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4 Years Later: Yucca Valley Grim Reaper

UPDATED/AUGUST 2014 ARCHIVES

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Archives Four Years Later:The Yucca Valley Grim Reaper

by Margo Sturges, “THE YUCCA VALLEY GRIM REAPER” was first published on July 28, 2010. Here we are four years later, and the safety improvements at the new AM/PM Arco SonicBurger have not been completed and there is NO performance/completion bond posted by the builder to insure these improvements would come to fruition.

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The postponement of the improved light signal at Balsa and 29 Palms Highway was conditional to the arrival of Super Walmart to share in the costs of the safety improvements and due to difficulty working with CalTrans.

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Super Walmart improvements including CalTrans medians have come and gone bringing in several light signals to Yucca Valley. The one optional location, not mandated by a traffic study, was placed at Inca and 29 Palms Highway completely ignoring Balsa and 29 Palms Highway.

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Adding insult to injury, the unpopular fired Town Manager, Mark Nuaimi, arranged for a refund of $850,000 to WalMart for their mandated improvements. This was supposed to be the $1 million dollars infrastructure from Walmart to offset the increased financial obligation for the Senior Housing fiasco.

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(Original post:July 28, 2010 @ 15:59) Yucca Valley, Ca.- Just when I think the Town of Yucca Valley could not have a worse intersection than Sage and Hwy 62, the Grim Reaper Staff at the Planning Department pushed through an incomplete approval of a large development creating another dangerous intersection placing the safety of our citizens at the bottom of the Casket.

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Planning Commissioner Gregory Graham was the only voice of reason stating there were too many unknowns regarding the time needed to complete the Conditions of Approval working with CalTrans and voiced his concern with the safety issue of the intersection. There were several COA that should be met before issuing the COO, Certificate of Occupancy. Commissioner Graham suggested revisiting the request in 30 or 60 days instead of rushing in blindly to approve this proposal without adequate information or assurances. To his credit, he was the lone vote against the fast track granting the Certificate of Occupancy without the safety improvements in place and allowing an open end date for completion.

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For an unknown period of time, perhaps several months, the only access for this project will be one driveway on Balsa directly across the driveway from Walgreen/Big Five retail complex. There were several questions regarding two traffic studies presented by different firms which measured volume flow and not safety issues. Deputy Town Manager/Development Director Shane Stueckle cited the in-house staff traffic study review was solid evidence there would not be any problems at this intersection calming the safety concerns of all the planning commissioners.

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While visions of Sonic Burgers and grilled onions filled the minds of the Planning Commissioners back in October 2008, I spoke then, as I did last evening, of my support for the project and concerns of major traffic congestion existing at that intersection even before bringing in this project. It is my opinion there will be major accidents and several deaths at this intersection until the safety improvements are in place. Vehicles will be stacked in all directions at a complete standstill trying to turn or pass through the intersection. A local lawyer told me he has observed pedestrians scrambling to cross the highway in the designated cross walk due to the short light and vehicles racing through that intersection.

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Be sure to update your Last Will and Testimony because you will be playing Russian Roulette in your car, motorcycle, wheel chair or by foot at the cross walk trying to navigate through the intersection of Balsa and Highway 62. The applicant’s project engineer suggested the Town paint the intersection with white lines stating ‘Do not block intersection’ or making this issue one of enforcement because he stated most of our drivers are good drivers.

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As I see it, this vote sets a precedent allowing future developers to receive their Certificate of Occupancy before completing all the Conditions of Approval. This is a bad business practice leaving no recourse for the Town of Yucca Valley if the developer fails to perform to complete the required public improvements leaving the citizens stuck with the bill.

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Bypassing a final approval of the elected Town Council members, Stueckle provided a Resolution for the Planning Commissioners to approve this request signed by the Chairman and attested by the Deputy Town Clerk. The Resolution included wording to address future improvements to Hwy 62 and Hwy 247 on other projects which was not discussed, approved or voted on by the Commissioners.

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Stueckle pointed out there would be a performance bond posted by the applicant to guarantee the completion of these very costly improvements. The applicant, sitting in the audience, yelled out , “A letter of credit from the bank!” (Further investigation revealed this “letter of credit” was submitted by a group of fellow developers using a “bank”address that was not located in any brick and mortar building.)

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As I see it, several Town Hall toilets across the region are presently wallpapered with bank letters of credit. During this past financial meltdown, large banks collapsed leaving towns and investors holding the bag. Desert Hot Springs was stuck with useless letters of credit from banks in the amount of $800,000.00. The DHS taxpayers will have to pay for those improvements. Will the citizens of Yucca Valley be stuck for these safety improvements?

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For now, the new Arco gas station with 16 pumps and AM/PM mini market will be open on August 18, 2010 at Hwy 62 and Balsa.

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For now, (2010) there is only ONE access driveway off Balsa Avenue directly across the driveway of Walgreens/Big Five complex.

 


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Margo Sturges

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Sturges has posted 1,000 articles on Cactus Thorns covering Yucca Valley, Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree and San Bernardino County agency meetings. www.MargoSturges.com
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“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”- George Orwell

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