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Yucca Valley “Land Barons” Carve Up Spoils

By   /   December 4, 2013  /   Comments Off

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carving-up-YuccaValleyYucca Valley, Ca.,- Large property owners, Yucca Valley Land Barons, are involved behind the scenes with changes created by the General Plan update setting aside special areas to benefit their properties such as high density housing and “SPA” Special Policy Area overlays of yet-to-be-determined-or-spelled-out criteria. Adding to the shift of increased benefits/value, the Hi-Desert Water District is moving the sewer boundaries around to benefit several wealthy landowners and developers with no qualms about sticking it to those in Phase One of the sewer project.  The most recent HDWD boundary change was moving the Country Club Estates area from Phase 1 to Phase 2 and Director Graham’s insistence of gifting a demonstration garden to the privately owned Brehm Park perhaps as a pay back for hosting her 501c3 nonprofit organization.  HDWD Gift of Public Funds


The Yucca Valley General Plan update was forced upon our town by the aggressive unpopular ex-town manager/politician, Mark Nuaimi. Overpowering the financial concerns of several councilmen, Nuaimi pushed the General Plan update forward in anticipation of having the RDA, Redevelopment Agency, pay for half of the $1 million dollar price tag.  The Department of Finance, in charge of winding down the RDA,  has denied payment for that expenditure not once…but twice.

During the years the General Plan was in the works, the State of California pulled the plug on all RDA funds, which by this time, Nuaimi was using those state RDA to fund 25% of staff salaries.  Nuaimi worked late hours and into the night on a weekly basis, or more, with Cindy (nee Brehm) Melland, publisher of the Hi-Desert Star, Brehm Communications, during the campaign to promote Measure U, the 1% General Fund sales tax for 30 years that could not be legally earmarked or designated. The Measure was voted down after great expenditures by the town, over $199,000 and $39,479 by the proponent’s Political Action Committee.  YES_Measure_U_FINAL_36pgs

Nuaimi worked on the design of Melland’s Brehm Park and worked on funding strategies committing citizens to pay for the yearly maintenance of the park which has been pegged from $150,000 to $250,000 per year.  All along, their email exchanges were copied to Council members Dawn Rowe and George Huntington keeping them in the loop.  Councilman Robert Lombardo dropped in on many of those Monday night meetings too.

A confident Nuaimi turned in a request for “overtime hours” compensation claiming  he spent extra time on all these projects, which he received from Councilmen Huntington, Rowe, Lombardo and Abel in the form of a bonus.  (Nuaimi was also involved in extra schtupping activity with the President of the Yucca Valley Chamber/Chair of the Measure U Political Action Committee with a get-a-way trip to Las Vegas…your tax dollars at work.)


The President of the Hi-Desert Water District, Sarann Graham, called an ILLEGAL emergency meeting with one hour’s notice, the day before the Blue Skies Golf Course was scheduled to go up for auction.  Attending that meeting was then YV Mayor Dawn Rowe, Planning Commission Chair Tim Humphreville and of course, Cindy Brehm-Melland.  All pleaded with the HDWD Board of Directors to NOT attend the auction and NOT bid against the Brehm family for the golf course property.  This property also included the valuable water rights the HDWD attempted to secure with previous negotiations with the note holder.

HDWD Director Sheldon Hough stated it would cost the ratepayers $200,000 per year to honor those water rights if they fell into someone else hands other than the water district.  Thousands of ratepayer dollars were paid to the law firm BBK, Best, Best & Krieger, to negotiate for these valuable water rights. The HDWD failed to protect their ratepayers and completely laid down.  (The golf course ground breaking was attended by YV Council member Dawn Rowe, HDWD President Roger Mayes and of course…HDWD Director Sarann Graham. >LINK)

Brehm Communications was the successful bidder to secure the Blue Skies Golf Course.  Now this is in private hands, I wonder how much this “gift of public funds” is going to cost the citizens in water costs.  Not happy to have finagled the golf course to remove any competitive bidders, Nuaimi worked with the General Plan update to arrange for more benefits to Cindy Melland…and others.


Putting the horse before the cart, Nuaimi and Melland worked on the “SPA” idea to enhance her golf course property holdings.  The Special Policy Area is an overlay to the existing underlying Land Use/General Plan….except it is “Special” WITHOUT spelling out the specific details.  Melland will now move ahead with her plans to build over 900 high density units with the designation of the SPA, Special Policy Area, over the golf course area and newly acquired water rights.

The General Plan Update is in the final stage of being approved and several land owners will benefit from the Special Policy Areas designed to enhance those areas.  Without the financial tool of RDA funds, there is only Land Use to enhance properties to encourage development. This was done by the designated SPA areas.  It is easy to search out the names of the land owners that will have their SPA properties increase in value…they were in on the deal behind closed doors.

Collusion…Corruption…Conspiracy?…The bottom line is Greed.  Without any qualms to pull the plug on our Museum…or community programs for our citizens, big plans were worked out for the benefit of these aging “Land Baron”stake holders of Yucca Valley who are tired of waiting to cash in on their holdings.

Blinded by greed…the question still remains, where is the water going to come from for all these big plans?

If anyone is interested in taking this to the Grand Jury, please let me know and I will cooperate with providing the time line and documentation.

Here is an example of what a REAL SPA should look like dated July 2013…with specifics> july2013-1.special policy areas




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About the author

Margo Sturges

Yucca Valley Editor

Note: Margo Sturges has written many articles for Cactus Thorns and is the founder of Citizens4Change.info. Email contact: MargoSturgesYV(at)aol.com "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."- George Orwell

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