Joshua Tree, Ca.,- The 9 AM meeting on May 20, 2014, was called to order by Land Use Committee Chair, Mark Lundquist representing Joshua Tree where he legally resides. An overview presentation by retired Planner, Bonnie Kopp, revealed several ways to address how the Joshua Tree community might limit or restrict “formula stores,” another word for “chain stores.”
There were citizens representing the small business owners, real estate investors and those wishing to keep the uniqueness of Joshua Tree secured by prohibiting any big box stores, casinos, formula stores and of course the recent legal challenge to block the Dollar General.
In answer whether or not a survey should be conducted of all the business owners, the names of the donors to the Dollar General store lawsuit were cited as an example of the “majority” of business owners that would be against “formula/chain stores”…unless Trader Joe’s would decide to come to Joshua Tree. There are no funds allocated to this Land Use committee or to the Big MAC to conduct any survey on this matter.
The possibility of an overlay to restrict formula retail would have to define the boundaries and a suggestion to include the entire downtown corridor was mentioned.
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors have received the Joshua Tree Community Plan but has not officially adopted the latest version as they are going through a Development Code/General Plan update.
The LU Committee examined the steps required to write an ordinance similar to those of other neighborhoods seeking to restrict formula retail. It was emphasized the ordinance would have to be written by the SB County Planning Department before presenting it to the Supervisors.
Tension was felt at this meeting between the various factions on this issue. A suggestion to fast-track this ordinance would be for the Big MAC to pass a Resolution in support of prohibiting formula retail in Joshua Tree.
Members of this committee said they did not possess the background or previous history of Joshua Tree’s consideration to incorporate, therefore, did not feel comfortable to create any resolution without additional information.
In the end, all agreed to disagree and felt it was highly unlikely they could quickly reach a compromise. The consensus was a mufti-faceted ordinance would have to be created that would have something for everyone if possible in order to join forces to move this idea forward. 3rd District Field Representative Mike Lipsitz was seated at the table taking notes and asking questions.
The next step is for the Commission to revue the Joshua Tree Community Plan to get up to speed and hopefully reschedule another meeting in an evening time frame for business owners to attend.
The MAC members in attendance were David Peach of Downtown Joshua Tree, Chair Mark Lundquist of Joshua Tree-North, Larry Parott of Flamingo Heights and Elizabeth Karman of Landers.
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