/Town Councils and the County of San Bernardino.
Mojave Water Agency, the only water wholesaler serving the Victor Valley and Barstow region, took a major step late last year to balance water demands with a reliable supply. The Agency closed sale on the ability to purchase up to 14,000 acre-feet of additional water a year, an 18.47 percent increase over its contracted amount for up to 75,800 acre-feet (An acre-foot is the volume of water necessary to cover one acre to a depth of one foot. It equals approximately 326,000 gallons, enough water to supply two households for one year).
It’s Water That Drives Our Economy
By Michael Stevens
Mojave Water Agency Community Liason Officer
12
In an environment where water supplies in California are limited because of drought and reduced deliveries through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, this move has better positioned MWA to meet future water demands.
The agreement between the Mojave Water Agency and a water-rights owner in the San Joaquin valley gives MWA a right to buy and deliver much-needed water to its customers on a long-term basis. The purchase is one very important action needed for the Agency to preserve, obtain, and reliably deliver water to local water purveyors within the Mojave Water Agency service area, and for delivery to their residential and business customers.
The agreement also results from years of planning, preparing, and positioning for such opportunities to provide sufficient water resources to the High Desert beyond the year 2020.
MWA is meeting its obligation to reliably deliver safe, clean, affordable water through a diversified portfolio of strategies that are included in the agency’s Regional Water Management Plan. The RWMP is a comprehensive plan that incorporates the Agency’s groundwater, urban water and integrated regional water management plans.
Water-supply planning depends heavily on population projections. The High Desert’s 2005 estimated population of about 360,000 residents is projected to grow to about 646,000 residents by the year 2030, which will no doubt lead to economic growth. However, sufficient water is needed to support economic growth and maintain it, and it is the role of the Mojave Water Agency to supply customer needs for commerce and industry.
In a March 21, 2009 Press-Enterprise special report about balancing water and growth, economist Dr. John Husing told reporters that the Inland Empire — including the High Desert — relies on construction of housing, industry, and shopping centers to maintain a prosperous economy.
To construct job-producing industrial and commercial buildings, and to maintain the commerce they create, cities must prove sufficient sources of water exist for each development in order to meet state laws.
MWA’s acquisition of the additional water rights directly supports the Agency’s mission to provide sufficient water for a healthy local economy for years to come. The cohesive project and financial planning that MWA began early last decade is being effectively implemented to provide for its customers’ current and long-term future water needs.
In addition to the planning by Mojave Water Agency to ensure adequate water supplies, the California Legislature passed two bills in 2002 that serve as protectors so that development doesn’t outstrip local water supplies. Senate Bill 610 requires that the land use authority reviewing a proposed development project through the CEQA process must contact the appropriate water provider to request a Water Supply Assessment (WSA) if a commercial or industrial development project meets the threshold of a 500,000 retail square footage, a 250,000 commercial square footage, or a 650,000 industrial square footage. A similar bill, Senate Bill 221, applies to the Subdivision Map Act, conditioning a tentative map on the applicant verifying that the public water supplier has “sufficient water supply” available to serve the project.
Mojave Water Agency, along with its numerous stakeholders who depend on the Agency to carry out its mission, understands the connection between water and a viable economy. Working with water agencies, cities and towns, the county and a host of other stakeholders, MWA is living up to the acronym it is known for: M.W.A.—Making Water Available!
Capital Projects Advancing MWA’s Strategic Objectives
Mojave Water Agency is realizing the benefits of its long term planning to reach its strategic objectives with three key capital projects set to begin construction within the next six months. And the projects are set to begin during a very opportunistic time that’s not only cost effective for taxpayers but will result in a positive economic impact for the region. For example, original estimates to complete the new Agency Headquarters facility was $9 million, but the final bid came in at $5.6 million—a whopping $3.4 million savings!
Because of the slowdown in construction across the board (residential, commercial, industrial) many contractors have either gone out of business or dramatically reduced staff. MWA’s construction projects will infuse jobs and spending in the local economy. Projects currently underway include…
• Regional Recharge and Recovery Project—known as R-Cubed or R3, is part of a comprehensive solution developed by the Mojave Water Agency and the region’s stakeholders to ensure a sustainable water supply for our region. Estimated cost for Phase 1, inclusive of engineering, construction management services, land acquisition, and the value of facilities to be deeded over to MWA from Victorville for project use, is $69.4 million. Work will soon begin with installation of two wells and ending with an 11-mile pipeline delivering water throughout the region.
Phase one of four major construction phases is expected to take 18 months and the project will have an economic impact by:
–numerous construction related jobs being filled to complete the project;
–the project requiring the purchase of local materials such as asphalt, slurry-mix, concrete, aggregate, fill-sand, and possible equipment rentals;
–construction crews will likely patronize local eateries, gas stations, and possibly lodging facilities
• Oro Grande Wash Recharge Project—located along the west of Bear Valley Road and south of the Mall of Victor Valley, the 10-acre project will take 8,000 acre-feet annually of imported State Water Project and recharge the Alto Subarea. Although not expected to take as long as R-Cubed to construct, the $12 million project will have similar benefits such jobs potentially filled by local subcontractors and patronizing of local establishments.
• New Agency Headquarters—the new 22,000 square foot single story office building (and a 5,500 square foot warehouse building) will consolidate MWA staff and services from three locations into one thereby improving efficiency and reducing costs. Construction will begin by the end of March and the contract scheduled for completion is 12 months, with the expected economic benefits the same as described above.
A blogger on the Daily Press’ Reader Comments board summed up it best when on February 27th he/she wrote: …“Isn’t this the time to be building a new building? My understanding is that construction costs are down 40 – 60 percent, isn’t this the best time to be building it?… I am glad they are building a building…lower cost to the taxpayers is a big bonus.”
For more information about Mojave Water Agency, visit the website: www.mojavewater.org or to participate in a community dialogue you can also go to the discussion portion of MWA’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/mojavewater. Or to speak to someone at MWA contact 1-800-254-4242.

