General Water

Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority’s Apple Valley and Hesperia Subregional Reclamation Plants Scheduled for Completion in Early 2017

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Victor Valley Wastewater Reclama­tion Authority is so much more than a wastewater treatment plant. VVWRA is more like a resource recovery facil­ity that protects public health by taking the incoming waste and transforming it into something useful. With the help of nearly $200 million in capital proj­ects, funded in part by more than $71 million in grants, along with forward thinking planning and management, VVWRA creates millions of gallons per day of clean recycled water, gener­ates sustainable green energy and pro­duces high nutrient bio-solids that are used for land application. But it wasn’t always like this. In the last ten years, VVWRA has gone from a facility that was essentially dead and facing mul­tiple water quality violations, to a plant that is recognized as a leader in both the renewable energy and wastewater industries.

When Logan Olds took over as General Manager of VVWRA in 2006, he had no idea of the headaches he inherited. But it soon became apparent the plant was not operating properly and the vi­olations were piling up. And to make matters worse, VVWRA was broke. A wastewater plant is essentially a large living organism that if not operating properly can get sick and die. With that grim picture, VVWRA was in its death throes, but tough decisions made by innovative managers helped turn this once struggling utility around. To­day, VVWRA has 46 employees and stands on the verge of revolutionizing an evolving industry.

Grants have played a big part in VVWRA’s many capital projects. Thanks to more than $71 million dol­lars in grants, VVWRA has launched an industry leading waste to energy program, made massive repairs to the sewer interceptor through the Upper Mojave Narrows and started construc­tion on two water recycling facilities VVWRA is the Victor Valley’s single largest piece of public infrastructure. The main plant in Victorville is more than 400 acres, with 42 miles of sewer line interceptors throughout the val­ley. VVWRA serves the businesses and residents in Victorville, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Spring Valley Lake and Oro Grande. With construction of subregional water reclamation plants in Apple Valley and Hesperia, VVWRA is switching from a regional treatment model to a distributed treatment model. Currently, all wastewater is treated at the main VVWRA plant in Victorville. The new subregionals will allow for treatment of wastewater closer to the source, while all solids will continue to the main plant to produce energy. The benefits are two fold; first, it ex­pands VVWRA’s capacity in the in­terceptors, which will help delay the need for extremely expensive upgrades at the Victorville plant; secondly, the subregionals will supply a new source of reliable recycled water within those communities. When completed in early 2017, each of these facilities will pro­vide up to one million gallons of re­cycled water per day for above-ground irrigation in Apple Valley and Hespe­ria. The recycled water in Apple Valley will be piped to the Apple Valley Golf Course where it will be used to water the grounds. Similarly, the recycled water in Hesperia will be used at the Hesperia Golf Course and to irrigate the grounds at Civic Plaza. The combined planning and construction cost for the subregionals is estimated at $80 million dollars. That is a lot of money. However, VVWRA and its member agencies have managed to obtain $21 million dollars in grants, which essentially reduces the overall cost by 26 percent. That saves local communities and residents money. And from an economic standpoint, the subregionals will also provide VVWRA with more interceptor capacity, which means the Victor Valley can accom­modate growth throughout the area.

VVWRA has become known industry-wide for its groundbreaking Waste to Energy program, a program where nat­urally occurring methane, also known as biogas, is created at the plant and used to generate electricity. The pro­gram has been made possible by a com­bination of grants, Southern California Edison incentive rebates, and a unique public/private partnership that resulted in no additional cost to rate payers. VVWRA teamed with Anaergia Inc. to build the Omnivore system. Anaergia’s proprietary recuperative thickener was connected to a retrofitted, formerly decommissioned anaerobic digester. The result has been a dramatic increase in the production of bio-gas. VVWRA is collecting the bio-gas produced by Om­nivore, as well as the other digesters on the site, and is using it to fuel a pair of 800 kwh 2G generators. This elimi­nates the need for expensive natural gas that was previously used to power equipment. The 2G generators are ca­pable of producing enough electricity to meet all VVWRA power needs, es­sentially making the plant carbon and energy neutral. In addition, VVWRA has a long term power agreement with Anaergia, locking in that power at a much lower rate than traditional electri­cal service. Plans are also in the works for installation of a microgrid and bat­tery system that would allow VVWRA to store and supply itself with a more reliable stream of green energy. This project is being paid for entirely by a state grant from the California Energy Commission. VVWRA foresees a time in the future that they could even ex­port power to the grid. While there are still a few legislative and technical ob­stacles to make that happen, VVWRA management believes this is a prom­ising source of green power that could have a huge impact on power genera­tion both here in the US and globally.

One of the biggest challenges VVWRA has faced over the last ten years came in December of 2010 when a series of heavy storms severely damaged the main sewer line in the Upper Mojave Narrows. The incident was declared a Federal emergency and a temporary emergency bypass line was installed in just 9 days. Since that time, VVWRA has been working with engineers and construction teams to build a permanent sewer line that avoids environmentally sensitive areas in the Upper Narrows. This project has proven to be costly and dangerous. After a number of unforeseen setbacks and design changes, the project is nearly completed. It’s estimated it will cost $41 million dollars by the time it is completed in mid-2016. However, the vast majority of that ex­pense is being picked up by the Fed­eral Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with just a small percentage being the responsibility of VVWRA’s member agencies and ratepayers.

VVWRA has also made a number of improvements to its regional plant in recent years, including installation of a state of the art Aqua Diamond fil­tering system and an ultraviolet (UV) disinfection building. UV disinfection is now the final step for the recycled water before it is released into the Mo­jave River. UV disinfection uses powerful lights to essentially disinfect any remaining organisms, making it impos­sible for them to reproduce. The UV system has allowed VVWRA to stop using chemicals like chlorine to disin­fect the recycled water.

The many projects that VVWRA has embarked on in recent years have been focused on two issues: to protect public health and the environment. The better VVWRA is able to do that, whether through technological improvements or repairs and upgrades, the better it is able to serve and protect our commu­nity. Secondly, VVWRA has made a conscious effort to seek the best solu­tions for problems now and anticipate issues related to growth in the future. They have done that with the goal of keeping costs down as much as possi­ble. VVWRA has aggressively sought out grants, alternative funding, rebates and public\private partnerships to pro­vide the Victor Valley with the best possible service at the most reason­able price. Wastewater is something that most people don’t think about, but VVWRA takes its job very seriously and is dedicated to keeping the public’s trust.

