Education General

Victor Valley College Continues to Expand

Published by:

By Bill Greulich

In spite of the current economic downturn, Victor Valley College continues to move forward at a measured pace with its plan for expansion. Some bond funded capital projects have progressed beyond the planning stage as evidenced by the start of construction on the new Eastside Public Safety Training Center and infrastructure upgrades to the main campus.

Construction began Thursday [August 12] on Victor Valley College’s Eastside Public Safety Training Center, the first major project to advance as part of a voter approved $298 million bond measure.

The $32 million center will train VVC students for firefighting, paramedic, police and corrections careers, and also be available for public safety agencies across Southern California.

“We needed a facility that would demonstrate our commitment to these four areas and would also be a training facility not only for the High Desert but for the entire region,” VVC Interim President Christopher O’Hearn said.

When it’s completed in December 2011, the facility will feature new technologies and training equipment, including a 5-story-tall fire tower to simulate the feel of being trapped in a burning building, and a 9-lane indoor shooting range with virtual and live-fire training simulators.

The facility is located on a 9-acre site on the southwest corner of Johnson and Navajo roads in Apple Valley, north of the Apple Valley Airport and next to the Wal-Mart distribution center.

Highland Partnership and Carrier- Johnson Architects are designing and building the 41,500-square-foot center, which will include 15 classrooms with 368 seats, parking for 225 vehicles, several buildings for administration, storage and laundry, and an outdoor space with training equipment.

Highland Partnership has committed to staffing more than 80 percent of its construction labor force with High Desert workers.

The project is also designed to meet LEED Gold certification rating by the U.S. Green Building Council, VVC officials said.

A 200-kilowatt solar system will power 50 percent of the facility, and buildings will include high efficiency plumbing and mechanical and water conserving fixtures. Its structural steel will be 95 percent recycled, and builders are using regional and low carbon-emitting materials.

Sixty-two percent of voters approved the $298 million Measure JJ in 2008. Measure JJ will cost taxpayers $20 a year per $100,000 of assessed property value over an estimated 30 to 35 years.

The college has already spent about $136 million in bond funds, including purchasing land for a future work force education center in Hesperia, setting aside funds for campus beautification and infrastructure improvements (Including parking lot repair), and paying off $53 million in past debt.

In other news, a one-stop center designed to consolidate a variety of student services such as financial aid, admissions, counseling, and more is currently under review.

General Water

Taking Steps to Ensure There’s Water for Now-and the Future

Published by:

By Michael Stevens, Community Liaison Officer
Mojave Water Agency

Gloves, check; scarves, check; beanies, check; umbrellas, check…but wait, who wants to think about winter and the cold temperatures and shorter days? Some people do. Mojave Water Agency (MWA) thinks about winter for reasons other than comfort. It’s the time when our water table is replenished with natural supplies—and the more precipitation we receive through natural sources (rain, snow melt from the local mountains) the less we have to import what’s becoming scarce and expensive: supplemental water.

Winter of 2009-2010 was a good water year for California—with most reservoirs around the state filling to normal levels. This past winter was also good for Mojave Water Agency because what started as a dismal water year—all State Water Contractors like MWA being told by Department of Water Resources in December to expect only five-percent (for MWA 4,140 acre-feet) of contracted water deliveries (for MWA 82,800 acre-feet)—this figure was eventually increased in August to allow for deliveries of 50% (for MWA 41,400 acre-feet).And MWA is purchasing every drop to help boost groundwater supplies for future needs.

Last issue I wrote about how “Water Drives Our Economy” and how without water, development, and the jobs it brings, comes to a screeching halt. As Mojave Water Agency celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2010 (July 21 to be exact), the agency recognizes the key role that water plays for our quality of life and is meeting its obligation to reliably deliver safe, clean, affordable water.

However, the ability to purchase over 41,000 acre-feet (af) of water this year to support our local economy and quality of life didn’t just happen because we had a good winter. Always with an “eye towards the future”, the agency had to plan, position and be poised to execute when opportunities arose to purchase water or rights to water. More later on the opportunities that came along and how the agency took advantage.

As of September 9, 2010, 11,541 acre-feet has been delivered this year through recharge sites throughout the agency’s service area, and at one site in particular—Rock Springs—deliveries will continue until the end of the year in order to take all the water that’s available to MWA. The four other sites have already reached their maximum allotment. According to MWA Board President Mike Page, “being able to store or bank water is like having a savings account so that during periods when water is less available through the State Water Project, we’ll have a source of supply to plan for dry spells or increased demands.”

“The decision to buy water now is an example of our board showing foresight and helps us to reduce our future reliance on what could be an undependable source,” Page added.

The agency made two key decisions in recent years, without which 16,000 of the 41,000 acre-feet would not have been available for purchase. In 1997 MWA’s contracted amount of State Water Project water (referred to as the Table A amount) was 50,800 acre-feet (af). That amount changed to 75,800 in 1998 when the agency purchased the rights to 25,000 additional acre-feet of Table A amount from the Berrenda-Mesa Water District.

Our share of the supply increased again with the purchase in 2009 of 14,000 af from the Dudley Ridge Water District, which included 7,000 acre-feet effective in 2010 and an additional 7,000 acre-feet in effect by 2020.By combining the Berrenda-Mesa and Dudley Ridge purchases, this increased MWA’s Table A amount to 82,800af in 2010. What this means is that when the Department of Water Resources in August increased the amount to 50% that State Water Contractors(29 state wide including MWA) could receive of its contracted amount. For MWA that meant 50% of 82,800af, not 50% of 50,800af.

Some have criticized the water rights purchases only as “paper water,” a phantom allocation from a portion of the State Water Project that will never be delivered. But 2010 has proven that the water rights purchases are truly more than just paper water.

And, the value of the water rights purchases—and the subsequent deliveries in 2010—are proving once again to have been a wise, strategic move. As the next winter rainfall season approaches, water experts are closely watching the emergence of La Niña—where Pacific Ocean water temperatures have been steadily cooling, which increases the chances of a dry year ahead for much of California.

“For Central and Southern California, it looks like a drier-than-normal winter, and it may be for Northern California also, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty,” said Jon Gottschalck, head of forecast operations at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in Washington, D.C. Scientists say they will know more in the months ahead as California’s traditional rainy months of December through February near.

“To reiterate, the decision to purchase all the water available to us this year is an example of our board showing foresight and helps us to reduce our future reliance on what we are discovering is an undependable source,” Page added. In a nutshell—Taking Steps to Ensure There’s Water for Now—and the Future.

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

Politics

County of San Bernardino Planning for the Future

Published by:

By Brad Mitzelfelt
First District Supervisor, San Bernardino County

It is tough to move forward unless you have a clear vision of where you are going.

During the next few months, everyone who has a stake in our county’s future will come together to create a common vision that will guide our leaders in building a better future. Participants will include San Bernardino County residents, leaders from the 24 cities, the business community, school districts, non-profit groups, and others.

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors will organize and lead the effort to create this vision through a series of town hall meetings for residents, round-table discussions involving business leaders, and forums for other stakeholders.

“It’s impossible to achieve anything meaningful or even take a step forward unless we know where we are going,” said County Administrative Officer Greg Devereaux, who has been charged by the Board of Supervisors with gathering input from the county’s various communities and crafting a proposed vision. “The vision we create for our county will be the measuring stick we will use to decide how to focus all future efforts.”

The county will use data from the recently completed Community Indicators Report to guide all of the county’s communities and stakeholders toward creating a vision. The report takes a close look at where our community stands in terms of the economy, jobs, education, health care, public safety, and the amenities available to our residents.

The vision we create will be an important part of county government’s effort to create, maintain, and grow the economic value of the region. The County of San Bernardino Economic Development Agency plays a critical role in implementing that directive. The agency provides many vital resources for businesses looking to grow, residents seeking jobs and housing, and investors and developers seeking opportunity and certainty.