Transportation

Desert Xpress

Published by:

By Thomas Stone
President

Thank you for your invitation to participate in your survey regarding high speed ground transportation. While we appreciate your continued interest, we respectfully decline to participate in the survey because we believe this simply would reinforce the misperception that DesertXpress somehow is involved in a competition with the maglev proposal. This is not the case, because the DesertXpress project is going forward as discussed below.
• DesertXpress is moving rapidly to implementation of the 200-mile long, fully extendable, first phase of a high speed rail system from Las Vegas to Victorville, as a viable private initiative that requires no tax-backed funding grants, with all costs having been covered by DesertXpress
Enterprises.
• The environmental clearance process
and the required federal approvals
made possible by that clearance, and project kickoff, are scheduled to be complete this year.
• This will make DesertXpress the nation’s first true, dedicated, passenger-
only high speed rail line, helping to demonstrate what many other countries also have concluded: modern, fast, reliable, safe, comfortable,
and convenient high speed rail is the wave of the future in ground transportation.
• Local, regional, state, and federal governmental officials already have formally expressed their support for a rapid second phase extension to Palmdale, where DesertXpress can interface directly with the voter approved
California High Speed Rail system, recently awarded the largest single federal high speed rail stimulus
grant ($2.4 billion), which will connect DesertXpress with the entire state network.
• If the proposed 40-mile maglev project’s first phase from Las Vegas
to Primm at the California state line ever were to be environmentally cleared and funded (and it was recently
denied high speed rail stimulus
grant funding), they then would be free to try to pursue the estimated tens of billions in taxpayer funds that they would need to environmentally clear and construct it all the way into Southern California.
All aspects of the DesertXpress project have been and continue to be discussed openly in the public arena. We would encourage you to review the facts of this matter more thoroughly. As an example, please refer to the Draft Environmental Impact statement that is posted on the Federal Railroad Administration’s website
at http://www.fra.dot.gov/us/content/
1703, and the expert study comparing the maglev proposal and DesertXpress that was commissioned by the Southern California Logistics Airport Authority at http://www.desertxpress.com/media/dxBSLReport.
pdf, copy attached.
You may also be interested in comments
made by USDOT Transportation
Secretary Ray Lahood, Senator Reid and Caltrans Executive Director Will Kempton at a July 2 event in Las Vegas at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMXX3PnJv1I; and more recently
comments by Secretary LaHood and Senator Reid after award of the HSR stimulus funding.at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRlN6fo7OGA.
Finally, we also would be pleased to meet with you at a convenient time to assist
you in your fact-finding. Thank you for your continued interest.

Education General

Programs For Success

Published by:

By Gary Thomas
San Bernardino County Superintendent

The challenges facing public education today are unprecedented for generations of students and their families. With state employment stagnated in double digits and effects of the housing crisis still crippling financial outlooks, the economic future and budget situation for California remains uncertain. Underlying those concerns for public education, there still remains troubling access and achievement gaps, and far too many of our students drop out of school before graduation. Under these conditions, the resolve to make sure that students are successful in school and carry with them the tools that will allow them to be successful in college and their careers must be stronger now more than ever.

Every one of us is feeling the impact of the current economic climate and statewide budget cuts; however, we cannot let that distract us from our mission of educating students. Every one of the 420,000 students in San Bernardino County deserves to have the best opportunity to succeed in school and every one of us has a moral responsibility to do all we can to see that they do.

Improving Student Performance

Remarkably, despite our current challenges, this year’s Accountability Progress Report shows that for the first time since state testing began, schools in San Bernardino County exceeded state averages with 61 percent of all schools meeting all of their Academic Performance Index (API) growth targets. High schools in the county made the biggest improvement, increasing 16 points. Also for the first time, county schools bettered statewide averages for those that showed overall API growth with 80 percent of schools increasing their API scores. That compares with 76 percent of schools statewide showing growth. A record 40 additional schools reached the state standard of 800 this year, including 12 in the High Desert. We also doubled the number of 900 schools in the county to 20, including three in the Victor Elementary School District and a fourth in Snowline Joint Unified. The county’s API growth of 17 points was the second largest in 11 years the state has done testing. These are truly remarkable results, and I am pleased to see the growth taking place, particularly with our high schools. These results are due to the hard work of teachers, principals, district administrators, board members, support staff, and parents to help students achieve academically. As we celebrate these accomplishments, we recognize that in our ever-changing diverse student population, there is an achievement gap that remains between subgroups of students that still requires a determined course of action.

Model Programs to Address the Access and Achievement Gap

One program that successfully addresses the access and achievement gap is AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination. It’s hard not to be impressed with the work that AVID is doing in preparing our students for college. While AVID serves all students in secondary schools, its first focus is on the least-served students in the academic middle. I was so proud this past year when I attended the AVID Senior Recognition Ceremony to find out that 88 percent of more than 2,500 AVID seniors representing 77 high schools were recognized for having a letter of acceptance to a four-year college or university. That compares with only 47 percent statewide who enrolled in a California public college or university, according to the California Post-Secondary Education Commission. When looking at the percentage of AVID seniors meeting A-G course requirements in comparison to state and county totals, it is clear-AVID closes the achievement gap.

This year, it’s anticipated that more than 34,000 students in about 200 middle schools and high schools in San Bernardino and Riverside counties will be enrolled in AVID classes. In the High Desert, seven high schools from Barstow to Sultana accounted for nearly 200 high school seniors who graduated last year, with Granite Hills High School being one of the top producers of AVID graduates countywide with 53 seniors. As the county superintendent, I will continue to fight for funding for this outstanding program, which is desperately needed in our region as we prepare students for a highly competitive global economy.

High School Dropouts and Low College-Going Rates

As was shared, we have made great strides on academic performance indicators. When we received the most recently reported dropout data for 2008, we also showed improvement in terms of a decrease in the number of dropouts for Grades 9-12 in comparison to data released the prior year. Yet our county’s adjusted four-year derived dropout rate of 22.5 percent is above the statewide rate of 18.9 percent. Conversely, our county graduation rate is on the low side, 74.3 percent for 2007-08. Again, we trail state grad averages, which are 80.2 percent.