General Politics

Building Opportunity and Time for the High Desert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Water

Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Stormwater Program

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By Patty Z. Kouyoumdjian, Executive Officer

The Lahontan Regional Water Qual­ity Control Board, known as the La­hontan Water Board, is a state agency whose mission is to protect surface and groundwater uses for current and future benefit of all Californians. The board has seven members appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. Staff offices are located in South Lake Tahoe and Victorville.

Implementing a number of federal and state regulatory programs, board decisions directly or indirectly affect most all residents within the Lahon­tan Region. The Lahontan Region encompasses the Great Basin portion of California. It extends from Ore­gon south to the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains and eastward from the crest of the Sierra Nevadas to Nevada. Within San Bernardino County, numerous board actions are taken to protect and improve the state’s waters. This article’s focus is the Stormwater Program.

Stormwater Program Requirements

Statewide general orders (e.g. permits) exist for three main stormwater pro­gram categories; industrial, construc­tion, and municipal. Permit links are on the State Water Resources Control Board website at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/pro­grams/stormwater/. Coverage under all permits is obtained through the SMARTS database, which can be ac­cessed at that website.

Construction Activities

Construction permit coverage is re­quired for any land disturbance great­er than one acre. Note that disturbed area, not project size, is the governing factor. Additionally, project compo­nents forming a larger plan of devel­opment must be considered together. Minimizing sediment transport im­pacts is the primary permit objec­tive. For each project a site-specific Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, or SWPPP, must be prepared by a Qualified Stormwater Develop­er. It must identify appropriate Best Management Practices, or BMPs, that will be installed and maintained by a Qualified Stormwater Developer for both the construction and post-construction periods.

Porous concrete makes up part of a new parking lot in Victorville at Valley Hi Toyota (darker pavement)

Porous concrete makes up part of a new parking lot in Victorville at Valley Hi Toyota (darker pavement)

The water board’s key objective is en­suring that effective post-construction BMPs are in place at the time permit termination is granted. The permit requires that the post-construction runoff is equal to or less than pre-construction runoff and that runoff does not cause downstream effects, including erosion or modification of drainage patterns, swales or stream channels. A site-specific hydrology calculation must be done to verifythat the post-construction BMPs will be effective at meeting this requirement. While there are a wide range of BMPs that may be proposed, the Lahontan Water Board promotes BMPs appropriate to the arid high desert climate, using Low Impact Develop­ment, or LID, principles discussed below. Effective post-construction BMPs must be proposed in the proj­ect design. Numerous termination requests have been declined by the water board where post-construction BMPs were not in place. To speed the termination process, proponents should include photographs show­ing the periphery of the construc­tion site, especially runoff locations. Photographs of the interior drainage features, unless integral to post-construction BMPs such as prefabricated infiltration chambers, are less impor­tant.

Industrial Activities

Industrial permit coverage is required based on industry type or Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes. For manufacturing facilities cover­age is required for SIC codes 20XX through 39XX and 4221 through 4225. Permitted facilities must prepare and implement a SWPPP that identifies appropriate BMPs. The permit re­quires stormwater runoff sampling from Qualifying Storm Events. Staff has inspected many industries in the Victor Valley that have ineffective BMPs or conduct operations in or near ephemeral waterways, causing adverse effects to waters. Identifying and requesting modified practices and improved stormwater management will be the focus of future inspec­tions. The permit includes two new options for enrollees. A No Exposure Certification may be obtained if all industrial materials and activities areprotected by a storm-resistant shelter. A Notice of Non-Applicability signed by a registered professional engineer may be submitted if a facility is engi­neered to contain the maximum his­toric precipitation event or is located where there is no hydrologic connec­tion to waters of the United States.

Erosion in epheremal wash caused by concentrated urban run-off, Hesperia

Erosion in epheremal wash caused by concentrated urban run-off, Hesperia

Municipal Activities

Municipal permit coverage is re­quired for the Town of Apple Valley; Cities of Barstow, Hesperia, and Vic­torville, and portions of the County of San Bernardino. In addition to con­trolling pollutants in stormwater run­off from municipal activities (shops, yards, streets, etc.), municipalities must adopt ordinances providing le­gal authority to control pollutants (in­cluding sediment) into and from the municipal storm system. Other program areas include public outreach and education, illicit discharge identi­fication and elimination, construction site controls, and post-construction BMP requirements. The permit re­quires new projects to capture stormwater from the 85 percentile 24-hour precipitation event. Effective main­tenance is the key to ensure post-con­struction BMPs continue to protect water quality.

Low Impact Development, Stream and Wetland Impacts

In the earliest project design phase, applicants should assess and evalu­ate how site con­ditions such as soils, vegetation, and flow paths should be consid­ered in the placement of buildings and impervious surfaces to re­duce adverse im­pacts to surface flow paths, water quality and wild­life habitat. Envi­ronmental docu­ments should identify how the project incorpo­rates Low Impact Development, or LID, principles to protect water qual­ity. The High Desert has unique rain­fall and stormwater runoff patterns. LID practices should be cus­tomized for each individual site to preserve pre-develop­ment hydrology by limiting impervious surfaces (i.e, pav­ing), promoting stormwater infiltration, minimizing land disturbance, and incorporat­ing structural BMPs such as pervious pavement, infiltra­tion galleries, energy dissipa­tion, etc. Water board staff have observed many older projects have radically alteredthe ephemeral wash downstream en­vironment by increasing runoff ve­locities and volumes, causing exces­sive sediment erosion and sediment deposition in lower-lying areas, bury­ing wildlife and riparian habitat. In­corporating LID principles in future new and redevelopment projects will protect and improve our unique des­ert environment and water quality for our future.

Proposition 1 Grant Funding Resources

A new opportunity to obtain storm­water project funding is available through Proposition 1 grants. This requires applications to reference an adopted Stormwater Resources Man­agement Plan that identifies projects on a watershed basis. That plan may become a component of the Mojave Water Agency’s Integrated Regional Water Management Plan and can be used to support grant requests. The water board encourages local munici­palities to cooperate and cost share in preparing this plan.