Business attraction is key to our success. San Bernardino County is an attractive location. There are measureable benefits for businesses and residents choosing to locate here in terms of workforce, infrastructure, and location advantages. The region’s diversity and amenities benefit many business sectors, and remain attractive to a wide range of employers. Two of the leading industries in the county are logistics and manufacturing because we have one of the best transportation networks in the world. We are literally at the crossroads of national and international trade.

Dr Pepper Snapple Group, one of the largest beverage companies in the nation, understood the location advantages of San Bernardino County when it built its new 850,000-square-foot facility in Victorville. Operations started in March 2010.

According to Dr Pepper Snapple, the plant was intended primarily to fill a void in its distribution network, allowing the company to distribute products from a regional hub that the company once had to ship cross-country from facilities on the East Coast. Its customers in the region now have much quicker access to Dr Pepper Snapple’s non-carbonated juices, enabling the company to better meet its demands.

This was the only major factory built in California last year.

Dr Pepper Snapple underscores the strength of this region in logistics. It is the location of choice for major industrial users’ regional and headquarters operations. These firms benefit from the county’s proximity to the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaports, three large airports, a major highway system, and links to the Union Pacific and BNSF railway corridors. That’s why the county has long been known as Corporate America’s Global Gateway.

Aviation as a component of logistics is one of the industries that will create good jobs in our region. A program at Southern California Logistics Airport, which was started with support from my office, is already having success in training aircraft mechanics, who are in great demand and can earn up to six figures. A highly trained workforce makes the region even more desirable to business owners.

Now is the time to capitalize on this region’s strengths and encourage corporate decision makers from retail to medical to logistics and manufacturing to seek out the benefits from the county’s workforce and marketplace access. Beyond its transportation and location advantages, businesses benefit from the county’s 900,000-strong workforce and access to a lucrative Southern California consumer population.

And our quality of life is second to none, especially in the High Desert, with access to beautiful scenery, clean air, high mountains and a variety of recreational and cultural activities within easy driving distance.

The challenge right now is getting that positive message out to business decision-makers at a time when the region’s location, cost, and workforce advantages can make a real difference in the bottom line costs of doing business.

There is a solid platform for investment here and an inviting business environment in the County of San Bernardino. It’s time for business to seize the advantage.

General Politics

SB 375-Government Intervention or Market Trend?

Published by:

By Hasan Ikhrata
Executive Director of SCAG

SB 375 is a complex and sometimes controversial new planning law that, at its core, is about changing the growth and development template that California has been accustomed to since World War II. In trying to understand the ramifications of SB 375, one central question is whether it attempts to force a pattern of urban development that would not emerge on its own. Alternatively, it could be that SB 375 attempts to recognize that change is already occurring and capture the momentum of emerging trends in demographics, housing demand, and the larger economy.

Before we examine the merits of either view, let’s take a look at what SB 375 actually requires, and why it’s been the subject of so much discussion and debate since it was passed in 2008.

SB 375 creates a new set of requirements for regional Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in California when they produce a Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). The RTP is a plan required under federal law that lays out a long term strategy for meeting transportation needs. The RTP is also a pre-condition for accessing federal money for transportation projects. Regional MPOs, like SCAG, have been preparing and adopting these plans since the 1970s.

SB 375 introduces a state-required component of the RTP called a Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). SB 375 also gives the state the ability to set targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions for the RTP. The SCS, in turn, is intended to lay out a strategy combining transportation investment with land use in order to cut down on vehicle usage and reduce emissions. In theory, the regional MPO works with its member local cities and counties, and with the transportation agencies at the county level, to agree on strategies, including transit expansion, targeted in-fill development, and neighborhood design to encourage walking. Those strategies are then packaged into the SCS and used to demonstrate meeting the GHG target.

This is, without a doubt, a challenging job that the State has given to the regional MPOs and our partners. In particular, the challenge could be pronounced, depending on what target the State sets for emission reductions. Regardless of the target, though, SB 375 walks right into a traditional sore spot between the state and local government over land use authority, and imposes new objectives for regional planning that may or may not be embraced at all levels of government.

On paper, a regional planning agency like SCAG could easily design a land use and transportation scenario that, when fed into a transportation model, produces dramatic emission reductions, and meets any target. We could do this by identifying opportunity areas for in-fill and transit oriented development projects, and by dreaming up new transportation systems to move people around the region in the future. The challenge, of course, is that the RTP and the SCS need to be more than a paper exercise. The strategies contained in the plan need to be backed by real commitments and real money, and they need, as near as possible, to reflect a consensus view of the region’s future vision for itself. The good news is that the Southern California region, for a variety of reasons, is on the right track.

MARKET DEMAND AND SUPPLY RESPONSE

20 years ago, it would be almost impossible to imagine what has now happened in places around the region like in Pasadena, Brea, Ventura and countless other cities in the region. Even setting aside urban centers like downtown Los Angeles, communities across the southland are seeing a resurgence in demand for attached housing, and walkable mixed use communities with access to transit. This is not just a matter of niche projects pushed by planners and a handful of urbanites. On the contrary, all the evidence shows that projects in urban or suburban downtowns, and closer in to employment centers, have fared better in the current recession than the traditional suburban large lot home on a ½ acre lot. Partially, this is just the result of new lifestyle preference, but actually there is more at work.

CHANGING DEMOGRAPICS

The California suburbs were built for a different type of population than is now predominant in the region. In 1960, nearly half of all households had children in the home. Now that number is less than 1/3, and by 2040 that number will be just over 1/4. The neighborhood and lifestyle demands of households with kids simply will not predominate in the housing market in the future. In their place, we will have an increasing share of retirees and singles, whose demands will have less to do with a backyard and more to do with neighborhood amenities (think coffee shops, small groceries, and pocket parks). To take it a step further, as our region copes with an increasing demand for services for a retiree population, we will need to compete with other regions to attract young adults to work here, again with similar effects related to neighborhood and housing demand.

ENERGY SUPPLY AND PRICE

The other big piece of our future puzzle is natural resources, and most importantly energy. In Southern California we all observed the dramatic impact of high gas prices during the summer of 2008. Many more people than typical rode transit or carpooled, while we waited for gas prices to return to a level that we are accustomed to. In some ways, this shock to people’s transportation habits was a precursor to the housing crisis that followed. The less expensive house, with the longer commute, wasn’t as affordable, once you figure in $4 to $5 per gallon gas. The question we have to ask ourselves as we envision and plan for the future is, do we expect cheap and readily available energy supplies to continue for personal transportation? Most experts tell us that that scenario is unlikely.

So when we think about the forces that will shape the future of our region, we start to see the Sustainable Communities Strategy as a process and a tool that will help us to cope, and hopefully to succeed, in facing a changing landscape. More than that, we think the SCS can only be successful if it recognize and responds to what is happening in demographics and economics – which always play a greater role in affecting growth and development than anything that government does. In planning, our job is to understand what issues and challenges our future holds, to lay out options for how to face those challenges and to try to help create decisions and policies that improve the quality of life for our communities. SB 375 asks us to take on some very big issues and challenges, and as such, it can tend to take us out of our normal way of seeing things. Given the amount of change that this region will experience, though, we think it’s better to plan for it than to not plan for it.

Economy

Economic and Business Climate

Published by:

By Steve Pontell
La Jolla Institute

Long-term employment trends show growth of 40% between 2000 and 2008 in two of the county’s largest industries: Professional Services and Logistics. However, recent employment figures show a decline across all key industries. San Bernardino County has the most affordable housing in Southern California. The county continues to build more homes, with the result that there are nearly two housing units for every job created in the county. As the importance of technological know-how increases, so does the county’s student access to computers and classrooms with Internet access.

 County Poised for Further Growth and Change

 Description of Indicator

San Bernardino County experienced explosive residential and commercial growth over the past two decades. The county’s unique geographic, environmental and economic characteristics allowed it to evolve into a dynamic region that is both independent of and integral to the Southern California region as a whole. This indicator examines components of the county’s transformation such as employment changes, housing trends, expanding opportunities, and human and societal impacts of this growth.

Why is it Important?