While our county dropout rate improved 3.8 percent from 2007, our schools and districts face the challenge of keeping more of their students engaged in the classroom and following a path that will lead to graduation. This is not an area of concern for our county alone. Forty years ago, our country was a leader in high school graduation rates. Today, it ranks 18th out of 24 industrialized nations. As recently as 1995, America was tied for first in college graduation rates; by 2006, this ranking had dropped to 14th.

Call to Action for Dropouts/Grad Rates

Last summer, I issued a “Call to Action” in response to our county’s high dropout and low graduation rates and called together key members of my staff to look at research and proven practices to attack this head on. These two issues-that go hand-and-hand-are the most pressing educational concerns for our region. They have severe ramifications that extend well beyond public education.

According to a recently released report, “The Economic Achievement Gap in America’s Schools” by McKinsey and Co., if America had closed the international achievement gap between 1983 and 1998 and had raised its performance to the level of such nations as Finland and South Korea, the gross domestic product of the United States in 2008 would have been between $1.3 trillion and $2.3 trillion higher. That’s sufficient enough to close the federal deficit. That’s why, every one has a stake in reversing the dropout rate. It’s necessary to fuel our local economy.

We need a more highly skilled and educated workforce to meet the demands of employers and sustain the economic viability of our region. In November, we issued the “Call to Action” to educators in the field and our broad base of community partners-business leaders, as well as those in labor, government, education, community, and faith-based groups, and most importantly parents and students. We held the first meeting of a stakeholder’s group that is focused on developing strategies and resources to help lower countywide dropout rates and increase graduation rates. We need our community’s expertise, insights, and experiences to tackle these challenges.

Barstow Unified has begun its own “Call to Action,” as Superintendent Susan Levine has organized the community to become involved in coordinating its own resources to tackle high dropout rates and low graduation rates in its own district.

At County Schools, we know how powerful collaboration can be with the growth of programs like AVID, Regional Occupational Programs, Smaller Learning Communities, the P-16 Councils, and the Alliance for Education. These programs have been very successful in engaging our students in learning and preparing them for post-secondary education. We are building on these successes and the key recommendations from more than 40 research studies to tackle troubling graduation and dropout rates.

Our growing population provides an ample landscape to mine fertile minds. Even with the tough economic circumstances of the last several years, our county is still home to more than 420,000 students, which could be a tremendous economic engine of growth if we can bring about stronger graduation and college-going rates. We must implement more and more ways to ensure that more of our young people get the kind of education that will increase their chance of success.

Soon, our office will be launching a new Web site aimed at this issue. The Every One Counts Web site pulls together key research and resources on dropouts, and will serve as a toolbox for educators, parents, community members, and students as we work to keep youth on track for high school graduation and post-secondary options.

Alliance for Education

The Alliance for Education is based on the new three R’s-Rigor, Relevance and Relationships-and it continues to make significant headway throughout the county, changing lives for thousands of students who:

  • Experience rigor in their academics and career technical preparation at Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (or STEM) academies that prepares them for both college and careers.
  • Find relevance through classroom demonstrations and field studies in Algebra with business, labor, fire, and safety partners.
  • Form relationships at literacy and homework centers with faith-based and community partners.

Thanks to a $550,000 contribution to the Alliance from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, more of our students will benefit from STEM programs. This allowed the Alliance to increase STEM programs to 10 districts and 19 schools sites with more than 840 students participating. The High Desert has been at the forefront in recognizing the need for STEM programs with Barstow, Silverado and Victor Valley high schools offering STEM programs. During the past year, other funds have been secured from: Arrowhead Credit Union, Lewis Group of Companies, the James Irvine/Community Foundation, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board, Chaffey and San Bernardino Community College Districts, and federal funding for the STEM initiative. These programs total more than $1.4 million.

Regional Occupational Programs

The County Schools’ ROP program received a six-year accreditation – the highest available – in February from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. With 11 districts in the High Desert as part of the program, the ROP has been recognized statewide as a model program. ROP districts in the High Desert are Apple Valley, Baker Valley, Barstow, Hesperia, Lucerne Valley, Morongo, Needles, Silver Valley, Snowline, Trona, and Victor Valley. Offering some 125 classes from automotive repair to video production, more than 21,000 students countywide are enrolled in County Schools’ ROP programs. ROP instructors are specialists from business and industry chosen for their expertise and experience in their particular subject field. Each instructor is credentialed by the California Teaching Commission. Employers support the ROP in a variety of ways. Through their participation on advisory committees, business leaders assist in verifying local labor market demand, determining curriculum content, providing expert consultants, and recommending qualified instructors. In addition, employers provide facilities, equipment, and promote student job placement.

School Safety

Because high school dropouts are more likely to commit crimes than their peers with a high school diploma, addressing the reasons our young people drop out of school also helps to eradicate truancy, juvenile crime, and unsafe school environments. The Gangs & Drugs regional task forces have been meeting for a year now and have developed specific short and long term goals. As a result, there is a new juvenile court in the West End, which held its first hearing last month. In the High Desert, strong partnerships have been developed with the Sheriff’s Department, to support the rural areas that do not have their own police departments.

The Let’s End Truancy (LET) Program has received state and national recognition. As a result of LET and countywide School Accountability Review Board (SARB) trainings, reporting of truancies has improved and all but three small districts have SARB. Last year, five school districts in the county – including Victor Valley and Hesperia in the High Desert – were named SARB model statewide programs. That distinction was given to only eight districts statewide.

Our services in programs such as Coordinated Health, Foster Youth and Homeless Education have increased 10-fold. Working with our interagency partners in law enforcement, juvenile justice and social service, we’re targeting student and family needs to grow healthy schools and communities. With a grant from the Center for Disease Control, our office is pleased to be one of only three counties in the state to be awarded funds to implement a Coordinated School Health Model program with pilot districts and social service agencies to bring services to the schoolhouse door for students and families. If we can help by taking the social issues off the table for students, they can better focus on their schoolwork.

State Budget Outlook

There will be no relief from the poor economic conditions that have plagued much of the nation and especially California in recent years. That was evident following Gov. Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal for the 2010-11 fiscal year. For public education, the outlook remains bleak. Public schools are proposed to take a $1.7-billion hit, the majority of which is proposed to come from revenue limit funding. This equates to roughly a $200 per student reduction for the next fiscal year. This is on top of a current year per pupil reduction, equaling about $900 per student. These budget cuts threaten efforts to sustain improvement and reform, and erode the conditions that support teaching and learning. The current budget proposal also relies on nearly $7 billion of aid from federal government-assistance that already is proving to be unrealistic.