Air Quality General

High Desert Businesses give MDAQMD High Marks for Customer Service

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By Christie Robinson, CRE Specialist, Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District

In today’s economic climate, cus­tomer service can mean the differ­ence between success and failure for some businesses and organiza­tions. In January of this year, the Mojave Desert Air Quality Manage­ment District–the local air quality agency for San Bernardino County’s High Desert and Riverside County’s Palo Verde Valley–initiated a Cus­tomer Service Satisfaction Survey in an effort to provide the MDAQMD Executive Board with insights on how well staff is meeting the needs of regulated business while issuing permits, inspecting facilities and re­sponding to questions about air qual­ity rules and regulations.

The MDAQMD’s last Customer Ser­vice survey– which was conducted in 1999–produced 26 responses. The 2016 survey produced a total of 60 responses from local industry. More than 650 postcards announcing the survey were distributed using direct mail and e-mails to permittees and other interested parties between Jan­uary 11, 2016 and March 1, 2016.

The MDAQMD’s Customer Service Satisfaction Survey was designed using Survey Monkey and posted to the district’s website. The ques­tionnaire was designed to elicit re­spondents’ opinions on a variety of district services, as well gauge how well the district is performing and how it can improve.

The survey consisted of 15 rating scale questions, ranging from ease of contacting the district, technical and rule support, and ease of apply­ing for a permit. Respondents were asked to provide a rating for each topic on a scale between “poor” and “excellent,” or N/A for not applica­ble. Below are some of the survey’s findings: • More than 65% of respondents rated the ease of reaching District staff by phone or e-mail as “excel­lent.”

  • Accuracy of service/information provided by permitting staff was rat­ed “excellent” by more than 64%.
  • Courtesy and professionalism of compliance staff in conducting facil­ity inspections was rated “excellent” by almost 72%.
  • Timeliness of permitting or com­pliance staff in conducting facility inspections was rated “excellent” by more than 60%.
  • Permitting and compliance staff knowledge of technical issues and applicable regulations was rated “ex­cellent” by almost 72%.
  • Almost 60% of participants rated the level of service provided by the MDAQMD compared to other Cali­fornia air districts as “excellent.”
  • Nearly 85% of the respondents rated their overall satisfaction with ease of applying for a permit or au­thority to construct between “excel­lent” and “good.”

Several questions on the survey asked for comments; a sampling is provided below:

  • “Inspectors have been approach­able, knowledgeable, and reach­able.”
  • “Work well with the staff. The staff is always willing to meet in person to discuss issues.”
  • “The smoothest permitting for any air district in California. Well done!”
  • “MDAQMD personnel have al­ways demonstrated a high degree of professionalism, knowledge, and in­terest in helping with issues regard­ing compliance.”

According to Eldon Heaston, MDAQMD Executive Director, “The survey’s results will help the District construct a road map for implementing improvements and to continue providing optimum servic­es to the regulated community in the near future.”

The MDAQMD is responsible for regulating stationary air pollution sources and implementing state and federal air quality rules and regu­lations within its 20,000 square mile jurisdiction, which is home to more than 550,000 residents. The MDAQMD has garnered a reputa­tion as one of the most responsive and business-friendly air districts in California.

To find out how doing business within the MDAQMD could be good for your business, call 760.245.1661 or visit us online at www.mdaqmd.ca.gov today!

 

General Transportation

High Desert Corridor Final EIS/R To Be Released Late April

Published by:

By Laurie Hunter

The High Desert Corridor, in the High Desert of both San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties, an east-west highway between Palmdale and north Victorville and private sector-supported rail line connecting Anaheim to Vegas, is close to being environmentally cleared for land ac­quisition and development. The final Caltrans-produced EIS (environ­mental impact statement), followed by a month-long review period, was due to be released in late April, 2016. After the Federal Government issues a Record of Decision, usually within a few months of EIS release, land acquisition of the right of way can legally begin.

High Desert Corridor Interactive Map

You can get the latest information, see where the on and off ramps are likely to be located, and see land use and public comments relating to spe­cific points by doing a web search for the HIGH DESERT CORRI­DOR INTERACTIVE MAP. The final alignment, and cost estimates will be announced when the EIS is released, and you can follow prog­ress on the Interactive Map (devel­oped by Arellano and Associates under contract from Metro for HDC EIS Outreach).

High Desert Corridor JPA

The High Desert Corridor (HDC) is a prototype for how to intelligently plan, without “sprawl”, to join two major population centers—and like the olden days—using transporta­tion infrastructure built first—to pro­vide the backbone for planning the best land use for the region. In the High Desert there is an abundance of housing, but residents need to com­mute for hours to jobs far away. To reduce commute times and provide jobs, the HDC affords the opportu­nity for land use planning and in­vestment/development that creates jobs: the goal is increased mobility, a safer alternative that saves half the time and removes trucks from SR 138, and improves the quality of life by spurring jobs along the alignment that enable residents to spend more time at home instead of commuting.

The HDC is locally supported by a two-county coalition of local gov­ernments who govern a Joint Powers Authority to stimulate its develop­ment in order to advance economic development and investment in the Victor and Antelope Valleys. The HDCJPA is chaired by Robert Lovingood, with Vice Chair Michael D. Antonovich and local board representation by Ryan McEachron, Vic­torville; Scott Nassif, Apple Valley; Richard Kerr, Adelanto; and Jim Ledford, Palm­dale.

Financing: The HDC will be developed as a public-private partner­ship (P3), with private investment providing the majority of fund­ing. Because govern­ment funding is also needed, there will need to be a future Oversight Board or JPA (Joint Powers Authority) of some type that will be responsible for contracting out for engineering, land acquisition, and construction/development.

