Saturday, August 04, 2007

Weekly News Roundup: August 4 Edition (2 weeks for the price of 1)

Here's a roundup of the highlights of the last two weeks of Yucaipa news. It seems like we have had more crime than usual over the past couple of weeks. It must be the full moon or something.

City News: Crime

On Monday, July 23, Mario Medina Perez of Downey fled the scene of a traffic collision on Interstate 10 near Wabash street (map) and was shot by off-duty sheriff's deputy when he pulled a handgun and fired at the officer. Perez was booked into jail after surgery for his wounds.

Also on July 23, a hiker found the body of 46-year-old Mark Douglas Smith in a ravine alongside the dirt extension of Avenue E in southeastern Yucaipa (map). Two Yucaipans have been arrested in the Big Bear Resident's murder. Smith, who had been released from jail on July 21, apparently fought with 18-year-old Aaron Alan Dixon at a party in the 34000 block of Avenue E. Dixon was arrested July 25, and a second suspect, Kelly Lucien McLeod, was arrested July 31. Reports:
27-year-old Isaiah Waldron of Redlands was arrested on suspicion of carjacking a taxi on July 27th. The cab driver drove a fare to an address in the 35000 block of Canyon View Drive in Yucaipa (map). When the driver exited the cab to retrieve his fare, Waldron came out of a home, began jumping on the car, then jumped in and began to drive away. The driver was caught on the front bumper and broke his foot as he was dragged by the car. Waldron turned himself in on July 30th.

City News: Development and Schools

The Yucaipa/Calimesa News Mirror asks "Are we bursting our small town seams?" Some people like having the amenities. Others, not so much.
Life-long resident Shannon Eckert has remained in the community because she has always appreciated the small town feel of Yucaipa. Eckert said, “I wanted to raise my two boys here because it is a small town and free from many of the problems larger cities face. I don't mind driving to Redlands or San Bernardino for services and then being able to return home to the safety and hometown feel of Yucaipa.”

She added, “I don't mind the stores or restaurants, it's the new housing tracts that are bringing in people and over-populating this small town.”
As a resident in one of the newer housing tracts I have mixed feelings too. Part of the appeal of living here is the the peace and quiet. However, I'd also like a greater selection of restaurants and shops - but not really big box stores with their football-field sized parking lots and ugly appearance. I'm happy enough to drive 20 minutes to Walmarts and Home Depot. According to the Yucaipa Community Development Director, there will be a maximum of 6,550 more units which will take 25 more years to build

The Press-Enterprise reports that the three housing developments near the Interstate 10 - Live Oak Canyon interchange (map) have local neighbors concerned about the proposed development on land owned by the Robinson family.

But he and other neighbors were shocked this month to learn of a proposal for 810 apartments across the street, part of a plan for 3,982 multi-family dwellings, 178 single-family houses and 137 acres of commercial development on the family's 522 acres. The projects are split between three sites, two south of Interstate 10 at the canyon mouth and one north of the freeway and east of Oak Glen Road.

"Even an idiot can see you shouldn't build apartments," Winkler said, gesturing at the view of the canyon.

Neighbors in Redlands and Yucaipa learned about the project after the Yucaipa planning division mailed a notice to landowners on July 3. The project is on the border between the two cities.

About 9% of the proposed multi-family units would be low-income housing. Not only would could the increase in population overwhelm local rural roads, it could require the building of up to three new schools. The proposed development would require amendment of the city's plan for the development in the area, which "envision 1,500 houses, open space and a pedestrian-oriented shopping area."

The Press-Enterprise reports that construction of the artificial turf field at Yucaipa High School is proceeding without state review.

The Yucaipa-Calimesa district's legal counsel doesn't believe the approval is necessary, he said. He cited a document from the state architect that reads: "For school site improvement projects that involve only grading, landscaping ... or other work that does not support structures or involve their utilities, the school board is not required to file an application for DSA approval."

The document Stevenson cited refers more to the Field Act, which addresses seismic safety, said Craig Rush, principal structural engineer and regional manager for the division of the state architect. He said he didn't know the specifics of the Yucaipa High project.

Not having approval could expose school board members to personal liability if problems occur later, Rush said.

The Press-Enterprise reports that the new Inland Leaders Charter School has "cash-flow concerns," which is one reason why the Yucaipa-Calimesa school district is planning to "keep a close eye on the school's finances."

[33-year-old director Mike Gordon] acknowledged that his age might lead some to question his ability.

"People would consider me young," said Gordon, who said he reveals his age only reluctantly, despite having spent a decade in education. "I have limited experience in administration compared to some."

Others aren't as worried about his age as they are his school's finances. Yucaipa-Calimesa Superintendent Sherry Kendrick said the district plans to monitor Inland Leaders' financial state, noting that most failed charter schools were sunk by money problems.