After suffering some $17 billion in cuts during the past two years, this may be the most difficult budget year yet for K-12 education. Already, we’re seeing districts proposing cuts they feel they will have to make to balance their future budgets. Our commitment at County Schools is ongoing support to our districts during these uncertain financial times. The 420,000 students in the county face the prospects of having more crowded classrooms, reduced programs in the arts and athletics, and fewer services offered.

Several research studies conducted in this state on school finance point to the need for a new approach, a stable approach-to funding California’s public schools. It’s time. We are jeopardizing the future of California’s workforce and economy.

Making Every One Count

What educators contribute daily to the life of a child matters deeply. What each of us does to support them and our students matters greatly. Every one counts in the life of a child:

  • Every educator;
  • Every business partner;
  • Every labor leader;
  • Every community member;
  • Every clergyman;
  • Every parent, brother and sister; every family member.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” As an educator, these words have profound meaning to me, especially in these challenging times for public education. I am a firm believer in the opportunities we can provide through public education, and I will continue to be a voice that is heard in support of all students in our county and making sure they have every opportunity to achieve academically.

Transportation

California-Nevada Interstate Maglev Project

Published by:

By Thomas Bordeaux
Senior Transportation Manager – American Magline Group (AMG)

1. Briefly describe your project (one or two short paragraphs) in terms of the following:
A. Purpose
B. Travel Experience
C. Features of the Transport Technology
D. Public Benefit to Victorville and other High Desert Cities
E. Financing Plan
The California Nevada Interstate Maglev Project (CNIMP) will bring the fastest train service in the world and cover a distance of 269 miles connecting Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world, with Southern California, the largest and most diverse population center in the United States. The Maglev system is an advanced technology and will be constructed in this corridor for about $12.1 billion ($45M/mi) which is within the same cost-per-mile range as European style high-speed rail. This estimate was prepared in 2000 and updated in 2005. It will again be updated as part of the environmental process to account for a number of cost reduction innovations that have been developed by the project team over the past five years and to account for the current construction market. The operating and maintenance costs of the Maglev system are significantly less than traditional railway service. There are no moving parts to wear or track to align. The train moves smoothly at high speeds supported by a magnetic field.
The efficiency of modern transportation can be judged by two indicators: the Connections Made and the Travel Time it takes to connect major places. The Maglev system will be the fastest, most efficient transportation mode for High Desert and Southern California residents to travel to and from Las Vegas. Maglev will provide the most convenient option for business, commuters and recreational travel within this corridor. Maglev will make travel to and from the High Desert to International Airports in Ontario, Anaheim, and Las Vegas simpler than ever. Maglev will connect High Desert residents with the heart of Southern California within minutes, compared to today’s difficult commute. Maglev will allow for a visit to Las Vegas for dinner and a show, and a quick trip home.
With the connections made by the Maglev service, Victorville will become a major distribution point for Southern California. It will also become a highly desirable and sustainable suburb with a shortened commute times for employees who work in Orange County and live in Victorville or other surrounding High Desert communities.
The Maglev technology has been developed over thirty years and has been operating successfully in Shanghai for six years at over 99.8% on-time reliability. The Maglev trains utilize the latest in control and construction technology, are equipped with passenger amenities, and are extremely quiet in operation. Running the length on an elevated guideway, the Maglev service is fast, efficient and unlike any other operating train system in the world.
The project financial plan is discussed under Question 2.
2. Who are your financial and development partners? Please list them.
The California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission (CNSSTC) is designing and building the California-Nevada Interstate Maglev Project (CNIMP) through a Public-Private Partnership with the American Magline Group (AMG), a partnership including MNC & Associates, Parsons Corporation, Hirschfeld Industries, General Atomics and Transrapid International-USA, Inc. This public-private partnership is advancing the next generation Transrapid Maglev technology and elevated systems in the United States. The technology has been developed over thirty years and has been operating successfully in Shanghai for nearly six years at over 99.8% on-time reliability.