DESCRIPTION: The HDC has four components in one right-of-way (ROW):

  • Highway/expressway between the SR 14 in Palmdale and the I-15 at Falchion Road in Victorville
  • High speed rail tracks to connect rail stations: XpressWest’s station, on the east side of the I-15 where Dale Evans Parkway enters/exits— traveling to the west in the HDC Right of Way to Palmdale’s future California High Speed Rail (CAH­SRA)/Metrolink Station
  • Green corridor to use space not occupied by the highway and rail tracks for solar energy generation to power the trains and an underground transmission line for solar rooftop and solar farm connection to the grid, and;
  • Bikeway between Adelanto and Palmdale

The EIS will environmentally clear 63 miles of highway/expressway, but realistically, the eastern seven miles in Apple Valley will not be included in an initial P3. Private sec­tor financing, combined with public transportation funding, will require the project to be developed in mul­tiple phases, leaving the eastern sev­en miles through Apple Valley for the future. In the Victor Valley, the HDC P3 will travel from US 395 in Adelanto, approximately along Air Expressway through SCLA in Vic­torville to an I-15 interchange at Fal­chion Road, then roughly six miles into Apple Valley, ending near the North Apple Valley Industrial Park.

Financing

Construction costs can be initially reduced by working with the pri­vate sector on plans to build the HDC in phases as funding strategies are devised. For example, develop only two or four lanes of highway-expressway initially-reserving right of way for future widening for lanes needed at a later date.

Yet another possibility for phasing is separating the timelines and con­struction of the highway and rail components to build the rail tracks first if there is private sector fund­ing interest to begin before highway funding is available. Then the right of way (ROW) for the highway can be preserved. The green corridor can be planned and developed even later when the latest technology of the day can be used for operations of trains, lighting, maintenance, thus increas­ing revenue.

Strategies to phase highway or rail development will be determined in the coming year. Full buildout of an eight-lane highway and HSR tracks, and the last non-P3 seven miles is around $8 Billion. Strategies to re­duce costs and to attract private sector funding can make this sum manageable and reduce initial costs by billions. Phasing will be decided by the timing of available public and private financing.

Possible sources of funding are:

  • Tolling the middle section of the highwayn Adelanto
  • Applying a “toll” on passenger ticket sales between Palmdale and Las Vegas, regardless of whether the operator is XpressWest, CAHSRA, Metrolink, or private operators not in existence today
  • TIFIA (highway) or RRIF (rail­road) federal loans and PABS (Pri­vate Activity Bonds) are debt in­struments issued by state or local agencies to construct projects with significant private involvement.
  • EIFDs (Enhanced Infrastruc­ture Development Districts), one surrounding the Palmdale HSR/ Metrolink Station and one surround­ing the XW Station. Modeled some­what after Redevelopment Agencies, state legislation provides new author­ity for lesser tax increment financing of real estate development
  • Cap and Trade Financing: The HSR Tracks are eligible for Cap and Trade funding in their own right and for CAHSR “Connector” expendi­tures in Palmdale
  • Costs will be shared to develop the CAHSR connector ROW and tracks
  • Local 1/2 cent sales taxes. 1) The HDC is named in Measure I as eli­gible for the 1/2 cent sales tax in San Bernardino County, but more likely a new Measure would be considered. 2) In Los Angeles County, the Metro Board is close to placing a Measure R2 for the November 2016 ballot that specifies the Antelope Valley Metrolink Line will have priority for new Metrolink R2 funding, and $170 Million for ROW purchase in the first five years, with authority for ac­celeration through a P3 and funding available in 45 years without a P3. Polling in North Los Angeles County showed 71% public support for using a new 1/2 sales tax to fund the HDC
  • FAST and Freight: New Fed­eral Transportation funding legislated by Congress contains provisions for infrastructure that relieves freight congestion which might be ap­plied to improvements to Metrolink to bring passengers to Palmdale to transfer to High Speed Rail transport by XW to Las Vegas
  • Revenue to be determined from the green corridor energy generation and transmission, electric and natu­ral gas fueling stations, fibre optic and broadband lines, and more.

P3 Revenue Studies Underway

To provide preliminary information to the private sector to gauge their interest, two studies are currently underway:

Highway: Metro has just selected a contractor to perform a study to de­termine the revenue that can be ex­pected from tolling the middle sec­tion of the highway between 100th St. E in Palmdale and US 395 in Adelanto. A previous study by In­fraConsult estimated tolling would provide $4.7 Billion in 2012 dol­lars over 45 years (low forecast); $5.8 Billion (high forecast). Tolls in the mid-section will be adjustable for cars and trucks and attract new business from new trucks traveling from Chicago/Vegas, and Northern/ Central California, and the Ports of Hueneme, LA, and Long Beach to new intermodal facilities at SCLA, and logistics facilities at the Apple Valley Industrial Center, Barstow, and Hesperia.

High Desert Multipurpose Corridor Project

Rail: The High Desert Corridor JPA selected a contractor to perform an investment grade study to assess the volume of rail passengers between Anaheim and Las Vegas and their willingness to pay for HSR to Las Vegas instead of car or plane, as well as interim use (until CAHSR) of Metrolink to get to Palmdale to board an XW car to Las Vegas. The study, which will provide a revenue estimate, will show if the rail com­ponent of the HDC will need any public funding and if so, how much. The study is slated for completion June 30, 2016.

High Desert Corridor Interactive Map: don’t forget to search the web for “High Desert Corridor Inter­active Map” to get specific informa­tion about various locations along the alignment and progress of the EIS.

Economy General Politics

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

Published by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

General

Keeping the American Drive Alive For Future Generations

Published by:

By Victorville Councilman Ryan McEachron, SANBAG President

Last year renowned economist Joel Kotkin published a study entitled “Housing the Future,” which identified the Inland Empire as having one of the largest youth populations in the nation with approximately 180,000 millenni­als–ages 18-35 years old. As the father of two children under 10 years old, these statistics leave me with a linger­ing question: are we building enough homes to keep up with this future de­mand?

According to Kotkin, San Bernardino County and the State of California suf­fer from a chronic housing shortage which creates a lack of affordability for aspiring homeowners, including millennials. With an estimated state­wide shortage of two-million homes and coinciding affordability gap, more and more young working families will likely be forced to leave California. So how do we reverse this trend? Clearly, we need to support public policies that encourage vibrant new community de­velopment and harness the economic growth that results when we address our chronic housing shortage.

For example, a study by Mark Boud of Real Estate Economics reported that if San Bernardino County were able to address two-thirds of its current hous­ing shortage, it would benefit from over $3.5 billion in new economic ac­tivity. Other housing experts estimate that 1,000 new homes create approxi­mately 3,000 full-time jobs, $160 mil­lion in wages and $110 million in tax revenues, which can be invested in quality of life necessities such as new roads, schools, parks, public safety and water infrastructure.

