Jim Desmond Hits Town
Last updated 6/3/2019 at 12:28am
District 5 County Supervisor Jim Desmond came to Borrego Springs May 7 to institute a new County program with the goal of matching County staff and resources with our community's access to programs and funds. It's called the Borrego Springs Revitalization Committee (BSRC). Desmond borrowed the idea from Diane Jacob, District 2 County Supervisor, the largest of San Diego Counties, following a successful program there.
Amidst a fully-packed Community Room, first up on the agenda was what he and County staffers were NOT there to talk about – our water crisis. That, he said, was covered by another work-in-progress, the Groundwater Sustainability Plan, now in draft form and awaiting comments from the public. It's probably a good thing, because with so many other local issues of concern to talk about, if that one issue were on the time-restricted agenda, nothing else would have been discussed.
Desmond did make a comment regarding the ongoing but as yet unresolved issue of continued County involvement in the GSP implementation phase, that is, if the pumping interests cannot reach agreement with the Groundwater Sustainability Agency (comprised of County and BWD personnel) on issues such as pumping allocations/reductions: "We plan on staying involved," Desmond said. "But if the lawsuits start flying, we're ducking." This may be a not-so-subtle signal to settle disputes amicably, or else the State, in the form of the Department of Water Resources, will settle it on their own terms.
Meanwhile there were lots of issues on the table unrelated to our water crisis, stemming from a May 3 meeting sponsored by the Borrego Village Association: Educational access outside Borrego; economic development; transportation options for students and residents; infrastructure issues for both residents and businesses; our environment, including issues as diverse as our Dark Sky designation and weed eradication program; and our health care infrastructure needs, to name a few.
"Today we're not going to fix anything, but rather provide a mechanism for fixing problems that arise via direct connection between Borrego Springs and the County," Desmond said.
"We're here to help Borrego thrive even as water issues are being addressed."
In attendance at the May 7 meeting were Desmond's staff, including BSRC facilitator/community liaison Shaina Richardson, Director of Communications Juanita Hayes, Groundwater Geologist with the County Planning and Development Services Jim Bennett, Grants Administrator Candyee Yee, and policy advisor Ben Mills, in addition to Mike Harrison from U.S. Congressman Duncan Hunter's office and nine County employees helping to get the program underway.
The following are comments (or summarized) from the 23 Borregans who spoke at the meeting, and in the order they spoke:
Suzanne Lawrence, co-founder of the Borrego Valley Stewardship Council: We need a transparent master planning project towards a water budget to avoid back room decision-making favorable to one particular developer or another.
Jackie Larsen, architect: We need to avoid any new development in the flood plain, but rather concentrate on development at the intersection of Yaqui Pass/Borrego Valley Roads, and Borrego Springs Road, the ideal location for a second fire station, without which real estate development will not be approved by the County.
Bill Rose, business owner: A new bulk storage propane tank is needed to service 600 – 700 local accounts, but there is a need to expedite a zoning permit to allow the tank to be placed on skids.
Bruce Kelley, Borrego Valley Endowment Fund Vice President:
We are currently working to assess the need for a Community Care Center with extended hours of operation
(currently not available at night or on weekends), and we are seeking community input.
Betsy Knaak, Executive Director of ABDNHA – We need access to post-secondary education and adult workforce development and re-training facilities. High schoolers must travel three hours round-trip to any school to pursue any curriculum in the region. And with expected losses in the Ag sector arising from reduced water usage, transportation out of the Valley for adults to attend workforce re-training programs are limited.
Martha Deichler, School-Community Liasion:
Full story in the May 16 issue of the Borrego Sun.