AMG is committed to delivery of this project through competent and conservative business principles and in the public interest. AMG has stayed the course over the past 10 years, through equity investment of expertise, services, and products. A number of past federal grants have supported the Maglev project development, including: technology review, detailed project description, complete environmental assessment, stakeholder briefings, transportation planning, concept engineering, and initiation of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). These efforts have been supported by bi-partisan support in California and Nevada through local governments, and by Congressional representatives from both states, in Washington D.C.
The project financial plan identifies the use of federal grant and TIFIA loan programs, public and private equity contributors, and commercial bond funds. Recently a loan proposal was announced for $7 billion in financing from the Import Export Bank of China. Other equity and loan contributors are in negotiations with the public-private partnership, indicating that strong financing options are available; and each option will be considered carefully with the long-term public interest in mind, and applying the hard lessons learned from recent failures in private financing approaches for rail projects.
3. Where will your system have stations physically located?
The Maglev project will have stations at the following locations: Las Vegas, Ivanpah (future airport), and Primm, in Nevada; and Barstow, Victorville, Ontario, and Anaheim, in California. The EIS work is identifying the preferred sites for the stations. The terminal station in California is planned for the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) in Anaheim.
4. What type of connections will your system create for Victorville and the other High Desert cities?
The Maglev service will provide fast access for residents of the High Desert to three International airports: Ontario, Orange County and Las Vegas. This will essentially connect Victorville with the rest of the world and will make Victorville a far more attractive business and residential community for sustainable growth and economic development. Connections between Victorville and Ontario will be in 16 minutes and far more efficient than any other transportation option. Add another 11 minutes and the Maglev service will arrive in the heart of Southern California at the ARTIC Station in Anaheim. Connections to the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport will be possible in slightly more than an hour (54 minutes from Victorville to the terminus station in Las Vegas, plus connecting time).
With comfortable and state-of-art service to the ARTIC station in less than 30 minutes from the Victorville station, residents will be connected to other transportation services, including the California High Speed trains north to Los Angeles, Metrolink, bus rapid transit and other options. Furthermore, the ARTIC is within minutes of the sports venues, shopping, entertainment, and other business activities in this vibrant area.
Connections to Las Vegas from the Victorville Station in less than an hour will serve tourist, business, and recreational travelers. The Victorville station will become a transportation distribution hub which will generate tremendous economic activity.
5. What are the current plans for facilities at the terminal stations?
A. Retail
B. Hotels
C. Parking, etc.
The ARTIC station in Anaheim will be a world-class multimodal facility and activity center in the “Platinum Triangle” and is currently in design. The ARTIC project is a partnership between the City of Anaheim and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), and is a multi-year project, that will offer new and expanded transportation services and development. The project includes site work and preparation, transportation center and supporting facilities, guideway, trackwork and platforms, parking, public art, and will be an intermodal hub for Amtrak, Metrolink, local and international buses, shuttles, bikes, other fixed guideway, California High Speed Rail, and the California-Nevada Interstate Maglev. It will also provide opportunities for Public Private Partnerships development for commercial, retail, office, and residential uses with the cities Platinum Triangle Mixed Use Overlay Zone. More information on the ARTIC can be found at this link: http://www.articinfo.com/
The Terminal Station in Las Vegas will be designed to achieve the same integration with other transportation services and facilities, and urban development similar to that planned for the ARTIC Terminal Station. The preliminary design will determine all facilities to be included at the terminal stations in consultation with coordinating public and private stakeholders.
In overview, the stations for the Maglev system will be the first point of contact for passengers, and must be efficiently laid out and managed to provide the best possible experience for the customers. The stations will be environmentally pleasing, with clear, easy-to-understand signage and an intuitive and uncomplicated passenger amenities for all phases of the ticketing and fare collection process. The stations’ designs will separate the access and egress paths to minimize conflicting walking paths. Requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will be included in the station design. All public areas of the stations shall be handicapped accessible.
6. What is the socio-economic and market profile of potential users of your system?
Because of the low cost of our ticket structuring and the opportunity for fare packages for returning commuters, our system will become a backbone of tourism, commuter and business travelers. There will not be a better transportation option and connection in this corridor. The City of Victorville and the nearby High Desert Communities will have a lifeline transportation system like nowhere else in the world.
The Maglev system can also handle small cargo, which will be carried on the line primarily at night. This will also create economic opportunities and a boost to the overall economy in the High Desert.
7. How long will it take to transport passengers from Victorville to Las Vegas and Las Vegas to Victorville and/or Anaheim and at what cost?
The travel time and cost are developed as part of the EIS and earlier work completed in 2000 for a comprehensive Environmental Assessment report. The EIS scope of work includes comparison of the Maglev project with the proposed DesertXpress project.
The Maglev train will transport people from Las Vegas to Victorville in 54 minutes for a one-way fare of $36; and between Las Vegas and Anaheim via express service in 81 minutes and for a one-way fare of $55. These fares were assumed as percentages of the airline fares between Las Vegas and Orange County. The ridership and revenue analysis will be updated as part of the EIS process.

