Worried that replacement of a water system will spur development and ruin the area’s rustic atmosphere, a half-dozen Pioneertown residents intended to form an area homeowners association and to work to have the town a historical landmark.
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Monday approved updating of an underground water pipelines system at the former Western movie set located northwest of Yucca Valley.
The motion to OK replacement of the old pipelines, And construction of several new facilities was made by 1st District Supervisor John Joyner, represents the Morongo Basin.
“It’s a much-needed project,” Joyner said.
The matter was continued for three weeks two Monday To allow for Joyner’s vacation and his tour of the flooded Colorado River. The delay also was granted to allow residents time to get more information, meet with their neighbors and consult with an attorney. The threat of a lawsuit if development is spurred by the improvements has been raised by some residents.
Criticism also has been leveled at the county for not properly informing residents of the project, and at Joyner for not being available to meet with residents.
“We haven’t been able to talk to him,” Constance Walsh told supervisors Monday. “He’s reacting to one-sided, biased information.”
Added resident Jerry Johnson after the supervisor’s hearing, “Yesterday (Sunday) was the first time (Joyner field representative Bob) Burke have ever been to Pioneertown. He (Burke) didn’t even know it existed, except on paper. I think that’s astonishing, They (supervisors) don’t even know what we’re up against.”
As part of their decision, the supervisors:
Accepted a $520,000 loan, at less the current market interest rates, from the state Department of Water Resources (DWR), as allowed under the Save Water Drinking Act of 1915.
Created an assessment district, charging the 320 or so landowners an average $1600 over a 34 year period, to pay back the DWR loan.
Awarded nearly $350,000 in construction bids to replace 16,000 feet underground pipeline, drill at least three new wells and build a new steel reservoir.
In a letter to Joyner, Pioneertown residents call upon the county to consider preserving Pioneertown as an historic landmark.
Responding to the letter, Ed Houston, chief of the project development branch of the county Special District Department, set the plant for an assessment district, to replace old, underground pipeline began almost four years ago, at the request of other Pioneertown residents.
Ms. Walsh complained neither she nor any of her fellow residents had seen Houston’s response until he handed copies to them just before they walked into Monday’s meeting.
In contrast, Houston said he and Ms. Walsh previously you had discussed the contents of the letter via telephone. He called his written response, within two days, “a pretty quick turnaround.”
He said it was “super” that residents were forming a homeowners association, adding “We look forward to working with it.”