Understanding how San Bernardino County has changed from 1990 to 2010 allows residents, businesses and policymakers to be better informed about the characteristics that define San Bernardino County today – instead of what they imagine it to be, based on perceptions established in the past. San Bernardino County has emerged as an economic powerhouse as the Southland’s air travel and logistics hub, a recreational destination for tourists from across the state, and the booming, then busting, epicenter of the California residential real estate market.

How is San Bernardino County Doing?

Economy in Transition

Twenty years ago, the leading industries in the county were steel, agriculture and defense. The closures of George Air Force Base (in Victorville) in 1992 and Norton Air Force Base (in the City of San Bernardino) in 1994 resulted in the loss of approximately 3,000 jobs. Since that time, the region has gone through one metamorphosis and is on the cusp of a second. The first transition was from an economy based in military services, agriculture, and steel, to one where construction, logistics, and business and professional services are the dominant industries. The next transformation may emerge out of a combination of up-and-coming markets, demographic shifts, continuing growth in logistics, and San Bernardino’s unique set of assets including days of sun, established energy infrastructure, large areas of undeveloped land, and proximity to population centers and recreational resources.

The first transition witnessed employment growth of 62% between 1990 and 2007. According to the California Employment Development Department, the number of jobs in the county increased from 408,500 in 1990 to 663,600 jobs as of 2007. In 1990, the largest industry clusters were Retail Trade, Healthcare, Tourism (Leisure and Hospitality) and Durable Goods Manufacturing. Today, while the largest employment clusters are the same, the proportions are different with 300% growth in Administrative Support (which is a part of Business and Professional Services), 180% growth in Logistics, and 180% growth in Wholesale Trade. In the last 10 years, the changing nature of the San Bernardino County economy has become even more pronounced with significant growth in the Retail Trade and Local Government sectors while Durable Goods Manufacturing has declined.

The second transition may be fueled by San Bernardino County’s unique position for growth in certain industries not yet reflected in employment statistics. For example, the High Desert area of San Bernardino County is one of the best places in the world for solar energy development because of its high altitude, the number of sunny days each year, and existing power infrastructure. Additionally, proximity to the Colorado River, Nevada and Arizona may result in increasing opportunities for new housing and tourism that are currently underutilized.

Supplying Affordable Housing for the Region

As the population and employment base of Southern California continued to grow over the past two decades, the number of housing units built in Los Angeles and Orange Counties did not keep pace. The relatively lower cost of existing housing in the Inland Empire drew buyers from all over Southern California. In San Bernardino County, housing demand increased in response to both the lower priced housing and as a result of economic growth, and builders built new housing tracts to meet the increased demand. Cities and builders alike preferred to build lower density units (greater sales prices and income to local jurisdictions), and to a great extent larger, single family units were built instead of smaller, more affordable units.

Between 2000 and 2006, single family residences accounted for over 85% of all housing built, compared to the historical average of 70%. In the midst of this housing boom, it appeared that San Bernardino County had become the host of the American dream – one of the last places for middle class Southern California residents to be able to afford a home.

Between 2000 and 2008, nearly 100,000 residential permits were granted by local officials throughout the county with the peak of over 18,000 permits in 2004. The cities granting the most permits were Rancho Cucamonga, Chino Hills and Fontana which had higher numbers of permits earlier in the decade while Apple Valley, Chino, Hesperia, and Victorville granted more permits later.

Strong demand in the early 2000s led to rising prices, which prompted many first time homebuyers who were afraid of “missing the boat” to purchase. Speculators and investors also played a role in driving up housing prices, which increased from $134,000 for a median priced single family home in 1991 to $389,000 in the fourth quarter of 2005. Since then prices have dropped back to 2000 levels, with the median single family home priced at $163,000 in 2009. Paradoxically, due to the low housing prices, for those who could afford a down payment and have sufficient income and credit, owning a home today may be less expensive than renting a home (see Housing Affordability and Rental Affordability).

Human and Societal Impacts of Growth and Contraction

In the meantime, new and old residents of San Bernardino County are bearing the impacts of regional economic contraction. When residents of San Bernardino County who commuted to work in Los Angeles, Riverside, or Orange Counties lose their jobs, they apply for and utilize San Bernardino County government services.

According to the 2008 Inland Empire Annual Survey, a majority of residents who live in East Valley, Victor Valley and Desert areas also work in San Bernardino County. However, about 10% of East Valley and Desert region residents work in Riverside County. Over 30% of West Valley residents work in Los Angeles County, and about 6% work in Orange County.

The economic downturn is reflected in the number of residents living in poverty and the fact that most major public assistance programs in San Bernardino County experienced increases in enrollment (see Family Income Security):

• At 14.6%, San Bernardino County has the third highest proportion of residents living in poverty compared to peers. This rate is higher than the state and national averages for 2008.

• San Bernardino County has the highest Food Stamps “Program Access Index” scores among peers, with 56% of Food Stamps eligible residents actually participating in the program.

• The number of people receiving Food Stamps rose 27% in a single year, while CalWORKs cash assistance enrollment rose 18% in 2008/09.

• Medi-Cal participation also increased, rising 10%.

• A higher proportion of San Bernardino County residents have public assistance income (4.0% of all residents) than the state (3.1%), nation (2.3%), and all our peers (ranging from a high of 3.3% in Los Angeles County to a low of 1.2% in the Dallas metro area).

Expanding Opportunities

As businesses expanded in the Inland Empire in anticipation of more customers taking up residence, a reinforcing cycle was created wherein business growth fueled population growth resulting in greater home construction and further economic growth.

The Inland Empire’s location between the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the rest of the country as well as the location on the edge of the massive markets of Los Angeles County and Orange County primed the growth of the logistics industry which grew from 32,000 jobs to over 80,000 jobs between 1991 and 2008.

With the completion of the Alameda Corridor and the emergence of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as the largest ports in the U.S., shipping trans-Pacific goods from the booming Asian economies, San Bernardino County has evolved as the logistics and distribution hub for the 20 million resident Southern California market and into the rest of the nation. As the international economy recovers amidst tightening land availability for warehousing and transit, San Bernardino County is better positioned than other areas in the region to harness the opportunity to become an even more important logistics hub.

Interestingly, the closure of the George and Norton Air Force bases laid the ground work for the most extensive airport infrastructure in Southern California, thus promising an important role for the logistics industry in San Bernardino County as well as further opportunities in tourism.

In 1992, Ontario Airport served 6.1 million passengers annually and George Air Force Base in Victorville and Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino were military installations. In 1998, Ontario International Airport relocated to a new 265,000 square foot terminal and the passenger count climbed to 7.2 million passengers in 2005 before declining to 4.9 million in 2009. Freight tonnage at Ontario International Airport has declined recently to approximately 400,000 tons in 2009, still higher than the 300,000 tons of freight transported in 1992.

The two military bases have been redeveloped as the Southern California Logistics Airport and San Bernardino International airport. These airports provide access to freight, airplane maintenance services, and commercial and general aviation use.

The Future

What might the future hold for San Bernardino County? As high housing costs elsewhere in southern California prompt younger and moderate income residents to search for a home in the Inland Empire, and large facilities such as warehouses and airports need more available land, San Bernardino County will continue to play a prominent role in the larger region. But its future economy will be shaped by a number of critical assets including military facilities and federal lands.

Overall, the role of the federal government cannot be understated, given that the federal government owns 81.4% of the land of San Bernardino County and the State of California owns another 2.1% of the land. While national parks and military facilities add to the tourism and services components of the economy, these outside institutions also wield substantial influence over the future of the county given the sheer amount of land outside of the control of local officials and residents.

Military Facilities

The military is once again growing both in terms of jobs and purchasing power. Fort Irwin has increased to a daily population of over 22,000 personnel and Twentynine Palms Marine Base has almost 8,000 personnel. These military facilities have a rotating population of individuals who both add to the economy through residence, purchases and tax contributions, but also subtract from the greater benefit of the local area with so much land off¬limits to local control, wear-and-tear on government infrastructure and increased use of local government services.