Likewise, UC Riverside’s Center for Economic Forecasting and Develop­ment published a report stating that more housing is needed to sustain eco­nomic growth in the Inland Empire. Kotkin, Boud and UCR all agree that housing is a cornerstone of our econ­omy; however, during the recession, our County lost over 70,000 construc­tion jobs and has only replaced 11,000 of them over the past few years.

Like many parents, I want my children to get a great education, a good pay­ing job, and own a home to enjoy with their family. A recent article in the Daily Press (3/29/16) outlined how a majority of millennials in the National Association of Realtors’ March 2016 Home Survey said they want to buy a single-family dwelling. However 78% of millennials in California are “un­certain or doubtful” about obtaining a mortgage. This is no surprise, since California is currently ranked 49th in the U.S. in homeownership, while the average homeowner spends over 25% of their income on housings costs– more than any other state. I fear if we don’t support policies that encourage more workforce housing in California, my children will join millennials and the reported 625,000 U.S. residents who left California and moved to neighboring states between 2007 and 2014.

Fortunately, there’s reason for opti­mism in the High Desert. We remain an important destination for logistics and our elected leaders remain focused on attracting businesses, jobs and commerce to spark a thriving econo­my. We’ve also seen several excellent new residential developments come through the pipeline in recent months, so we’re on the right track. I’m con­vinced that if we continue to embrace quality housing, our children, millen­nials, dual-income families and se­niors will all find a place to call home in the High Desert, Inland Empire and Golden State.

 

 

General Politics

Energy Disclosure In California Has Bumpy Road

Published by:

By Marika Erdely, Founder and CEO of Green EconoME

AB 1103, which was in effect during 2014 and 2015, was repealed on Oc­tober 8, 2015, to eliminate energy dis­closure requirements as of 12/31/2015. As you may recall, AB 1103 required all sales, refinance and single tenant leases of buildings exceeding 10,000 sq. ft. to disclose their energy usage prior to the signing of financial docu­ments.

The California Energy Commission (CEC), who administers this law, stat­ed that one of the reasons to repeal AB 1103 was that the utilities were having difficulty accessing energy usage in multi-tenant buildings due to privacy laws. All meter rate payers own their energy usage unless they give authori­zation to release it. Therefore, a build­ing owner would not have access to tenant data in order to comply with AB 1103, and in multi-meter situa­tions (retail, some commercial) it was even more difficult to attain this infor­mation. Therefore, an accurate energy disclosure was impossible to produce. The CEC also stated that compliance was limited, most likely because no enforcement of the law occurred, and many building owners took the chance and did not comply. The CEC decided to repeal the entire law and to start all over.

AB 802, California’s new Energy Dis­closure Law, ini­tially focuses on the utilities requirement to provide aggre­gated energy usage data, also known as ‘whole building data’. This would require the entire building’s energy usage, common area and tenant meters to be downloaded into the EPA’s En­ergy Star Portfolio Manager Software as one number. This eliminates any isis­sues with privacy. The new law also eliminates the building owner’s re­sponsibility to disclose the data when involved in a financial transaction. In current form, buildings over 50,000 sq. ft., including multi-family, will be required to disclose their energy us­age on an annual usage, with it being a public disclosure within a year of re­porting.

Recently, CEC held a workshop on AB 802’s progress, and showed this timeline for implementation (see be­low):

With this tentative timeline, commer­cial building energy disclosure is be­ing delayed, yet again to April 1, 2018 and multi-family disclosure would be­gin a year later on April 1, 2019. Let’s not hold our breath anticipating these dates, as the asterisk gives a clear pic­ture that this is probably not going to happen.

In regards to enforcement, AB 802 does provide for enforcement mecha­nisms to impose a civil fine, but we have yet to see what form this will be.

Los Angeles and its Energy Disclo­sure Law is Moving Forward

The City of Los Angeles is also con­sidering an Energy and Water disclosure ordinance for existing build­ings (www.laexistingbuildings.org). We learned that the new ordinance had been drafted and sent to the City Council’s Energy and Environment Committee during April 2016 for ap­proval. Plans for implementation are set to begin during 2017.

California Tentative Program Timeline 1

The current Energy Benchmarking Compliance Proposal to include:

  • Starting 2016 – City-owned build­ings > 7,500 ft.
  • Starting 2017 – all buildings > 50,000 ft.
  • Starting 2018 – all buildings > 25,000 ft.
  • Starting 2019 – all buildings > 10,000 ft. This size building is a sticking point, and the new ordi­nance may not drop to this level.

The Los Angeles disclosure will also require energy and water efficiency retrofits if buildings do not meet a certain level of energy or water effi­ciency. LA’s energy disclosure infor­mation will also become public one year after compliance begins. There will be penalties and fines levied for non-compliance. It is assumed that the County of Los Angeles and its neigh­boring cities will also follow suit and implement their own version of an En­ergy Disclosure law once Los Angeles signs their law into place.

Why is Energy Disclosure Important and Why Should You Care?

If all you do each month is grumble about your electricity bill but have no idea if these charges are reason­able for your building and its use, why wouldn’t you want to know how your building stands compared to similar buildings? Benchmarking a building in the EPA’s Portfolio Manager Soft­ware provides this knowledge.

If you knew that the energy usage was extreme (low Energy Star score or high Energy Use Intensity (EUI)), wouldn’t you take steps to reduce these costs? It is like everything else in life: if you know you are over-spending, you make changes. Why should it be any different with energy costs?

Energy Disclosure provides this data, especially if you further analyze the energy usage data and costs and pro­duce financial graphic analysis to understand the financial metrics, like Green EconoME prepares. As every­one says, big data is valuable.

So once you know your building is inefficient, retrofitting your lighting with LEDs is the easiest way to cap­ture the ‘low hanging fruit’ and pos­sibly reduce your total energy kWh by 15-20% and your lighting kWh by 60%. Providing HVAC control with new wireless thermostats can provide even more cost savings by easily man­aging schedules and reducing con­sumption in unoccupied spaces with door and occupancy sensors. These retrofits will reduce your building’s kW demand and kWh usage and you can save big.