8. How long will it take to transport passengers and for what price from Las Vegas to other parts of Southern California and what locations in Southern California would you propose?
A travel time and fare comparison is provided in the table below. The Maglev services as planned will make connections in the fastest time possible through efficient Maglev system technology and proven safe operations. Comparisons are made with the DesertXpress project, which is considered as an alternative in the environmental studies.
9. What is the expected annual ridership and how will passengers get on and off at Victorville or other High Desert cities?
The projected ridership for the Las Vegas to Anaheim service is projected for the year 2025, showing more than 42 million annual (one-way) trips on the Maglev service. Of this total, about 13.9 million annual (one-way) trips would occur in the Anaheim to Ontario segment; and about 14.3 million annual (one–way) trips would occur in the Las Vegas to Primm segment. The ridership estimates were prepared prior to the initiation of the planning for Ivanpah Airport and do not include potential riders using Maglev to access the planned airport.
These ridership projections primarily include the diversion from other transportation modes: auto trips and intercity airline trips. The current work will include a more thorough examination of the number of “induced” new trips that would be generated by the availability of the service. For example, as noted above, people from Victorville and the High Desert, as well as Southern California, may make more frequent trips to Las Vegas for entertainment or business purpose, as a result of the fast connection provided with Maglev service.
10. How many people will go from other cities within Southern California to Victorville if your project is fully implemented?
The overall ridership projections shown in the table illustrate the total segment number of riders or one-way trips, for projections on an annual and daily basis. These include connections by auto and other transit modes, from communities nearby each of the station cities.
Victorville along the corridor and as a gateway station connecting into Southern California would be ideally situated for accommodating travelers in either direction. The Victorville station is projected to generate a significant ridership demand with the order of magnitude similar to the level of ridership shown for both the Primm and Anaheim stations and connecting segments.
11. What is the implementation schedule for your project?
The original timeline was to begin construction on the starter segment this year, 2010. A delay in release of the federal grant for the environmental and engineering work has delayed completion of the Environmental Impact Statement until the end of 2011. Some work may begin (at-risk) in advance of that date to prepare facilities for manufacture and assembly of the system components.
Current timeline is:
Release of SAFETEA-LU grant
and completion of final phase of
the EIS/Preliminary Design: 4th Quarter, 2011.
Build starter segment, initiate operations, and begin other segments: 4th Quarter, 2014.
Full corridor complete & initiate operations: 2016/2018.
12. Are there any extensions planned or required for your project?
None are required. The planned Maglev project is a complete system. (See, also response to #17.) However, it should be noted that several inter-mountain states have started discussions regarding high speed ground transportation connecting Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, and Arizona. Maglev may be considered a best solution for the Rocky Mountain region.
13. What is the status of the environmental studies for your project and have you completed the requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)?
Over the past ten years, substantial work relevant to the federal requirements of an EIS/EIR in both California and Nevada has already been completed and approved by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). This work, as listed below, is fast-tracking the completion of the EIS/EIR for the full corridor:
• Environmental Assessment, Las Vegas to Primm, 2000
• Las Vegas-Primm Project Description, June 2000
• Las Vegas-Barstow Project Description, August 2002
• Anaheim-Ontario Project Description, August 2003
• Ontario-Barstow Project Description, February 2004
• Full Corridor Project
Description (Las Vegas to
Anaheim), September 2005
The EIS is underway for the first segment from Las Vegas to Primm. This will be followed by completion of the EIS/EIR for the segments within California. The CNIMP Team has already completed Phases 1 and 2 of the PEIS for the full 269-mile corridor and specific deliverables to the FRA under prior PEIS contracts. Some of these deliverables include the Draft PEIS Scope of Work, the Purpose and Need Statement, the Draft Preliminary Alternatives Analysis for Las Vegas to Primm, detailed mapping and extensive public outreach and coordination with local stakeholders.
The timeline for completion of the EIS is shown above in the response to Question #11.
14. How will your project impact the environment and what are the required mitigations?
The project’s environmental impacts and benefits are being fully documented in the EIS/EIR. The construction and operations of the Maglev system along the planned alignment and through the desert environment will have some visual and land consumption impacts to the surrounding areas. The Maglev team will work to integrate the infrastructure along the guideway and at the stations in full cooperation with the various cities and governmental stakeholders. Examples from the operating Maglev system in Shanghai China, provides a good perspective of how well Maglev can be integrated into the urban and rural environments.
The Maglev system by its design will yield significant environmental benefits due to the considerable reduction in traffic congestion and pollutant emissions (See Question #22 for more details). The EIS/EIR work accomplished indicates that the impacts from a Maglev system will be substantially less than traditional railway systems or highway widening. The Maglev is electrically powered thus reducing emissions, is fully grade separated to avoid blocking wildlife corridors, and maintains a smaller footprint running along steeper grades thus allowing it to follow the I-15 corridor, without tunneling or impacting sensitive habitats, such as the Mojave National Preserve. A Maglev corridor typically requires less right-of-way clearance than conventional rail and less than one-fifth the width of an equivalent highway corridor.
There are several significant advantages that come from the Maglev system using a no-contact technology. The most obvious benefit of having no grinding wheels on track is that the Maglev is much quieter than conventional rail at comparable speeds. There is almost no sound or vibration except that created by the train passing through the air.
Given there is no friction and wear and tear to its parts, the Maglev system requires less maintenance and has lower impacts and surrounding land. By comparison, traditional railways require maintenance on a frequent basis, which includes maintenance vehicles and frequent maintenance equipment access along the right-of-way.
The Maglev system is the “green solution”, addressing the need for fast and efficient surface transportation systems and sound environmental management. Maglev offers frictionless technology, estimated to use 30 percent less energy than traditional railway systems traveling at the same speeds. The electrical system requirements for substations along the Maglev guideway can be met in part with alternative energy sources, including solar, wind, and other emerging “green” technologies. This will reduce draw from the electrical grid during peak demand periods and reduce operating costs.
15. Does your environmental study consider other city rail?
A full Environmental Assessment was completed in 2000, including a detailed ridership forecast. The ridership models were calibrated to reflect current conditions and for all connecting and alternative modes (light rail, metro rail and other services) for the forecast years. The Federal Railroad Administration which funded these earlier studies, commissioned an independent expert consultancy to review and verify the legitimacy of the Maglev ridership forecasts. These ridership forecasts are being updated to reflect current transportation and economic conditions.
The success of any intercity transportation link is to allow passengers to reach their destination with a minimum of transfers. The terminal station in Anaheim is a wonderful example of bringing passengers close to their destination and providing direct connections to local transit (bus, AGV, taxi) and long distance opportunities (California High Speed Rail, Amtrak/Metrolink commuter rail, John Wayne Airport). Similar connections to the Las Vegas’ Bonneville Transportation Center, under construction in Downtown Las Vegas, are also being explored
16. Are there any potential extensions covered in your environmental studies?
The Maglev system planned for connecting Las Vegas and Anaheim is a complete system that would connect the largest most diverse population center in America with the entertainment capital of the world. No extensions are currently required or planned.
Connections at the ARTIC and Las Vegas terminal stations with services provided by the California HSR system and other surface transportation modes are considered in the environmental and ridership studies; however, these are not part of the project cost or implementation.
17. What is the timeline for completion of any required extension?
There are no required extensions for the California – Nevada Interstate Maglev project. The project is to be implemented in three phased segments: 1) Las Vegas to Primm; 2) Anaheim to Ontario; and 3) Primm to Ontario. The current timeline for delivery of the project is provided above in response to Question #11.
18. What is the observed support for your project in southern Nevada and in the Las Vegas area?
During the development of this project over the last ten years, the Maglev team has participated in an extensive public outreach and local agency planning effort throughout Nevada and California and has always received overwhelming support from all types of stakeholders, including the public-at-large or the future riders, leaders along the corridor, local public agencies, labor unions, environmental groups, local businesses, and Universities.
In two widely distributed recent Nevada media polls the Maglev system was a runaway favorite where as many as 9 out of 10 polled stated a preference for it over the DesertXpress. The Maglev project received more than 81% support from the public of Southern Nevada while DesertXpress received only 7% support of the votes.
CNSSTC and AMG have jointly signed a Letter of Commitment with the Nevada Building Trades Council that reflects the strong feelings of support by Nevada’s union members for the jobs and economic benefits to come from implementation of the Maglev project.
19. What is the observed support for your project in Southern California and any and all of the High Desert cities?
Californians are wildly enthusiastic about the 310 mile per hour train and what it means to their commute. It opens up possibilities of travel to Las Vegas but just as important, it has high importance as a commuter train which allows them to live in less expensive areas such as Ontario and Victorville, even Las Vegas. No other project offers such advantage for commuting to other Southern California cities or making Victorville and Ontario distribution centers.
20. What are near and long term economic benefits of your project to the City of Victorville and other cities within the High Desert Region?
The Maglev would make Victorville a distribution point for southern California. It will be easier to work in southern California and live in Victorville than in cities that are part of the crushing urban traffic. Jobs will be brought to Victorville with the advent of distribution. There is the potential for small package distribution with Maglev trains, in the off-peak hours, that could contribute to Victorville as a center for warehousing and shipping. With Maglev all of the land in the Victorville area could become a valued suburb supporting new jobs in its own right.
21. What are the short and long term economic benefits of your project to the City of Las Vegas?
Nevada and California are currently in one of the worst economic situations in the nation with overall unemployment in double digits. About 50 percent of those in the construction industry are out of work and there are no major building projects on the horizon. Construction of the Maglev project has the potential to create more than 90,000 jobs, a new industry in the United States, and will pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy in this corridor.
The Maglev project offers a long term rebirth of Las Vegas, linking places and people efficiently using the fastest transportation possible, faster than car, more convenient than the airline, faster than private aviation. During the 81 minutes visitors can walk on a train, sit, enjoy a drink or a meal, not hassle traffic, and arrive in one of the world’s most unique cities ever envisioned. Linking the largest and most diverse population center in the United States with the entertainment capital of the world with fast service will provide enormous economic stimulus to Southern Nevada, Southern California, and all the cities along this corridor.
22. How will your project effect the congestion on Interstate 15, south of Victorville connecting to any other cities and/or airports in Southern California?
The CNIMP Team has performed detailed analysis of the benefits resulting in the construction of the Maglev system versus a no-build option. One of the primary benefits would be the value of highway delays saved and the reduction in fatalities on I-15 from diversion of highway trips to the Maglev; however, there would also be a significant net environmental benefit due to the reduction in pollutant emissions.
The full Maglev system from Las Vegas to Anaheim is expected to have total additive benefits estimated to amount to more than $27 billion for an evaluation period of 41 years. This includes more than $8.5 billion saved due to decreased delays on I-15 and more than $1.1 billion due to decreased fatalities on I-15.
Victorville is approximately 90 miles away from Anaheim and the heart of Southern California. Congestion and pollutants from vehicular emissions along this segment of Interstate 15 is the worst part of the freeway. Because the Maglev system will have two additional and very key stations west of Victorville and deeper into the heart of Southern California, the benefits coming from reduction of I-15 congestion and surrounding freeways along this segment alone will be quite significant.
In addition to reduced congestion and fatalities, implementation of the Maglev system would result in a decrease in emissions of pollutants, such as total organic gas (TOG), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOX), and CO2. This is especially beneficial for ozone (O3) and CO levels, for which all or parts of the South Coast Air Basin (SCAB) is designated as non-attainment and is under federal mandate to reduce these emissions.