Capital projects at these locations also impact the local and regional economy. Fort Irwin has plans to construct a Wind Turbine Energy Project on site, and Twentynine Palms is in the process of developing a large scale training center that requires more training land and airspace than is now available anywhere in the United States. A Center for Naval Analyses study shows that Twenty-nine Palms is the only location with sufficient land and airspace potential to meet the training requirements.

Bureau of Land Management Renewable Energy Projects

The Bureau of Land Management plays a large role in establishing land use patterns for ranching, mining, renewable energy and recreation. Notably and recently, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is gearing up to take advantage of incentive funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, by committing to full environmental analysis and public review for 31 renewable energy projects planned on BLM lands. According to BLM Director Bob Abbey, these projects are “the first generation of large scale renewable energy projects to be carefully sited on public lands over the next several years.” The initial project list includes 14 solar, seven wind, three geothermal, and seven transmission projects. Of these, three of the solar energy projects and two of the wind energy projects are located on BLM land in San Bernardino County.

National Recreational Facilities

The national forests and parks that lie within the county provide recreational and open space amenities as well as educational and volunteer opportunities for San Bernardino County residents. Further, visitors to the San Bernardino National Forest, Joshua Tree National Park, and Mojave National Preserve generate significant revenue for the local economy (www.nps.gov and www.fs.fed.us/).

Established in 1907, the San Bernardino National Forest was set aside as public land for the conservation of natural resources. Spanning 676,666 acres in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, the San Bernardino National Forest provides Southern California residents and visitors with year-round outdoor recreation opportunities and facilities, as well as providing valuable watershed protection. The forest administration has several departments including Fire, Police, Planning and Permits, Recreation, and Roads, along with three Ranger Districts, and a scientific arm that deals with issues relating to cultural, water, soil, wildlife, plants and trees. Joshua Tree National Park is 792,623 acres, 591,624 acres of which are designated as “wilderness.” In 2008, the base funding for Joshua Tree National Park was $5,035,900, and the park welcomed 1,397,554 visitors, a 7.2% increase in visitation from 2007.

At 1.6 million acres, Mojave National Preserve is the third largest National Park Service area outside of Alaska. In FY 2007 Mojave National Preserve had 541,000 visitors. The number of visitors to Mojave National Preserve has increased 42 percent over the past decade, with sharp increases from 1998 to 2003 followed by a leveling off in the following five years. While overall visitation has been flat recently, the population in surrounding counties is expected to double by 2030 and preserve staff is predicting an increase in visitation in the long term. The preserve’s funding from all sources grew from $1.3 million in 1996 to $5.9 million in 2007.

In 2006, the National Park Service conducted a study of how visitor spending impacts the community around the park. This report estimated that the 537,000 visitors to Mojave National Preserve spent $6.9 million in local businesses with non-local visitors accounting for over 90 percent of this total. Spending by non-locals supported an estimated 127 jobs, added $2.5 million to the incomes of local employees, and provided an additional $1.4 million in profits and sales taxes to the local economy.

Additionally, preserve operations had a positive impact on the local economy. Mojave National Preserve employed 64 people on a full-time, part-time, or seasonal basis in 2006, totaling $3 million in salary. In addition, the preserve approached local businesses for contracting and purchases. As local consumers, the employees of Mojave National Preserve also spend part of their paychecks at local businesses. These direct and secondary effects of preserve operations accounted for 92 local jobs, $4.7 million in payroll, and $660,000 in additional benefits to the local economy.

Conclusion

San Bernardino County’s unique geographic, environmental, and economic characteristics offer significant benefits to residents, employers, and visitors alike. The county’s economy has shifted from agriculture, military, and mining to construction, logistics, and business and professional services. The county has weathered the construction boom and bust, and closures of prominent military bases. While there are human and social costs with the recent economic downturn, military facilities are once again growing and affordable housing is likely to remain a stronghold for San Bernardino County. The county is also well positioned for expansive growth in the logistics industry and renewable energy, but the significant influence of federal government as the primary land owner in the county remains an ongoing challenge.

Economy

Is the High Desert at a Tipping Point in its Evolution?

Published by:

By Steve Pontell
La Jolla Institute

The tipping point is the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development.

Is the High Desert at a tipping point in its evolution?If so which way will it tip?

Macro-economic forces are hard at work throughout Southern California buffeted by the winds of government action and inaction. Each part of the region will have a part to play in shaping the future of the region as a whole. The real question for the High Desert is within the range of alternative futures that defines reality – Where do you want to be?

 

To answer this question you must first start with honest self assessment. San Bernardino County undertook this first step in the publishing of the Community Indicators Report for 2010. The whole report is available here: (http://www.sbcounty.gov/iUploads/CAO/Feature/Content/ComIndicatorsReport10Rev.pdf) with a part of it excerpted in this newsletter.

The following comments are my opinions based on the information in the report.

1. As the beneficiaries of some of the most beautiful land in all of San Bernardino County and the high quality of life that goes with it, how we steward our remaining land is of increasing importance. For years we have had the attitude that we have lots of land – land is cheap. The truth is 81.5% of San Bernardino County is owned by the Federal Government – most of it in the High Desert. A very small percentage of the total land is developable. We need to pay critical attention to maximizing the use of the land, preserving a way of life, and creating a future for our children and grand children.

2. People are your most valuable resource. Your economy can be no better than the skills and abilities of your people. Six out of the bottom eight school districts in the county are in the High Desert – this is not acceptable. The net effect over the long haul is limited economic development and limited opportunities for these children.

3. 20 years after the close of George AFB and millions of dollars spent, the region must ask itself if that most important of assets has been managed to the best of its potential. It and your connectivity to the rest of Southern California are critical factors in your economic opportunities.

4. Federal lands and the relationship with the Federal Government should be strategic and intentional. From the military to the forest federal decisions significantly affect the High Desert’s future.

Southern California will recover; some parts will do better than others. What part the High Desert plays in the regional economy will be determined by the quality of the place you are and the abilities of the people you are. Both of these are aspects of your future that you can affect.

At the tipping point? Which way will you go?

General Nonprofits

The Profit of Nonprofit

Published by:

By Vici Nagel, President/CEO
High Desert Resource Network

So why an article about nonprofit organizations in a publication designed to examine the economy of our region? Sure they help people, but aren’t nonprofits just small groups of volunteers with little to no money?

The answer to that question is a resounding, “NO!”

For many reasons nonprofit organizations are a vital component of our community’s infrastructure. The services they provide help ensure that our cities, towns and neighborhoods are good places to live, work, and raise families. Nonprofits work to mitigate a whole host of social woes that drive families and businesses out of communities. They work to combat substance abuse, domestic violence, and gangs. They keep families on their feet in times of need by providing food, clothing, and even shelter. Nonprofits care for the sick and elderly, as well as prepare the next generation of leaders.

But more than providing just the social fiber of the community, nonprofits also have a significant economic impact.

In my opinion, the term nonprofit should be replaced because it causes all sorts of misconceptions about the sector. It is a term that comes from the Internal Revenue Service, which basically means that these types of businesses may not distribute their excess revenues over expenses, (their profit) to owners. BUT, it does not mean that they cannot generate a profit. Surprise!

In fact, nonprofit organizations generate a great deal of revenues and economic activities that add to local economies.

Nonprofits by the numbers :

• Over 1.5 million nonprofits are registered in the United States.

• In 2005, the most recent year with complete data, the nonprofit sector overall employed 12.9 million people, or 10 percent of the workforce.

• From 1998 to 2005, nonprofit employment overall grew 16.4 percent, compared to 6.2 percent for overall employment in the U.S.

• Based on employment, the charitable sector is larger than the construction sector and larger than the finance, insurance and real-estate sectors combined, and it has nearly half as many employees as federal, state and local government combined.

• In 2009, nonprofits reported almost $2 trillion in total revenue and $4.2 trillion in assets.

Nonprofits are often overlooked when considering economic impact in communities because they generally do not pay corporate or property taxes. Important economic benefit, however, is generated by the large portion of employment nonprofits represent. At 10% of the workforce, nonprofit employees contribute significantly to federal, state, and local income taxes; property taxes; and sales tax revenues.