Utility incentives can help reduce the cost of the retrofits, along with ac­celerated depreciation and various fi­nancing methods, including Property Accessed Clean Energy (PACE).

How does the Building Code affect all of this?

California’s Title 24, the Building Code related to energy will be up­dated again in early 2017. It is impor­tant to note that the goal of Title 24 is to build to Zero Net Energy (ZNE) standards for residential construction by 2020 and commercial (including multi-family) by 2030. What is ZNE? Simply, a building’s energy consump­tion is offset by its energy generation during an annual period to have a zero net effect.

With the goal to build ZNE for com­mercial by 2030, the CEC hopes to have 50% of the current existing building stock to be ZNE by 2030 as well. This appears to be a good but lofty goal since most building own­ers have no idea how their building stands in regards to energy efficiency. Which brings us back to the question­able decision to eliminate AB 1103. Why eliminate a law that provided this knowledge to the building owner? Re­pealing the law that provides insight needed to drive towards ZNE seems to be counterintuitive. We find this step by the CEC a detriment to the goal of ZNE.

Market Valuations to Take Note

It is also important to note that Energy Disclosure is closely tied to market valuations. If a building’s operating costs are lower, this provides for high­er valuation in the market value of the building. Cap rates are obviously af­fected by operating costs. Energy Star and LEED Certifications can provide the labeling for this higher valuation.

Should you wish to know more about Energy Disclosure and how your building can consume less energy, feel free to contact Marika Erdely at 818. 681.5750 or Marika@greeneconome.com.

Marika is Founder and CEO of Green EconoME (www.greeneconome.com), a full service Energy Consulting firm located in Pacific Palisades. She is a Certified Energy Auditor (CEA), a LEED AP BD+C, and holds an MBA from Pepperdine University. Marika was formerly the CFO for New Mil­lennium Homes, the master developer for The Oaks of Calabasas. Marika’s background is deep in financial analy­sis and the desire to understand how new technologies can reduce energy consumption. Green EconoME holds a License B (#10001368), is a VAR for Daintree Networks (lighting and HVAC control) and is an Energy Star Partner.

General Politics

Congressman Paul Cook Leads the Charge for National Security

Published by:

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

Our nation is faced with a litany of challenges, both at home and abroad. As your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, here’s an update on the important work I’m doing on behalf of my constituents.

Strengthening our national security in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attack is my top priority in Congress. My colleagues and I in the House have and will continue to pres­sure the administration to increase the screening of refugees from Iraq and Syria. The Security Against For­eign Enemies (SAFE) Act, which I supported, is an integral step towards this end. We need to remain vigilant in our screening process to ensure that ISIS doesn’t exploit weaknesses in our immigration system.

In addition to the SAFE Act, I re­cently supported the Counterterror­ism Screening, and Assistance Act of 2016. This bill, which passed in the House, tightens border security screening abroad, mandates a re­port card to assess the border secu­rity of foreign countries, establishes minimum border security standards, and withholds foreign assistance for countries that don’t meet border secu­rity standards. Improving our allies’ capacity and increasing coordination will improve our national security by mitigating potential threats before they reach our soil.

While our national security needs are significant, we must do more to put the federal government’s fiscal house in order. Put simply, the U.S .is amassing a crushing burden of debt. Under current policies, the def­icit will continue to climb to historic levels. The total debt has doubled to nearly $19 trillion since the current administration took office in 2008.

To address this troubling level of debt, House Republicans and I are fighting for the Debt Management and Fiscal Responsibility Act to be enacted into law. This important measure requires the President and his administration to appear before Congress prior to each potential debt limit increase and provide testimony and detailed reports including reduc­tion proposals and progress on debt reduction. It also establishes shared legislative-executive responsibil­ity for a clearly defined debt reduc­tion plan. If we are going to tackle the largest fiscal problem our nation faces, we must have a roadmap in place.

Recently, the House Budget Com­mittee approved a plan to reduce the deficit by $7 trillion, balance the na­tion’s budget within 10 years, and put the country on a path to eventu­ally pay off the national debt. I’m hopeful in the coming months we will see a responsible budget pass the House and Senate—one that puts our fiscal house in order and protects national security. We owe it to the next generation to leave them a debt-free, stronger, safer America. That will certainly continue to be my pri­ority as your Congressman.

If you’d like more information re­garding the work I’m doing in Con­gress, please visit my website at cook.house.gov and sign up for my weekly e-newsletter. You may also contact my Apple Valley district at 760.247.1815 to learn more.

Education General

Victor Valley College Serving the High Desert for 55 years

Published by:

By Robert Sewell, Director Marketing & Public Information Officer/ASB Advisor/Public Relations/ASB Victor Valley College

Victor Valley College (VVC), now in its 55th year, serves an area encom­passing roughly 2,200 square miles and is located on a 253-acre campus at the center of the three major com­munities of the Victor Valley (Apple Valley, Hesperia and Victorville). VVC serves the cities and commu­nities of the High Desert: Adelanto, Apple Valley, Helendale, Hespe­ria, Lucerne Valley, Oro Grande, Phelan, Piñon Hills, Silver Lakes, Spring Valley Lake, Victorville and Wrightwood. VVC also features a 13-acre Regional Public Safety Training Center (RPSTC) in Apple Valley. In total, a population base of approximately 400,000 people with over 20 feeder high schools and diploma-granting institutions rely on VVC for their educational needs and opportunities.

Great strides have been made in the past year to complement our aca­demic programs and offerings. In addition to the degrees–Associates in Science and Associate in Arts–of­fered in 23 different disciplines, the Chancellor’s office approved, be­ginning Spring 2015, four new As­sociate Degrees for Transfer. These degrees (Political Science, English, Geography, and Psychology) pro­vide students guaranteed admission with junior standing to the California State University system.

Nursing students have three new op­portunities to affordably obtain their Bachelors of Science from Cal Bap­tist, Azusa Pacific, and Grand Can­yon University. In addition, VVC Students can now take on campus classes with Park University. TheUniversity offers degrees as part of a 2 + 2 program.