Significant benefits will be derived for the highly congested segment, between Anaheim and Ontario, which covers the last 35 of the 90 miles between Victorville and Anaheim. Benefits attributable to the Maglev system versus the No-Build along this segment are estimated to amount to nearly $6.8 billion in savings from reduced delay and accidents, over the project study evaluation period, 2010 and 2050. Furthermore, the Maglev system will reduce between 28,000 and 42,000 daily person trips from area freeways over the period respectively. These diversions would also result in the following benefits:
• Reduction in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) is projected to be approximately 744 thousand daily and 267 million annually.
• Reduction in Vehicle Hours Traveled (VHT) is projected to be approximately 55,000 daily and 20 million annually.
• The impact of these diversions was monetized and results showed that the value of delays saved varied from $205 million in 2010 to $247 million in 2050.
• Fatality savings would range between about $3 million per year in 2010 to about $5 million in 2050.
Sources
2000 California-Nevada interstate Maglev Project, Project Description, submitted to the FRA; 2003 California-Nevada interstate Maglev Project, Anaheim to Ontario Study, submitted to the FRA.

Over the last year, since being elected an Assemblyman, I’ve strived to meet my commitment to regularly reach-out to constituents – to be accessible to citizens throughout the High Desert. Through one-on-one meetings, community events, town halls and many other activities, the people I meet and the stories I hear of perseverance through the adversity in our economic downturn are uplifting and at the same time disheartening. By far, the loudest message I hear from citizens and business owners alike is that the state’s economy and jobs are priority one.
I’m confident that California’s resilient business men and women are ready and willing to create the jobs we desperately need to boost our state’s economy. They just want one thing from the rest of us to get the ball rolling: for California government to get out of the way and let employers do what only they can do – be competitive, make a profit, expand and hire people.
Regrettably, California has a longstanding practice of smothering businesses with excessive rules and regulations and unreasonable taxes and fees. Our government has created this hostile business environment that discourages employers, large and small, from moving to or investing in our state because the risk of failure is significantly higher than other states.
Businesspeople know what it takes to succeed; their livelihood depends on it. Unlike many bureaucrats and some legislators, who believe that government knows best, never makes mistakes, and can create a thriving economy and more jobs by throwing around stacks of taxpayer dollars.
At one of my town halls, an audience member summed it up well when he said: “The bureaucracy is expanding to serve the expanding needs of the expanding bureaucracy.” The killing of California’s businesses and jobs didn’t start with the current recession. The process has been going on in our state for decades, one little law, rule, tax, fee, and regulation at a time. Taken individually, they may have seemed harmless at the time, but the cumulative effect leaves California with a dwindling pool of employers, few incentives to attract new businesses, and unemployment rates running over 20 percent in some parts of the state.
While nobody in the Legislature wants to take responsibility for killing jobs in California, citizens can see for themselves who voted for and against the job-killer bills. The pro-business California Chamber of Commerce maintains the voting records of all state legislators on bills identified as “Job Killers” and “Job Builders.” Go to www.calchamber.com to separate the political promises from the hard reality.
Jobs come from prosperity invested in private companies which produce goods and services to be sold around the world to finance further business growth and new jobs; That age-old process of commerce works without any help from the government. But the dependable private enterprise engines of economic prosperity can be shut down by unwise and unrealistic government policies.
Many businesses today are not hiring because owners and managers have no confidence in the job-killing, anti-business economic policies and practices at all levels of government. Bluntly, there is no incentive for a company to put its money at risk without a reasonable expectation of financial growth from the investment of time and money. Risk is a fact of life for business even in the best of times. But risk in a recession is logically far more difficult to take.
If we truly want to rebuild our economy and help the private sector provide wealth-producing jobs for our families, friends, and neighbors, then we must insist that our elected representatives work on unleashing the spirit of free enterprise that made California green and golden. And we must all work to reduce spending by eliminating unnecessary and duplicative programs, services, and regulations, and by making the remaining programs efficient and cost-effective.
Cutting government spending opens the door to put more money back into the pockets of taxpayers, thereby giving Californians a real chance to stimulate the economy and create new jobs on their own. My confidence lies in the private-sector to create jobs that will better our State, not the lie that the State creates jobs.
Assemblyman Steve Knight, (R-Antelope Valley), represents the 36th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes many communities throughout the Antelope and Victor Valleys.