In addition, as nonprofits and their employees purchase goods and services they boost local economies. This multiplier effect helps local businesses grow, hire additional employees, and prosper. Plus, nonprofits themselves contribute to sales tax revenues as they expend dollars.

Savvy for-profit business owners understand the value of nonprofits as clients and look for ways to connect with them. Nonprofits purchase numerous goods and services, including things such as real estate, rental property, utilities, insurance, office supplies and equipment, financial services and printing to name a few. One way to connect with this market full of potential is through organizations such as mine, High Desert Resource Network. Often called the “charity chamber of commerce,” our monthly meetings are a great place to network and promote your services. If you would like to check us out, I invite you to attend one of our meetings as my guest. High Desert Resource Network meets the first Thursday of the month. Information about times and location can be found on our website (www.hdrnetwork.org).

Another economic benefit nonprofits provide to local economies lies in their attracting government dollars. In 2005, $351 billion worth of government grants and payments benefited communities through nonprofit organizations.

A misnomer about nonprofits is that they rely on charity, or begging for donations. In fact, today’s nonprofit organizations are professionally run “businesses” that in general generate 50% of their revenues from payments for services. The diagram below shows the overall revenue mix of the nonprofit sector.

Source: Urban Institute, Nat’l Center for Charitable Statistics, Nonprofit Almanac 2008

An added way nonprofits contribute to the economy is by helping businesses improve their bottom lines by making communities nicer places to live and work. Quality of life is enhanced through rich offerings of arts and culture, quality health care, a variety of recreation and leisure options, good schools and child care, a clean environment and humane and effective responses to those in need. Nonprofits nurture and develop a sense of belonging to a community, which is critical for growth and businesses attracting and retaining a dedicated workforce.

Occasionally I still run across folks (although well-meaning and good) that think nonprofits are generally an economic drain on the community. I hope in this article I have dispelled that notion and helped readers understand, and appreciate, the significant impact our nonprofit organizations have in our country and local communities. In the next issue we’ll examine the specifics of our region’s nonprofits. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions about nonprofits and our local social service sector.

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

Politics

Regulatory & Economic Equity for the High Desert

Published by:

By Eldon Heaston
Executive Director, MDAQMD

Just when you think it can’t get any worse in the regulatory world…it does. In the spring 2010 issue of the Bradco Report, I wrote about the impending problems with the implementation of AB32. To make matters worse for the High Desert, USEPA has now started a sanction clock to force the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District to implement Section 185 – a provision of the Clean Air Act which requires every non-attainment area that has not met the federal ozone standards by its attainment date (2007 in our case) – which imposes penalties of $9,000 per ton of emissions from stationary sources that emit above 80 percent of what they emitted in 2007.

This action could spell a death sentence for local cement manufacturing, an industry which has long been a pivotal contributor to the region’s economy as well as a major employer. What’s ironic is that local industrial sources are being penalized for a problem that is caused by neither them nor anyone else within our district. The fact of the matter is that mobile sources in the South Coast Air Basin are largely responsible for our nonattainment status and those sources are not within the control of the local air district. Even more ironic is the fact that the Federal Agency charged with imposing these draconian fees on High Desert businesses has not done its own job of reducing emissions required under the Clean Air Act for trains, planes, trucks and other mobile sources – the primary causes of the MDAQMD’s nonattainment status.

A closure by any one of our large industrial plants would decimate our already fragile economy in the High Desert, which is also plagued by some of the highest rates of unemployment in the country. It is unfortunate that officials with USEPA and CARB don’t recognize these problems and take steps to correct an unjust and ineffective course of action, regardless of it origin. Meanwhile, we at the MDAQMD are scrambling to come up with alternatives to this unfair and largely useless penalty. While I will continue to resist drinking the proverbial “Kool-Aid” of political correctness, the District will continue to work toward regulatory solutions which balance a healthful environment with sustainable economic growth for the benefit of our residents, businesses and the High Desert’s future.

Property

The BIA: Reigniting Recovery for the Epicenter of Affordability

Published by:

By James L. Previti of Frontier Homes
President, BIA Baldy View Chapter

During the great building boom earlier in the decade, the four Victor Valley incorporated cities of Victorville, Hesperia, Adelanto and Apple Valley accounted for well over a third of the 45,376 single and multi – family permits issued by the 24 incorporated cities and 59 unincorporated communities of San Bernardino County between 2005 and July of 2010. For the overall High Desert, that figure is considerably higher when factoring the over 6,000 total permits issued by the County of San Bernardino chiefly for High Desert cities is considered.

So returning homebuilding and the prosperity it generates to the High Desert to anchor the recovery in San Bernardino County has been a key focus of the Building Industry Association (BIA) Baldy View Chapter as the High Desert will continue to be the epicenter of affordability for Southern California home buyers.

“This is once again going to be the most affordable region in Southern California,” said BIA Baldy View Chapter Past President Todd Tatum of the Victorville – based American Housing Group.

“When the economy does turn around, home building will come roaring back up here.”

According to the most recent data, the prognosis for High Desert recovery is “slightly better than guarded optimism,” added Russ Valone of MarketPointe Realty Advisors.

Even now, “The Victor Valley is starting to pick back up and increase its market share again.”

While this year’s building activity countywide was slightly diminished by unexpected rainfall and the expiration of state and federal tax credits that buttressed the 2009 housing market, a panel of home building experts also voiced cautious optimism for the housing market’s recovery at the BIA Baldy View Inland Empire Housing Outlook 2010 Mid – Year Update in Ontario in July.

Home builders “are starting to see a glimpse of hope,” said moderator Mark Baud of Real Estate Economics, citing a “glimmer of job gains that we think will continue through 2011”. These gains, he added, should be followed by year – over – year job growth which should begin in the first quarter of 2011 and steadily increase to the point where demand will meet supply by 2015.

Baud noted additional positive signs in the regional economy such as reductions in mortgage defaults and reduced inventories of distressed properties by banks, surpluses of which are estimated to be depleted by 2014 in the Inland Empire. Baud added that foreclosures are trending downward and contributing to a housing market recovering in “fits and starts.”

Most of the panel agreed that, despite the slow recovery, 2010 has been a good year to date with affordable homes attracting more first time homebuyers and increased traffic in new home communities. While new home designs are trending downwards in terms of size, a healthy market remains for larger, luxury homes in the upper end of the market.

Valone said new home sales doubled over last year at this time from 154 new home sales to 314 in the second half of 2010, because many home buyers responded to the final months of the federal tax credits. Skewing the figures though, is “how prices have moderated. In the first half of 2009, the average was $233,197 for 2,287 square feet. In the first half of 2010, we see that the price has dropped to about $195,000 for about 2,094 square feet” due to home builders creating smaller, more affordable products to meet the demands of emerging demographics and an aging population.

“Part of the drop that we saw in the first half of 2010 really occurred in the second quarter with more projects offering smaller square footages. The unit size got smaller and the price went down.”

Because the newer Victor Valley projects that are selling are “slowly creeping down” in both physical size and cost, “it seems as if we look at sales by size range, smaller units and more affordable units are really driving the price range.”

Another aspect changing the landscape of home building is the dramatic 50 percent drop in inventory levels to less than 2,800 products, he added. The result is that competition increases with builders offering significantly fewer alternatives for home buyers.

“Smaller phases, fewer actively selling subdivisions – this is making for a more competitive market place. A year ago there were 65 active subdivisions in the Victor Valley – now, that number has been cut in half,” Valone said.

“If we look back a year ago, 23 percent of active developments in the region were done by public builders – 15 out of 65 subdivisions. If we come back now and look, it’s eight out of 32 subdivisions. The number of subdivisions provided by public companies has decreased, but the percentage by publics has gone up from 23 to 25 percent. From a statistical standpoint, the drop in projects by publics is less than by private builders.”

In 2009, Valone cautioned home builders that price point realignment in closer – in or ‘down the hill’ submarkets such as Rialto/Fontana or Colton/San Bernardino offered more affordably priced products and could act as intercepts to inhibit homebuilding in the High Desert.

