Town files for mesa annexation - Hi-Desert Star: News

Town files for mesa annexation

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Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2009 12:00 am

YUCCA MESA — Tensions have been running high for months in the unincorporated community of Yucca Mesa, as some folks brace for what they call a takeover by their neighbor to the south, the Town of Yucca Valley.

On March 30, the Town filed an application with the county Local Agency Formation Commission to expand its sphere of influence to shadow that of the Hi-Desert Water District.

It was the formal move toward annexation that Yucca Mesa residents have been bracing for for months.

The annexation would place 14,348 acres of the mesa into the Town’s sphere of influence in a boundary extending east to Sunny Vista Road in the unincorporated area more associated with Joshua Tree.

Andy Takata, Yucca Valley’s town manager, reminded the citizens of the mesa that physical annexation into Yucca Valley is ultimately up to them. Should things ever progress that far, Yucca Mesa would have to vote to approve the annexation.

“It could make sense in 20 years,” observed Takata, reaffirming the expense of taking on the service needs of the mesa, “but fiscally, it doesn’t make sense right now.”

Kathleen Rollings-McDonald is the executive director of LAFCO, and confirmed this week that the wheels of municipal review grind slowly.

“We don’t expect a hearing anytime before the next four months,” she said.

A Yucca Valley review last August figured the annexation would add  approximately 1,148 households in the mesa to the Town Council’s sphere of influence.

According to the county, adding an area into a sphere of influence indicates a government plans at some point in the future to fully annex that area into its boundaries.

The annexation of the mesa would represent a 14.2 percent increase in Yucca Valley’s population and a 56.3 percent increase in land area.

Suggestion began with fire study

The sphere of influence annexation process started in August of 2005 when San Bernardino County sought to consolidate some fire districts and sent that request to the Local Agency Formation Commission. LAFCO recommended that the Yucca Valley Fire Protection District included expansion.

At the same time, the commission recommended the Town of Yucca Valley annex Yucca Mesa, which is in the Yucca Valley fire district, into the Town sphere of influence.

When mesa residents first got wind of the plan last August, the Yucca Mesa Improvement Association sent Jim Sammons to the Town Council. To many on the mesa, the initial process signaled intent by Yucca Valley to physically annex the area.

“We don’t want to be involved with the Town if we can help it,” said Sammons.

“I’m not sure Yucca Valley wants Yucca Mesa,” Councilman Chad Mayes said in humor. Mayes was referring to findings that the Town would have to pony up about $600,000 a year to take over services for the mesa that are currently provided by the county.

Mayes made it a point to go on record with Yucca Valley’s position: “We don’t see annexation in the near future.”

However, the independent firm that studied annexation for the Town was “unequivocal” in its assessment that the Town could extend and improve the level and quality of municipal services to the mesa.

The review envisioned the creation of a district to collect special assessments and maintain roads.

‘We don’t want to be destroyed’

Since the council meeting of Aug. 28, the citizens of the mesa have mobilized.

During the November elections, petitions against the annexation were available for signature at Yucca Mesa’s polling site, and thanks to that and other petition events, the signature count is now up to 2,200.

Their impassioned protests for independence have reached a broad audience, garnering support from fellow Homestead Valley Community Council members from Flamingo Heights, Landers and Johnson Valley. They’ve also shared their concerns with the Morongo Basin Conservation Association.

Elizabeth Karman is the new voice for the recently formed Stop Yucca Mesa Annexation Coalition.

“It feels like a train is about to run over us,” stated Karman. “They’re trying to do this very sneaky. They think we’re stupid and they can just take us over. We’re not stupid, we’re hard-working people, and we don’t want to be destroyed by Yucca Valley.”

The coalition’s fears, as articulated on its Web site, are that LAFCO may require the Town to pre-zone the sphere of influence area, “which could include industrialization and tract homes on small lots.”

The nightmare scenario continues with paving over of dirt roads and mandatory sewer connections “at the residents’ expense,” bright street lights, signs and traffic signals polluting the dark skies, and a prohibition against keeping horses and other ranch animals.

© 2016 Hi-Desert Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • Cactus posted at 1:49 am on Sat, Apr 18, 2009.

    Cactus Posts: 5

    They will first take Yucca Mesa's water. The Town must have their own Sphere of Influence to take over Hi-Desert Water. The take-over can happen at the LAFCO Hearing in about 3-4 months. Residents of Yucca Mesa and the surrounding communities MUST go to the LAFCO Hearing to fight this. Once Yucca Valley has the water, the building can begin.

  • Branson Hunter posted at 8:07 am on Mon, Apr 13, 2009.

    Branson Hunter Posts: 1187

    It's all about money brought in with new taxation of Mesa residents . They want their hands deep into the pockets of poor, low income, seniors and everyone else. If the annexation occurs, they've 'got ya' -- there will be no turning back. Y.V. can't even service their own residents with a decent infrastructure. They'll gobble up the Mesa, take their money and provide no services at all. There is no benefits to Mesa residents and property owners. Clearly a one-sided deal. This plan stinks to high heaven! God help the Mesa people. The Town Council will subdivide and allow track homes and gated projects. They will mass grade near your property without remorse. Bet on it. Fight it!A very bad plan for every Mesa individual and family. Once the Mesa is in the jurisdiction of the city, they will pick your pockets -- and eventually drove low marginally income people from their homes.

  • desert_rat001 posted at 6:54 am on Mon, Apr 13, 2009.

    desert_rat001 Posts: 11

    To Yucca Valley, all Yucca Mesa is good for is extra taxes!

  • YuccaWHERE posted at 2:21 pm on Sat, Apr 11, 2009.

    YuccaWHERE Posts: 0

    "" The nightmare scenario continues with paving over of dirt roads and mandatory sewer connections ""------------------------------------IDIOTS !, The Town can't even pave the streets they have, so annexing the Mesa wont change that.Hello - You are already in the Hi Desert Water District service area, duh, so sewers, while not likely, are the pervue of the Water District, not the Town... Why would anyone WANT the Mesa ?

  • Kenwondervalley posted at 1:28 pm on Sat, Apr 11, 2009.

    Kenwondervalley Posts: 0

    This reminds me of when Phil Klasky and his Community ORV Watch wanted control in Wonder Valley. The local area residents said NO TO COW. My advise to Yucca Valley is leave Yucca Mesa alone.


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