Enrollment

For the 2015-2016 academic year, enrollment is approximately 13,000 students with a Full-Time Equivalent Student target of 9,245. A full-time equivalent student is a person taking more than 12 credit units or three part-time students taking a single 4-credit unit class. VVC was able to offer a successful Winter 2016 Intersession, serving 3,054 students who were enrolled in 3,730 classes. Students were/are enrolled in an average of 2.5 classes in both the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 Semes­ters, 11,860 students taking 30,499 courses in Fall and 11,375 currently enrolled in 28,845 Spring classes. VVC employs over 1,000 full and part time employees.

During the 2014-15 academic year, VVC conferred more than 1,100 As­sociate Degrees and Certificates and looks to improve on that number dur­ing the 2015-2016 academic year.

Programs featured include but are not limited to: Nursing, Liberal Arts, Science and Math, and other Transfer Courses, along with 16 Ca­reer Technology Programs such as Computer-Aided Design, Airframe and Power Plant Technology, Fire Technology, Administration of Jus­tice, Digital Animation, Respiratory Technology, Paramedics, and Con­struction Technologies, etc.

Certificates of Completion were is­sued in Administration of Justice, Child Medical Assistant, Paralegal Studies, Horticulture, Auto Special­ist, Business Administration, Build­ing Inspection, Advanced Business Real Estate, Construction Technolo­gy, Firefighter, Public Works, Weld­ing, Restaurant Management, and Pre-School Teacher.

Accreditation

Victor Valley College’s accredita­tion status was confirmed June 29, 2015, from the Accrediting Com­mission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) with no sanc­tions. On March 29, 2016, the AC­CJC approved a substantive change which will allow the college to in­crease access and offer more classes and programs at the Regional Public Safety Training Center (RPSTC) in Apple Valley.

Campus Updates

VVC students will have the benefit of a new interactive Student Orienta­tion Video this Fall 2016.

In the first of an ongoing collabora­tion, the trustees from Barstow Com­munity College and Victor Valley College held two joint meetings in 2015. The meetings helped to high­light existing partnerships and iden­tified new opportunities to leverage resources to benefit students in both Districts.

Victor Valley College was selected as one of nine community college districts and 14 colleges to partici­pate in the Education Planning Ini­tiative (EPI). EPI is an innovative statewide project in the deployment of a new academic advising and plan­ning platform. Community college students throughout California will soon have access to new technology that will help them identify their aca­demic goals, develop structured per­sonalized Ed Plans for success, and make informed course choices about their education.

A Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Ma­chine (NMR) was acquired by Victor Valley College, thanks to the VVC Foundation, Mitsubishi Cement, Cemex, A Family Pharmacy, the Mojave Environmental Education Consortium (MEEC), and Southern California Edison. The NMR is be­ing used for the first time in the 2016 spring semester for students in up­per level organic chemistry classes and will make a huge difference for students intending to transfer to the university system like Cal State San Bernardino. Until recently, CSUSB would only accept the theoretical work accomplished and not the prac­tical work. Because of the investment of our industry partners, CSUSB will now accept both, alleviating a bottle­neck in their system where hundreds of students are currently sitting on waitlists for Biology and Chemis­try classes requiring a lab with the NMR.

The Victor Valley College Math De­partment this year embarked on sev­eral major changes to their program that could significantly increase col­lege completion rates for area resi­dents. Math has been a hurdle for many students who were previously required to take a multi-course se­quence of remediation before ac­cessing a degree-applicable course. In Fall 2016 new practices for place­ment will begin, allowing the ma­jority of students to enter the math sequence within one class of their degree requirements instead of the up to five they previously encoun­tered. Following proven models that have worked at other institutions, in­cluding just-in-time remediation and a statistics-based alternative to alge­bra, VVC expects significantly more students to successfully advance through math. Removing the barri­ers in math will make graduation a reality for more VVC students.

In 2014 Victor Valley College was awarded a grant to facilitate career pathways pipelines throughout theregion in five key industries: Auto­motive, Aviation, Energy/Utilities Healthcare and Manufacturing. One goal of what has become known as the RAMP UP project is to maximize the input of employers by establish­ing advisory councils that include all local schools and Victor Valley Col­lege together, rather than the previ­ous practice of multiple independent meetings at individual institutions. This work was initiated in 2015, and today nearly all targeted advisory councils have been identified or are in active development for the local area. This strategy is expected to help streamline curriculum, allowing local students to complete training that more quickly meets employer needs.

Another goal of the RAMP UP proj­ect is to link schools and colleges together through technology, allow­ing them to share classes and learn­ing experiences with one another. In 2016 the installation of these class­rooms was completed, system tests successfully conducted, and the first multi-site connection allowed stu­dents at eight high schools to partici­pate in a healthcare industry lecture last month. RAMP UP also includes linkages to the Antelope Valley, Barstow and San Bernardino, where similar activities are in develop­ment.

Expanding its relationships with lo­cal high schools, VVC embarked on a new partnership with Hesperia High School in Fall 2014. In the Fall of 2014, 53 students were enrolled in predominantly General Education classes delivered by VVC’s depart­ment of Humanities, Arts, and So­cial Science (HASS) on the Hesperia High School campus. By the end of that semester, 98% of the students passed all classes with a “C” grade or better, and a total of 414 college credits were earned in courses in­cluding English, Sociology, History, and Philosophy.

In the Fall of 2015, the cohorts grew to a total of 84 students enrolled, with the results demonstrated that 95% of the cohort passed all classes with a “C” grade or better, totaling 612 college credits earned.

The Hesperia High study also re­vealed that the pass rate in the Early College courses surpasses traditional Hesperia High courses by 20% (Eng­lish) and 10% (History). It should be noted that these classes, where appli­cable, count toward the high school student’s A-G high school gradua­tion requirements.

Student Athlete Success

In 2015 Coach Dave Hoover guided the Rams Football Team to a 9-1 re­cord as they got the privilege to play in the American Division Champi­onship Bowl Game. The Rams, 19-1 during the past two seasons, had five players named to the All-California First Team and All-American DL Dougladson Subtyl was named De­fensive Player of the Year.

Veteran’s Resource Center

In Spring 2015 Victor Valley Col­lege opened a much needed Veter­ans Resource Center (VRC) located in the Student Activities Center. In addition to helping veteran students with certifying VA education ben­efits, the VRC provides counseling services, tutoring, a computer lab, and community workshops.