However, in 2010, some of those submarkets saw a little bit of price point increases – widening the gap and making the commute to Victor Valley more viable.

“In a sense,” Valone said, “some of the closer – in submarkets have started reversing the trend – offering bigger units while Victor Valley is starting to offer more affordable products, making the commute worthwhile”.

Over the course of the downturn, the BIA Baldy View Region has focused on mitigating many of the causes of the high cost of building that contributed directly to the downturn in the first place – particularly in pursuing the Chapter’s Housing Economic Stimulus Package that involves fee reductions, fee deferrals to the issuance of certificates of occupancy, and options to utilize liens as security for improvements in – lieu of construction bonds. The package has received local media support and resulted in reductions and deferrals of fees and streamlining of community development processes.

The chapter continues to coordinate with High Desert cities to implement phase – in programs to keep fees at reasonable levels until permit activity increases, successfully coordinated with County of San Bernardino to adjust user fees related to development in conjunction with the County budget pertaining to deposit amounts and costs for staff time. The Chapter also coordinated with the City of Victorville and the County of San Bernardino to create ordinances to replace construction bonds with liens on dormant projects.

“Given the reduction in prices over the past few years, realigning city and school district fees based on square footage rather than valuation is another issue homebuilders and local governments must address,” said Todd Leibl of Victory Homes.

“The percentage we pay for fees is too high for the homes. If I’m selling a home for $200,000 now, five years ago that home was worth $330,000 and I’m paying the same in fees. The fees haven’t come down and that’s a problem”.

“We have to get the cities and the school districts to reevaluate their fee structures with the development community,” added Leibl. “The earlier they come to the table, the faster we can solve the problem of building homes and putting people back to work. It’s all about jobs.”

“The silver lining of the housing market’s collapse nationwide may be the impact on the traditional adversarial relationship between the building industry and local governments,” Tatum said.

At the beginning of the downturn, city and county governments tended to view revenue streams created by homebuilding as budgetary mechanisms. Tatum added, “When homebuilding just stopped, it was hard to convince the cities that if they lower the fees they might get something in return.”

However, as the housing market correction lingered, local jurisdictions realized that encouraging home building by reducing and deferring fees and streamlining permitting processes could staunch the hemorrhage of jobs and revenue streams. “That understanding,” Tatum added, “bodes well for homebuilders when a full – fledged recovery begins.”

“I think they’re going to stick with us when the time comes.”

Tatum cautioned that private independent home builders continue to confront challenges with tighter credit markets.

“We’re not building any houses now because the price of land, the cost to build a house and added costs of fees doesn’t add all that together. The retail hasn’t hit a price point yet that allows us to build a house.”

“Larger public builders and well – capitalized private builders are still building in the High Desert, but in much reduced numbers,” he added. Until the credit market loosens up to enable smaller production firms to secure traditional construction loans, private builders are not going in to cash in on the boom when it starts – the big publics are going to own the market. The banks will not loosen up their lending standards until they’re forced to.

Laying the groundwork for that recovery has also created partnerships with local agencies to ensure key environmental issues are addressed to pave the road to recovery. In August, the BIA partnered with regional elected officials; and representatives from virtually every city and water agency in the county joined together to present the Fourth Annual San Bernardino County Water Conference in Ontario.

The BIA and sponsors brought together this diverse array of stakeholders to identify and implement long – range cutting – edge solutions that will ensure a reliable, sustainable long – term water supply to sustain and enhance our region’s quality of life.

Describing the event as creating “a growing base of collaboration” to confront issues and create a lasting impact on the region’s growth, General Manager Kirby Brill of the co – sponsoring Mojave Water District summed up the event as an example of the progress we have made.

“I don’t think this discussion could have taken place with this level of expertise and engagement four years ago.”

Economy General

Is This Why the Study of Economics is Called the ‘Dismal Science’?

Published by:

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

The graph in Exhibit A compares the relative pattern of employment change in Southern California during the recession that began in 1990 with the trend (expressed in terms of indices) of employment for the recession that began in 2006/2007. The graph provides some good news and some bad news. The good news is that there was a significant uptick in the trend of employment in May, June, and July of 2010. The bad news is that the employment dislocation is significantly more severe this time that it was in the 1990’s recession, which implies that employment recovery and, therefore, improved housing market conditions are still a considerable time into the future.

 Exhibit A

Our analyses over the last 40 or 50 years shows a strong correlation between household formation and nonagricultural wage and salary employment based on data collected by monthly surveys of employers in all parts of the U.S. Another form of employment data correlates less closely with household formation but continues to be of interest because of changes in the pattern of employment as between establishment employment and “other” employment. “Other” employment includes self-employed, commission sales, etc. Data for the second category of employment are generated by household surveys in which respondents are asked to identify the number of employed persons in the household and the number of household residents who are unemployed but who would like to have a job. The household survey is the source of information regarding the overall unemployment level.

A large proportion of High Desert residents represent spillover demand from employment centers in the more urban parts of Southern California. For this reason, overall economic trends in Southern California are especially important to the High Desert’s real estate sector.

In the most recent twelve-month period which ended July 2010, employment in Southern California (Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Diego Counties) based on the establishment survey declined by approximately 43,700 jobs. This is significantly better than the comparable figure a year earlier. Between July 2008 and July 2009, Southern California’s nonagricultural wage and salary establishment-based employment decreased by 616,600 jobs.

Overall, between July 2006 and July 2010, nonagricultural wage and salary employment reported in the establishment survey decreased by 762,800 jobs. The largest decrease in absolute numbers was in Los Angeles County followed by the two-county Inland Empire and Orange County, in that order. In terms of percentage decline from July 2006, the most significant reductions in local employment opportunities were in the Inland Empire—13.98 percent. The second largest percentage decrease in employment was in Orange County at a little over 10.0 percent. There was a similar percentage decline in Ventura County. San Diego County, which entered the recession earlier than the rest of Southern California, experienced a relatively modest decrease in local employment as defined by the establishment survey—a reduction of 6.53 percent.

While the establishment-based survey data show an overall decrease between July 2006 and July 2010 of about 765,000 jobs, the comparable figure based on the household survey was a decrease of 588,400 jobs. Measured decrease in employment was more evident in percentage terms and in absolute numbers on the basis of the establishment survey of nonagricultural wage and salary employment than it was in terms of the household survey of the number of employed people. This suggests that many people employed in less formal types of economic activity as well as the self-employed and those people working “off the books” fared relatively better in this recession in percentage terms and in absolute numbers than did people employed in a more traditional type of business environment. In any case, these declines represent support for 400,000 to 500,000 households (housing consumers).

Acknowledging the ambiguity inherent in the household surveys, it is still interesting to note that during this four-year period ended July 2010, the number of people employed in venues other than the types of establishments surveyed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics actually increased by 174,400 jobs, while the number of people employed in more traditional employer/employee situations decreased by 762,800. Currently, the non-establishment (informal) types of employees represent a larger percentage of total employment than they have at any other time since we began this particular time series in January 1990. Obviously, many people who lose their jobs find other ways to generate income—as consultants, small time vendors, service providers, etc. The informal economy is growing concurrent with a decline in the formal economy. This creates a somewhat atypical economic environment. As noted above, correlations between employment and household formation are strongest for the definitions of employment based on formal establishment-type employment opportunities. Although the less formal types of employment are in many cases viable, securing home financing, etc., is probably more difficult for this type of employee than for the conventional employee of an established employer.

Historically, the housing sector has “led” the U.S. economy out of recession. This long-term historical relationship, however, may not be valid in the current situation. Because of the aggressive pro-homeownership, policies of the Bush Administration and strong proponents of homeownership such as Senator Dodd and Representative Barney Frank, in addition to the banking sector’s emphasis on low-income and minority homeownership, the homeownership ratio in the U.S. reached new highs just prior to the onset of the recession. Pent-up demand for homeownership that was a source of support for housing markets during previous recoveries may well be substantially smaller this time than has been typical of the economic cycles since World War II. This suggests that full-on recovery from the recession in terms of its impact on the High Desert’s real estate and housing market may be delayed somewhat more than would be expected on the basis of comparisons between this recession and the one that began in 1990.