The district is also concerned with teachers' job security (as is the Yucaipa-Calimesa Educators Association) and the exodus of 100 or so students from the district schools.

The British supermarket giant Tesco (think Walmart) is planning to build a Fresh & Easy grocery (think Trader Joe's) here in Yucaipa on the Southwest corner of Oak Glen Rd & Yucaipa Blvd (map - next to the CVS?). They applied for a liquor license in February, which is still pending. The San Bernardino County Sun reports that Tesco may not live up to its promise to be employee and environmentally friendly.
"Tesco has been especially adept at marketing itself as a socially responsible corporation," said Robert Gottlieb, a professor of urban and environmental policy at Occidental College. "However, our examination of Tesco's policies shows that its track record has significant gaps between what it has promised and how it has achieved its current position as one of the top multinational operations."
The San Bernardino County Sun reports that development along Greenspot Road between Highland and Yucaipa (map) will be significantly reconfigured as housing developments are built in the area, hopefully making a wider, less curvy road that can allow cars to safely travel at 55mph.

The city's general plan calls for a new road to be built that will branch off from Greenspot near the Santa Ana River and cut southeast across a swath of land to connect with Highway 38 near Bryant Street in Yucaipa. But it is the developers who will determine the timeline on that project, officials said.

About 1,600 acres of land southeast of Greenspot Road between the Highland city limits and Yucaipa is prime land eyed for residential development.

"We expect it will be a fairly significant development, 2,000 to 2,500 houses out there. That's what we're expecting potentially," said John Jaquess, Highland's community development director, of the area he refers to as "Sunrise Ranch."

Yucaipa City Council

The Trails and Open Space Committee Meeting will take place on August 7th at City Hall. Read the agenda (pdf).

You can read the agenda packet from the July 23 City Council Meeting (pdf). The next meeting is scheduled for August 13.

According to the News Mirror, the City Council is still talking about adding a shade for concerts at Yucaipa Community Park. The Press-Enterprise also takes a look at the park in front of City Hall that's finally taking shape.

Yucaipans in the News

The News Mirror reports that the Yucaipa Dynasty 12 and under fast pitch softball team is the champion of the NSA Western World Series, held in Stockton.
“We have Coach Nina Lindenberg to thank for the outstanding hitting demonstrated,” said Winters.

Lindenberg was overheard saying, “These girls played better than most 18-Under teams that I have seen play
The San Bernardino County Sun profiles Yucaipan Cliff Trafzer who has just been named the Rupert Costo Endowed Chair in American Indian History and American Indian Affairs at UC Riverside.
For Trafzer, it's an honer to have been selected. UCR along with many schools around the nation and Canada competed to receive the Casto [sic] funds, and after many recommendations, Trafzer was selected.

"I'm honored and privileged to continue to work in American Indian studies here at UCR and the American Indian communities."
[. . .]
Trafzer said he works to instill in his students a deep appreciation of the American Indian history. Though Native American history is taught in early grade level schools, it is not as emphasized as the history of America's forefathers.

Trafzer's goals have not only been to teach or research the history of Native Americans, but to pass on the passion he has to his students so they can continue the tradition.
The San Bernardino County Sun reports that The Farm Artisan Foods in Redlands gets their heirloom tomatoes from Maria Elser of Elser's Country Farm in Yucaipa. It's all part of their effort to use fresh locally grown produce.

Reingrover said the market gets their tomatoes from Yucaipa, their oranges from the Foothill Groves in Redlands and their eggs from Yucaipa and Cherry Valley. "We periodically have all kinds of things coming in," he said.

Reingrover often goes to Market Night to seek out other local growers, knowing, quite simply, that local growers just offer a better product.

"It tastes better," he said.

Check out the Elser's Country Farm web site for some excellent-sounding fresh tomato recipes.

The San Bernardino County Sun profiles Powerhouse Gym owner (and former Mr. San Diego) Ian VanGuilder.
VanGuilder understands that not everyone can afford to pay high gym costs or hire a personal trainer, so he takes a personal interest in everyone who walks through his doors.
[. . .]
When he took over Powerhouse, VanGuilder decided he wanted to be a part of the community. He upgraded and installed the latest equipment and offered his facilities for charity fundraisers, which led to the event on Saturday.
The Finally, San Bernardino County Sun reports that 47-year-old Yucaipan Eva Woods, a West Valley Superior Court clerk, has been arrested for eliminating fines or dismissing traffic tickets for her ex-husband and boyfriend. Woods plead "not guilty" to the charges. The story was also reported in the Press-Enterprise and the Yucaipa/Calimesa News-Mirror.

Whew! I hope it's quiet in Yucaipa this week.

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