This could not have been possible without the dedication of the Vet­erans Services staff, VA student workers, Veterans Club, VVC Foun­dation, and Wal-Mart for their gen­erous grant which helped buy com­puters and furniture.

Construction

Victor Valley College Main Cam­pus and the Regional Public Safety Training Center are valuable com­munity resources. The college of­fers relevant programs and services to help students prepare for transfer and address workforce needs through career technical education and basic skills instruction. Over the last seven years, Measure JJ Bond dollars have touched each of these areas: the Re­gional Public Safety Training Center in Apple Valley (Spring 2012), Mu­sic Building (Fall 2014), and the Dr. Prem Reddy Health and Sciences Building (Fall 2015).

In 2016 another Measure JJ project gets under way as we turn our atten­tion to the remodel and expansion of our Vocational facilities. Ground­breaking takes place May 16, and the new additions will be ready for student use Spring 2017. The proj­ect includes a new Automotive/Diesel Mechanics lab space, new Welding Lab, public restrooms and an additional 6,240 ASF for lecture classrooms. Additional Automotive space will provide for a service writ­er program, machine shop and bay space for car lifts. Welding Technol­ogy will be equipped with an entirely new welding facility with state of the art equipment.

In July 2015 the Facilities Master Plan update was approved which identified a need for a new Student Services ‘One Stop’ Building suf­ficient to provide greater efficiency between related functions in serving our students, thereby freeing current space for reconversion to classrooms and solving the near-term classroom shortage. In addition a study was presented outlining a future Stadium and Conference Center that will seat 3,500 and 3,000, respectively.

General Politics

Prop 13 is Safe, For Now

Published by:

Assemblyman Jay Obernolte

By Assemblyman Jay Obernolte

In 2015 several ballot initiatives aimed at undermining Proposition 13 were pro­posed by labor groups and other special interests. As of today none of those initia­tives will be on the 2016 ballot. This is a victory for homeowners, small businesses and taxpayers. However, we must remain vigilant if we want to prevent any future undermining of Prop 13.

Proposition 13, or the People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation, as it was offi­cially named, was a constitutional amend­ment that limited the rate of property tax increases on residential and commercial properties. It also put in place protections against future tax increases by requiring a 2/3rds vote of the state legislature to in­crease taxes, as well as a 2/3rds majority in local elections to impose local tax in­creases.

Since its passage, many groups have tried to weaken the protections of Propo­sition 13. Some want to lower the thresh­old of the 2/3rds vote, making it easier to raise taxes. Others want to create a “split roll” so commercial properties have their property values reassessed annually. Both of these would be disastrous to taxpayers and negatively impact our economy.

2016 was thought to be the year in which Prop 13 would come under siege due to the fact that the number of signatures re­quired to place an initiative on the ballot is lower than it has been in recent elections because of decreasing voter turnout. How­ever, with an extension to the Proposition 30 tax increases likely to be placed before voters in 2016, it appears that the special interests who are looking to raise taxes think it may hurt their case if too many tax increases appear on the ballot.

While Proposition 13 appears to be safefor another two years, I would encourage everyone to remain vigilant against future initiatives that would undermine taxpayer protections. I pledge to do the same in the State Assembly.

Assemblyman Jay Obernolte represents the 33rd Assembly District in the Califor­nia State Legislature. Since being elected to the State Assembly, he has earned 100% ratings from both the Howard Jarvis Tax­payers Association and the California Taxpayers Association for his legislative record. In 2015 he authored AB 809, a bill sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Tax­payers Association and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, which required all tax increases placed before the vot­ers on a ballot be clearly labeled as a tax increase. AB 809 was widely praised as a measure to protect taxpayers from mis­leading ballot propositions.

Economy General Politics

Taxable Parcels Increase in Value Due to Existing Home Sales

Published by:

By Bob Dutton, San Bernardino County Assessor

In June 2015 the assessment roll contained 820,314 taxable parcels and was valued at $186,894,462,703, which represented a 5.077% net in­crease as compared to the 2014 as­sessment roll. Our office reported that the primary reasons for the in­crease in value were sales of existing homes, Proposition 8 recovery of as­sessed values, and the Proposition 13 Consumer Price Index adjustment. New construction also contributed to the increase but to a lesser degree.

The 2015 assessment roll finally reached and surpassed the previous high achieved in 2008 before the collapse of the real estate market. Three of the cities with the highest increases were all located in the High Desert, including Hesperia at 7.8 %, Victorville at 6.7 %, and Adelanto at 6.5%.

When looking at historic trends for the High Desert, we see that the as­sessment roll for all cities is increas­ing since the drop in values experi­enced in 2009. The upward trend is a positive sign and many of the same drivers for the County as a whole are responsible for the upward trend in the High Desert. In general, peo­ple are taking advantage of the af­fordability of homes in the market. Moreover, little of this upward trend is due to new construction. Approximately 12 % of the increase was due to construction, unlike the 2006-2007 valuations when 60 % of the value increase was due to new con­struction.

This bodes well for the High Des­ert. While I am optimistic about the region, the greatest need is for new business start-ups. Based on person­al experience over the course of my career, I think the greatest judge of a healthy economy is small business growth.

The High Desert has all the right components for healthy growth, such as low cost land, affordable homes, basic infrastructure, and a pro-busi­ness approach from the County and High Desert cities. I think the re­newable energy opportunities that are unique to the region are another benefit to business growth.

Looking back over the course of my career in both the private and public sectors, I was fortunate to have par­ticipated in encouraging: the redevel­opment of Ontario Motor Speedway, which ultimately became Ontario Mills; the development of Victoria Gardens; expansion of Ontario Inter­national Airport; and the billions of dollars invested in goods movement and transportation infrastructure for the Inland Empire, as well as help­ing to bring Amazon to our region. All of these projects are significant long-term catalysts for ongoing eco­nomic growth and development opportunity.

Now I look at the current trends and believe that the future is bright, espe­cially because our County, including the Assessor’s department, is com­mitted to delivering a friendly and fair business environment. This is all part of my work to help San Ber­nardino County be recognized as the best place to live, work and raise a family.

Values and Parcel counts By Roll Year and High Desert City

Values and Parcel Counts By Roll Year and High Desert City