As shown in Exhibit B, decrease in building permit activity during this recession has been substantially more dramatic than during the 1990 recession, especially in terms of its impact on the High Desert’s homebuilding sector. As shown in Exhibit B, building permit activity on the High Desert began to exhibit significant improvement in 2001 and 2002, roughly ten to twelve years after the onset of the 1990 recession, suggesting that if comparable relationships prevail this time around, strong recovery reflected in building permit activity may not be evident until after 2015. This is not a happy thought.

Exhibit B

On the other hand, throughout Southern California during the first seven months of 2010, more new units were authorized by permit than during the first seven months of 2009, suggesting that a total of perhaps 20,000 new units will be authorized overall in Southern California in 2010. Although this is an improvement over about 16,400 units authorized during 2009, it is well below the levels observed in 2004 and 2005 of over 100,000 units a year authorized throughout Southern California.

As shown in Exhibit C, residential building permits authorized on the High Desert for the first seven months of 2010 almost match the full-year figure for 2009, suggesting an overall total for the current year on the order of 500 units. Even though this represents a significant improvement from 2009, it is a far cry from the levels of residential building permit activity shown in Exhibit C for the Years 2004, 2005, and 2006. Exhibit D illustrates the relationship graphically.

Exhibit C

With the exception of significant industrial development activity authorized by permit in Victorville from 2007 through 2010, virtually no nonresidential activity is reflected in the nonresidential building permit data for the High Desert in recent years. As shown in Exhibit E, however, the very low levels of nonresidential development in the High Desert constitute a large proportion of the total nonresidential development activity authorized by permit countywide. Actual figures for nonresidential permit activity in the High Desert as compared with the county overall are shown in Exhibit F.

Exhibit E

Exhibit F

Through July 2010, employment decline in Southern California continued to be dramatic in construction and manufacturing. Construction employment decreased by nearly 9.0 percent over the twelve months ended July 2010, while manufacturing employment decreased by 2.71 percent over the same interval. Major employment increases over this twelve months are evident in information, educational and health services, and leisure and hospitality. Government employment decreased significantly over the twelve-month interval throughout the Southern California area. The largest decreases in government employment were in local government education and in city government. Federal government jobs continued to grow throughout the Southern California region over the twelve months ended July 2010.

The best opportunities in the High Desert’s real estate sector currently appear likely to involve strategic acquisition of existing properties expected to exhibit dramatic improvement when recovery finally gets here. Anecdotes occasionally give us hope…”it could happen.” Several parcels in Victorville with which the author is familiar that were acquired in 1997 at a price of ±$0.65 per square foot sold in 2005 at prices of ±$4.50 per square foot—a nice return for a patient investor—or at least a lucky one.

General

Welcome from the Publisher

Published by:

I wish to welcome our current and future subscribers to the 47th edition of The Bradco High Desert Report, the only economic overview of the High Desert region, covering the northern portion of San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire. We more specifically address economic issues affecting the cities of Adelanto, Barstow, Hesperia, Victorville and the town of Apple Valley.

As always, we wish to thank all of our committed article suppliers and our newsletter sponsors for their continued commitment to our endeavor, in our attempt to find positive, factual, and interesting information that relates to the High Desert economy.

Not only are we excited about this current edition, we are extremely happy with the results from our 46th edition, the largest edition ever printed at 36-pages. The 46th edition, which is available for those online (www.thebradcocompanies.com/register), depicted a discussion about the proposed Desert X-Press, the high speed rail concept and the American Magline Group (AMG) proposed project that would connect Southern California (the Victor Valley) to Las Vegas. If you didn’t get a chance to read this very exciting edition, we have archived it at www.thebradcocompanies.com.

As I have said for the past few editions, I strongly believe that our world, our nation, our state, the Inland Empire, and the High Desert region are currently challenged with a very serious financial crisis, a crisis that we have never seen before. As publisher of The Bradco High Desert Report, I still believe the “glass is half full”, as evidence by our continued attempt to monitor the High Desert region and to make information available to those that have an inherent interest within the High Desert region.

We have noticed a pick up in commercial/retail leasing and some additional interest in the purchase of commercial, office, and industrial properties that are priced appropriately in relationship to the Southern California market.

Effective with the 45th edition, the Bradco High Desert Report, we are continually sending out nearly 25,000 “free” electronic copies for those that wish to subscribe for current and future editions. During this last quarter, over 1,578 people signed up for a free subscription to the Bradco High Desert Report. We wish to welcome you to our company, and we look forward to being of service to you for years to come.

We always appreciate hearing from our close friends and one of my all time idols, Dr. Alfred Gobar, Chairman of Alfred Gobar Associates (Anaheim). We would like to re-welcome the Building Industry Association-Baldy View Chapter and an article by Mr. James L. Previty. We always appreciate the commentary we receive from the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District and its Executive Director, Mr. Eldon Heaston, and wish to welcome Ms. Vici Nagel, President and CEO of the High Desert Resource Network on their discussion about non-profits. Why are non-profits important? There’s nearly 800 non-profits within the High Desert region, many of those need more moneys than they’ve needed in the past, and we are strong supporters of those organizations and agencies that are trying to help those in need or those agencies attempting to approve our local economy. I’m honored that my friend, Mr. Hasan Ikhrata, Executive Director of the Southern California Association of Governments has contributed an article about SB375 and what affect that it has on business.

We’ve always appreciated comments from our First District Supervisor, First District Supervisor, Mr. Brad Mitzelfelt, as well as our favorite water agency, the Mojave Water Agency and its Community Liaison Officer, Mr. Michael Stevens.

I recently took an extended tour of Victor Valley College to see its first hand expansion results and wish to thank Mr. Bill Greulich and its Interim President, Dr. Chris O’Hearn for better educating me on the many positive aspects of Victor Valley Community College and what impact did it have towards job creation and training within the High Desert region.

We have now asked that Dr. Gary Thomas, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, report to us on a regular basis about progress being made within the county school districts and the High Desert region. We also wish to welcome Mr. George Passentino, Managing Partner of Passentino Andersen Communications, and its recent update on the Victor Valley Waste Water Reclamation Authority (VVWRA), as well as welcoming Mr. Paul Granillo, President and CEO of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP).

Congratulations are in order to Mr. Kevin Kane and the Victor Valley Transportation Authority for its ongoing expansion and current construction projects. A new article supplier and a gentleman that we hold in high acclaim, Mr. Bob Thompson of Advanced Listing Services gives our readers a better “understanding of the absorption rate” and the sale of single family homes throughout the High Desert region. Bob is one of the brightest people that we deal with, when it comes to truly understanding “absorption.” We again, thank the Town of Apple Valley, the City of Hesperia, the City of Victorville for their submittals and look forward to supplying information on the City of Barstow’s Economic Development updates in the 48th edition of the Bradco High Desert Report.

We sincerely hope you enjoy reading this publication, which began in May of 1993. We appreciate any and all comments. Please forward your comments to info@thebradcocompanies.com or call us at (760) 951-5111 x100. Again, thank you for taking the time to read this publication that we would not be able to publish without the commitment of all of our sponsors.

General

Welcome from the Publisher

Published by:

I wish to welcome our current and future subscribers to the 46th edition of The Bradco High Desert Report, the only quarter economic overview of the High Desert region, covering the northern portion of San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire. We more specifically address economic issues, affecting the cities of Adelanto, the Town of Apple Valley, Barstow, Hesperia and Victorville.

As always, we wish to thank all of our article sponsors and our newsletter sponsors for their continued commitment to the Bradco High Desert Report, in our attempt to find positive, factual and interesting information that relates to the High Desert economy.

With the creation of the 45th edition (Fall 2009), we notified our current and future subscribers that the Bradco High Desert Report has become “green” and is now available online, at no charge to any and all parties, who have an inherent interest within the High Desert economy. This includes residential, industrial, office and retail investors, major land owners, banks, title companies, escrow companies, engineering firms, market research firms, local businesses and local citizens who wish to stay apprised of the many positive aspects that affect the High Desert region.