Air Quality Politics

MDAQMD Urges Governor To Reconsider AB 32

Published by:

By Eldon Heaston
Executive Director, MDAQMD

The Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District has always strived to lead by example and takes great pride in its role as a leader among local regulatory agencies. In 2003, the MDAQMD was the first public agency in the High Desert to install its own solar electric generating system to meet almost half of the energy needs of its Victorville headquarters. In 2006, the MDAQMD became the first air district in the state to join the Climate Action Reserve and voluntarily certify its own carbon emission reductions. On February 3, 2010, the MDAQMD became the first air district in the state to write a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger and legislators, urging them to reconsider moving forward with regulations under AB32 until a careful review of the implementation impacts on California’s existing regulatory scheme and its struggling economy could be undertaken.

Although our governing board’s position on AB 32 has not exactly made us the darling of the state or other air districts, we have been encouraged by the overwhelming support we have received from local municipalities, businesses, and everyday citizens of the High Desert. These entities understand that the MDAQMD’s position is not based on the science of global warming – it’s based on the High Desert’s economic future and the possibility that our region may not survive the mounting regulatory gridlock which threatens to cripple our struggling economy and hinder our agency’s ability to adequately protect local air quality and the health of our residents.

While the MDAQMD believes the goals of many of the legislative and regulative enactments behind AB32 are laudable and necessary, we are also finding that in an area of unique economic and regulatory challenges – such as the High Desert – there are serious conflicts among existing and potential proposed regulatory programs.

To begin with, there is the unique issue of transported pollution which overwhelmingly impacts air quality readings measured within the MDAQMD’s jurisdiction. CARB studies have demonstrated that were it not for windblown pollution originating outside of the MDAQMD’s boundaries – primarily in the Los Angeles basin – our area would rarely, if ever, exceed state and federal ozone standards. Unfortunately, the Federal Clean Air Act does not consider the source of pollution, just where the exceedances of the standards happen to be measured. As a result, businesses in the MDAQMD are already subject to costly and stringent New Source Review requirements, which require them to obtain non-existent pollution offsets before they are allowed to locate or expand within our jurisdiction. This requirement – which is precipitated by out-of area smog over which the MDAQMD has no control – has historically forced many an industry to look elsewhere to site its business – often out of state – primarily because we have very few existing industries in the High Desert to provide such offsets through emission reductions.

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Having businesses and the jobs circumvent your region is never a good thing, particularly in an area such as the High Desert, where the average unemployment rate currently looms at 16.6%. The MDAQMD believes that any additional mandates which impose even more stringent requirements and higher fees on local industry will put us at a further competitive disadvantage with neighboring states, which are not regulating greenhouse gasses as stringently, if at all. For this reason, we also believe that the state should delay full implementation of AB32 and consider allowing GHG regulation to occur at the federal level, when the time is right, which insures uniformity between states as opposed to economic disparity and unfair competition. Basically, we support waiting until the playing field is leveled so that both the environment and the economy will benefit. In this vein, the MDAQMD also strongly supports NSR reform and a reopening of the Federal Clean Air Act to correct the plethora of existing problems with both permitting and PSD requirements.

The severe jobs/housing imbalance which exists within the MDAQMD represents a major economic and air quality challenge, in that this imbalance – and the inordinate commuter miles it requires – is also the major source of air emissions and GHGs within the MDAQMD. Surveys show that nearly 50% of High Desert residents commute at least 40 miles each way to work, with many more traveling over 100 miles one way daily. It is estimated that over 200,000 cars travel in and out of the MDAQMD’s jurisdiction each and every work day, often in heavy traffic. Thus, the MDAQMD cannot support any law which has the effect of discouraging business from establishing locally, forcing local residents to commute unnecessarily and consequently increasing air emissions in both our district and elsewhere. It is the MDAQMD’s belief that truly “green cities” will not be possible until we can site jobs in those cities.

In our letter to the Governor, the MDAQMD expressed concerns regarding the layers of conflicting land use mandates, CEQA and other regulatory air quality requirements and policy goals which may potentially come into direct conflict with current state laws and regulations, as well as proposed regulatory measures developed to implement AB32. These mandates include a proposed tightening of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone and the USEPA’s recent “Endangerment Finding,” which states that “greenhouse gases threaten the public health and welfare of the American people.” Even closer to home, recent proposals to amend California’s Desert Protection Act pose a threat to the area’s economic and air quality future by severely restricting construction of clean and essential energy generation facilities in the place where they make the most sense: the Mojave Desert, which ranks second only to the Sahara Desert in solar radiation. Clearly, this type of gridlock does not seem to make sense for the environment or the economy.

Over the past 30-plus year, California has made great strides in its efforts to reduce air pollution. Despite the impacts of transported smog, the High Desert’s air quality continues to improve, thanks in large part to emission reduction progress made in the South Coast Air Basin. Even as these improvements continue, conflicting and onerous regulatory requirements threaten to cripple economic growth.

In light of the current economic and regulatory situation, the MDAQMD believes that there will be a time and place for AB32 implementation, but we do not believe that now – during the worst economic climate since the Great Depression – is that time. We are troubled that if we do not proceed with caution at this delicate juncture and fail to clearly set forth our priorities and carefully examine potential conflicts between regulatory programs at both the state and federal Levels, we may make some apparent gains in one area while jeopardizing progress in another. What we are suggesting is not without precedent. The governor’s office and the legislature has waived CEQA and other requirements in order to site football stadiums, finding that there is something very dysfunctional about the California regulatory requirements for projects. We would hope that this region’s air quality and its economy are due the same deference.