• Steve Brown

May Action Alert: SB 307 and Paradise Valley

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

May is going to be full of action you can take to help protect the desert. We hope you'll join us in spending a few minutes in support of California Senate Bill SB 307 and in opposition to building a new city on the southern border of Joshua Tree National Park.

Here's our action plan for the first week of May:

Senate Bill SB 307

This bill protects the groundwater of the Mojave Desert. Without it, projects like the Cadiz Water Project, could sell billions of gallons of water to urban and suburban southern California, at the expense of the wildlife of the Mojave, who will die if they lose their springs.

SB 307 has been slated for a hearing on May 6 in the Senate Appropriations Committee. At the hearing, the bill will be placed on the “Suspense File” because it incurs fiscal cost. On May 16, the Committee is slated to hold another hearing to release the legislation to the Senate floor, or hold, and effectively kill the bill. The decisions for holding or releasing bills are made in advance by Senate President Atkins and Appropriations Chair Portantino, so it is especially important to communicate your support to these two senators.

We have a full action plan for calling and tweeting your support for SB 307 to ensure it not only passes out of the Appropriations Committee, but gets to the floor of the Senate for a vote. Go HERE for all the SB 307 information and how to take action.

Mojave Watch will be adding to our campaign in support of SB 307 this May, and calling attention to desert organizations that support the Cadiz Water Project at the expense of travel and tourism jobs and the desert's hospitality industry. Please join us in that campaign, and check this website often for updates.

Paradise Valley

Paradise Valley is a new city planned for the southern border of Joshua Tree National Park. It would further environmentally isolate the park, and create a number of negative impacts on the park, other wildlands currently connected with the park, and on wildlife.

As the plans head to the Riverside County Planning Commission on May 15, read our previous story for details on Paradise Valley, their decision to postpone its hearing, and then take action.

Send your written comments to:

Russell Brady, Project Planner Riverside County Planning Department 4080 Lemon St., 12th Floor Riverside, CA  92501 (951) 955-3025

Please copy Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel (Manny) Perez's office with your comments as Paradise Valley is located within his district.

And please cc: all of the other Riverside County Supervisors with your comments as if the Planning Commission does approve Paradise Valley, it may move forward to the Board of Supervisors for their review, very quickly.

First District - Kevin Jeffriies:

Second District - Karen Spiegel:

Third District - Chuck Washington: or use his contact page at:

Fifth District - Jeff Hewitt:

Sample Letter (copy and paste, personalize, and send):

Dear Riverside County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors:

I am writing to you to strongly oppose approval of plans for Paradise Valley. Building a new city on desert wildlands on the southern border of Joshua Tree National Park is a bad idea. This new city would further environmentally isolate the national park and would permanently change an important dry wash network that serves as habitat and a migratory corridor between Joshua Tree National Park and wilderness areas to the south. Wildlife connectivity is crucial for the future genetic health of animal populations, and to help desert species as they cope with the impacts of climate change.

The Paradise Valley project site is a rich and diverse "old-growth" desert habitat, with cacti hundreds of years old, thick vegetation, and rare plants. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service intends to reintroduce Sonoran pronghorn antelope south of Joshua Tree National Park. This project would block their primary route into the park and would threaten their reestablishment in the California desert.

Paradise Valley would further degrade Joshua Tree National Park's "Dark Sky Park" status, and would generate thousands of new vehicle trips daily on Interstate 10. It also creates a new city with only one way in and out, a dangerous design flaw when it comes to natural disasters.

The so-called "affordable" housing component of the Paradise Valley project is still out of reach of average Riverside County residents. Fewer than one percent of the residences in the development would qualify as affordable housing. This will be expensive resort housing and will not serve communities in need of housing. It also ensures more vehicle trips on Interstate 10, as workers needed in Paradise Valley will have to commute to the new city, and residents of Paradise Valley who work, will need to commute to the Coachella Valley.

Perhaps most troubling is the fact this project would use up far more than the amount of disturbance authorized by the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan for desert dry wash woodland in the Desert Tortoise and Linkage Conservation Area, and there would be huge impacts to the threatened desert tortoise. The Paradise Valley plan is violating the CVMSHCP requirement that any development proposal in a Conservation Area must go through the Joint Project Review process with the Coachella Valley Conservation Commission BEFORE the project application is deemed complete, and before a CEQA document is prepared. If this project is allowed to circumvent this requirement, the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan will be irrevocably, purposefully, and needlessly damaged by Riverside County. The project must be required to undergo the Joint Project Review process as specified by the CVMSHCP.

Finally, this project cannot be considered merely on the basis of the current proposal. Should Paradise Valley be built, a new city will exist on the I-10 corridor between the Coachella Valley and the Colorado River. Once built, if the city reaches capacity, it will attempt to expand. Once built, it is likely other new cities may be proposed, leapfrogging eastward along I-10, doing further damage to Joshua Tree National Park and the wildlands of the California deserts. That is unacceptable.

Please do not approve the reckless and harmful plans for Paradise Valley, submitted to the Riverside County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

Thank you,

(your name)

If you are a Riverside County resident, make sure to note that in your correspondence.

The Planning Commission hearing is slated for 9:30 a.m., May 15, 2019, at the RIVERSIDE COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION STEVE ROBBINS ADMINISTRATION BUILDING Coachella Valley Water District - Administration Board Room 75515 Hovley Lane East, Palm Desert, CA 92211. We urge any interested individuals to attend this meeting and to speak in opposition to the Paradise Valley development.

The plan for Paradise Valley to obtain and manage water for its residents is potentially dangerous for Joshua Tree National Park as well. The plan appears to pull water for Paradise Valley from the pristine ancient desert aquifer, and then to recharge the aquifer with polluted Colorado River water. It also appears the traffic study for the project has not been completed on time. It is unclear whether the current single on and off ramp each direction from Interstate 10, are suitable for handling the traffic for a new city, and if not, what measures need to be implemented, and what that impact would be.

For more information on the proposed Paradise Valley project:

And the EIR:

Paradise Valley site map:

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