As Publisher of The Bradco High Desert Report, I still believe “the glass is half full”, as evidence by our continued attempt to monitor the High Desert region to make information available to everyone that has an inherent interest within this region.

If this is the first time that you’ve received this newsletter or have received it in the past via U.S. Mail, you may wish to visit The Bradco Companies website at http://www.thebradcocompanies.com/register. Complete the short input form to receive future editions of The Bradco High Desert Report, press releases regarding major projects, our quarterly vacancy/occupancy numbers for the cities of Adelanto, Apple Valley, Barstow, Hesperia and Victorville, which cover retail, office and industrial.

During the last quarter, we have now made this newsletter available to over 7,300 Southern California based commercial, industrial, office and retail brokers, who are located in Ventura, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Imperial, and San Diego counties at no charge.

It’s been made available to over 600 commercial, industrial, and land brokers throughout the High Desert region, those located in the region or from out of the region and nearly 1,800 residential agents that are involved in the sale of single family and residential properties throughout the region.

I also want to thank my good friend, mentor and 46th edition contributor, Dr. Alfred J. Gobar, Chairman of Alfred Gobar Associates for his continual commitment in analyzing the High Desert economy.

The 46th edition is the largest edition ever created for The Bradco High Desert Report since our inception in May of 1993. I would like to personally thank Mr. Tom Stone of Desert Xpress for his letter and his link to their proposed project that would link the City of Victorville to the City of Las Vegas, Mr. Thomas Bordeaux, Senior Transportation Manager-American Magline Group (AMG) for responding to the 22 questions regarding their proposed California/Nevada Interstate Maglev project, our article contributors, including Mr. Michael Stevens, Mojave Water Agency Community Liaison Officer with his article, titled “It’s Water That Drives Our Economy”, Mr. Michael D. Reynolds, Director for The Concorde Group regarding the Inland Empire housing markets and what effect that they have on the High Desert region, 36th District Assemblyman, Mr. Steve Knight and his article, “The Real Job Creators of California”, Mr. Darin Cooke, Caljens District 8, Public Affairs Officer and his article titled, “CalTrans Past and Future High Desert Construction Projects.”

These article suppliers are augmented by our longtime sponsor, Mr. Eldon Heaston, Executive Director for Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District (ADAQMD) and his article titled, “ADAQMD Urges Governor To Reconsider AB32”. AB32 will have a very serious effect on businesses and the citizens in California and cost implement and could challenge the High Desert’s local economy.

We also welcome Mr. Gary Thomas, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, and a gentleman, whose leadership follows the former Superintendent, Dr. Herb Fischer in implementing those programs that will ensure a competitive, educational process and will help our county economy with students that achieve the necessary educational requirements to maintain our competitiveness. Again, many thanks to Gary for what you’re doing and your entire staff.

Victor Valley Community College continues to grow with the article by Mr. Bill Greulich and Mr. Al McQuilkin, titled “Victor Valley Community College News”. We always appreciate the time and energy that our First District Supervisor, Mr. Brad Mitzelfelt, San Bernardino County Supervisor of the First District gives in his article, titled “Southern California Logistics Airport Leads the Way in Job Creation” and amendment by the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) in the article prepared by Ms. Jane Dreher, titled “Transportation Projects Planned for the High Desert”. Lastly, we’re pleased to have updates by Mr. Mike Borja, Management Analyst for the City of Barstow, Mrs. Kathy Martin with the Town of Apple Valley, Mrs. Lisa K. LaMere, Economic Development Analyst for the City of Hesperia and lastly, Mrs. Yvonne Hester, City of Victorville Economic Development Department.

We wish each and every one of you reading this the very best and will be preparing the 47th edition over the next 4 months. Please direct any comments and/or suggestions to Mr. Joseph W. Brady, CCIM, SIOR, Publisher of The Bradco High Desert Report at jbrady@thebradcocompanies.com. Don’t forget to sign up for your free copy of the newsletter, economic forecast, or news about other community issues that we believe are paramount by visiting http://www.thebradcocompanies.com/register.

City Updates

Town of Apple Valley Update

Published by:

By Kathie Martin
Marketing and Public Affairs Officer

The Yucca Loma Bridge
The number one transportation priority of the Town of Apple Valley since 2005, the Yucca Loma Bridge has progressed from a 40-year long discussion, to a shovel-ready project breaking ground in 2010. Included in the circulation elements of Apple Valley, Victorville, and the County of San Bernardino, and a component of adopted regional transportation plans and models, the Yucca Loma Bridge is a necessary and much anticipated project that will improve east/west travel across the High Desert.
Why is it needed?
Regional east/west routes such as Bear Valley Road and Highway 18 are operating at or above capacity, and traffic numbers will continue to increase as build-out progresses across the Victor Valley. The time will come when no amount of improvements to existing corridors will relieve the increasing traffic congestion. Construction of a new east/west corridor is needed.
The Yucca Loma Bridge/ Yates Road/ Green Tree Boulevard / La Mesa/ Nisqualli Interchange corridor is essential for the future vitality of the High Desert region, to ensure congestion does not negatively affect the entire Victor Valley. The I-215 Freeway in San Bernardino currently carries approximately 85,000 vehicles a day, and is under construction for critically needed capacity-enhancing improvements; in comparison, traffic volume on Bear Valley Road, particularly in Victorville west of the Mojave River, is 60,000 to 70,000 vehicles a day. Only the re-distribution of existing traffic along a new east/west corridor will reduce congestion and prepare us for future growth on a region-wide basis.
How will the bridge impact existing traffic patterns?
The Yucca Loma Bridge/ Yates Road/ Green Tree Boulevard Corridor Project will not generate new vehicle trips, but new development certainly will. The project is needed to help relieve today’s traffic on Bear Valley Road, as well as the Palmdale Interchange, and to prepare for the future traffic that will come as development occurs.
Traffic studies predict traffic volumes and then determine the improvements needed to mitigate that anticipated volume. Special traffic studies can evaluate shifts in traffic patterns as a result of a particular improvement, and can show the “before and after.” The Town of Apple Valley commissioned one such study to show the trip distribution impact of the Yucca Loma Bridge/ Yates Road/ Green Tree Boulevard Project, and the La Mesa/ Nisqualli Interchange, on the existing Bear Valley Road/I-15 interchange.
The simulation shows that Bear Valley Road becomes a manageable and nearly free-flowing major roadway as a result of the implementation of this project. It can be predicted that the Palmdale interchange would show a similar improvement as well with the Corridor in place. Traffic patterns will shift to use the La Mesa/ Nisqualli Interchange and avoid the historic congestion areas.
Trip distribution in the Victor Valley Region will re-adjust, finding alternative routes that can provide the best balance of time required, distance traveled and congestion avoided.
What about in the interim, with the corridor completed through Ridgecrest?
To maintain the improved level of service into the future, the additional mitigations identified in the Project Traffic Study, and in the Town’s, City’s, and County’s General Plan Circulation Elements, will need to be installed. The order of completion should be driven by where and when development actually occurs. Each agency has the authority to determine this order of priority for its own jurisdiction.
In the short term, it is important to remember that phase one of the project, which includes the bridge, Yates Road past Mojave Narrows Park, and a connection to Ridgecrest Road, will not increase traffic traveling east and west across the valley, it will only redistribute it. It is anticipated that the bridge would open with 6000 to 8000 cars per day, cars which otherwise would have approached Ridgecrest from the east or west on Bear Valley Road.
What is the status of the project?
The Preliminary Design and the DRAFT Environmental Documents (ED) for the Yucca Loma Bridge/ Yates Road/ Green Tree Boulevard project have been completed. Public Circulation of the ED ended on March 11, 2010, with final ED approval and project approval by May, and final design and right-of-way acquisition to follow shortly after. Apple Valley has the funding for the first phase of the project to begin in late fall of 2010.
For more information visit
www.AppleValley.org and click on Project Updates.